Here’s hoping the Greens take a long time to recover and don’t turn up in the House on Tuesday

Whee. Alf is back home in Eketahuna.

Parliament rose earlier than expected on Saturday night after sitting in urgency for much of the day.

Alf doesn’t know exactly what happened, but he understands a last-minute deal was struck between National and Labour.

Normally Alf would not want a bar of any deal struck with the Labour lot.

But he was missing the atmosphere in the Eketahuna Club on a Saturday night and was grateful.

Labour had been drawing out the debate on a number of bills, but pulled back after the Government agreed to support police checks on staff at limited-attendance childcare facilities such as creches in gyms and shopping malls.

The Education Amendment Bill would have exempted such facilities from early-childhood licensing standards and thus removed a requirement for police checks.

But Labour put forward an amendment to the Health and Safety Act to keep the checks in place, and Education Minister Anne Tolley says the Government was happy to support it, because it didn’t change the main thrust of the bill.

Alf was chuffed to see the New-Zealand Productivity Commission Bill complete its committee stage and be reported without amendment.

It passed its third reading by 81 to 4.

The Greens opposed it and the Urgency motion came to an end at 9.06 pm.

Howz about that? Alf was keeping an eye on the clock.

But he is a tad bewildered about why the bloody Greens should oppose the Productivity Commission’s establishment.

Part of their opposition is the stuff of pin-pricking pettiness.

A bugger called Clendon – one of their Parliamentary team – was bothered that the chair designate of the commission-to-be has already been appointed.

Frankly, the Greens see that as rather an abuse of the parliamentary process.

Perhaps I should say that it appears to be treating Parliament with some disdain to appoint the head of an organisation when the very existence, nature, function, and roles of that organisation are still being discussed in a select committee, before the bill has even come back to the House for its second reading, Committee stage, and third reading.

In that, there is no explicit or implied criticism of the gentleman chosen to lead the commission. I do not know the fellow. It must be said that his CV is very impressive and he may well be an ideal choice, but it seems remarkable that such an appointment would be made in advance of the proper parliamentary process being completed.

How churlish is that?

Oh, and in the next breath the bugger was beefing about the commission being under-resourced.

It is noted that the New Zealand Productivity Commission will be able to, on its own initiative, undertake and publish research about productivity matters to develop its institutional knowledge, support its inquiry, and promote public understanding of those issues.

That is well and good, and it is appropriate that such a body should be able to do independent work, but I seriously doubt whether this commission will have the capacity or the wherewithal to do any such work.

We are told it will have a budget of some $5 million a year. That is not a significant sum of money given that the Auckland inquiry consumed some $3 million to make, admittedly, quite a large investigation.

Clearly, the requirements are that the first task or tasks of the commission will be to fulfil the roles or tasks given to it by the Minister. It will have very little time, capacity, or resources to do independent work, unlike its Australian equivalent, which works on a much larger stage with a much larger budget available to it and where there can be some genuine self-initiated work done.

Did we hear the Greens move an amendment to give the commission more money?

Not while Alf was listening.

For those who need to know Parliament will resume at 2pm on Tuesday.

With a bit of luck the Greens – somewhat lacking in the physical robustness department because of their muesli diets – will still be recovering from the marathon sitting and won’t turn up.

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