To The Midnight Hour

by Desk Editor on Friday, May 17, 2013 — 11:59 PM

The House sat through Friday night under Urgency rules and will resume on Saturday morning to debate changes to the Crown Minerals Act and a bill lifting fuel taxes.

The House rose at midnight debating the committee stage of the Crown Minerals Amendment Act 2013 Amendment Bill.

Earlier in the day it was introduced and completed its first reading by 68 to 49 with National, NZ First, ACT and United Future in favour.

The Government insisted the changes were technical and corrections to mistakes included in legislation passed last month. Opposition MPs were deeply suspicious about the apparent extension of the law into the areas above the continental shelf and why it was being debated under a Budget urgency motion.

The minister responsible Simon Bridges did not take the opportunity to answer any questions while he was in the chair.

On Saturday morning MPs will return to the bill and then seek to pass through all stages the Customs and Excise (Budget Measures—Motor Spirits) Amendment Bill.

The bill seeks to raise fuel tax by 3 cents a litre each year for the next three years.

Earlier on Friday MPs completed the third reading of the of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Amendment Bill (No 2) by 63 to 55 with National, Maori Party, ACT and United Future in favour. The bill had been introduced earlier and passed through all stages.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the bill was the Government’s response to court rulings (initially made 20 years ago) on support payments for those caring with adults with special needs. He said the bill would allow for some payments, but would balance the demand it placed on the taxpayer and the duty of care parents had.

Opposition to the bill grew through the day with Labour MPs and others saying the payments were too low and the rules around payments too stringent.

Amongst other things the bill allows the Government to review the housing needs and tenancy of long term state housing tenants, moves the assessment processing to the Ministry of Social Development and gives more ability for community groups to provide subsidized housing on the Government’s behalf.

MPs started Friday at 9am by completing the first reading of the Social Housing Reform (Housing Restructuring and Tenancy Matters) Amendment Bill by 63 to 56 with National, Maori Party, ACT and United Future in favour.

It was referred to the Social Services committee with a report back of October 1.

Yesterday the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill completed its first reading by 104 to 15 with Greens and Mana opposed and it was sent to the Social Services Committee with a report back by July 2.

There was also a one hour debate on the referral motion which passed by 70 to 49 with National, NZ First, Maori Party, ACT and United Future in favour
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