Parliamentary Progress on Thursday

Members' bills on SuperGold cards and MMP reform were drawn from the ballot, the Fuel Levy amendment bill was introduced, the MPs' Remuneration bill was passed into law and the Pike River Health and Safety Bills passed into law.

Check Ups - New Zealand First Health spokesperson Barbara Stewart ' s SuperGold Health Check Bill was drawn from the ballot and introduced to the House. The Bill would give all SuperGold cardholders three free doctors’ visits each year and Stewart claimed the scheme would only need to prevent 1% of hospitalisations of elderly people to be fiscally neutral.

No more cuppas - Also drawn from the ballot and introduced to the House was Iain Lees-Galloway 's Electoral (Adjustment of Thresholds) Amendment Bill which calls for the reduction of the threshold for a seat in parliament from 5% to 4% of the party vote and the scrapping of the one electoral seat threshold in time for next year's general election. The Labour MP said this would help prevent the "unfairness" exposed in the 2008 election when the then ACT leader Rodney Hide won the Epsom seat and with 3.8% of the vote brought in 4 ACT list MPs when New Zealand First (which had 4.1% of the party vote) had no MPs because it did not win in an electorate.

“The current regime has been a disaster for democracy. It has delivered us Rodney Hide, John Banks, Peter Dunne and now Colin Craig," he said.“People are sick of these cosy political deals designed to circumvent our democratic system".

Fuel levy - The third Bill introduced was the Energy (Fuels, Levies, and References) Amendment Bill, which allows for a new fuel levy to meet the costs of New Zealand's oil stockholding treaty obligation under the Agreement on an International Energy Program.

Signatories to the Agreement are required to hold oil stock equivalent to 90 days of net imports. The cost of doing this has previously been funded through general taxation. The Bill provides for the existing petroleum or engine fuel monitoring levy (PEFML) to be extended so that PEFML revenue can be used to meet the costs; and removes the present maximum levy rate and provides for the levy rate and fuels to which the PEFML applies to be set in regulations made by Order in Council.

MP's remuneration - The Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Bill was passed. The law changes mean that The independent Remuneration Authority will set most travel and accommodation entitlements for MPs and ministers, rather than Parliament's Speaker or the Minister responsible for Ministerial Services.

The current voluntary disclosure regime for MPs' travel and accommodation expenses will become a statutory requirement, and the amount that can be deducted from MPs' salaries for non-attendance in Parliament will increase from a maximum of NZ$10 a day to 0.2% of an MPs' salary.

Pike River - The WorkSafe New Zealand Act, the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Act, and the Mines Rescue Act will be created by the passing of the former Health and Safety (Pike River Implementation) Bill.

Labour Minister Simon Bridges said the passing of the Bill marked “the last major milestone in our work to address the 16 recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine tragedy". He said the new stand-alone workplace health and safety regulator, WorkSafe New Zealand , would operate from next month, and the passing of legislation also "paved the way for new mining health and safety regulations, and an expanded and better supported Mines Rescue Service".

Harmful Communications - the debate on the first reading of the Harmful Digital Communications Bill was interrupted with 7 speeches remaining.