Again, National has put the House into urgency to slam through unpopular legislation. This time, it’s the Supercity legislation.
National whinges that it has to use urgency to pass legislation that could be passed anytime in the next months because they only get 17 hours a week to pass laws otherwise and that’s not enough for their agenda.
What National doesn’t get, or care about, is that the limited sitting hours of the House in normal running is an intentional and important check on power. If the House just sat as long as the Government needed all the time and the Government just turned up with Bills at the last minute and slammed them through, democracy would be weakened. The Government would have time to do whatever the hell crazy thing it wanted. Laws would be created without the public and the Opposition having adequate time to assess and react to them.
This is effectively what the Nats are doing. Urgency can legitimately be used when time runs out to pass time-critical legislation without it but it should not be used as ‘bonus time’ and an opportunity to avoid scrutiny of laws that will soon be affecting us all.
Getting back to the Supercity Bill itself. It’s interesting to see that Key has crumbled to the wishes of Pakeha in the rural hinterland of Auckland who did not want to be split off into the neighbouring councils (well, partly listened to them, not only do they not want to be split, they don’t want to be in the Supercity either). Yet Maori are totally ignored. Still, why would he listen to them when the Maori Party will vote for his government no matter what indignities he forces them to endure?
There are a large number of National MPs whose electorates will be in the Supercity and whose constituents have been telling them loud and clear they want no part of it. Behind closed doors, and occasionally in public, these MPs have been desperately asking Key to rein in Hide and offer a Aucklanders a democratic system, not a big business rort. Labour MPs have been daring the Auckland Nats to stand up for their constituents and cross the floor to defeat the Bill.
Labour and the Greens have been pointing out that Aucklanders are owed a referendum on whether they even want a Supercity. I’m hoping they put up an amendment to the legislation requiring one. With Labour, the Maori Party, Anderton and the Greens, to pass it would just need the support of Dunne and some ACT MPs – they believe in referenda and choice don’t they?