Super City filibuster is beaten at last

It’s great to be home again.

Alf has been held prisoner in Wellington, in effect, by the Labour Party’s playing funny buggers in Parliament to stall the passage of the Super City legislation.

As Radio NZ reports:

Legislation paving the way for the new Auckland super-city has passed in Parliament after four days of almost non-stop debate.

The Local Government (Tamaki Makaurau Reorganisation) Bill, setting up the new Auckland council and a transition agency to oversee its establishment, was passed into law just before 8pm on Saturday.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said the legislation provided for the establishment of the Auckland council from 1 November next year, the establishment of the Auckland Transition Agency and the requirement for existing local authorities to participate in the changeover.

The Sunday Star-Times points out the marathon session of Parliament was ended only after the Government figured out a way to short circuit the Opposition’s delaying tactics.

Labour dragged out the debate – known as filibustering – on two bills to set up a single council in Auckland, but the Government introduced its own amendments to gazump Labour’s efforts.

Among the delaying tactics was the tabling of thousand of amendments, each of which had to be voted on.

The Sunday Star-Times rightly describes many of these as “ludicrous”.

Each vote takes about a minute on each amendment, and the way things were going, Parliament looked likely to be forced to resume tomorrow and sit on into the week.

Yet Labour has rejected Government claims these amendments were trivial.

This gives new meaning to “trivial”. It also gives us a new appreciation of Labour’s notions of “serious.”

Take Labour MP George Hawkins’ contributions to proceedings, for example.

The Dominion-Post mentioned him and his antics in its report yesterday:

Debate on a 29-page bill relating to a planned Auckland super-city was reduced to farce after Labour delay tactics forced votes on thousands of ludicrous amendments.

In a classic case of filibustering, Mr Hawkins suggested scores of names for the planned council, including the Sons and Daughters of Maui, the Sisters and Brothers of Maui and the Cousins and Aunts and Uncles of Maui. With National, ACT and UnitedFuture having a clear majority, none of the amendments had a chance, but Labour’s objective was delay, not change.

But on Saturday afternoon the Government came up with a procedure to stop the votes going ahead: the trick required Local Government Minister Rodney Hide to put forward a minor amendment to each part of his legislation.

The Sunday Star-Times explains:

Under Parliament’s rules all of the other amendments were ruled out as MPs had all ready agreed on the issue before it.

Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee acknowledges it was the Opposition’s right to filibuster, but he’s been a bit cranky about “the trivialising of something that is so important for the future of 1.5 million New Zealanders.”

Thousands of amendments were lodged.

Part two of the first bill was 149 words long but 825 amendments to it were put up.

There’s booze in the Bellamy’s bar to sustain a Parliamentary warrior like Alf through an ordeal like this. But he would rather be with his mates in the Eketahuna Club.

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