Friday, March 23, 2007

Government panicking over smacking ban bill

The Government looks to be panicking over the damage being done to it by the smacking ban bill. Nothing else can explain the extraordinary, possibly unprecedented, plan to progress the bill through its remaining stages under urgency.

Urgency is almost always used only for Government bills, not private members bills and I doubt it has ever been used for a private members bill of an MP not in Government. I think this confirms it is now Helen Clark's bill, not Sue Bradford's.

As a sure sign this is political panic, not a legislative logjam, No Right Turn points out the already thin legislative agenda has become anorexic. Yes the Government has run out of bills, which makes any urgency a total abuse of the legislative process.

Luckily it looks like the numbers are not there for urgency as NZ First and United Future won't support it. But we should mourn the lack of integrity the Greens are displaying in that they were willing to support urgency. When Rod Donald was alive the Greens were renown for not supporting urgency motions, even on bills they supported, unless it was really necessary such as with tax legislation. Instead their reputation as a party of integrity now is reduced to Bradford saying "It would be great to finish it."

Bradford is also lying when she says that without urgency the debate could stretch on for months. As I have posted previously there are well known guidelines for how long each clause of a bill can be debated during committee stage. This is merely an attempt to ram it through, despite a majority of the public and of MPs being against it.

My message for opponents of the bill is that your campaign is obviously working, why else would the Government be panicking. The focus for the campaign needs to be on giving Labour MPs a conscience vote on the issue.

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