8 Nov 2022

More 'humane' sitting hours for parliament needed, Labour and National MPs say

7:11 pm on 8 November 2022
Assistant Speaker Jacqui Dean

National Party MP Jacqui Dean. Photo: ©VNP / Phil Smith

Both Labour and National MP's are calling on their colleagues to push for shorter work days in parliament.

National's Jacqui Dean and Labour's Jenny Salesa want parliament to finish at 8pm on Tuesdays and Wednesday during sitting weeks.

Currently, parliament sits from 2pm to 10pm on those days, and 2pm to 5pm on Thursdays.

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Lapour Party MP Jenny Salesa. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Sela Jane Hopgood

Their letter was before the Standing Orders committee, which was reviewing the house rules.

Dean and Salesa are both assistant Speakers for the house, and said the change would allow members of parliament to spend more time with their families, and provide a better work-life balance.

They said there needed to be "more humane sitting hours" for parliament and that few professions call for people to work from 8am or before until after 10pm at night.

Chris Bishop, shadow leader of the house and who recently became a dad, agreed that parliament needed to be more family friendly, but a balance needed to be struck.

National MP Chris Bishop

National Party's Chris Bishop. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

"I frequently leave here at 12.30-1am in the morning and I'm back here at 7am ... it's a brutal lifestyle when parliament sits, but we only sit for 30 weeks a year," he said.

"During the other weeks, the hours in the electorate are slightly more relaxed for people."

Chris Hipkins, the Leader of the House, was not ruling out making parliament sitting hours more family friendly, but said there was compromises either way.

Chris Hipkins

Labour Party's Chris Hipkins. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

"If you bring the sitting hours further forward and finish earlier, you tend to cut into select committee times - there's always trade offs," he said.

Both Hipkins and Bishop sit on the Standing Orders committee and said they would consider all options.

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