Labour v National: MPs in spat over missed Parliamentary meeting

Dozens of people had their plans ruined by squabbling MPs today after the most powerful select committee in Parliament was cancelled.

A Labour MP called in sick and National refused to make up the numbers. They're scrapping among themselves and refusing to apologise to the submitters.

Marete Marsters-Grubner's time is precious.

"I discovered last year three weeks after my husband died that I had Stage 4 terminal cancer."

She was meant to make a submission to MPs today about the health system and funding cancer drugs. It was so important to her, she cut short her holiday 

"I could've stayed away longer but had to get back for this."

But squabbling MPs meant the select committee collapsed, the submissions were cancelled and she wasn't even told.

"I was waiting for an hour and a half. It's saying that they don't care."

Nearly 50 submitters were cancelled, including Alzheimers NZ, the Mental Health Foundation, Child Poverty Action Group, Disability Action, and the Pike River Recovery Agency.

Sonya Rockhouse lost her son Ben in the Pike River disaster, and Anna Osborne lost her husband Milton. Ms Rockhouse says the cancellation is ridiculous.

"So childish and silly - it's just stupid."

They know all about the sacrifices people make to come to Parliament, Ms Osborne says

"They forgive a day's work, childcare responsibility; they organise all sorts of things - then to turn up and be kicked in the guts [and] not have their say is really disrespectful."

The cancelled Finance and Expenditure Committee is one of Parliament's most important committees.

Thirteen MPs sit on it, and seven of any party are needed to make a quorum - the minimum number for a meeting to go ahead.

The Government had six MPs in there - it was missing one.

National MPs chose to make a political point - waiting outside the meeting room rather than go in to give the committee a quorum.

Simon Bridges says his party will not apologise.

"It is the Government Members of Parliament who should be apologising - no ifs, no buts."

Labour MP Tamati Coffey was a no-show, he called in sick.

National MP David Carter said this is not a one-time thing.

"This is a frequent occurrence by this select committee. Labour members are lazy and disorganised."

The Prime Minister then threw her own MPs under the bus, saying it was unacceptable.

"They've made mistakes we need to own - that can't happen again." 

But despite the mea culpa, even Jacinda Ardern refused to apologise to the submitters.



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