As I said, Idiot/Savant, I think reasonable people in this country don't regard women in politics as some delightful novelty. Dare I say it, perhaps we even take women seriously enough to judge them on their performance rather than their gender?
Over here, yes. But looking at Australia, they're quite a way behind us. What a difference a couple of women Prime Ministers makes.
Another feature of the new government will be the performance of of the deputy leader Julia Gillard. Isn't it great to see a woman close to the apex of federal leadershp in Australia? I think it may even be a first. They've had women state leaders but not in federal politics as far as I know.
And predictably we saw the same sort of nasty misogynist smears directed at her that some still direct at female politicians over here. Unfortunately there are knuckle-draggers on both sides of the Tasman who have yet to enter the Century of the Fruitbat, let alone that of the Anchovy.
I should add that in a perfect world, we wouldn't be doing things this way. In a perfect world, we'd have listened to the Royal Commission on the Electoral System back in 1986 and implemented third party controls and proper transparency a long time ago. In a slightly less perfect world, National would have accepted that the problems exposed by the 2005 election were real, and worked with the government and every other party in Parliament to fix them. Or set up a royal commission or citizen's jury back in 2006, when the Justice & Electoral Committee reported back on the election, to look at solutions, and promised to back whatever they came up with. But instead, they were too busy howling and screaming about pledge cards and turning Parliament into a toxic sewer (something Labour didn't exactly help on either; OTOH the level of vitriol from the opposition benches was unprecedented). There was no political agreement then, so there's no political agrement now, so we simply have to do it without them (but with the support and input of practically everyone else, who did recognise there were problems).
Fortunately, once this patch is applied, we'll have a chance to have such an inquiry into the broader issues and the general shape of our electoral law. I favour a citizen's jury on this, because it's our electoral system, not the politicians', but I can live with a royal commission (well, other than the name :). But regardless of its form, I have no doubt that a fair and reasoned look at the issues will come to the same conclusions as the 1986 Royal Commission into the Electoral System did: that there must be transparency, that third parties must be controlled to prevent exactly what we saw in 2005, and that there should be public funding of political parties to ensure a level playing field.
I/S - If the government is so scrupulous on the EFB, why didn't the select committee travel to Auckland to take submissions there as well?
Because despite its pretensions, Auckland isn't the capital.
Select Committees sometimes travel to other centres to hear submissions, but its relatively rare, and there's no obligation to do so. Holding committee hearings elsewhere is a huge expense, and so even on important legislation, the vast majority of submitters are expected to travel to Wellington and present their submission there.
I/S, OK, so you're down on National, but don't you find it just a bit troubling that Labour is prepared to rush thru poorly conceived legislation in order to increase its chances of electoral sucess?
I don't accept the premise. The bill is there to fix the serious problems in our electoral law exposed during the last election. And I would find it very troubling if a government did not try to fix them.
(Which is one of the reasons I'm so down on National: they deny there are problems, because they can and do rort them to their advantage).
And I don't accept there's been a rush either. The bill has had a full select committee process (which has improved it greatly, BTW). It will get a thorough airing in the committee stage. It is not being passed under urgency. There is a deadline to pass it, given that it must come into force on January 1 next year, but that's hardly unusual. This is the normal legislative process. If you think that that's undemocratic, then frankly, I think you have some pretty serious problems with our entire system of government.
Another thing to bear in mind BTW is the way in which MMP has changed Parliamentary and committee proceedings. In addition to the formal legislative process, there is also an informal process of coalition building and management, with ongoing negotiations between coalition partners to ensure the government has the numbers every step of the way. The government went into the EFB seeking the broadest coalition of parties it could - but the blunt fact is that if you are unwilling to contribute the numbers to help a bill pass, you get no input - it's that simple.
Oh, come on Idiot/Savant... it seem pretty clear from the beginning that Labour wasn't interested in having National involved in the formulation of this bill from the beginning
And it was very clear from the beginning that national simply wasn't interested in real reform. They thought that everything they did during the 2005 campaign was just peachy. They thought being able to collude with the Brethren, the Fair Tax lobby, and the Talley brothers was just great. They think that money in politics is just fine, and that other party's problems boil down to their not having enough of it. More imporantly, they indicated that they would not help provide the numbers for a serious reform bill, and would oppose it for political reasons no matter what. The latter especially makes talking to them a complete waste of time. Why bother to indulge them if they're not going to usefully contribute? Find a coalition you can work with (a very broad coalition in terms of political views), and get on with the job.
(or, in short, they'd said they weren't interested, and the government took them at their word. It's a bit rich therefore to complain about it).
National does have a chance to redeem itself during the committee stage, and I'll be watching closely to see whether the amendments they offer are constructive attempts at helping to create a genuinely better electoral regime, or simple wrecking behaviour. But looking at their past performance, I expect the latter.
Graeme: I'd find it easier to take National's complaints seriously if they'd ever tried to be constructive on this bill. They didn't, and were sidelined as a result. There is simply no point in trying to seek "consensus" with people who have already indicated that they are not interested.
All done; the bill passed 65 - 54, with national, ACT, the Maori party, Copeland and Field against.
Anne Tolley complained the select committee process was undemocratic as the minority opposing the bill were continually outvoted. I don't think that word means what she thinks it means...
Hmmm... people seem to have calmed down a bit now.
If you can't tune in, I'm liveblogging it here