24 Nov 2022

Opposition parties question need for urgent sittings at Parliament

6:03 am on 24 November 2022
Christopher Luxon, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer  and David Seymour

From left, Christopher Luxon, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and David Seymour are all unhappy with the lengthy sessions at Parliament this week. Photo: RNZ

Opposition parties are sceptical of the government's explanation for Parliament going into days of urgency.

The House is sitting under urgency for the rest of the week, with MPs sitting from 9am to midnight, with hour-long breaks for lunch and dinner.

Depending on progress, the extended hours could spill into the weekend.

Twenty-four bills are expected to come up, with some set down to progress through all stages - including a bill delaying the implementation of the Clean Car Standard and another extending the deadline for landlords to comply with the government's Healthy Homes standards.

Leader of the House Chris Hipkins is defending the use of urgency, saying the government's record of using it is similar to National-led governments.

The bills that were going through all stages under urgency were "largely technical in nature".

"They are relatively uncontentious."

Hipkins said urgency was needed to make up for the time lost when Parliament was suspended following the Queen's death.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer was cynical about that.

"We have people die all the time. At the end of the day, you still gotta have a plan, and you stay focused on that.

"The reality is, is that they [the government] have been really, really slack in how they've brought legislation to the House, that's what their primary role is."

ACT leader David Seymour said about four weeks' worth of legislation would be considered this week, but the House was only suspended for a week following the Queen's death.

"It's never good to blame the Queen, but especially for something that she didn't do," he said.

Seymour said many of the bills wouldn't be subject to proper scrutiny under urgency.

In particular, he wanted MPs to be given more time to debate the main piece of Three Waters reform legislation, which would establish the four regional entities that would control New Zealand's drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater.

The Water Services Entities Bill is set down to go through the committee stage this week.

National leader Christopher Luxon said it was "completely mad, completely insane" that the bill would be considered by MPs under urgency.

"We have a piece of legislation here that has not been supported by anybody up and down this country.

"The government hasn't listened, the prime minister now can't explain components that are being added in last minute. They should stop and they should go sit down with councillors and find a proper enduring solution."

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