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Constitutional arrogance

Written By: - Date published: 5:05 pm, May 18th, 2013 - 85 comments
Categories: accountability, democracy under attack, national, Parliament - Tags: , ,

The invaluable Andrew Geddis has yet another good post on Pundit:

I think National just broke our constitution

In the wake of the budget, the Government is pushing through a whole bunch of bills in one great rush of non-stop, orgiastic lawmaking. Most of these measures are to do with the budget. But at least one isn’t […] a bill intended to sort out the problem of paying family members of severely disabled people to look after them.

… it’s a policy with a lot of gaps in it (caring for your kids or your spouse still is unpaid labour), and even those family members whom it covers don’t get the same pay rate as strangers coming in to care for their loved ones. Which has made some of the family caregivers in question a bit angry.

… the Government cannot make policies as to who will/won’t get paid that breach the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (unless specifically authorised by Parliament to do so). After all, the courts backed this argument last time, so you’d think the family carers would have a better-than-even chance of winning this time around.

Now, this is where things start getting a bit weird. I assume the above is roughly the advice that was given to the Minister as the Bill was being put together. I say “assume” because all the relevant discussion of legal risks produced by the legislation has been redacted from the publicly available information about it. You can see this for yourself in the Regulatory Impact Statement that must be provided to the House when the Bill is introduced (there’s a more arresting visual of it here). So not only can’t I say for sure what risk there may have been that the legislation would have had the effect of dumping the Government back in court, neither can the MPs who are being asked to debate it and vote on whether it should be law.

Pause and think about that fact for a moment.

Because, things are about to get even weirder. What’s a good way, you might ask, to create a policy on paying family caregivers without running the risk of it being overturned? And the answer I assume you’d give is “make sure that the policy isn’t unlawfully discriminatory, so there is no reason for this to happen.” If so, you are an idiot. Because there’s a far, far better way to respond.

You simply tell the Human Rights Review Tribunal and the courts that they are not allowed to look at the policy and decide whether or not it is unlawfully discriminatory. That’s just what the Government is seeking to get Parliament to do under section 70E(2):

[When this law kicks in], no complaint based in whole or in part on a specified allegation [that the policy unlawfully discriminates] may be made to the Human Rights Commission, and no proceedings based in whole or in part on a specified allegation [that the policy unlawfully discriminates] may be commenced or continued in any court or tribunal.

You might need a moment to let the implications of this sink in. By passing this law, Parliament is telling the judicial branch that it is not allowed to look at a Government policy (not, note, an Act of Parliament) in order to decide whether it is in breach of another piece of legislation enacted by Parliament (the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990). In other words, the judiciary’s primary function – to declare the meaning of law and its application in particular cases – has been nullified. Furthermore, the judiciary’s role as protector of individual citizens in terms of ensuring that they are being treated in accordance with the laws of the land has been removed. While the stakes may be small in the immediate case, this is about as big a deal as it gets in terms of our constitution.

… what Tony Ryall’s doing here is, as far as I know, unprecedented (at least in recent constitutional history).

The quotes above are the short form of a much fuller and better referenced argument, go and read the full post for more.

So let’s take a count of National’s outbreaks of constitutional arrogance here:

• An unprecedented sidelining of the judiciary as described above.
• An unprecedented attempt to tie the hands of Parliament for the next 35 years on behalf of Sky City.
• An unprecedented canceling of democratic elections and the ousting of democratically elected representatives in Canterbury.
• Granting itself unprecedented and unnecessary powers in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes.
• An unprecedented level of abuse of urgency and Parliamentary process.
• And many other lesser examples.

These are the actions of politicians who are drunk on power, and not being held to account for it. It will continue for as long as we let it.

Update: See also an excellent followup post by Claire Browning at Pundit.

85 comments on “Constitutional arrogance”

  1. karol 1

    Unbelievable. When are we going to see the Politburo Bill Boards, and whole pages of the NZ Herald devoted to this outrageously anti-democratic government?

    And what’s truly awful is that it’s being use to further disadvantage disabled people.

    • RedLogix 1.1

      and whole pages of the NZ Herald devoted to this outrageously anti-democratic government?

      Nah … all that ink for the two inch high “Democracy Under Attack” headlines is expensive.

  2. ghostrider888 2

    ffs

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Waiting for right wing libertarians to pipe up about legislative and executive over-reach.

    • Murray Olsen 3.1

      I’ll give you their response: Helen Clark signed a painting.

    • James Gray 3.2

      I’m a libertarian, and I frown on legislative and executive over-reach. And while I believe we would have a much higher standard of care in our health system if we moved to a private, insurance funded model, if a publicly funded health system is what we have then I don’t see why it should discriminate against family carers.

      I also like Andrew Geddis’s article. It weighs the issues quite well, acknowledges the need to ration health resources, and largely sticks to the constitutional issues without getting sidelined by emotive rubbish.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        And while I believe we would have a much higher standard of care in our health system if we moved to a private, insurance funded model

        Higher standard of care only for those who can afford it, and only if we want to simultaneously create a money sucking medical insurance and litigation industry.

        It always surprises me why some people still want to replicate the “success” that is USA healthcare today.

  4. Bill 4

    Is it just me, or is this b/s good ammunition to add to any argument advocating for the introduction of a social wage?

    • ghostrider888 4.1

      not if depends on any democratic (or legal) framework and process to establish.

  5. QoT 5

    Seriously, what the fuck.

  6. Rhinocrates 6

    I am constantly reminded of how fragile democracy is, that the fact that those who speak about “freedom” are determined to corrupt it.

    And what will Shearer/Robertson do to reverse it when it’s “their turn”? Sweet fuck all.

    Whenever I see Key Inc do something awful, I think to myself, “Yep, there’s something else Shearer/Robertson won’t reverse for fear of upsetting “the markets”. We’re going to be stuck with it.

    Remember Clark, despite her competence (and I respect her for that) did not reverse Richardson’s attacks on the most vulnerable. Who on Earth would think that Shearer gives a flying fuck at a rolling donut, that Robertson has the backbone (and I realise that that is an insult to all molluscs)?

    I really wish the so-called opposition would articulate a view of socialist democracy, but instead we have cowardly apparatchiks like Robertson, idiots like Shearer, arselickers like Hipkins, Brides of Our Blessed Lord Roger like Goff and King, chicks allowed in the boy’s treehut like Ardern, mindless thugs like Curran, mallards like Mallard (really, he’s created a whole new noun) packing the senior benches of “Labour” while all their real talent, the people who actually get things done, who actually believe in what Labour is supposed to stand for, are relegated to the back benches. Really, my admiration for people like Louisa Wall is enhanced by the knowledge of the ignorance and denigration that they have to endure. Despite all the shit they have to endure, they hang on. Bravo to them, they are the soul of the Labour Party!

    • RedLogix 6.1

      And what will Shearer/Robertson do to reverse it when it’s “their turn”? Sweet fuck all.

      Because these political middle managers report to much more powerful and wealthier owners than us ordinary people.

      The problem of power being captured and concentrated has been witnessed a thousand times. We let the state capture it and we have tyranny; we let the military capture it and we have a junta; we let the church capture it and we have fundamentalist madhouses; and now we have let the corporates and wealthy capture power … and this is called fascism.

      Point is … what do we do about it Rhino?

      The only stable model that makes sense to me is one where the three fundamental elements of society; the individual, the community and the state are brought into a sane and permanent balance.

      • karol 6.1.1

        I like that analysis. But isn’t there also a 4th layer: the extra- state that is beyond the reach of the majority of individuals, communities or states.

        • RedLogix 6.1.1.1

          Yes… these extra-state powers operate on a global scale; their scope and operation lies beyond the reach of the nation state.

          Most of the most pressing problems facing humanity (eg climate change) are global in nature; therefore ultimately we will require some form of global scale governance in response. This is inevitable; we have been in the process of this transition for at least the last 100 years.

          The vital question will be … what form will this governance take and how will it be democratically accountable? How will ordinary people and communities participate in such a thing?

          • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1.1

            Most of the most pressing problems facing humanity (eg climate change) are global in nature;

            Sorry, globalism to date as well as sidelining sovereign states has been a major causative factor in things like climate change, co-ordinated neoliberalism and the financial crisis. More of the same perspective is not the answer. Building localised capability is critical.

            • RedLogix 6.1.1.1.1.1

              I wasn’t excluding localised capability from the picture.

              Our existing social model can be seen as a series of increasingly wider horizons, from the individual, families, communities (including local businesses), local and central government.

              This model has roughly evolved over thousands of years until the first round of globalisation which started roughly in the 1840’s and ending in disaster in WW1 for exactly this reason…the complete inability of the sovereign nation states of the age to resolve the tensions implicit in their expanding global empires. In other words, a global problem with no global mechanism to address it.

              I agree with you that if we narrowly define ‘globalism’ as the rise of corporate and neo-liberal financial power then yes it has been the major causative factor. This gives us two choices; one is a Canute like endeavour to dismantle an ‘out of control’ globalism as, or alternatively accepting the need to create a global political mechanism at the requisite scale in order to constrain it.

              • handle

                Or we could be brave like Iceland was.

              • Arfamo

                For this to happen people need to think of themselves as a national community. But most don’t now.

              • Colonial Viper

                the complete inability of the sovereign nation states of the age to resolve the tensions implicit in their expanding global empires. In other words, a global problem with no global mechanism to address it.

                I suppose that was the original aspiration of the League of Nations.

                I’ll also paraphrase Nassim Taleb here re: WWI

                There were many previous instances of “tension” which did not lead to a world war.

                Instead, these ‘implicit tensions’ were often previously successfully resolved at fun parties where leaders and their senior advisors would get together, involving lots of good music, food and champagne.

                In slightly more olden times, a good marriage or two between royal families would also sort tensions out very nicely.

                • RedLogix

                  Sure … but not sure if that’s going to solve climate change, or tame the power of the global banking cartels for instance.

                  Besides a ‘good marriage between royal families’ is essentially just a process of unification on a regional scale. I’m really suggesting nothing more than the same thing on a larger scale.

          • Michael Whybro 6.1.1.1.2

            Really? Is this a Nth Korean Communist site? You guys are so far left you make commies look like Roger Douglas! lol :) Loosen up – if you dont like democratic centrist governments I hear theyre still looking for immigrants in Cuba, Russia, China and Nth Korea. Good luck with that! lol

            • Murray Olsen 6.1.1.1.2.1

              So far left is defined now as thinking there should be limits to government power? You’ve loosened up so much your non functioning brain has fallen out.

              • rosy

                “So far left is defined now as thinking there should be limits to government power?”
                I’d be quite interested to know the definition of ‘democratic-centrist’ according to Mr Whybro, plus a few examples of people he considers ‘democratic-centrists’.

            • xtasy 6.1.1.1.2.2

              Michael Whybro – why bro, I ask, why bro, do you bother to raise nonsensical points, that lack any substance. We are not talking about democratic governance, but the clear abuse of legislative power, bought for by a free cuppa tea at a Newmarket cafe some time ago.

              A job here and there, a ministerial responsibility, the baubles of office, and hey, it works neatly, to rule with the iron fist of full contempt towards the people and their democratic rights.

              Naturally you seem to love it, so I suspect you to be a prime perpetrator or benefactor of the NatACT (“Natzi”) led government. I presume you wear a tie that can serve as useful sling or rope at times to impose some “justice”, same as an ironed suit, to take you into the inner circles of banking and business, one on one with Key and his gangster government.

              Now North Korea does to my knowledge have rigid censorship, but hey, I disappoint you, even though I am highly critical of Labour and David Sheaerer, I can freely raise my voice on this blog and make my arguments and case.

              I tried the “Kiwiblog” outfit of one Farrar, who is member and supporter of National, but he is an obsessive control freak, soon determined to wipe out any dissent amongst his commenters. Is that democracy? It may be “democrazy”, but not the free expression of views one would expect in a true democracy.

              So while you come up with no arguments but slander, go to bed, have a sleep, sober up and come back to face the music a bit later, I suggest in well meaning compassion for another mentally distressed, or misguided person. Take care and rest in deserved peace, that is for the night, of course.

      • Olwyn 6.1.2

        “And what will Shearer/Robertson do to reverse it when it’s “their turn”? Sweet fuck all.

        Because these political middle managers report to much more powerful and wealthier owners than us ordinary people.”

        While there is truth in this, the fact that there are a group of politicians, presently warming the back benches, who do not think that Labour needs to bow to these forces to the degree that they do, suggests that such a roll-over in the face of power is not inevitable. After all, the people now warming the back benches know as much about what is at stake as those calling the shots.

    • ghostrider888 6.2

      still, following the U.S lead on Democratic decay
      -political bias at the IRS; leaning in on The Tea Party
      -spying on A.P journalists
      -cover-up of the raid on Benghazi consulate deliberations.

      meanwhile, back in Bee-cave; WINZ incorrectly e-mail the personal details of 34 beneficiaries about to be “kicked off the benefit” (MSM-speak).

      Nathan Guy (on resolving meat on the docks in China)- “in a wee while, look, I can’t say when”.
      Tim Ritchie (exporters rep.) – “needs to be fixed as soon as possible”.

  7. ianmac 7

    Constitutional arrogance: Sinister is my word for this. And it is ominous that the people seem either unaware or uncaring. It is a sort of sleight of hand really. Look at my right hand so that I can sleaze through with my left.
    And it is when you put all the parts together to make the whole unscrupulous mess, that the implications be come clearer.
    And remember the dodgy changes to the GCSB. Maybe become a tool to manage we dissenters.

    • McFlock 7.1

      Aye.
      It’s getting to the stage where incompetence is indistinguishable from nefarious plan.

      • North 7.1.1

        Incompetence or nefarious plan ?

        “Shonkey Python” accommodates both possibilities – (1) insanely comedic incompetence, and (2) cold sinisterness.

        The real danger (which I believe has already arrived) is their shaping as not mutually exclusive.

  8. handle 8

    Those poor families fought for a decade to get a ruling against the government, then slimeballs like Ryall do this to them. Should be contempt of court.

    • Just to be clear – the families that fought the case to the Court of Appeal are exempted from the effects of this Act … they presently are in the Human Rights Review Tribunal, seeking an order that they be paid on the same basis as external caregivers. And the legislation specifically permits that litigation to continue (see s.70G) .

      It’s just everyone else who might want to challenge the Government’s actions that is locked out.

      • North 8.1.1

        Well it’s very nice of the government to exempt parties engaged in extant proceedings flowing on from the Court of Appeal decision, but calculated nevertheless.

        To interfere with extant proceedings would be to expropriate retrospectively. Just too much risk that the ensuing uproar would blow cover on the dirt of it.

        Meanwhile, in the face of this patent constitutional slippery slope, the likes of Fran O’Sulllivan romanticise the “deal-maker” ShonKey Python.

        The redactions defiling the Regulatory Impact Statement in this instance are so, so illustrative of how utterly outrageously ShonKey Python is prepared to proceed and the clear and present danger which confronts constitutional democracy in New Zealand today.

        To Michael Whybro at 6.1.1.1.2 – your “North Korea” jibe – as much as I despise intellectual elitism – you are so dumb that you make the points you rail against. Do you not see that ? So pitiably dumb that any further from you will more aptly be under the name “Michael Slowbro “. You’re just not up to being here mate sorry.

        Off to Slater Porn with you !

  9. Anne 9

    the people who actually get things done, who actually believe in what Labour is supposed to stand for, are relegated to the back benches.

    Did anyone here watch parliament Tuesday afternoon, May 7th when the House delivered its eulogies after the death of Parekura Horomia? It was one of the few occasions when ALL Labour members were present. What hit me between the eyes was looking at the visual aftermath of the hate campaign against David Cunliffe and his supporters.Those I could see in the back row (usually reserved for newbies and the talentless) were David Cunliffe, Lianne Dalziel, Louisia Wall, Moana Mackey, Rajan Prasad, Iain Lees Galloway, Sue Moroney and Raymond Huo – all of them Cunliffe supporters. The front row? We all know who they are. It left a very sour taste in my mouth that has not gone away.

    I never thought the Labour Party would stoop to such pettiness and vindictiveness. That had always been the prerogative of the Tories…

    • tc 9.1

      Welcome to new labour Anne, where the Paganis, Hootens, Mallards and Currans etc are considered the moral compasses.

      The holowmen are pissing themsleves at how easy it all was.

  10. No shortage of democratic socialist planning on this blog.
    The first line of defence is to stop the NACT regime’s rip, shit and bust polices of stripping our assets and means of life support by privatising all social wealth as the system goes into meltdown.
    They know it’s coming and have prepared the police spy state to counter our resistance.
    Unfortunately for them they are a tiny minority and while they have the state forces on their side and no doubt hordes of mercenary scum they can unleash on us, we are the huge majority and we are educated and courageous.
    So do we starve on the beach and suffocate when the oxegen runs out, or do we risk life to take back the commons to sustain our lives?

    • ghostrider888 10.1

      had been reflecting today how all these right-wing / conservative initiatives are by pre-meditated design; many of these planners are educated, often aware of left-wing thought, and the issues facing the environment and humanity; hence building new prisons, TPPA, drone stealth-bombers (which are vulnerable to cyber-attack from adversaries, imo), marginalising the ‘poor’, facilitating big pharmaceutical, food and beverage, manipulating commodities…etc. It is part of an “end-game”.

    • Murray Olsen 10.2

      It really does look as if they’re preparing for all out war. It’s up to us to be prepared.

  11. RedBaronCV 11

    And while we still have a vote, the non far right need to be planning the take back and lock up of assets (otherwise we be in a cycle of selling Airnz and buying it back every decade or so) and ways of taking the battle to the Right by decimating their power bases and institutions. Then if they get back into power they still have to rebuild first.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 11.1

      Yep. We should start with their revenue stream: go after the flow of laundered money.

      But first, to be introduced with urgency the “Reversal of everything passed under urgency since 2008″ Act.

      Then the entrenching of the BoRA and a good look at the legal definition of treason.

  12. Appleboy 12

    Oh the deafening silence of the RightWhingers here to argue this is Ok. Come on RWNJ’s, Where are you?

  13. “Our constitutional arrangements work on an implicit bargain – the principle of comity – that the Courts and Parliament don’t mess with each other’s turf.”

    WTF are you talking about Andrew Geddis?

    Comity: Courtesy; respect; a disposition to perform some official act out of goodwill and tradition rather than obligation or law. The acceptance or Adoption of decisions or laws by a court of another jurisdiction, either foreign or domestic, based on public policy rather than legal mandate.
    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/comity

    • Not sure if I’m missing a #sarcasm here, but I would have thought it entirely clear what I was talking about. Parliament can, as a legal matter, do what it did. But out of respect to the role of the courts within our constitutional arrangements, it ought not to have done so … and the fact that it did means that it is upsetting the arrangements that underpin how our government (writ large) works.

      Parliament’s Privileges Committee described matters like this, back in 2009:

      General principles concerning the relationship between the House of Representatives and the judiciary are well established. The principle of “comity” was referred to by a number of submitters. This principle is that of mutual respect and forbearance between the legislative and judicial branches … . The principle has recently been described succinctly by the New Zealand Court of Appeal as follows: “that the Courts and Parliament are both astute to recognise their constitutional roles”: Prebble v Television New Zealand Ltd [1994] 3 NZLR at 7 (PC).

      The relationship between the courts and Parliament is a matter of the highest constitutional significance. It should be, and generally is, marked by mutual respect and restraint. The underlying assumption is that what is under discussion or determination by either the judiciary or the legislature should not be discussed or determined by the other. The judiciary and the legislature should respect their respective roles.

      So … principle of comity.

      • Ugly Truth 13.1.1

        No sarcasm Andrew, I simply don’t see any connection between the dictionary definition of comity ….

        “The acceptance or Adoption of decisions or laws by a court of another jurisdiction, either foreign or domestic, based on public policy rather than legal mandate.”

        … and the meaning used by Privileges Committee …

        “This principle is that of mutual respect and forbearance between the legislative and judicial branches”

        • North 13.1.1.1

          Ugly Truth: putting aside Andrew Geddis’s (well-advised or not) use of the word “comity”, you do understand and accept the thrust of what he says do you UT ?

          You do accept that he’s on the button when he cites the Privileges Committee from 2009 do you UT ? That events have shaped in a way careless of what the Privileges Committee said in 2009 ?

          It’s just that your response does suggest a back down from your initial somewhat questionable tone – “WTF are you talking about Andrew Geddis ?” You now take cover in a confessed semanticism.

          So I assume you’re not actually in disagreement with him. That since your rather hastily fired “WTF……..”, he’s persuaded you and you’d grant him the point, I take it. I take it ?

          You wouldn’t ? Well please explain. Expose your reasoning to scrutiny WTF.

          Rather than obfuscating WTF.

        • Andrew Geddis 13.1.1.2

          That’s because you are relying on a single dictionary definition, rather than understanding how the term is used by those who are expert in the field. I, however, am (somewhat) expert in the field. So, I know that of which I speak.

          Sometimes a legal term is used to mean more than one thing. Take, for instance, the word “privilege” and consider how it is used in terms of evidence and in relation to the law regarding Parliament.

          • Ugly Truth 13.1.1.2.1

            “I, however, am (somewhat) expert in the field. So, I know that of which I speak.”

            Here’s the last of the argument from kiwiblog:

            AG: The etymology you provide perfectly encapsulates the way the term is used in public law parlance.

            UT: No, affability/kindness doesn’t describe an implicit bargain, and it doesn’t describe the indulgence of unlawful behaviour between those who are supposed to administer justice and those who are supposed to represent the interests of the body politic.

            Here’s the etymology that I provided:
            comity (n.)
            early 15c., “association,” from French comité, from Latin comitas “courtesy, friendliness, kindness, affability,” from comis “courteous, friendly, kind,” of uncertain origin. Meaning “courtesy” in English is from 1540s. Phrase comity of nations attested from 1862: “The obligation recognized by civilized nations to respect each other’s laws and usages as far as their separate interests allow.”

            Comitas I kom:ld:ls I . Lat. Courtesy; civility; comity. An indulgence or favor granted another nation, as a mere matter of indulgence, without any claim of right made. Comitas inter communitates; or comitas inter gentes; comity between communities or nations; comity of nations.

            And here’s his original description:
            “Our constitutional arrangements work on an implicit bargain – the principle of comity – that the Courts and Parliament don’t mess with each other’s turf. I think that bargain just got broken.”

            http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2013/05/geddis_cries_foul.html#comment-1145022

  14. kiwicommie 14

    “Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning “few”, and ἄρχω (arkho), meaning “to rule or to command”)[1][2][3] is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who pass their influence from one generation to the next.[citation needed] In his 2011 book Oligarchy, Jeffrey A. Winters defines oligarchy as “the politics of wealth defense by materially endowed actors.” In Winters’ definition, massive wealth is the key factor in identifying oligarchs.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligarchy

  15. tsmithfield 15

    Of course there was this discussion the other day.

    So, if a government is sovereign and can cancel contracts, including compensation clauses, then why shouldn’t they also be able to interfere in council processes and the like?

    • felix 15.1

      Could you please clarify whether you mean “why shouldn’t they interfere” as opposed to “why shouldn’t they be able to interfere”.

    • Lanthanide 15.2

      Of course they can interfere in council processes and the like, but they should only do so in such cases where it is really necessary and the only possible avenue that can used to effect necessary change.

      There is of course no written definition of when and why the government can interfere though, which is why we got the government interfering in this (these) case(s), when probably it ought not to have, because their decisions seem quite self-serving and reek of corruption.

  16. ak 16

    Simply incredible on its own; but when tacked onto r0b’s list and enacted by the party that only minutes ago incessantly screamed “Corrupt! Corrupt! Corrupt!” over signing a painting for charity and sitting in the back of a speeding car, arrogant to the point of literal insanity.

    The “Democracy Under Attack” comparison is particularly telling, and here we see in giant living technicolour and statuettes of Lenin, the nub of the problem: the missing link to a sane polity.

    For it was nothing other than an attack on our fourth estate’s advertising revenue that produced the notorious red header; and which is why the current obscenities – by any measure conceivable immensely more sinister than anything Hels mooted – are ignored.

    “By the people” is but a choice of two evils every three years. And the information that determines said choice is controlled by a handful of wealthy private individuals.

    Change that last fact or continue to writhe at the black comedy of Shonkey Python. And endow to your descendants New Bedlam.

  17. xtasy 17

    Well, i have been saying it all along, what we have is nothing much short of a dictatorship, wrapped in fake camouflage to make it appear all as being totally “democratic” and “legal”.

    The dilemmas of only having one house as parliament, treating select committee hearings as stage performances that have no real relevance, and treating the public and voters in utter contempt are showing. Too little checks and balances. Dodgy amnesia declaring one vote majority ensurers, and backroom deals on legislation to be passed are the rule in New Zealand now.

    A media that does not bother paying journalists to research and analyse, let alone report comprehensively on matters of substance, thus serving as complicit facilitators to push policies through, just makes it all so damned convenient.

    And the public is so stunned, speechless or even indifferent, it is shocking what is going on here.

    This piece of legislation exposes it all, the disrespect of this government for justice and fairness.

    What we get is policy and legislative blitzkrieg, nothing else.

    Time to wake up, to realise what is going on, and to take a damned alert, firm stand against all this crap. I cannot see this happen though, as most just worry about their own survival, perks and security, collective action has become as rare as the moa bird that once used to roam this land.

    • Arfamo 17.1

      I agree. Our system of government lacks the check on parliamentary excess of a 2nd House and/or a constitution. It allows the creation of a governing class.

      • Draco T Bastard 17.1.1

        /facepalm

        The US has a second house, same problems
        The UK has a second house, same problems

        Having a second house doesn’t magically solve the problems. The way to solve the problems is to give the people more say in the development and passing of the laws.

        Oh, and to be able to hold the politicians to account when they do do stuff like this.

        • KJT 17.1.1.1

          The only way to stop rotating elected dictatorships that are figureheads for the ruling oligarchy are BCIR, veto on any legislation with a low enough threshold so they happen, and recalls!

          There would be an initial settling down period, especially as politicians will try and make democracy fail, but after that politicians would not bother to pose ill considered and unsupported legislation as it will be overturned.

        • Arfamo 17.1.1.2

          Yeah, that’s true, DTB. Forget a 2nd House.

    • tc 17.2

      Muldoon would be proud and approving of this lot who have elevated the smear and swindle to new heights especially with their use of media (old and new) which is very coordinated and focused.

      They know how to rule for their backers and take no prisoners as they are rolling on with the agenda so while everyone pauses over the current action they’re onto the next ones already.

      • KJT 17.2.1

        The old bugger would be disgusted with this lot.
        Whatever his faults, he did what he thought was best for New Zealand at the time.

        In fact, please bring back principled and straight up conservatives.

        Instead of this smarmy bunch of used car dealers.

        We could talk to them, because, whatever our differences, we had the same goals in the end.

        • ghostrider888 17.2.1.1

          commentators often judge Muldoon out of historical context; if the average Kiwi is to be considered ill-informed now, remember the Seventies; freakin provinces were dead after Friday night shopping.

    • rosy 18.1

      From Claire Browning’s post on Pundit [my bold]

      Crown Minerals Amendment (the 2nd, done this morning) allows conditional permits for operators lacking the immediate expertise and financial ability to undertake drilling activities – leading Greenpeace to charge our Prime Minister of misleading New Zealanders, with his recent assurances that regulation would be ‘world class’ and would not allow ‘cowboys’ to operate.

      On safety of offshore oil and gas operations and amending Directive 2004/35/EC (formal approval of directive scheduled for 21st May)

      …the licensing authority is required to consider the technical and financial risks, and where appropriate, the previous record of responsibility, of applicants seeking exclusive
      exploration and production licenses. There is the need to ensure that when examining the
      technical and financial capability of the licensee the licensing authority thoroughly
      examine also its capability for ensuring continued safe and effective operations under all foreseeable conditions

      Exploration and production of oil and gas off-shore in Romania, for example, will be required to have more qualified operators right from the start than New Zealand, because it has EU companies operating there.

      Key in his ‘ambitious for New Zealand’ mode, is utterly ignorant of what is ‘world class’.

      The Directive has lots more about (before licenses are issued) operator requirements for
      – safety
      – demonstration of response capabilities in case of spills
      – public opportunity for decision-making
      – separation of permit issuing and regulatory authorities
      – adherence to environmental standards
      – tripartite consultation under ILO convention (operator, regulator, workers representatives)

      • SpaceMonkey 18.1.1

        “World class” is an aspirational statement/label, of course.

        • Arfamo 18.1.1.1

          “World class” has essentially become a meaningless phrase trotted out by any government or council wanting to use your tax or rates to establish a large or expensive private business venue or venture.

  18. AmaKiwi 19

    “These are the actions of politicians who are drunk on power.”

    The only solution is to limit the power of the politicians. How?

    1. Local bodies whose powers are constitutionally enshrined and therefore cannot be overridden by Parliament. This is the role states play in Australia, Canada, the US, Germany, France, etc. Local bodies have absolute authority over things such as property development; culture; parks and recreation areas; alcohol, gambling, and prostitution; etc.

    2. Veto referendums so the people can override ANY decision made by Parliament.

    I wish I could say no Labour government would be drunk with power. I cannot. Some Labour leaders scare me as much as Judith Collins. They, too, are “true believers” in the righteousness of their cause. “Formalities” like democracy are secondary to their “grander visions.”

    Ask Colonial Viper. Ask David Cunliffe’s supporters.

    • North 19.1

      Their “cause” being themselves and their careers, more or less.

      • KJT 19.1.1

        It is notable that ordinary citizens, whatever their political views, do not trust politicians to act in the best interests of New Zealanders.
        A distrust that is richly deserved.

        And vote by overwhelming majority for any measures which restrict politicians power and increase democracy.

        It is no accident that Switzerland is the most stable, prosperous and peaceful state on earth.

        Compare Switzerland to so called “representative democracies”. An oxymoron equal to, “intelligence agencies”.

        http://kjt-kt.blogspot.co.nz/2013/05/democracy.html

      • Colonial Viper 19.1.2

        Their “cause” being themselves and their careers, more or less.

        Yeah for some of them, this is the absolute limit of their “grander vision”. In summary, NZ is a badly managed village where the village elders can’t even plan out to the next growing season.

  19. One Anonymous Knucklehead 20

    Why has the National Party got a majority for this revolting behaviour? Is there not one decent human being among them?

    • ianmac 20.1

      Yes ONK. The governing MPs must have some who care about the rule of Law? Mustn’t there be?

      I expect that the Key/Joyce answer will be. “We have a MANDATE to do all this for the good of the people. We know what is best for you. Be Grateful you silly people.”
      And applaud Claire Browning’s Pundit drawing together.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 20.1.1

        It would only take one: the silence is deafening. I’d call it a new low for the National Party but I guess that’s debatable.

    • No! A.Knuckhead .GThey have not;

  20. gobsmacked 21

    These are the actions of politicians who are drunk on power, and not being held to account for it. It will continue for as long as we let it.

    Agreed. So …

    Dear David Shearer

    Could you please tell us which of the constitutional outrages listed above will be reversed when you are Prime Minister? (Please note – “reversed” means exactly that, not “something to criticise now and keep later”).

    I have tried to find out for myself, but your online presence has more pictures than promises. As for Google …

    Your search – “david shearer” – did not match any news results.

    Hope to hear from you soon, Dave.

    • Murray Olsen 21.1

      Ummm, ahhhh, did I tell you about a guy I saw painting a roof? Ummm, he, or maybe she, I ummm, anyway, ahhh, it’s not fair. Ummm, we want to be fair so, ummmm, ahhhh he shouldn’t be getting a caregiver paid for by ummmm the taxes of the wealth creators. Ahhhh Labour will make this fair.

  21. Rosemary McDonald 22

    Firstly…thank you to Andrew Geddis for an excellent post on this issue. The legislative aspects of this issue at least.

    I don’t expect him…or any of the other commenters here to truly understand the reality of this issue to family carers of non-ACC disabled.

    I do.

    You can all pontificate until the suppositories work(as I am doing right now), but it will not change the fact that hope for this one point of parity with the well entitled ACC disabled has died.

    Forever.

    I have been the 24/7 unpaid carer for my C4/5 tetraplegic partner for over fourteen years.
    I could have taken a ‘backdoor deal ‘ through a contracted provider ten years ago, and I could have been getting paid $17per hour, but we chose not to enter into an arrangement that required any element of deceit.

    We were the exception. Most of you will have no idea how commonplace circumventing that policy has been. We always knew it was discrimination. We also felt that it was important that at least some people were “clean” and could speak out without fear that the “arrangement” would be stopped.

    So we tried to negotiate an exception to the discriminatory policy with the MoH.
    In 2009 we went to the HRC, and were told in good faith that any decision from Atkinson et al would apply to us.
    We attended the High Court hearing.
    We attended the Appeal Court hearing.
    We made a submission to the Technical Advisory Group and the Ministry.
    We attended Consultation Workshops in Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland (on consecutive days, driving) then in Palmerston North and in New Plymouth.
    We both spoke , we wrote, we phoned, we sat outside the Beehive like a pair of dickheads to get an audience with someone from ryalls office so they could ask us what our expectations were of a new policy. What sort of compensation would we expect? What was it like to manage a significant disability as an unpaid carer of someone whose type of impairment is not catered for by the Ministry of Health. “We are reasonable people” we said, “with reasonable expectations.”

    We are not fools. But in all honesty(and at least we haven’t abandonned our integrity), we did not believe that the Ministry and the Government would be so appallingly vindictive.
    We got the heads up on Friday a.m. that this travesty was going to happen.
    There was nothing we could do to stop it.

    We have spent the weekend trying to come to terms with the death of our hopes.
    We are now in debt, with no hope of ever repaying the debt without selling the home that my partner dragged his crippled arse to work for 32 years to build. Me going out to work would leave him without adequate care. The Ministry has no contracted providers who can meet his needs.
    The alternative is a residential facility, and he would rather die first.

    So, wise people who obviously feel qualified to comment, the reality is(as our leaders are fond of saying) non- ACC disabled have finally been put in their place by this government. They always knew they were a lower form of life, but there was always the HRC if things got really nasty.

    Yes this is interesting from a legal and political point of view, giving you all some entertainment on a wet weekend. But hardly any of you has actually written the word “disabled”.

    • kiwicommie 22.1

      The government doesn’t care about the disabled as they meet the definition of parasite in neo-liberal mythology (in their eyes the welfare state is an ‘orgy of self-sacrificing’) i.e. anyone that doesn’t or can’t help themselves and relies on others is a parasite, and deserves whatever suffering comes their way. Here is Ayn Rand on altruism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viGkAZR-x8s

  22. ropata 23

    It’s called Abuse of Power (from Kiwipolitico)

    At the heart of the Gilmore saga is the abuse of power, and the problem is that the coverage is about Aaron Gilmore’s attempted abuse of his own power, not about a culture within the National Party and the government where the abuse of power is not merely acceptable, but routine and expected.

    The deep questions — how such a megalomaniac got into an electable position on a party list; who, having been apprised of these born-to-rule tendencies after previous incidents of this sort, approved his position; and the implications of this for the health of our democracy — these are important questions. They haven’t really been asked, or answered, though Matthew Hooton, of all people, had a go at it early on.

    The John Key National-led government has a lot of form for bad and self-serving appointments, and for the abuse of power… And it’s still going: to hear locals tell it, how Gerry Brownlee and CERA are treating Eastern Christchurch isn’t all that different in its principles to how Aaron Gilmore treats waiters and public servants. (The difference is that they have real power.) Recent appointments on the basis of loyalty or malleability at the expense of quality or expertise include Catherine Isaac to implement charter schools, Ian Fletcher as head of the GCSB and Dame Susan Devoy as race relations commissioner.

    This is a government which has been particularly unconcerned with even the appearance of due process, and this should be acknowledged in every story on this topic. There’s no credible argument they hadn’t done due diligence on Aaron Gilmore — he was already in Parliament once. Why do they appoint people like this, and why do they get away with it?

    The hard truth is that political parties will overlook an awful lot if there’s a financial or electoral advantage to doing so, just as corporations will.

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