Opposition can make a difference

July 26th, 2012 at 4:04 pm by David Farrar

My column:

Yesterday the Opposition showed that you can make a difference, despite not being in Government. Parliament voted for four members’ bills to pass their first readings and to proceed to select committee.

One, by Government backbencher and Tamaki MP Simon O’Connor was to repeal to the Joint Family Homes Bill, and is uncontroversial.

The Opposition managed to get Parliament to vote for three of its bills, despite the opposition of National (and ACT) to two of them. This was a real reminder of MMP in action where single parties may form the Government, but will not win every vote in Parliament.

A brief snippet on each bill:

The first of the three opposition bills was by Labour’s Dunedin North MP, David Clark. It seeks to Mondayise ANZAC Day and Waitangi Day, if they fall on the weekend. It was supported by Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori, Mana and United Future.

Personally I’m somewhat bemused by the fact National decided to oppose this bill. Yes one has to be careful of imposing additional costs on businesses, because doing so destroys jobs and reduces international competitiveness, unless there are productivity gains to compensate.

However two extra days of public holidays every seven years is relatively insignificant.

On paid parental leave:

This bill I think fails to take account of the ongoing crisis of debt ripping apart the European Union, and affecting the world economy. When fully implemented, after three years, it would cost taxpayers an extra $170 million a year. This extra spending would almost inevitable have to be borrowed from China or some other foreign lender. I don’t think Labour truly appreciates the nature of our fiscal challenges. Even if we manage to get back into surplus by 2014/15, we then need to grow that surplus to at least $2 billion a year, to cover the cost of contributions to the NZ Super Fund. That is probably around 2017 or 2018, if we are lucky and the Eurozone doesn’t disintegrate as Greece, Spain, and even Italy get declared bankrupt.

We should be grateful I suppose that Labour are only proposing an extra $170m a year for 26 weeks paid parental leave. Their policy is to eventually increase it to 52 weeks, which would cost half a billion dollars a year.

And the lobbyists bill:

It’s one of those thinsg no political party will want to be against. However getting an agreement on how it should work, is likely to be problematic. Will Labour want a law that requires it to disclose every and all meetings with union officials and what was discussed? Will the Greens want a law that requires very environmental group that talks to them on an issue to have to register with the Auditor-General? However, if you exclude unions and NGOs from the bill, it then becomes very unbalanced. So it is far from certain what form the bill will emerge from select committee on.

But overall a good day for the Opposition to get three bills through a first reading.

 

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9 Responses to “Opposition can make a difference”

  1. rg (197 comments) says:

    National’s opposition to paid parental leave was only affordability. This is disappointing, it demonstrates another example where a cornerstone National Party principle (self responsibility) has given way to socialism. In the debate last night National and Labour were trying to outdo each other over which party is the better socialist. Both work on the left wing mantra that if the govt does not do it, nobody does. Instead of relying on people who want to have a child organising their financial affairs and paying for that child themselves.
    There are enough people lining up for taxpayer handouts without adding to them.
    Maggie Barry said that paid parental leave was a good idea which fills me with dread for the future. If National has turned socialist what hope is there?. Also if it is only a case of waiting to get the money and then introducing it then as soon as we get into surplus again, National will support alll these expensive socialist policies which disincentivise people from taking responsibility for themselves.
    I am all in favour of helping the needy but this is another untargeted policy which will see the millionaire in Remuera getting PPL which is paid for by the South Auckland couple working 3 jobs to pay their taxes. Another example of a policy which takes money off those who can’t afford it and gives it to those who don’t need it.
    My daughter and her partner are saving money to have a child and be able to support it. Why should she pay for the people who don’t bother?
    Has this National Party got any principles left, or has John Key sunk the lot?

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  2. b1gdaddynz (279 comments) says:

    Didn’t National say they would veto this bill anyway? I can’t really see the point of wasting time and money over a bill that is going to get shot down even if it passes…seems to stupid to waste money on something that will waste money.

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  3. Viking2 (11,147 comments) says:

    . If National has turned socialist what hope is there?.

    What do you mean IF. They are.

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  4. BigFish (132 comments) says:

    Personally I believe the lobbyists bill would be a good thing. It would help discourage all sides engaging with parties that are known to lobby counter to the electorate’s interest. Transparency is never unhealthy in a true democracy.

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  5. Australis (99 comments) says:

    I don’t get it. If a 5% increase in everybody’s entitlement for extra paid holidays is insignificant, why pass the bill? And why pass it now?

    Maybe you aren’t one of the countries’ 500,000 employers who haven’t seen a profit for nearly 5 years. This comes directly out of their pockets. Its very easy for MPs to be generous with other people’s money.

    We’ve already gone down the path made famous by Greece, by imposing a 33% increase in the holiday pay costs borne by employers. Now that the unemployment rate has gone up a bit, it seems a great time to add further to those costs.

    Apart from anything else, this largesse sends entirely the wrong message to the struggling small business sector.

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  6. JMS (303 comments) says:

    DPF, it’s 4 extra days every 7 years, not 2 extra days.

    just being picky :)

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  7. scrubone (3,050 comments) says:

    I don’t get it. If a 5% increase in everybody’s entitlement for extra paid holidays is insignificant, why pass the bill? And why pass it now?

    Because we just had a year when people “missed out”. Pushing the bill is all about getting votes from those agrieved people who think that they are entitled to be paid for not working, regardless of when the holiday actually falls.

    See also the recent case where some idiots in europe won the right to get holidays made into sick days if they fall sick during their own time.

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  8. Paulus (2,503 comments) says:

    Sad that both Labour and GreenAgainst Parties have no commercial experience. They are basically either academics or small town lawyers or more importantly political animals from college through universities and the public tit.
    When they get into power – sadly but inevitably they will know how to borrow and spend your money on evey hairbrained scheme they can be pressured by a small minorities to support. It’s where the nearly all come from so in their blood.
    Its my taxes that they are wanting to spend – yes – I do actually pay tax.

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  9. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    “Yes one has to be careful of imposing additional costs on businesses, because doing so destroys jobs and reduces international competitiveness,…”

    Uggghhhhhhh

    If govts were so interested in business and employment they would take high taxes off business that sends companies off-shore eliminating job opportunities. Huge hypocrisy from Mr Farrar here.

    and business has to stop raising prices every time the consumer gets a pay rise which is why I’m against another pay rise. Busines will just raise their prices and the consumer will have less spending money and back to square one.

    We probably need less wages to bring prices down because govt and business over tax and over price and produce the fruits of revolution …. already one assassanation attempt on Key. He won’t be back next election anyway…… unless the electorate has decided we all should become tenants in our own land!

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