Govt defeat now likely on micro-chipping

Thanks to some clever procedural manouevres, it looks like micro-chipping of all dogs will not pass.

The only two parties in favour of micro-chipping all dogs are Labour and their poodles in NZ First. 57 votes. And presumably Anderton makes 58 votes (if Anderton voted against his stocks as Agriculture Minister would rise).

National, ACT and the Maori Party are against micro-chipping and will vote against any micro-chipping, or vote for some micro-chipping so long as rural dogs are exempt.

The problem had been Greens and United Future. Greens would only vote against all micro-chipping, while United said it would not vote for an amendment to remove all micro-chipping and would only vote for an exemption for farm dogs.

Hence it looked like Labour may win, despite minority support only.

But on the Local Government Committee, a majority voted for an amendment to change the bill so only dogs deemed dangerous need to be micro-chipped. The Committee has four National MPs, four Labour MPs and one Green MPs so it would have been a 5-4 vote.

Now the House, during committee of the whole stage, can try and reverse the amendments but the way the House procedures work, has meant United Future will probably not vote to over-turn the select committee changes.

You see the House does not get to vote on the changes made by the select committee one by one. If they did then they might get United Future to vote against the change. But the changes made by select committee become part of the bill automatically and the Government will need to move an amendment at committee of the whole stage.

And this is the problem for United Future. It is one thing to vote against an amendment (on the grounds the amendment is not exactly what you want), but quite another to vote in favour of an amendment to increase the scope of the law from dangerous dogs to all dogs, because their policy is not to include all dogs.

The Government now has a decision to make. Eiether leave the bill unchanged so it applies to dangerous or meancing dogs only, or to agree to exempt “working dogs” so United Future will vote for such changes at the committee of the House stage. Either option is loss for Labour.

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