Today, there was a ballot at Parliament for two Member’s Bills – they get drawn by a Lotto-style “numbers in a bucket” system as there are always many more MPs outside the Cabinet wanting to progress legislation than there is time in Parliament to deal with their Bills.
I had high hopes for a Green Member’s Bill to be drawn. The Greens had 14 Member’s Bills in the ballot, out of a total of 40, so the odds were pretty good to get at least one. In the context of the proposed SOE partial privatisations and the Overseas Investment Office decision on the Crafar Farms sale, I would have really loved Russel Norman’s Overseas Investment (Restriction on Foreign Ownership of Land) Amendment Bill to be drawn.
Sadly, that was not to be the case, and none of the 14 Green MPs’ Bills will see the light of day until at least the next ballot. The Bills that were drawn were new Labour MP David Clarke’s Holidays (Full recognition of Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day) Amendment Bill which was under Grant Robertson’s name before the election, and new National MP Simon O’Connor’s Joint Family Homes Repeal Bill.
Neither appear to be controversial from a Green perspective. David Clark’s Holidays Amendment Bill would “Mondayise” Waitangi Day and Anzac Day for the purposes of the Holidays Act, meaning when the observation of those days falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday would become a public holiday. That is consistent with Green policy on work-life balance. Last year, because both Waitangi Day and Anzac Day fell on weekends, workers got two days less holiday than usual.
Simon O’Connor’s Joint Family Homes Repeal Bill seems to have been a long time coming. The Law Commission recommended as long ago as 2001 that the Joint Family Homes Act 1964 be repealed, as almost all of its provisions were redundant, given subsequent legislation. I am curious as to why neither Labour or National led Governments have progressed that recommendation until now, when it finally surfaces not as a Government Bill, but as a Private Member’s Bill.
The Green Party caucus is yet to consider either of the Bills, and at there may be a few technical issues to be addressed at least with the Joint Family Homes Act repeal one. But they both look sensible suggestions in principle, so I hope Parliament gets on to progress them promptly so other Member’s Bills get a chance to be debated.