Very disappointed in two first reading votes case last night by the National Party.
The first was against the bill to allow a separate youth minimum wage (went down 5-117). Not only is this a u-turn from the previous position (National voted against Labour abolishing them in 2008), but it is bad public policy. The record high youth unemployment is partly due to young unskilled workers having been priced out of the market.
I wouldn’t be so annoyed if National was voting against it after it had been to select committee. But by voting it down, they are saying we don’t even want to hear the pros and cons of whether having a separate youth minimum wage could help get more young people into work.
The second bad vote is the party vote against the bill to allow New Zealanders to vote on whether or not they wish to be be a republic.
I’m really pissed off that they made it a party vote. National has had an authoritarian streak to it recently, where they are whittling down the number of issues MPs traditionally are not whipped on. They even want to remove conscience voting on alcohol. There are MPs in National (and many party members) who support NZ becoming a Republic, and they should have been allowed to say so.
And what is even more galling, is that National voted this down at first reading. I’m not advocating that the bill (in its current form) should have been voted into law automatically. But if National had allowed it to go to select committee, it would have allowed the public of New Zealand to submit on how they think the decision on republic vs monarchy should be made. That would have been an invaluable exercise.
National has denied us all the right to have our say – both on youth minimum wage rates and on our head of state.
I don’t have a problem with a party voting down a bill at first reading when they are ideologically against it (ie do not expect National to support a bill that made unions compulsory) or it seeks to reverse Government policy. But with most other issues, they are worthy of sending through to a select committee, so the public can have their say on them.
My thanks to the Labour (excluding Jim Anderton), United Future and Green parties that supported the Republic Referendum bill, and supported allowing the public a say.