ACT leader David Seymour has done a u-turn and will now support a bill he’s called “silly” and a Labour Party “stunt”.
The Official Information (Parliamentary Under-Secretaries) Amendment Bill – designed to make under-secretaries subject to the OIA – was introduced by Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe last year.
It passed its first reading in October after United Future leader Peter Dunne and the Maori Party broke ranks with National and ACT to get the bill over the line.
Seymour, who is under-secretary for education and responsible for charter schools labelled it a “stunt bill” and questioned why Labour didn’t change the bill back in 2005 when former Labour MP Dover Samuels was an under-secretary.
Labour has long opposed charter schools, an ACT flagship policy, and Seymour claimed the bill was redundant because under-secretaries already answered to their ministers.
“All it does is attempt to attack me and while I’m a little bit flattered, I cannot support the bill,” Seymour said in October.
However the realisation that the Government didn’t have the numbers to block the bill has forced Seymour to change his mind.
He is now going to vote in favour of the bill because he doesn’t see any point “wasting energy” on lobbying MPs to oppose such a “silly bill”.
It’s expected National will throw its support behind the bill as well.
The select committee recommended unanimously that the bill passed, and that is the right thing to do.
Yes the intent behind the bill is petty politics by Labour, but regardless of the intent, the bill is worth supporting as an Under-Secretary is part of the Executive and should have the OIA apply to their official duties.