“Labour’s move to suspend democracy and avoid public scrutiny over its vaccine mandate legislation, and to use COVID-19 as a cover to sneak its welfare policy through Parliament, are the actions of the most cynical government in a generation”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“The COVID-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Bill might be the most significant legislation passed this term of Parliament, but Labour is suspending normal parliamentary processes and will rush the bill through without public scrutiny.
“It will first pass two non-COVID-19 bills so it can debate the law after the 6pm news goes to air.
“It’s difficult to imagine a more cynical attempt to avoid public scrutiny, but it gets worse.
“Chris Hipkins is refusing to release the advice he received until late January 2022 meaning MPs won’t be able to read it before voting on the legislation.
“But wait, there’s more. The Government will use the cover of COVID-19 and parliamentary urgency to sneak through the welfare changes announced by Jacinda Ardern at the recent Labour Party conference.
“The reason we have a Parliament is to consult the voters, scrutinise legislation, make improvements, and ensure laws reflect the will of the public.
“There are two possible explanations for Labour suspending normal democratic process.
“Either it doesn't care, or it wasn’t prepared.
“It didn’t have to be this way. The first vaccines were issued in February. The Government has had nine months to draft this legislation, consult important stakeholders like the business community, and get the implementation right.
“All of this would make a mockery of Labour’s claim to be the most transparent government ever if New Zealanders still believed it.
“ACT will reluctantly support the COVID-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Bill at first reading and push the Government to make changes so it is more workable for business. If those changes aren’t agreed to, we will withdraw our support.”