Government loses a vote in Parliament

  • 14/10/2015
Peter Dunne (File)
Peter Dunne (File)

The Government has lost a vote in Parliament, and a Bill to bring ACT leader David Seymour under the Official Information Act (OIA) has passed its first reading.

Mr Seymour is parliamentary under-secretary to the minister of education and is exempt from the OIA, as under-secretaries always have been.

Labour thinks he should be subject to the provisions of the OIA, and brought a member's Bill to Parliament to change the law.

Government MPs opposed it. But United Future leader Peter Dunne backed it and tonight the Bill passed its first reading by 61 votes to 60.

Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe drafted the Bill and said the exemption was an anomaly.

"This Bill is about open and transparent government and any party that believes in that ought not to have a problem with it," he said.

Government MPs said Mr Seymour wasn't a member of the executive and held delegated powers.

"Accountability rests with ministers and information can be accessed through their offices," said Sarah Dowie.

"It would be a slippery slope if we blurred the lines between the executive and Parliament."

Mr Seymour said the Bill was a political stunt.

"Labour had under-secretaries when they were in power and they didn't come under the OIA," he said.

The Bill has been sent to the Government administration select committee for scrutiny and public submissions.

There's no guarantee it will be passed into law.

Labour, the Greens, NZ First, the Maori Party and United Future supported the Bill.

National and ACT opposed it.

Mr Dunne didn't speak during the first reading debate.