There are two people who will cost National the election. They are Bill English and Nick Smith, and they are wedded to each other.
The next stage of the Government’s attempts to change the Resource Management Act with a massive 300-page amendment bill are likely to be one of the biggest tests of MMP we have seen.
There is now no guarantee that Environment Minister Nick Smith can get the legislation — or critical parts of it – through the House as both the Maori Party and Act threaten to vote with the Opposition.
No Government has been defeated since MMP was introduced on a piece of landmark legislation in the Chamber because its coalition partners have voted against parts of it.
That is what could happen here.
It would be a major humiliation for the controversial Environment Minister.
Though negotiations are currently going on, POLITIK understands that so far the big deal — which is to get Maori Party support — is not locked down yet.
The focus of the opposition is likely to be what is best known as Clause 360D which is a clause allowing the Environment Minister to over rule any local authority which decides to use its district plans to declare itself GE free.
So far four authorities — Hastings, Whangarei, Auckland and the Far North — have done so.
There is, however, a nationwide campaign modelled on the 1980s nuclear-free campaign to have more authorities declare themselves GE free.
The Maori Party oppose the clause because, like the Greens, it is totally opposed to the introduction of genetically modified organisms into New Zealand.
The Labour Party opposes the clause because it believes it is an excessive use of Ministerial powers and their Environment spokesman, David Parker, argues that the proper place for any legislation about GE should be in the act which is intended to regulate it — the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.
Act opposes the clause because, like labour, it sees it as an over reach of Ministerial power.
ACT Leader, David Seymour, says the party has drafted four ammendments to the Bill, one of which would simply delete the clause.
The Opposition parties – and unless they can get a deal with the Government, the Maori Party too — should be able to support this amendment.
What it means is that there is a theoretical clear majority in Parliament opposed to the clause.
And that is just the start. I’m picking up rumours of backbench unrest over this dopey bill and all it will take is one manky backbench MP to cross the floor and the legislation is lost.
If I were Bill English I’d be looking closely at who I’d pissed off recently….and who has nothing to lose if they shank the bill.