Nat MP's union treatment grates Labour
Thursday 29 Nov 2012 2:25 p.m.
National MP David Bennett (Facebook/file)
Labour MPs may lay a complaint against National MP David Bennett over his treatment of a union boss during a parliamentary committee meeting.
Mr Bennett chairs the transport and industrial relations select committee, which is hearing submissions on a Government bill to introduce a "starting out" wage of $10.80 an hour, or 80 percent of the adult minimum wage.
The lower wage would apply to 16 and 17-year-olds, along with 18 and 19-year-olds for their first six months in a job.
First Union general secretary Robert Reid made a submission against the bill on Thursday, but Mr Bennett repeatedly cut him off.
While speaking about past youth rates legislation, Mr Bennett interrupted Mr Reid to tell him to "stick to the bill".
Labour's Phil Twyford urged Mr Bennett to "be a little bit more accommodating of the submitters", otherwise he might face "a dispute and non-cooperation" from opposition MPs on the committee.
Mr Reid was interrupted again and cautioned by Mr Bennett as he told the committee that Spotless is trying to negotiate compulsory youth rates in its collective contract bargaining with Nelson Hospital workers, in anticipation of the legislation passing.
As Mr Reid continued, saying the inclusion of such a clause was "a real problem", Mr Bennett cut him off, calling for questions from committee members.
Mr Reid was given just over 10 minutes in total for his submission, while an earlier submission from the Employers and Manufacturers Association went for 22 minutes.
Afterwards, Mr Twyford said he was appalled by Mr Bennett's behaviour in the chair.
"He intervened and cut off a submitter twice in the middle of a perfectly reasonable and relevant submission, and we feel it was partisan and bone-headed chairing."
He and fellow Labour MP Andrew Little are now considering making a complaint about Mr Bennett's "performance".