Filibuster Slows Progress
MPs began debating clause 8 of the the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill in its committee stage before the dinner break.
When Parliament rose at 10 pm, debate had reached clause 14 of the 20 clause bill.
Labour is slowing up progress on this bill as it objects to the next item on the Order Paper – the the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill.
That bill has also stalled in the committee stage with Members bills only debated one evening a fortnight.
Labour is making an absolute mockery of Parliament with its filibuster on the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill. It's a non-controversial Bill of just 20 clauses, and it enjoys support right across the House. But Labour has made a deliberate decision to waste the time of the House with a clause-by-clause debate in the Committee Stage, using as many speaking slots as they can wrangle.
This is absurd, but of course, there's a reason behind it. Labour loves compulsion, and the Royal Society Bill is being used as a conduit to prevent Parliament continuing the debate on Heather Roy's Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill. That is, of course, the legislation that will make the membership of Student Associations a choice rather than a legal requirement.
Now there's nothing illegal with what Labour is doing, but when it costs in the region of $450,000 per sitting hour to run the Parliament, one has to question when the cost of making a political point becomes excessive.
The cost issue has been raised before, and Labour members have countered that the cost would be incurred regardless of what was being debated. That misses the point in our opinion. Members have one day in every six set aside to debate issues on which they feel so strongly that they have drafted legislation, but because of Labour's filibuster, it is unlikely that any further Member's Bills will be debated by the 49th Parliament.
So we have a suggestion for the Government, and for Tertiary Minsiter Steven Joyce in particular. We reckon that Heather Roy's excellent Bill should be adopted as a Government measure, then promoted up the order paper and debated under urgency on a Thursday. That would require the House to sit beyond its normal 6pm Thursday finish time. It would be the ultimate in payback to Labour, and it would ensure the passage of an excellent piece of legislation before this Parliament rises for the General Election.
And quite by chance, we found this blog-post whilst we were doing some fact-checking for this post. Under the heading Is parliamentary debate a farce? Clare Curran blogged (with our emphasis added):
I’ve participated in a few parliamentary debates on important legislation in the last two and a half years.
As a new MP , with little prior experience of parliamentary process, it’s taken a while to get my head around the procedural stuff and some of the seemingly odd rules. Standing orders, conventions etc. Some of them are very odd. Outdated even. Others are grounded in sense and democractic principles.
I believe in the way we run our parliament. That a Bill gets put up by the government, goes to a select committee where the public get the right to submit and comment, it gets thoroughly scrutinised and commented on by officials and the members of the committee from all sides of the House. A revised version goes back to parliament, where it goes through several more stages before becoming law.
But I’m becoming more convinced that much of this process is a farce. Under this government. I don’t know enough about previous governments to comment. But I reckon it can’t have been worse than it is today.
Oh dear! Clare Curran needs only to look to her own party and its Wednesday tactics to see how farcical Parliament has become. The irony of her blog-post is quite delicious on the grey winter's day!
And in the meantime, perhaps someone could explain just what's wrong with giving students the choice as to whether or not they join a Student Association. After all, even Andrew Little now advocates for voluntary unionism. What is Labour so afraid of?