18 Sep 2018

Suffrage, limbs, and oral fluid

From The House , 6:55 pm on 18 September 2018

Universal suffrage giving women the right to vote was introduced to Aotearoa New Zealand 125 years ago, so MPs will put aside time on Wednesday to commemorate that part of the country’s history.

They’ll also work through bills like the Government’s Artificial Limb Service Bill and New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball’s Random Oral Fluid Testing Bill.

The order in which the House debates legislation is decided by the Leader of The House, Chris Hipkins (except members’ bills, which are debated in order with the newest ones going last).

An outline for this week (18 - 20 September) is below.

Labour MP Chris Hipkins in the House

Chris Hipkins, Leader of the House. Parliament's hooker, yelling the calls at the lineout. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

MPs are required to be at Parliament on 'sitting days', so called because MPs sit in those green leather chairs when they’re in the debating chamber. An agenda known as the Order Paper is published online each sitting day outlining what business the House plans to get through. But things change and time is limited so below is what they’ll try their best to do.

Splitting social security


Teachers choose their own masters (Tuesday)


  • The third reading of the  The Education (Teaching Council of Aotearoa) Amendment Bill

  • Like many professions, teachers have a professional body called the Education Council. This bill began life as a members bill (from now Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins). The Bill increases the council's  size and includes on it teachers selected by teachers. The government-appointees would become a minority of the council. This week should see the committee stage (where the house debates and can suggest changes to details). When it came back from select committee the opposition members of the Select Committee included a minority report opposing the Bill as expensive and unnecessary.


  • The basic argument is to allow teachers to choose from amongst themselves for their professional leadership. Teachers elected to be on the council would require a current practicing certificate.

The Law of the Sea (Tuesday)


  • The second reading of the Maritime Powers Extension Bill

  • The Bill will give greater powers to New Zealand Customs to stop trafficking of illegal substances and clarify where NZ customs has the power to do so.

  • Customs would be able to stop, board, and search a ship both in New Zealand waters or on the high seas, even if the ship is flying a foreign flag (so long as that country is a party to the UN Conventions). NZ could also charge those involved in smuggling to or from New Zealand, even on the high seas.


More Education Change-ups (Tuesday)


  • The first reading of the Education Amendment Bill (No 2).

  • A Bill of reasonably minor education adjustments including: adding student safety to the registration requirement for private schools; preventing the Education Council from unilaterally changing the qualification requirements for teachers; expanding the provision of distance education through communities of online learning; and ensuring that the option of ‘cohort entry’ (beginning in groups, not one by one on their birthday) for new-entrants doesn’t mean children start school before they turn 5.


  • That cohort change will mean that schools will now be able to choose to bring in new entrants at term-beginning and mid-term. But all new entrants must already be 5. This is because previously some children were starting school up to two months before they turned five (to be in the cohort closest to their birthday).

The Fibre Aftermath


  • The second reading of the Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Bill. The bill was brought to Parliament under the previous government and picked up by the current one.

  • It introduces a new outline for the regulation of fibre services from 2020, while retaining copper regulations where no fibre alternatives are available.

  • It also extends consumer safeguards, streamlines response to competition problems (especially in the cellular market), and provides more oversight of retail service quality.


  • The Bill describes itself as regulatory changes “needed in view of the major growth in fibre network services and the relative decline in copper fixed line services.”

Celebrating Women’s Suffrage (Wednesday)  


  • A 'debate' on the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Aotearoa.


  • On 19 September 1893 a new electoral act was signed into law giving women over 21 the right to vote. Bills introduced in 1891 and 1892 had failed to pass the Legislative Council (the Upper House which was abolished in 1950.) The third bill passed when two council members unexpectedly changed their minds just before its third reading, and women turned up to vote in the election later that year.

Taupatupatu Whānui - General Debate (every Wednesday, this week it’ll be at about 4pm).


  • Twelve speeches of up to five minutes in length after question time on Wednesdays in the House. Speeches are divvied up proportionally so bigger parties get more speeches. Because Ministers aren’t counted in the proportional divvy-up, the opposition side of the House gets more speeches than the government side.


  • The general debate is a chance for MPs to bring up issues that would other   wise not come up before the House, making it a wide-ranging debate. Sometimes parties take a coordinated approach and speak on the same issue but there’s no rule that they have to.

Member’s Day (Wednesday)

Every alternate Wednesday in the House at about 4pm, time is devoted to bills by members who are not ministers (like Opposition MPs and backbenchers). They’re called member’s bills and have slightly less time spent on their debates than other legislation.

Up this week:

Updating Military Justice (Wednesday, Thursday morning)



The best laid plans of mice and men...  You can see a running list of how much the House gets done each sitting day by going here: Daily progress in the House