Social Security (Commencement of Benefits) Amendment Bill - All readings

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

First reading

STUART SMITH: We do not take this as a trivial matter at all on this side of the House. I think the reason we are debating this bill today is that the policy intent back in 1998 was very, very clear, and, due to drafting errors or poor wording, we have ended up with the legislation not matching that policy intent. That needs to be addressed for many reasons, but not the least being a fiscal one.

I think, while there has been a little bit of politics from the Labour Party in this particular debate, the contributions from the Green members underline for those who were in any doubt that they certainly are not ready for the Treasury benches. It would certainly be a cruel and unusual punishment should they ever get the opportunity to be unleashed on us in that area.

This is a very timely bill. It is very good to get it done at this point. It absolutely nails the problem that we have of getting the legislation lined up with the policy intent. I commend it to the House.

Second reading

STUART SMITH: Well, I do have to credit where it is due. I think that was a masterful speech from a person who I think that the 150 who were in Palmerston North the other weekend would prefer to see as their leader of the Labour Party, Annette King. But that was a great speech.

Hon Ruth Dyson: What an arrogant prat.

Chris Bishop: A good speech from a good member.

STUART SMITH: That is right.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): No, I am going to require the member to withdraw that interjection. [Interruption] Carmel Sepuloni.

Carmel Sepuloni: I didn’t say anything.

Hon Ruth Dyson: I think it was me. Probably me.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): Who used “arrogant” and then another word?

Hon Ruth Dyson: Me.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard)): I require Ruth Dyson to withdraw.

Hon Ruth Dyson: I withdraw and apologise.

STUART SMITH: Well, I am going to take that as a compliment that I have had someone withdraw and apologise.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Trevor Mallard): Now the member will resume his seat. I am going to remind the member, as I probably should have reminded my old friend Annette King, that when the Speaker has ruled, members do not refer to that ruling; they just get on with business.

STUART SMITH: Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker—lesson learnt. This piece of legislation corrects a 1998 legislative error. It is quite clear. Everybody agrees there has been an error, and that 7 days actually is a week to everybody except for the courts in this case, and we are fixing that piece of legislation.

Retrospective legislation has been discussed for quite a bit of time here this evening and there have been some holier than thou speeches given across from the other side. But as to the residency provisions that were referred to by my colleague earlier, people have been in the queue for 2 to 3 years—they did not get 6 weeks. It was summarily dismissed overnight.

Sometimes you have got to make decisions around what is responsible, what is right, and what is good governance. That is what the National Party stands for, and it is with that in mind that I commend this bill to the House. Thank you.

Third reading

STUART SMITH (National—KaikĊura): This has clearly been a long night, as I think one of the members over there is almost asleep and dreaming, given those last few words.

It is actually my pleasure to have the last words on this debate, and it has been a wide-ranging debate. I think across the House there has been agreement that there is an error in the legislation, and now the issue is how far back the decision is to go as far as the applications for review.

Being a good Minister and a good Government is about balance, and we have an excellent Minister for Social Development who has struck the right balance. With that, it is my pleasure to commend this bill to the House. Thank you.