15 Oct 2015

ACT leader claims Labour targeting him with bill

10:12 am on 15 October 2015

ACT Party leader David Seymour has accused the Labour Party of targeting him with a member's bill.

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Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Labour's bill, which seeks to make Parliamentary under-secretaries subject to the Official Information Act (OIA), passed its first reading on Thursday night - by just one vote.

Mr Seymour is the under-secretary for education and his responsibilities include the contentious charter school policy.

Labour's Adrian Rurawhe, who sponsored the bill, told MPs one of the key drivers for the bill was the lack of transparency around that policy.

"Those with oversight responsibilities for these schools, such as the under-secretary, should be subject to proper and democratic accountability," Mr Rurawhe said.

Adrian Rurawhe, new MP for Te Tai Hauauru.

Adrian Rurawhe, new MP for Te Tai Hauauru. Photo: RNZ / Laura Bootham

Mr Seymour was quick to dismiss the bill as "silly and vexatious" and a political stunt attempting to target him.

"I was flattered perhaps to star in most of Adrian Rurawhe's speech. This is a bill entirely designed to target a particular member - strangely enough - me," he told Parliament.

"It does not achieve any purpose for which it is required, all it does is attempt to attack me, and while I am a little bit flattered, I cannot support the bill."

Mr Seymour said the legislation was redundant as under-secretaries did not have decision-making powers.

He then took a potshot at Labour, accusing them of a double-standard.

"Why did the Labour Party not change the law when Dover Samuels was an under-secretary back in 2005?"

New Zealand First's Denis O'Rourke was quick to add his support to the bill, saying under-secretaries should not be protected from the OIA.

Mr O'Rourke said the bill was common sense and necessary and also annoyed the "young, wet-behind-the-ears member for the ACT Party".

But National's Mark Mitchell went to Mr Seymour's defence, saying it was a "pick on David Seymour' bill.

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