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Minister Ejected During ACC Debate

The unusual event of a minister being ejected from the House while in the chair took place during the committee stage of the Accident Compensation (Financial Responsibility and Transparency) Amendment Bill this afternoon.

During debate on Part Two of the bill there was a strained interchange between Assistant Speaker Trevor Mallard and Nick Smith. Mr Mallard took exception to something Dr Smith said (probably for not addressing Part Two of the Bill in his speech) and Dr Smith took exception to this. As he was ejected from the House Dr Smith said Mr Mallard was not to fit to hold the office.

Eventually Dr Smith was recalled to the House and made to withdraw and then ejected again.

Video of the events as they unfolded are here and here.

The bill has been described by the Government as the “Fiscal Responsibility Act for ACC”. Opposition parties have been more critical describing it as mostly window dressing.

During the debate Labour’s ACC spokeswoman Sue Moroney said the bill’s amendments in select committee had caused the party some concern. These included a new process for setting ACC levies which brought in a political overview at the start of the process to set the parameters

This would give too much discretion for the Government to lever decisions to reach a political ends such as increasing levies to help the book’s bottom line.

ACC Minister Nikki Kaye said the Government believed in fiscal responsibility and had turned around the scheme. Ms Kaye dismissed Moroney’s comments as “conspiracy theory”. The changes made in select committee allowed the Government of the day deal with major adverse events such as the Canterbury Earthquake to allow some leeway. The new laws would ensure stability and sustainability of levies.

Labour’s proposed amendments were voted down by National, Maori Party, ACT and United Future.

After the completion of the committee stage without amendment , MPs began the committee stage of the Passports Amendment Bill (No 2), which extends the life of passports to 10 years and is widely supported.

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