New Zealand Law Society - ‘Inexcusable’ error in wrong bill being passed

‘Inexcusable’ error in wrong bill being passed

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About a decade ago, a minister standing in for then Revenue Minister gave a speech about a bill that had been passed a year before.

Last week, however, Parliament surpassed that faux pas by passing the wrong bill.

According to journalist Jenée Tibshraeny on “the Government gave itself the power to issue billions of dollars of loans to small businesses, without realising it”.

“An administrative error, involving someone clicking on the incorrect confusingly-named file, saw the wrong bill tabled and then passed within hours,” says Ms Tibshraeny.

“The version MPs thought they were passing was one that enacted all the tax changes the Government had already announced to ease the pain of the COVID-19 crisis.

“The version that actually passed was one that additionally included clauses giving the Inland Revenue Department the authority to issue small businesses loans on behalf of the Crown.

“The crazy thing is, MPs didn’t know what they had just rubber-stamped until I reported it on Thursday afternoon.

“I got lucky and saw the creation of the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme in the bill, made a few quick calls to confirm I was reading it correctly, and hurriedly broke the news - without at that stage knowing the wrong version had been put in the system.”

Both Stuff and Scoop have also reported on the error.

“Oddly, I can dismiss Thursday’s passing of the wrong legislation as an extraordinary genuine mistake,” adds Ms Tibshraeny.

“But the lack of transparency around decision-making and incoherent way of announcing a billion-dollar policy change, are inexcusable.”