Cries of abuse of parliamentary privilege rang out across the debating chamber last night as Labour again delayed proceedings of ACT’s Voluntary Student Membership legislation.
The bill was due to have its fourth committee stage debate but was delayed again because Labour filibustered on a minor bill that has the entire support of the House, the Royal Society of New Zealand bill.
ACT MP Heather Roy, the VSM bill’s sponsor, says enough is enough.
“My party has been as guilty as others at times of filibustering, but the filibustering but the filibustering has reached a point now where I think we need to say is this an abuse of parliamentary time or not, and it definitely is.”
Ms Roy says the party has delayed the bill for months now and in doing so, denied other MPs the ability to have one of their bills debated.
“A Member’s Bill is the only opportunity a backbench MP has of raising their issues in Parliament, and so they’re denying all other backbench MPs an ability to have the issues that they feel strongly about debated in the house,” she told Newstalk ZB.
It’s one thing to filibuster a bill you are totally opposed to. But Labour are filibustering their own non controversial bills, such as the Royal Society Bill.
I had a major flick at the Government over the use of urgency, but we should equally condemn what Labour is doing here.It is an abuse of Parliament, and in fact is partly to blame for use or urgency. If an Opposition filibusters, then the Govcernment is forced to use urgency so that it can make some progress with Parliament’s legislative agenda.
I don’t regard it as acceptable to block an entire year’s worth of members’ bills, through filibustering.
If the Government does go into urgency again, before the election, then Labour is at risk of having no credibility if it criticises the use of urgency. The more a party filibusters, the more urgency will be used.
As I said, I have little problem with filibustering laws you are totally opposed to. But filibustering totally uncontroversial laws which are supported by all 122 MPs in Parliament is an abuse, and those of us who condemned over-use of urgency should also condemn Labour’s filibustering of totally uncontroversial laws.