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PARLIAMENTARY TIME


The Maori Committee room in the New Zealand House of Representatives.


governments. Given New Zealand’s unicameral Parliament, some writers have suggested that the select committee process compensates for a second Chamber. Reassuringly, the use of urgency


in a manner that bypasses select committee consideration for a Bill is relatively rare. However, governments are not less likely to use this type of urgency since the implementation of a mixed-member proportional electoral system (MMP) in 1996. In particular, the recent increase in the use of this


sort of urgency (20 bills passed with no select committee consideration in the 2008-2010 parliamentary term, up from four bills passed with no select committee consideration in the 2005-2008 parliamentary term) is troubling.


The effect of proportional representation on the use of urgency Since the introduction of MMP, single party majority governments have given way to multi-party majority and


206 | The Parliamentarian | 2012: Issue Three


minority governments formed through coalitions and confidence and supply agreements. Coalition members or confidence and supply partners act as “veto-players” on executive governments, most obviously in terms of policy. However, they also have an impact on the executive’s parliamentary powers. One of the key questions the Urgency Project sought to answer was whether the move to MMP had an effect on the overall use of urgency. Accordingly, the Urgency Project focused on


the period 1987-2010, providing a snapshot of pre-MMP single party majority governments and post-MMP multi-party majority and minority governments. MMP has had a profound impact


on the use of urgency. The 1987- 1990 parliamentary term had the highest use of urgency over the period studied, with 71.8 per cent of all Bills introduced to the House accorded urgency for at least one stage of their progression through the House. By comparison, the


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