Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

National's list of laws passed under urgency

Grant Robertson says urgency is being used excessively and on some controversial bills. Photo / Richard Robinson
Grant Robertson says urgency is being used excessively and on some controversial bills. Photo / Richard Robinson

A Labour MP and a National Party-aligned blogger have joined forces to object to the Government's frequent use of urgency to push legislation through Parliament.

Labour MP Grant Robertson released figures on the use of urgency since 1999, which showed that in its first two years National pushed 17 laws through without allowing public submissions - compared to the four or five each term when Labour was in government.

Mr Robertson and Kiwiblog blogger David Farrar posted the figures on their blogs this week and called for changes to make it harder for a government to skip select committee stages.

Laws which passed under urgency without any select committee consideration between December 2008 (when National came into Government) and December 2010:

9-Dec-08: Bail Amendment Bill provided for bail to be denied if there was any risk of a defendant absconding, interfering with witnesses, or offending while on bail.

Education (National Standards) Amendment Bill implemented national standards in primary schools.

Employment Relations Amendment Bill introduced 90-day trial period for small companies and allowed bosses to consider KiwiSaver contributions when negotiating pay increases.

Sentencing (Offences Against Children) Amendment Bill required courts to take into account factors such as the defencelessness of victim, abuse of trust and attempts to hide the abuse when sentencing for child abuse or ill-treatment.

Taxation (Urgent Measures and Annual Rates) Bill introduced tax cuts, cut some aspects of Kiwisaver, including holding employer contribution levels at 2 per cent rather than increasing up to 4 per cent.

16-Dec-08

Energy (Fuels, Levies, And References) Biofuel Obligation Repeal Bill removed Labour's requirement for an increasing proportion of petrol and diesel sales to be biofuels.

Electricity (Renewable Preference) Repeal Bill removed Labour's 10-year ban on new fossil-fuelled thermal electricity generation.

17-Feb-09

Electoral Amendment Bill repealed Labour's Electoral Finance Act and reinstated the old Electoral Act as an interim measure.

13-May-09

Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) Bill was the first of three bills for the new Super City in Auckland. It provided for the end-date of the previous city councils, set up the Auckland Transition Agency to manage the change, and restricted the powers of the city councils until the new Auckland Council was born.

24-Nov-09

Corrections (Use of Court Cells) Amendment Bill allowed court cells to be used to house prisoners as a last resort.

Policing (Constable's Oaths Validation) Amendment Bill was a technical bill to retrospectively validate the oaths of a swathe of police officers following a change in the swearing-in procedure.

30-Mar-10

Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Bill replaced Environment Canterbury's elected council with government appointed commissioners until 2013. Gave powers to impose a moratorium on water and discharge permits.

Immigration Act 2009 Amendment Bill brought forward the date at which implementation work could start on changes from new Immigration Act, including set up of Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

28-Apr-2010 (Extraordinary Urgency)

Excise and Excise-equivalent Duties Table (Tobacco Products) Amendment Bill increased tobacco tax in three stages.

20-May-2010

Taxation (Budget Measures) Bill increased GST to 15 per cent and cut income taxes.

22-Jun-10

Civil Aviation (Cape Town Convention and Other Matters) Amendment Bill aligned NZ law with international Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (the Cape Town Convention).

Policing (Involvement in Local Authority Elections) Amendment Bill allowed police officers to run for local council and be councillors without having to leave the Police.

14-Sep-2010: (in extended sitting hours, rather than Urgency)

Canterbury Earthquake Response Bill gave government greater powers to deal with recovery after the September earthquake. Set up the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission.

28-Oct-2010

Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill so-called Hobbit Bill - specified workers on film productions are independent contractors unless they specifically entered into an employment agreement.

Summary Proceedings Amendment Bill (No 2) made offences such as theft purely summary offences if the property involved was less than $500.

- NZ Herald

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