ACT Party MP Sir Roger Douglas pulled no punches in Parliament on Wednesday night, calling the National Party spineless over its refusal to support his youth rates bill.
Sir Roger's member's bill seeking to reinstate youth pay rates for 16 and 17-year-olds was voted down 117 votes to 5.
Despite National previously backing youth rates, it opposed Sir Roger's legislation, saying it does not believe it is the best way to tackle youth unemployment.
Sir Roger told Parliament the high levels of unemployment among young people, especially Maori, are disgraceful.
"I find it hard that the National Government will not support this bill when they have conceded that the abolition of youth minimum wage has led to unemployment.
"Then again, the National Party has always been bold in opposition, but have proved to be spineless in Government."