Government puts Parliament into urgency to kick off 100-day plan

by Chris Bramwell / 09 November, 2017

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Parliament on the day the new MPs were sworn in. Photo / Richard Tindiller

The new government made a swift start on its 100-day plan, putting the house into urgency within hours of Parliament's state opening.

That led to accusations of hypocrisy from the Opposition, arguing Labour had castigated the National-led goverment for using urgency.

The first bill to be debated under the new government enacts the extension to paid parental leave announced by the Prime Minister on Monday.

The legislation was being pushed through without being sent to a select committee, as the government argued it had already been through that process twice under the previous National government.

The first time it was voted down at third reading and the second time it got there it was vetoed by National.

Minister for Workplace Relations Iain Lees-Galloway told Parliament the bill was a straight-forward one.

"It provides for an increase in the duration of paid parental leave from the current 18 weeks to 26 weeks.

"This is achieved in two stages, first an increase to 22 weeks on 1 July 2018, with a further increase to 26 weeks on 1 July 2020."

Senior National MP Amy Adams told the House she was witnessing an incredible turnaround of principles by the parties now on the government benches.

"From parties who until now have derided, castigated, abused, got outraged over the use of urgency.

"When the National-led government took urgency it was very clear as the need and the reasons for doing so."

Ms Adams said the rushed, hurried, seat-of-the-pants process by the Labour-led coalition meant the bill was very light on detail.

"There are no fiscals at all, there were certainly none included in Labour's pre-election information and the Treasury, who have a very important job in assessing these things, have already noted that the assessment contains only very minimal - and I'm quoting - analysis of the likely impacts."

New Zealand First's Tracey Martin, the Minister for Children, said the bill had twice been through select committee with more than 6000 submissions, 99 percent of which were in support.

She said the bill was going through under urgency, because it was urgent.

"Because our families need it, our babies need it, our mothers and fathers need it - they need the security to know that as soon as possible they can plan for this.

"While I hear the Honourable Amy Adams stood and said again and again and again, there's been no Regulatory Impact Statement, well there has been two."

Despite National's objections to the bill, it voted in support - saying it was, in fact, its policy as well to extend paid parental leave.

ACT voted against it.

The bill has to pass further readings before becoming law.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

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