National put Parliament back into urgency yesterday. It is ramming through the extension to the retail deposit guarantee, the RMA amendments, changes to the Biosecurity Act (and something else that escapes my memory). The RMA changes are particularly contentious but we won’t get to know what the Government is planning until hours before it passes them into law.
Urgency has its place, when time is tight – as it is with the retail deposit guarantee because the Government stuffed around for so long. It should only be used very sparingly though because it is undemocratic. It prevents the public and the Opposition having time to digest the proposed law, precluding informed public debate until after the fact. Also, while urgency is on there’s usually no Question Time, the one direct opportunity for the Opposition to hold ministers to account. There’s no reason to be rushing through RMA and biosecurity amendments through in the middle of the Parliamentary year.
This Key Government is starting to use urgency as a default option. Couple that with their practices of not sending important Bills like the Fire at Will Bill to select committee and ignoring the findings of select committees that do report, and we have a picture of a government riding roughshod over the parliamentary institutions put in place to protect our democracy. Hell, why don’t we just say ‘screw Parliament’ and let Key rule by decree for three years?