Heather Roy's Diary - 15 December 2006
Heather Roy's Diary
The Political Situation
The parliamentary year ended with a whimper rather than a bang. The last few days had been set down for "Urgency". Urgency is the term used to imply that there are critical matters of state that must be debated and dealt with urgently, and that usually means intense debate and long days. I hate Urgency because question time is usually traded away leaving open government out in the cold. Parliamentary question time is one of the few times that the ruling party has to explain what is going on, let alone explain its policies. The Labour Party loves Urgency because there is no question time and also because it gives the impression of a party with a pressing backlog of legislation - a middle- aged woman in a hurry, so to speak. After 7 years in power you might wonder what has suddenly proved so urgent and the answer would be ...nothing. Urgency was called on Tuesday afternoon, began at 9.00 am Wednesday and the bills stopped coming by late afternoon. Thursday was completely free. The big stoush was a gentle walk in the park.
All of this may have been a disappointment to National's new leader who has been looking to make his mark, but John Key has clearly signalled where he sees National going, and that is into the same ground as Labour. All will be revealed in 2007 as to how far he is prepared to tread.
Santa's Christmas List
With the season of goodwill upon us it is an appropriate time to think of those less fortunate than ourselves. The government could, in its final week of parliament, have considered spreading some of the increased surplus (in Cullen-speak "the economy seems to be staging a recovery") on providing for the vulnerable. I'm sure Santa would have put some of these goodies in stockings around the country:
* Hip replacements, heart surgery, grommets and the like for those on ever burgeoning waiting lists or those purged from said lists and returned to their GPs.
* $12 million for the Air Force to reimburse them the cost the government has forced on their operational budget to maintain the Skyhawks and Aermaachi's for a sale that will never happen.
* Batons and Pepper Spray for Fisheries Officers to defend themselves from poachers.
* 1,000 extra police officers to get Labour out of their current bind - they are presently moving backwards with recruiting.
* A big fundraising idea for Helen Clark to raise the $800,000 Labour owes for the pledgecard and election overspending.
* A house with a water-front view for Trevor Mallard - he's still looking sore from losing the Auckland water-front stadium battle.
* A do-it-yourself tiling kit for Taito Philip Field - now he has time on his hands he'll be able to do his own home improvements.
* A gross of insect repellent for MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) to issue to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on his overseas trips for the prevention of insect and spider bites.
* Compensation to all the shareholders of telecom who had their assets pinched by this government in its splitting up of the company.
If ACT was in charge of Santa's workshop our present this Christmas would be a tax-cut for every worker.
I'd like to take the opportunity to wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a relaxing summer break. The Diary will return at the end of January, ready to comment on carbon neutrality, sustainability and anything else 2007 throws at us.