Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Free Press ACT’s regular bulletin


Free Press

ACT’s regular bulletin

They're at it Again
Remember the Electoral Finance Act? This assault on democracy was the Clark Government's epitaph (ACT's John Boscawen helped it into its grave with enormous Queen St Marches for Democracy). Well, the Labour party are attacking democracy again.

In Over His Head
Education Minister Chris Hipkins is already overloaded. Not only is he the Education Minister but also the Leader of the House, a position usually held by a big gun like Gerry Brownlee. He is feeling the pressure. Free Press has seen petulant correspondence from Hipkins unbecoming of a student, let alone an Education Minister. A good teacher would smack his little bum.

What's the Issue?
The Government is trying to bully parliament out of holding it accountable by cutting back select committees. Because they expanded the number of Ministers and Under-Secretaries to a record 31, they've gotten short of MPs to sit on Select Committees. Their solution? Just reduce the number of MPs from all parties on Select Committees.

Skip this Bit if You Don't Want the Details
In the last parliament there were 13 regular Select Committees with 120 seats. Roughly, 60 for the Government and 60 for the opposition. This was hard work for the Government, because Ministers generally don't sit on committees so the 60-odd Government seats were filled by only 35 people (plus Under-Secretary Seymour, always a good sport). By appointing a record 31 MPs to Ministerial and Under-Secretarial posts, they've left only 32 Government non-executive MPs to fill all of the select committee slots. This is why they want to reduce the Select Committees down to 12 committees of 8, meaning 96 seats. About 46 of these go to National and ACT MPs, but there are 57 of us. That means 11 members of parliament will not sit on Select Committees.

Taxpayer Loses Again
When New Zealand got rid of its Upper House of Parliament, Select Committees were supposed to do the job of scrutinising the Government's work. They are important and make up about a 1/3 of a back bench MP's workload (the other thirds being electorate work and debating in the House). The New Government is making sure that 11 MPs will be idle for a third of the time.

$11 Million Dollar Waste
As a rule of thumb an MP costs a million dollars a year once you allow for staff, offices, flights, and so on. If eleven MPs lose a third of their job for three years then the Government has just wasted $11 million.

Much Bigger Waste
Of course, that is not the real waste. It is a record 31 Ministers and undersecretaries with their wild tax-and-spend policies, held accountable by fewer and smaller select committies. Taxpayers will pay and pay as a super-sized Government attempts to bully the very institution of Parliament that's there to hold it accountable.

Parliamageddon
The new Leader of the House can't have spent much time reading standing orders. If all parties do not agree on procedural matters like establishing Select Committees, then they go to time-unlimited parliamentary debates. ACT has always been an opposition party, and we cannot wait to get stuck in.

Parliamageddon II
Meanwhile, it has been suggested that the Government should get the majority of the speaking time in Parliament and ACT, none at all. When asked which MP irritates here the most, Jacinda Ardern named David Seymour as 'getting under her skin.' Trying to silence ACT in parliament is not only a constitutional outrage but will lead to another time-unlimited debate from ACT and National. At this rate, the first weeks of the Ardern Prime Ministership will be a circus.

A word to the Wise
The inexperienced Leader of the House should think carefully about the tradition he is inheriting. Westminster Parliaments are designed to restrain tyranny and, with the possible exception of the American system, they are peerless. Built up over centuries in the Standing Orders and Speakers' Rulings are a gauntlet of traps for young players a little sick of self love, and the opposition will be using them widely. After all, what's the point in inheriting an institution like Parliament if you're not going to use it?

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Another Reason To Loathe HR Departments (And On The Teachers Strike)

This morning’s news item about Police emergency call centre staff turning up for work while they’re sick – because they’re afraid their sick leave statistics will be used against them, and their jobs put in jeopardy – is not an isolated case...

Obviously, sick people shouldn’t be being treated by doctors and nurses who are themselves sick and potentially infectious. Similarly, Police emergency calls also need to be fielded by people who’re feeling alert, and on top of their game. More>>

 
 

MPs' Computers To Be Searched: Inquiry Into Leak On Simon Bridges' Expenses

An inquiry has been launched to find out who leaked the National Party's expenses to the media... Parliament's speaker, Trevor Mallard, said a Queen's Counsel would lead the inquiry with the help of an employment lawyer and also someone with forensic IT skills. More>>

ALSO:

Teachers Strike: Nationwide Rallies And Marches

Teachers and principals voted for a full day strike to be held on 15 August to send a strong message to the Government that the current collective agreement offers from the Ministry of Education would not fix the crisis in teaching. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: City Council Ends Its Support For Jackson’s Movie Museum

The Wellington City Council and the Movie Museum Limited have today announced a mutually-agreed parting of the ways for a joint project between the Council’s Convention Centre and TMML’s Movie Museum... Both parties remain optimistic for the future of their respective projects. More>>

Pay Equity: Historic Settlement For Education Support Workers

The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) and the Ministry of Education today signed Terms of Settlement to address a pay equity claim for 329 support workers who work with very young children in early childhood and primary schools. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Stereotypes About Jacinda Ardern

Routinely, female politicians get depicted as either show ponies or battle axes, with little room for anything else in between. .. More>>

Weekend Interviews: "Discriminatory And Racist" Aussie Deportations

The former president of Australia’s Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs says deportations have risen dramatically in Australia since 2014 when ministers and ministerial delegates were given the power to cancel visas - and half of those being deported are New Zealanders. "These are massive numbers, actually escalating dramatically."... More>>

ALSO:

Legal Challenge: Prisoner Has 9 Boxes Of Documents Seized

Human rights organisation People Against Prisons Aotearoa says a prisoner they advocate for has had 9 boxes of legal documents seized from him just days before his case against the Department of Corrections was to be heard. More>>

Single-Use Plastic Bags: Govt To Phase Them Out

Single-use plastic shopping bags will be phased out over the next year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced today. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages