The Business Committee at work

February 15th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

One of the more significant changes to Standing Orders was the ability for the House to sit with extended sitting hours, hence reducing the frequency a Government may have to resort to .

The Government can extend the hours by passage of a motion which will see sit from 9 am to 1 pm on Wednesday or Thursday morning.

If the Government wishes to extend hours beyond this, it needs to get approval from the . The consists of:

  • The Speaker (Chair)
  • The Leader and Deputy Leader of the House
  • The ACT Leader, United Future, NZ First and Mana Leaders
  • A Green Co-leader
  • The Labour and National Senior Whips
  • The Maori Party, Green and NZ First Whips
  • The Shadow Leader of the House

The Business Committee can only decide something if there is unanimity or near-unanimity which means agreement has been given on behalf of the overwhelming majority of members of Parliament.

The Speaker decides that exact threshold. I would suggest that it requires more than National and Labour agreeing but doesn’t give every small party a veto.

Now the good thing is that the new standing orders are working as intended, and the Business Committee is taking a constructive approach to extending hours when there is a need. They have agreed to extend the House hours this week so the the partiHouse meets Thursday evening and Friday morning until 1 pm. The reason is to progress six Treaty settlement bills through their first and second readings and a couple of omnibus bills.

Each settlement demands legislation, the total number of settlements that Parliament will need to legislate in the coming years is around 60 to settle historical claims (assuming National reach its target of settling claims by 2014). This would represent a large proportion of House time so it makes sense to deal with them in extra hours. This removes the need for urgency, and doesn’t cut into the rest of the House’s programme.

So good to see the parties working together to avoid urgency, but allow the Government to progress its legislative agenda.

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4 Responses to “The Business Committee at work”

  1. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    Be interesting to see how long it lasts. My understanding of the whole debacle at the end of last year was that one of the drivers of Labours antics over student union was that they thought they could filibuster it long enough that parliament would run out of sitting days before parliament recessed for the election.

    Given that the opposition will effectively get a veto on increasing parliaments sitting hours I guess this change won’r really help stop that kind of grandstanding….

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  2. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Given that the opposition will effectively get a veto on increasing parliaments sitting hours I guess this change won’r really help stop that kind of grandstanding….

    Nope. The Government can just do this one day a week. They only need near unanimity to do it more than once per week.

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  3. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    Its “dog whistle” posts like this, written with the sole intention of rattling the cages of the most excitable, jerk-kneed and froth-mouthed KB-denizens, that turn centrists off KiwiBlog, David.

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  4. Mike Readman (363 comments) says:

    Aren’t our MPs paid enough to work on a Monday or Friday? It must be nice to have 3 day weeks every week.

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