There’s something symbolic about Gerry Brownlee’s procedural mistakes holding up the EFA repeal reading last week.
There was a bungled urgency motion followed by a fumbled adjournment motion and a reversal by the Speaker. The end result is that, after an objection by the Greens, the EFA’s second reading was delayed until today.
Where to start with unpacking the symbolism: how about the fact that the Nats’ EFA agenda was going backwards instead of forwards last week which says it all about the whole repeal plan; it’s a backwards step as Russel Norman articulated last Wednesday.
And it was the Greens who stood up in the House for what is right – a largely symbolic move in that it only delays National’s dismantling process. Much of the public has been brainwashed about the EFA’s shortcomings. Yes, the legislation is unwieldy in its current form, but yellow jackets are just not a threat to our democratic process. Enormous donations from the Exclusive Brethen are, and the EFA has addressed these serious problems.
So last week the Greens stood up for the serious, while National and Labour were busy buckling to the trivial. We’ll be criticised for resisting the Government’s urgency motion just as we’ve been criticised in the broader electoral finance reform debate. However, these issues are critical to the health of our political process. There’ll be more heat, but bring it on.
Clearly the kitchen has got too hot for Labour. They even tried to help National back into urgency last week. Apparently they want to eat all their humble pie at once…you know what happens when you eat too quickly, you get indigestion.
Lastly, the fact that the EFA’s second reading was delayed speaks to the whole question of urgency – what’s the hurry? The one thing everyone agrees on is that our election funding regime needs a lot more work. But we could easily continue under the current law until a better replacement is crafted. Unfortunately, that doesn’t fit with the political posturing at the heart of National’s hundred day hurry up which is perhaps the ultimate in symbolism; a bunch of sound and fury signifying very little.