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The urgency of love

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, October 23rd, 2009 - 7 comments
Categories: labour, Media, national, Parliament, parliamentary spending - Tags:

love micOne thing about love is that what you abhor or hate in others you tolerate, even admire, in the object of your affection.

Take the media’s handling of Parliament going into Urgency.

When Labour filibustered over the second Auckland Supercity Bill, there were articles in the newspapers and snide remarks from news commentators about the supposed waste of money (although no-one was ever able to establish how much running a few extra hours of Parliament costs, except it’s a small amount).

Flash forward five months and we have now had five consecutive sitting weeks of the House being put into Urgency by National, and the same to come next week. National is using Urgency about three times as often as Labour did in its first term.

Is there a murmur from the media? Is there a complaint? You bet there isn’t.

In fact, there’s real grounds for criticism. Brownlee’s made a complete pig’s ear of running the House and it is costing money. He’s running Urgency but doesn’t have enough legislation.

On Tuesday there were two hours of extra time in the evening and on Wednesday four in the morning, meaning overtime had to paid to staff. But the Government to run out of legislation to pass at 8pm on Wednesday when it would usually sit until 10. So, the staff got paid their regular hours that night even though the House wasn’t sitting.

Yesterday, the House ran out of government legislation to vote on at 5pm, meaning four sitting hours were wasted but all the staff still get paid for their regular hours, of course. A total of six hours Urgency and five hours lost regular sitting hours – and it cost the taxpayer both ways.

But the concern for wasted taxpayer dollars that journalists exhibited when the cause was labour is absent when National is behind it.

Now, maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I should have been playing the David Farrar and whipping up the issue every day until it gets mainstream traction but, unlike Farrar, I prefer to write about the issues. Maybe Labour MPs should be pouring the story into journos’ ears like National MPs undoubtedly did when Labour extended Urgency.

Or maybe there’s simply no point expecting even a basic level of balance from a media that is still head over heels for their wee Johnnie.

7 comments on “The urgency of love ”

  1. swimmer 1

    Well at least those workers are getting some kind of extra money after their salary freeze. All this urgency is unnecessary.

  2. r0b 2

    Great title!

    The Herald actually spoke up about this early on :

    Bulldozed rush of legislation makes mockery of democracy

    It [National] has adopted a bulldozing approach that is disturbingly at odds with democratic Government. Gerry Brownlee would not even name the bills to be passed under urgency, but only the subject areas that they canvassed. Worse, he refused to give Opposition parties advance copies of any of the bills, until just before they were to be debated in Parliament.

    The fact that the matters were being dealt with under urgency already meant that there would be no chance for public submission; there is no room in the action plan for tedious details such as the select committee process, by which interested parties get to express their view about proposed legislation. But the public was denied the opportunity to even see the legislation, because the Nats were producing for debate law that had not been completely drafted and officially tabled and therefore, under Parliament’s rules, cannot be formally published.

    Extraordinarily, it was left to the Greens to scan paper copies and, in a samizdat-style operation reminiscent of the gulag-era Soviet Union, publish them on its own website. It is a state of affairs seriously at odds with the notion of a Parliamentary democracy.

    It is entirely possible that National is in the grip of a first flush of legislative enthusiasm. If so, it will adopt a more measured pace in the new year. If not, there is cause for concern. The Clark administration was often described as taking a “nanny state” approach – but it did consult widely; the Nats, by contrast, are looking remarkably like bullies.

    Unfortunately the misuse of urgency continued, and The Herald has gone back to bed sleep.

  3. factchecker 3

    The House rose at 8pm on Wednesday because Labour fell over and didn’t put up speakers on bills they were entitled to. Between Tuesday and Wednesday the government passed 6 bills; seems like a good use of time.

    The House was not in urgency on Thursday. It would have risen at 6pm, not 10pm as you seem to imply.

    I understand Labour took urgency ten times in its first year in office. National isn’t too far different. Governments elected after nine years of a previous party have a lot to do!

  4. factchecker 4

    That’s not inconsistent with my post. NRT compares a three year period of the last term of government with National’s first year in office. He should know better.

    The better comparison is with Labour’s first year in office in 2000.

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