National needs more members’ bills

July 31st, 2012 at 9:39 am by David Farrar

In the last ballot for members’ bills, Labour had four of the five bills drawn, Greens one and none. The outcome was rather toxic for .

National has 35 MPs who are not Ministers (I am assuming even the Speaker could do a members’ bill if he wanted to do so). This is one more than Labour’s 34MPs, so they should have near equal numbers in the ballot.

However in the last ballot just 63 out of 93 eligible MPs had a bill in the ballot. The breakdown is:

  • Greens – 14/14 – 100%
  • Maori – 1/1 – 100%
  • Labour – 33/34 – 97%
  • NZ First – 5/8 63%
  • National – 10/35 – 29%
  • Mana 0/1 – 0%

So you see why Labour is winning the ballot so much – they have more than three times as many bills in the ballot as National, despite one fewer eligible MP.

Interesting that Hone Harawira has no bill in the ballot. This reinforces my view that Hone is a very good politician, but somewhat inept parliamentarian.

Also I wonder who is the sole Labour MP with no bill in the ballot. Did not have time to work it out.

Anyway what can National do to improve its chances in the ballot, and hence reduce the number of bills getting drawn which are Labour and Greens? The simple solution is they need to make it easier for MPs to have their bills approved.

Pretty much all the parties require a caucus to agree to a bill, for it to be submitted by a member of that caucus. So National is not alone in requiring this. However National it seems is extremely risk averse with what it will approve. They think some bills may rouse opposition etc. The problem with such an approach is you have so few bills approved that Labour and Greens win all the ballots, which cause far greater problems for the Government.

National, in my opinion, should be far more permissive in authorising members’ bills by its MPs. There should be a simple ideological test that what is proposed is not inconsistent with National’s principles, and beyond that a fairly liberal approval regime. Backbenchers should be allowed to propose things the Government wouldn’t necessarily want to do (as opposed as be against). You can always water them down at select committee, rather than deny them the light of day at all.

If National doesn’t get more bills into the ballot, the problem will get worse for them. Many opposition bills get rejected at first reading. That means there are few bills needing second and third readings, which means you have ballots more often as more first readings get done. You need some members’ bills which get past first reading, as they slow the overall number of ballots down.

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27 Responses to “National needs more members’ bills”

  1. Graeme Edgeler (3,283 comments) says:

    National has 35 MPs who are not Ministers (I am assuming even the Speaker could do a members’ bill if he wanted to do so).

    The Minister in Charge of the Parliamentary Service isn’t a minister?

    [DPF: He isn't a Minister. He performs the equivalent role in relation to some agencies, but is not a member of the Executive Council]

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  2. wiseowl (869 comments) says:

    “not inconsistent with Nationals principles”

    Thats really funny.

    It’s more a case of doing away with Private Members Bills.The process has been hijacked.

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  3. Redbaiter (8,549 comments) says:

    Just another example of the National Party’s utter ineptness in the political battle.

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  4. thedavincimode (6,710 comments) says:

    … the second 10 year phase of the m’bator’s twenty year strategic plan hits its straps …

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  5. Deborah (156 comments) says:

    Alternatively, National could use the fact that it is, y’know, in government, to put up bills on matters that need discussion.

    [DPF: National has many government bills on the order paper. But members' bills get their own time slot]

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  6. Manolo (13,580 comments) says:

    I believe there is a typo in the title. It should read: National needs more members’ balls

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  7. Redbaiter (8,549 comments) says:

    The National party mistakes the views of the ultra liberal Parliamentary Press Gallery for the views of their far more conservative constituents.

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  8. Andrei (2,570 comments) says:

    The National party belatedly realizes that John Key has jumped the shark with his support of sexual deviant marriages so the word has come down from the supreme Presidium to divert the topic as to why this has come up now.

    Let us not forget Nikki Kay (N) also has submitted a private members bill to promote this blasphemy

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  9. Lucia Maria (2,307 comments) says:

    National needs a member’s bill that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. Or has that already been suggested and not allowed?

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  10. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I don’t really thnik there is any need for the ogoverning party to promote more pirvate members’ bills. Government MPs already have the opportunity to promote legislation within their caucus. If a government MP has a good legislative idea, why would it not be able to get on the Govenrment’s programme?
    DPF’s point seems to be a tactical one – more government MPs promoting private bills would crowd out some of the publicity opposition MPs get from their bills.

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  11. Christopher Thomson (376 comments) says:

    Unless there is a cunning plan that is so well concealed we have no idea it exists there is so much about this administration that leaves me wondering if they know what to do to secure the next election.

    They have no serious coalition partners apparent at this stage and this situation regarding bills just reinforces that feeling I have of their ineptness around the machinations of government.

    I may be wrong, I hope so. The coalition of the loonies that look likely to run and ruin the country after the next election is worrying the heck out of me. I don’t want to move to Australia yet.

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  12. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Agree totally Redbaiter. National are asleep at the wheel.
    This is a pity because they have soooo many opportunities to make a difference – but they are sleepwalking to the same state Labour is at the moment if they dont take their hands off their cock and do somehting more useful with them.

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  13. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    “National, in my opinion, should be far more permissive in authorising members’ bills by its MPs.”

    In fact, the government shouldn’t exercise such discretion over what backbench MPs propose at all.

    Discretion is all very well and good but if members who are not technically part of the government don’t feel free to act independently of the executive then Parliament has become meaningless. One of the best arguments for increasing the number of MPs to around 300 (and dividing the current salary spend between them).

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  14. bringbackdemocracy (425 comments) says:

    Smile and wave

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  15. kowtow (8,323 comments) says:

    but if Notional put in more members bills we wouldn’t get all these marvellously “progressive “ones from the left and that just wouldn’t do!

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  16. wiseowl (869 comments) says:

    @CT
    You may find that the coalition partner at the next election will be the Conservatives.It is the only way to prevent the total malaise of the country.

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  17. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    Having the Conservatives will not help National. It will only be a move within the right block from National to the Conservatives. Or worse still, the Conservatives poll just below the MMP threshold and obtain no electorate MP. I don’t know if Colin Craig can carry an electorate.

    Winston could be Deputy PM again. I am sure that Government will last three years (not).

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  18. backster (2,152 comments) says:

    Wise owl….I think you are right…..John KEY says he voted against Civil Union because he was able to poll his electorate and represent their views, but now that he is PM he can’t spare the time to do that in respect to Homosexual Marriage. I would have thought his electorate secretary could do so for him or maybe some other party could first poll his electorate committee and then his electorate and publish the results.

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  19. Viking2 (11,413 comments) says:

    There should be a simple ideological test that what is proposed is not inconsistent with National’s principles, and beyond that a fairly liberal approval regime.

    HMM, will someone tell us what those Principles are. We are confused, we used to know.

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  20. wiseowl (869 comments) says:

    DPF seems to know.He wants Private Members Bills relating to the principles.
    Perhaps we need a court ruling on, “Principles of the National Party” then we could put them in law.

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  21. Than (463 comments) says:

    Is Labour and (especially) the Greens getting private members bills drawn really such a bad thing for the government?

    If Labour/Green bills are getting media time it puts the spotlight on those parties and takes it off National. It’s better to be attacking what the opposition would do than defending your own policies, and these bills give National the opportunity to do so.

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  22. Viking2 (11,413 comments) says:

    wiseowl (176) Says:
    July 31st, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    DPF seems to know.He wants Private Members Bills relating to the principles.
    Perhaps we need a court ruling on, “Principles of the National Party” then we could put them in law.

    What a great idea. Purhaps all political parties should be required to do this and then stick to them.

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  23. Pete George (23,476 comments) says:

    Quantity of bills isn’t as important as quality of bills. Labour may have had four bills drawn at the last ballot but most of those are a waste of slots as they are destined to failure. The MPs submitting them must know they don’t have any chance of getting past the first reading, so hard to know why they put them forward.

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  24. Joel Rowan (99 comments) says:

    I think the system should be reformed so that members’ bills are allocated the same way as questions in Question Time (ie proportional to party size). The simple reason is to minimise the filling of the ballot with shitty bills (by all parties) simply to try and out-probability the other team. I would propose letting each party decide how to fill their allocation. If they wanted to do it by ballot, so be it, but it would mean that we would not have to have a “Military Manoeuvres Act Repeal Bill” put in as a member’s bill for instance.

    It would also mean that if a party really wanted to put forward a specific bill ASAP, they could. The opposition, and backbench, should get a fair chance to promote bills, but a ballot where bills with no hope of going anywhere get defeated at first reading, or take up members’ day with not-very-important and boring repeal bills seems a stupid system to me.

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  25. OneTrack (3,020 comments) says:

    How many MPs do Labour and the Greens have, and what else do they have to do (especially the Greens with no electorate MPs). Maybe I should join Labour/Greens and get myself a cruisey job. Heh, can you really call it a “job”?

    No wonder they come up with so many private bills.

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  26. lcmortensen (38 comments) says:

    The Labour member without a member’s bill is Annette King.

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  27. niggly (819 comments) says:

    See what pet Members’ Bills us taxpayers are funding:
    http://www.parliament.nz/CmsSystem/Templates/Documents/DetailedListing.aspx?NRNODEGUID=%7b5DC52104-98C4-41BA-8FEF-3C61FD7D8A4C%7d

    Although some seem good intentioned, to me some look like they are pet projects and some simply look like the activist types are using these as a means to further their agendas (by introducing “radical” ideas into (and redefining)the mainstream/discourse etc).

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