7 Jun 2022

If you miss a major reform, wait a day or two...

From The House , 6:55 pm on 7 June 2022

This week in Parliament is a member’s week, which means that debate on Wednesday evening will be devoted to bills suggested by backbench MPs. 

Despite losing a whole day of debating to member’s bills the government’s agenda this week still includes two separate and momentous legislative reforms on the agenda.

Three Waters Reform TV advert

Image from an information campaign around Three Waters Reform Photo: Supplied

Most Parliaments include one or two big reform efforts. Note: each three year session between elections is a different parliament - this Parliament is the 53rd.

Historically left-wing governments tend to undertake more of them than conservative governments do. (Not always but often).

The current Government is undertaking major legislative reform on scale though. There are currently a number of different major packages of reform before the House and a number of others have been agreed already. 

The previous (52nd) parliament was busy, but a number of desired changes were presumably stymied by being in coalition with New Zealand First, so now they are playing catch-up.

This week begins with the final (third reading) debate on the reworking of the public health sector via the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill. This bill will then become law once assented to by the Governor General. Pae Ora abolishes the current system of local DHBs and centralises health management.

And the week ends with the first reading on Thursday of the Water Services Entities Bill, which is a significant aspect of the Three Waters reform. 

Three Waters centralises drinking water, wastewater and storm-water governance on the basis that even large councils are struggling to afford increasingly urgent upgrades to their local water systems. 

The water entities bill will head to Select Committee to join other major legislation currently under consideration such as fair pay agreements, firearms controls, and grocery sector control efforts.

The 53rd Parliament must be an exciting (and possibly exhausting) place to be an MP.