Labour relishing chance to attack Govt

Senior Labour MPs are eagerly awaiting the start of Parliament this afternoon because they are expecting to get their first chance to ask questions of the new Cabinet ministers.

While a lot of it is posturing and will be unseen or unnoticed by the large proportion of voters, it will be at least a chance for Labour MPs to rattle the chains of some of the newly appointed ministers.

There will be some patsy questions from backbench National MPs regarding what moves Prime Minister John Key or Finance Minister Bill English have made to solve the problems of the global economic meltdown.

But Labour leader Phil Goff is relishing the chance to get stuck into the Government.

"National has given us a reason for living," a senior party official said yesterday.

"If they had only allowed us a chance to vote on legislation last week then it would have been such an anaemic session. But the handling of the House by National gave us chance to shine."

Indications are National will be backing off some of the legislation it had intended passing under urgency.

Sitting until Saturday night was not the best of looks for an administration that should be showing it knows what it is doing.

Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee will be expected to show much stronger leadership this week so that his opposite number in the Opposition, Michael Cullen, does not get the chance to again tie him up in points of order and delay the debate.

Mr Key yesterday said some of National's planned 100-day programme would now wait for Parliament to resume after the holiday break.

A breather is the right approach given the frenetic pace of legislation becoming law last week.

Also, the start of the select committees is understood to be taking place behind closed doors this week, meaning the media and the public are excluded from hearing the business being considered.

There is only so much legislation by stealth the public will take.

National has moved quickly on core policy such as tax cuts, 90-day trial periods for workers and toughening up on law and order.

Things like changes to the Resource Management Act to make it more consent friendly can wait until early next year.

Officials will at least get a chance to review the planned changes.

National has promised to curb the number of "useless bureaucrats" by capping numbers of public servants.

The amount of briefings being posted to new ministers daily from various departments seems to suggest public servants are busy in their offices serving their new masters.

Or it could be they do not want to be seen on the street as the Key Razor Gang starts its job.

dene.mackenzie@odt.co.nz

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