The House: The Legislation Rush
A Government’s legislation programme is a bit like someone who has forgotten Christmas is approaching. They have to rush down the shops and realise they only have limited time and money to do all those things that had been dreaming about all year long. This National Government has come to that stage.
The last possible sitting day of the House is October 28 after this three week session, currently in its second week, there is a three week break before a four week session. The House is then due to sit on October 5 and is likely to sit through until the 28th, giving the House a maximum of nine weeks sitting time excluding the use of urgency. Technically it would be possible for the Government to put the House into urgency on October 28 and stay there as long as members’ stamina held up.
Last Thursday, the Leader of the House in his business statement indicated that the Government would be going into urgency again this week. A look at the Order Paper makes it clear why. There are currently 24 items awaiting the time of the House and another five items below. There is also a great deal of business awaiting report back from select committee and even more legislation the Government has yet to introduce.
Widely rumoured around Parliament for introduction this week is two more plans for restructuring of producer boards. The hot pick for this one includes the Apple and Pear Board giant. Also waiting on the whim of NZ First is the regulation of the electricity line companies and of course the Government must complete legislation associated with the Budget and this will include the Estimates Debate this week.
Currently at the top of the Order Paper (though this is expected to change rapidly this week) are:
The third reading of the Child Support Amendment Bill (No. 5);
The Committee stages of the Social Welfare (Transitional Provisions—Special Portability Arrangement) Amendment Bill;
The Committee stage of the Animal Welfare Bill (No. 2);
And the Committee stage of the Health Occupational Registration Acts Amendment Bill;
Other legislation that must be completed before the Election further down the paper includes the Electoral Amendment Bill, the Broadcasting (Election Broadcasting) Amendment Bill and the Human Rights Amendment Bill,.
Another juicy item floating well down the paper is the Gaming Law Reform Bill.
Below the line, which means not yet allocated a position on the Order paper, lies the much anticipated Sale of Liquor Amendment Bill (No. 2)
There will be busy times ahead in the House and urgency is going to be commonplace. Last week the Leader of the House was hopeful there would be a Question Time on Thursday, but current rumours have the House sitting through to Friday.
And as for Members’ Bills... fat chance.