MPs to debate lost luggage - is this a waste of time?

The prime minister says the bill was supported by the National caucus.
MAARTEN HOLL/ FAIRFAX NZ

The prime minister says the bill was supported by the National caucus.

Forget housing, child abuse or crime - the pressing issue up for debate among MPs is ... how to advertise lost luggage.

The Airport Authorities (Publicising Lost Property Sales) Amendment Bill was plucked from the members' ballot box on Thursday and added to Parliament's agenda. It would let airports "determine the most appropriate way to advertise lost property". 

Campaigners who have been vying for better ways to find their belongings at airports will thank National backbencher Nuk Korako who is crusading for this.

ACT leader David Seymour is "gutted" the lost property bill got chosen over his voluntary euthanasia bill.
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

ACT leader David Seymour is "gutted" the lost property bill got chosen over his voluntary euthanasia bill.

Hours and hours of time will be dedicated to this pressing issue in the House throughout the bill's process. 

It has become a tactic for the Government to flood the ballot with bills to limit the chances of an Opposition bill being drawn. But is this taking the mickey?

Korako says his move is "absolutely not" a filler bill, and it is something he is passionate about from being in the tourism industry.

National MP Nuk Korako's airport lost property bill was pulled from the members' ballot.
Richard Cosgrove

National MP Nuk Korako's airport lost property bill was pulled from the members' ballot.

DISRESPECTFUL TO NEW ZEALAND

Otago University professor of public law Andrew Geddis says not only is the bill "disrespectful to New Zealand", but he found it personally insulting.

It stopped bills of real public significance from being put before Parliament, such as ACT leader David Seymour's voluntary euthanasia bill.

The members' ballot was one of the only opportunities for Opposition MPs to get attention on their issues and have them debated.

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Labour tourism spokesman Kris Faafoi said Korako's bill was a joke.

"It makes a mockery of John Key's claim that, 'We're a Government that's focussed on the issues that matter."

He said the change should have been put through as part of a statutes amendment bill, which is the way Parliament deals with a host of small technical changes to laws.

One such bill had just gone through a select committee and Labour would support the proposed change in "this waste-of-time bill" to be added when that legislation reaches committee stage.

"If National doesn't take up this offer it is proof that they are abusing the Members' Ballot to prevent other issues from being debated."

 KORAKO: THE GLASS IS HALF FULL

But Korako said he drafted the bill after "a lot of people" complained to him about the outdated aairport laws requiring lost property to be advertised in the local paper.

He disagreed that the bill was disrespectful.

"If you look at some of my speeches to date, questions and all that in Parliament, this is not taking away any focus about other issues that are happening. This is just something that I really am passionate about.

"Let's make something really easier on people, particularly because the airline travel medium is actually huge now."

The bill was not wrapped up in an omnibus law because it "needs changing": "Maybe to you the glass is half empty, but to me the glass is half full."

A 'NEW LOW'

But ACT MP David Seymour said the bill was a "new low point" for the private members' ballot.

"I'm a bit gutted that my bill wasn't drawn and this bill has been. I guess at least maybe it will help people find their luggage."

He never realised there was a problem with airports being unable to connect people with their luggage or that the Government was going to help with that problem. Korako has been approached for more statistics on the problem.

Prime Minister John Key said the bill was supported by the National caucus.

"While it's narrow and specific, there are reasons for it," Key said. The purpose of the members' ballot was to have a range of issues discussed and "not all of them are going to be contentious moral issues" such as the voluntary euthanasia bill.

"There's a place for everything through the members' process."

Other questionable bills put on the Parliament orders paper include a bill to decide whether a WWI law which not used for 30 years should be turfed (it passed in 2012) and one discussing whether Justices of the Peace should be allowed to use "JP (retired)" as a credential (still awaiting the luck of the draw).

Here are 10 bills we thought up that could have been entered in the ballot instead:

* The Stop Child Abuse Bill

* The Leg-up for First-home Buyers Bill

* The Peace on the South China Seas Bill

* The Homes for the Homeless Bill

* The Funding for Life-saving Drugs Bill

* The Fix Child Poverty Bill

* The Immigration Review Bill

* The Closing the Pay Gap Bill

* The Bring Down Reoffending Bill

* The Free Pies for Everyone Bill

Tell us in the comments what other types of bills the Government could be focusing on?

*comments are closed

 - Stuff

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