During the past two weeks, Parliament has been ‘in urgency’. That means they sit every day until late in the evenings and they even had a session last Saturday. Usually Parliament sits Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, although MPs meet for committee sessions also. The new National Government is keen to pass the laws about the various matters which they promised during the campaign.
One controversial new law is the 90 day trial period for workers in a new job. After 90 days, the employer can decide not to keep the worker on the job and will not have to pay any redundancy money. The Labour Opposition says that this law will mean many bosses will get rid of workers after 90 days, then hire new workers for another 90 days. That probably depends on whether workers have to be trained. Nobody wants to train new workers every 90 days. This new law is only for small businesses that have fewer than 20 staff members.
The government has also promised financial support for people who lose their jobs because of the recession.
The government has also increased ACC levies from $1.40 to $1.70 out of every $100. ACC is the Accident Compensation Commission and everyone pays a small amount from their pay as a kind of insurance. ACC has financial problems at the moment so they need more money.
Another new law, which passed yesterday, will allow new coal-fired power stations. The Labour government refused to use more coal because of the carbon emissions. New Zealand has a lot of coal. Mostly we export it to China and Japan. The government said that we need more electricity generation because of higher demand for electricity.
The government had a chance to check the accounts yesterday. These show that the financial situation is much worse than two months ago. The Minister of Finance, Bill English, said that they do not have the money to help with insulation of old houses or to improve Kiwi Rail. When the Labour government bought back the Railways (see May 10th), the National Party said it was a waste of tax payer money so it is not surprising that they cannot find the money for Kiwi Rail.