To Filibuster Or Not To Filibuster?

by Desk Editor on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 — 10:38 AM

Parliament may debate and vote on monetary policy this evening unless New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters decides to filibuster his own bill again.

Today is Members Day and if Parliament runs to schedule MPs will get to the first reading of Peters’ Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Amending Primary Function of Bank) Amendment Bill.

The bill seeks to change the way the Reserve Bank works by taking its focus off maintaining price stability and keeping inflation rates stable.

Peters believes the current high value of the dollar is damaging to the economy and the Reserve Bank should take action to lower it.

At the last opportunity to debate the bill, New Zealand First successfully mounted a filibuster to slow Parliament’s progress on its own bill, despite the Government doing everything possible to put it to a vote.

During debate on the Local Government (Council-Controlled Organisations) Amendment Bill, NZ First MPs took turns to seek leave to table documents.

To counter this National MPs took very brief calls – Maggie Barry’s being one of the shortest on record “I oppose this Bill’’ was the vast majority of her contribution – to try and ensure the NZ First bill was put to the sword and taken off the parliamentary agenda.

NZ First would have a more difficult task repeating the tactic today unless the Government allows it to tie up Members Day.

After Question Time ends today around 3pm, MPs will turn to the General Debate (unless there is an Urgent Debate or other business intervening) which lasts one hour.

The first legislation on the Order Paper is the second readings of two Private Bills – the Mount Maunganui Borough Reclamation and Empowering Act Repeal Bill and the Riccarton Bush Amendment Bill.

Both bills are non-controversial with the former bill repealing a law that authorised the transfer and reclamation of 73.5 hectares of seabed to the old Mount Manganui Borough Council and the latter updating the governance arrangements for the board known as the Riccarton Bush Trustees.

Theoretically debate on both bills should take a maximum of two hours each – less if Government MPs make short speeches. Normally such bills would be dealt with quickly, but NZ First with the assistance of other opposition parties could try to drag the bills out as far as possible.

All that remains to be done on the Local Government (Council-Controlled Organisations) Amendment Bill is a vote on its first reading, with the Government set to shoot it down.

This should leave plenty of time for debate on Peters’ bill and a vote if all parties care for it to happen unless there is a repeat of the previous filibuster.

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