The 2011 election is now just a year away, give or take a few days. And this afternoon in Parliament, we reckon that there will be a line drawn in the sand; a line that will serve as a reminder to voters as to who supports what.
The government will introduce legislation, and take the House into extreme urgency; a measure rarely used, and not to be encouraged. The legislation applies to the film industry only, and will prevent those retained as contractors later going to court to claim that they should have been employees. It is a small but important distinction. The reason that it is important is that last year, the CTU funded a court case whereby a film industry contractor did just the legislation will prevent. It's little wonder that the CTU is apoplectic; its power is being eroded, and given its performance over the last month or so, that can't be bad.
So how will the numbers stack up today? That is the critical question, in terms of today's sitting being an indicator for next year. Clearly, National will support the legislation, joined by Act and United Future. That's enough to ensure that the legislation will pass.
The Greens vehemently oppose this legislation. Then again, the Greens seem to vehemently oppose any form of money-making, so that comes as no surprise; capitalism is viewed as the unpardonable sin. Russel Norman is accusing the government of selling out; no surprises there either.
The Maori Party has yet to give an indication of where it stands, and that is no surprise either. But what of Labour?
Stuff reports that Labour will oppose today's employment law change. And Trevor Mallard is reported to have made a stinging attack on John Key and the National-led government in the House last night. That in itself is interesting; where's Phil? One of the most notable features of this whole debate has been Phil Goff's silence. He led Labour's Great Leap to the Left at the party's conference a fortnight ago, but since then there has been a series of union stuff-ups, with The Hobbit at the top of the bill. Phil Goff's silence has been deafening.
We can only conclude that Phil Goff privately applauds the PM for his intervention and negotiation to keep The Hobbit in New Zealand. That, of course, would bring him into conflict with a large chunk of his caucus, and with his multi-hat-wearing party president. We're not sure if Goff is back from Australia yet, and it will be interesting to see whether he's present in the House today, as both leaders are normally out and about on Thursdays. But doubtless all those Labour members with union affiliations will be rolled out today; Sue Moroney, Su'a William Sio, Darien Fenton, Carol Beaumont, Trevor Mallard, Ruth Dyson, Iain Lees-Galloway; who have we missed? And doubtless the CTU will emerge from those Labour members' contributions as pure and blameless, whilst John Key's tally of babies eaten will have grown exponentially.
So there you have it, dear readers. In 2011, the electorate will be presented with a clear choice. One one hand you will have the Greens and the union-dominated Labour Party, who have still failed to condemn the CTU and actors' unions for almost scuttling 1200 jobs. On the other hand you have National, and the parties who support John Key's government (the Maori Party excepted, for the purposes of this post) who fought to retain an industry, and a significant number of jobs.
Could the choice be any clearer?