9 May 2013

Parliament debates bills under urgency

6:23 pm on 9 May 2013

The Government has being accused of double standards in its move to rush through seven bills.

Parliament has been sitting under urgency since Wednesday afternoon to deal with legislation that includes updating the rules governing the country's electronic spy agency.

The Labour Party is questioning how the Government can push through some bills that are controversial and do not have cross-party support, while supporting a long select committee process for other bills.

Labour MP Phil Goff told the House on Thursday it is critical that experts and members of the public are able to have their say on all proposed new laws.

But Courts Minister Chester Borrows said there are times when the Government needs to work with more urgency with some pieces of legislation.

Debate began with the first reading of the bill allowing the Government Communications Security Bureau to spy on New Zealanders when assisting other agencies.

The urgency motion was passed by 64 votes to 56, with National, the Maori Party, ACT and United Future in favour on Wednesday night. The bill will be considered by the Intelligence and Security committee in a fast-tracked process.

A bill introducing a formal obligation on telecommunication companies to carry out interception warrants under certain circumstances was passed by a slim margins on Wednesday night.

Legislation to change criminal procedure rules has passed its second reading.

A bill that targets compensation payments to prisoners has had its second reading.

Legislation that would allow the Transport Agency to borrow money to pay for new roads will have a second reading and committee stage, while a trustee amendment bill will be passed through all of its stages.

Legislation introducing changes to the Insurance Act will have its first reading.

The house will sit under urgency until midnight on Thursday.