Karako’s members’ bill may do some good

Following on from the much scorned Members’ Bill from National backbencher Nuk Korako, Vernon Small rips into National’s handling of Members’ bills.

From Korako’s inconsequential lost property bill reveals dark side of Govt tactic:

Which brings us back to how the Government is manipulating the once-a-fortnight members’ day by stacking the ballot with Government backbenchers’ Bills like Korako’s lamentable deposit.

It wasn’t so long ago, with the Government able to determine its legislative programme, that the members’ ballot was seen as the route for Opposition and minor parties to put forward issues they saw as important.

When the Government had a strong majority there was little concern about what – or how many – proposed laws where wheeled up from the biscuit-tin ballot.

If the Government of the day objected, they could just knock them over like so many skittles. Next!

But with slim majorities, and especially with competing parties in the House since MMP was adopted, it is no longer so simple.

UnitedFuture’s Peter Dunne and the two Maori Party MPs are able to deliver a majority against the Government and it can no longer be sure of the numbers on slightly left of centre issues, especially at first reading.

There are plenty of examples. Last week there were two: David Parker’s move to bring contractors inside minimum wage laws and Andrew Little’s healthy homes bill. Before that were Sue Moroney’s (vetoed) extension to paid parental leave.

Hence the new tactic of stacking the ballot with as many National MPs’ measures as possible. Then the odds are lessened of an Opposition measure, with the potential to embarrass, being drawn.

Having said that, there are small but worthy measures Government members can justifiably put into the ballot. Paul Foster-Bell’s move to exempt RSAs from the need to obtain special liquor licences to serve alcohol on Anzac Day is a clear case in point. 

But others that are worthy and bring out the best in Parliament – such as the marriage equality law or ACT MP David Seymour’s proposed assisted dying bill – can potentially be displaced by National’s members’ ballot-stacking.

And even if the Government hits “flush” on Korako’s strained attempt, there are others lurking in the wings.

For example, you have to wonder in the harsh light of day if Matt Doocey still thinks his Companies (Annual Report Notice Requirements) Amendment Bill is such a good idea.

Do we really need a full members’ day debate on an amendment to remove the requirement to provide a written notice of an annual report to shareholders? 

Brownlee and his fellow ministers may not like it, but if the kind of ridicule being heaped on Korako’s nano-“bill” is the only antidote then so be it.

Opposition parties also abuse and misuse members’ bills too, but Small is justifiably blasting National here for what they do.

Prompted by Korako’s much lamented and eminently lamentable bill. Korako (and the luck of the ballot) may have done some good bringing this up.

Leave a comment


  1. Blazer

     /  17th August 2016

    Swift ,crafty,cunning,unethical,opportunist,arrogant,……what did we do to deserve this cursed government that have plumbed new depths in morals and decency?

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  17th August 2016

      It’s 2016, Blazer, National’s in now, not Labour. Had you forgotten ? John Key’s the PM, not Helen Clark.

      What’s stopping any party from filling up the biscuit tin ?

      • Blazer

         /  17th August 2016

        what has the world come to?Tragic.

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  18th August 2016

        So that’s your answer Kitty? “We’re the government now. We can do whatever we want, stuff the biscuit tin with inconsequential trivia, so eff off if you don’t like it.”

        Sorry to disagree but I fail to see any evidence of responsible governmental behaviour here.

  2. Zedd

     /  17th August 2016

    what do we have left.. when a ‘governing party’ uses their tiniest majority to:
    1) ram through only their legislation..
    2) use it to block just about every opposition bill & SOP.
    3) veto a bill that passed through all stages (paid parental leave)
    4) increasingly does not participate in committee & calls closure motions ASAP
    5) fills up the ‘members ballot’ with TRIVIAL nonsense Govt. MP bills like this
    6) now effectively removes the ‘conscience vote’.. party vote only

    well you could call it ‘Unity’ BUT I’d say it sounds increasingly like a Dictatorship ! 😦

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  17th August 2016

      Dictatorships don’t hold elections.

      The parental leave bill would cost an astronomical amount, and Sue Moroney’s suggestion that it be funded by charging the replacement workers a far higher tax rate was a non-starter. They’d have to be paying 100% tax to cover it. People in favour of it might sing a different song if their taxes went up or other things were cut to pay for it-and it would have to be one or the other.

      • Blazer

         /  17th August 2016

        how did you make mastermind?Dictatorships certainly do hold elections…they just make sure they win them…idiot.

      • Zedd

         /  17th August 2016

        IF ‘Team Key’ listened to the PEOPLE (over 60%) a bit more (not just their mates).. they would decrim. cannabis & save the country about $400mil/year & potentially earn $150mil (according to Treasury) in Taxes. Then they could easily give all kiwi families at least 6 months paid parental leave.
        BUT; no they continue to listen to an obvious ‘powerful minority’ :/

  3. David

     /  17th August 2016

    The bill is actually quite important and would provide some useful guidelines for other issues of abandoned or lost property. We have endless issues with stuff left in storage when the owner dissapears and we need to keep it for 2 years then advertise at huge expense in the local paper, same with vanishing tenants leaving crap behind.
    If you loose your luggage having a website to search is vastly easier than having to have the Herald delivered everyday for six months to find your blasted suitcase.
    Its a more practical bill than the Greens tenancy bill to be honest which achieves nothing.

    • Jeeves

       /  19th August 2016

      Well David, you think its ‘quite important’, and Nuknuk is ‘passionate’ about the issue (lol)…

      But here’s what Professor Geddis says:

      “In concrete terms, if three months after you leave your umbrella in the terminal the airport wants to auction it off, at the moment it must put a notice in the paper saying “we will hold a lost property auction” (as well as putting that notice on its webpage, if it wants to). Under Mr Korako’s bill, it only has to put a notice on its webpage before holding the auction.

      That is the sum total of the effect of his Bill.”

      Can you show us what else you think you see in it that it does…


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