In their first term the Government constantly used urgency to pass bills quickly, and in some cases to bypass select committee scrutiny.
I worked with Grant Robertson to highlight this, and since 2010 there has been far less use of urgency. This is partly due to a change to standing orders allow for extending sitting hours.
From 2011 to 2013 there were no bills that bypassed select committee and on average there were only 30 hours of urgency a year.
In 2015 the Government seems to have again taken to using urgency frequently, and to bypass select committees.
I’ll compare 2012 with 2015, as both are post-election years. Key stats are:
- Sitting Hours 549 (2012) and 555 (2015)
- Urgency Hours 10 and 63
- Bills Passed 92 and 122
- Bills bypassing select committee 0 and 10
- Weeks with an urgency motion 1 and 5
Having ten bills bypass select committee is way too many. Some legitimately were urgent such as fixing a problem with sworn Police officers, but one in 12 bills did not go to a select committee. That is way too many.
I didn’t realise until I got this data (thanks to Trevor Mallard for getting it for me from the Parliamentary Library) how excessive the use of urgency had been in 2015.
In 2016 I’m going to watch this much more closely and highlight whenever urgency is used. It should be rare and a last resort.