Readers of a similar vintage to me may remember a song from the 1960's called "Where have all the flowers gone?". Each verse ended with five words, repeated for effect - "When will they ever learn; When will they ever learn?"
The same words could be applied to Helen Clark's Labour-led government. The Hive is reporting today that Clark believes she has the numbers to pass her "flagship" ETS legislation before the 48th Parliament is dissolved, and the 2008 election is contested. But time is running short. The House resumes on Tuesday 26 August, with a three-week sitting scheduled, ending on Thursday 11 September. No further sittings are scheduled at this point, according the the Parliament website.
The Bill was`reported back from the select committe almost two months ago, and as the Herald reported at the time, reported back with almost 1000 changes. The government has pooh-poohed the idea of a further period of public consultation, which for a Bill of this significance is astounding; especially so when the select committee has almost redrafted the original Bill! However long the Committee stage of debate is, it will not do justice to legislation which is going to have such a profound economic and environmental effect on New Zealand in the years ahead.
Last year, Parliament rushed the Electoral Finance Act through with indecent haste, the reason for the haste to change the regulated electoral period so it could commence on 1 January 2008. Despite significant opposition from a wide variety of organisations, including National's ally the Human Rights Commission (Tui billboard anyone?) Labour, the Greens, NZ First and Jim the Progressive rushed the legislation through. Unintended consequences have emereged by the sackful, and all the parties who colluded to inflict this legislation on New Zealanders have fallen foul of it!!
So now the Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill looks set to be rushed through before the House rises. Heather Simpson has got the numbers, but the question must be asked - what concessions have been made to the Greens and to New Zealand First to buy their support for the PM's legacy? And what will be the long-term cost to the New Zealand economy of these concessions?
In the meantime, Labour has played a cyncial political game which is going to have significant implications for New Zealanders such as Mrs Inventory and I, running a business. The lessons of 2007 have been ignored.
When will they ever learn; When will they ever learn?