The House rose for Christmas on the afternoon of Wednesday 12 December 2012, a week earlier than originally scheduled. A number of non-controversial Bills were progressed on the final sitting day, adding to the feeling of a Parliamentary wind-down and starting the countdown to Christmas early. Opposition MPs must have thought the year was over.
However, the Government went on to make several announcements after the adjournment, enabling Government MPs to avoid attacks by the Opposition in Question Time. The past week has seen Education Secretary Lesley Longstone resign, Justice Minister Judith Collins release the reports on the Bain compensation claim, and the Government announce its plans to increase petrol tax by 9 cents a litre by 2015.
The timing of the tax announcement in particular appears more calculated than coincidental. The long summer break will divert attention away from an issue that would, and should, be subject to public and Opposition backlash, given the magnitude of the hike and its consequences for households and business.