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The stealthy dismantling of democracy

Written By: - Date published: 9:44 am, April 12th, 2013 - 27 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, class war, Conservation, democracy under attack, Ethics, john key, Mining, paula bennett, slippery, Spying, unemployment - Tags: , , ,

I have mentioned before how John Key’s government having been bringing in a range of seemingly small law changes that add up to a major shift.  I particularly mentioned it in relation to the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill.  This has been debated in the House this week, and is part of a range of things happening and/or revealed this week, that amount to a frightening shift in values and (un)democratic processes: and much of it has been happening in such a stealthy way that many New Zealanders are unaware of the extent of they way many things they hold dear are being whittled away.

In my post on the Crown Mineral Bill, I quoted from Catherine Delahunty’s speech during the second reading, on the unacceptable features buried in the Bill :

It is also the Government’s response to the 30,000 people who marched down Queen Street and the more than 30,000, the 39,000, who made submissions against the mining of schedule 4. So the Government lost the media war. It was seen to have to back down on the issue, but, like any strategist, it had another plan. That plan was amendments to the Crown Minerals Act, and here we see them.

On Wednesday, Parliament Today reported on some of the debates this week.  It reports that:

Labour MP Moana Mackey said the Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridge’s last minute plans to bring in tougher penalties for those who protested near offshore oil rigs were an “utter dog’’.

Mackey said it was a sop to encourage more international exploration companies to come here as National had put all its eggs in one basket when it came to economic policy and had run out of ideas.

PT then reports what looks like Chris Finlayson’s attempt to emulate his slippery leader:

Attorney General Chris Finlayson said he was concerned at allegations that the changes were a breach of international law and then ripped into critics such as Geoffrey Palmer who he described as a “ranting Jehovah’’.

The plain meaning of the law was not about protest but about interference of operations on the high sea, he said.

Yesterday Catherine Delahunty issued a press release on the government’s stealthy moves towards mining Schedule 4 land, referring to the way the Bill will enable companies with exploratory permits, to proceed towards mining that land:

The Green Party has obtained legal advice that says an exploratory permit held by Hawkeswood Civil Limited to look for gold and silver in the Firth of Thames, a Schedule 4 area, cannot not be exercised under current law, but might be legal to utilise once the Government’s changes to the Crown Minerals Act are passed. …

“Worryingly, our legal advice also says the changes the Government is making to the Crown Minerals Act may now allow Hawkeswood to undertake their exploratory drilling programme.

Earlier this week I posted on some opposition speeches against current Bills, including Ardern’s on the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill, that was voted into law this week.  Jacinda Ardern posted a statement about this Bill Act later in the day.  She berates Bennett for repeating policies that have already been shown to be a failure int he UK.

“Paula Bennett can’t tell us how a sole parent or anyone on a benefit will be more likely to get a job under these reforms….

At Work and Income, staff face a ratio of 1 case worker to 155 clients  and 1 to 388 for non-work obligated clients. With another 84,000 clients projected to have extra work obligations, people will no longer get the help they need.

Adding to the above disturbing changes, yesterday Chris Trotter posted an analysis of the Kitteridge Report .  He explains that John Key has already made changes to bring the intelligence services into one “intelligence community” under his sole authority. These changes were begun by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet in 2009, and continued into 2012.

Trotter argues that the Dotcom case has exposed the way Key’s ad hoc changes have amalgamated, consolidated and extended the reach of the security services as part of one entity.  The separation of internal security services (SIS) and the GCSB (supposed to protect NZ against external threats), among other things, protects against one agency becoming too powerful and autocratic, and against them being used to curb Kiwis’ rights and democratic freedoms.

Trotter goes on to argue that Key’s rush to make GCSB illegal activities of spying on kiwis legal, is an attempt to ensure his existing changes stick before Kiwis become to aware of their significance:

Hence the mad rush towards a comprehensive legislative fix. The de facto unification of New Zealand’s security and intelligence work, under the rubric of ODESC [Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination] and the DPMC [Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet], needs to be given de jure protection – and fast!

All this is enabled by an MSM that seem to think Fourth Estate is a new greenfield residential development. What will it take to for more Kiwis to become aware of the way their democracy is being stealthily dismantled away from the public glare?

27 comments on “The stealthy dismantling of democracy”

  1. aerobubble 1

    Shearer can deal with this, by promising to hold former politicians to account for their illegal activities. Oh, wait, but Labour would also be call to account.

    Death of Democracy because parliament REMOVED the upper chamber of individuals who would contain govt avarice for power, or worse, just ramming into law poor legislation.

    So Shearer should start by promising to bring back a upper Chamber, or if that’s to costly, apply some provision that piggybacks off Australian law and its courts. That would save money when we get rid of our supreme court, what’s the point of having it when the legislator doesn’t produce good law??? Effectively it becomes a very costly upper chamber.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Death of Democracy because parliament REMOVED the upper chamber of individuals who would contain govt avarice for power, or worse, just ramming into law poor legislation.

      An upper chamber to parliament would do no such thing as it’d be populated by the same people.

      About the only thing that could constrain parliament is a constitution – one that the politicians couldn’t finagle at their leisure and that means one that needs a referendum to change. Put in place a need for referenda to change major policy as well and the politicians become effectively constrained to doing what the people want rather than what the rich people want.

      • Tim 1.1.1

        …. A constitution in which firstly the GG, then perhaps an elected President’s primary responsibility to uphold at the risk of self-impeachment.
        There definitely needs to be a way of enforcing a constitution since politicians of late seem so ready to ignore BORA, OIA requests and so on.
        … and maybe a smallish upper house based on regional representation duly elected – perhaps at local body election time.
        … still mulling the idea over though

      • aerobubble 1.1.2

        I accept you disagree. You are wrong. Society will continue to persist with people who you don’t like making decisions about your future, and just because you naively believe that letting them hide rather than have their words written down, their judgments pooled for all time, in a higher upper chamber, would be a bad thing does not make it so. Its simply your inability to realize that separation of powers, has the effect of delimiting the thought, the culture, the results and the oversight into silos where breaches of self-interest are easy to see. Cheaters love to have it all their own way, so a upper chamber provides a way to stop the current parliamentary practice of producing (or at least containing) bad law, and laughing at the people who argued for it, as
        now currently laws are written by lobbyists before elections and have binding agreements with
        politicians to implement their edicts.

        Its a joke, that Dunne this week held the government legislation to account, usually the government just rams through their thoughts without any contest.

        Its not a reason to argue that opening up democracy is bad because you won’t like the people who will fill those seats.

  2. DH 2

    Good stuff Karol. I was thinking along similar lines when I made a post in another thread about the outsourcing of hospital catering. There’s a clear intent to prevent future governments from reversing their actions, by signing up these private sector deals to long term contracts that can’t be repealed. That genuinely is attacking democracy itself.

    The Audit Office made it clear in their report on Papakura’s water privatisation that contracts with the private sector should not be longer than about 5years. These bastards are signing up PPPs for 20-25yrs and they look to be wanting to do outsourcing for hospitals on 15yr contracts. You can pretty much guarantee that any mining concessions they hand out will be made irreversible too.

    I agree the MSM are a waste of space.

  3. ianmac 3

    The majority of people are preoccupied with wages, exams, relationships, possessions, next cup of coffee and are not tuned into the machinations of the Government. Somehow Democracy desperately needs a wakeup call which penetrates the complacency. Wonder how that might be done?
    MSM? No sign so far.
    Political voices who capture the imagination? No sign so far.
    Karol getting wider audience? That might work. (Though Karol better check to see if he/she is On the List at GCSB or on the PM’s hit list.)

  4. Macro 4

    Opposition parties should be stating clearly now that any changes introduced by National with regards the undermining of the democratic process will be undone on their assuming office at the next election.

    • DH 4.1

      If only it were that easy. They can’t just be undone. The Government is the Government, it’s only the management that changes so any deal done by the Nats is still binding on the next lot in power. They can legislate to reverse commercail contracts but then we’d be sued under the WTO agreement that Labour signed us up to. I guess they could legislate to get us out of that too but then we’d run into other problems which would lead to more problems.

      The only way the Govt can get out of commercial contracts is by paying out the foregone income on the remaining term of the contract. To annul a PPP we’d have to pay out 20years worth of profits. That’s why the commercial sector never enter into these types of contracts. They do 3-7yr contracts with right of renewal and right to terminate.

      • Macro 4.1.1

        I understand that!

        What I’m referring to is the loss of democratic voice…
        Laws denying peaceful protest at sea, “streamlining” the RMA, unrestricted permission to spy on NZ’s, etc.

        It is actually quite permissible for an incoming govt to signal the nationalisation of essential services etc in the interests of the security of the country. Buyers beware!

        • DH 4.1.1.1

          “What I’m referring to is the loss of democratic voice…
          Laws denying peaceful protest at sea, “streamlining” the RMA, unrestricted permission to spy on NZ’s, etc.”

          Ok, them’s fair points & they can be undone easy enough.

          “It is actually quite permissible for an incoming govt to signal the nationalisation of essential services etc in the interests of the security of the country. Buyers beware!”

          Yeah they can nationalise but they still have to compensate the party they take it back from. Even Venezuela paid compensation to the multinationals, wasn’t enough for them to like it but they’ve got oodles of oil so they could tell them to take it or leave it & got away with it. We don’t have that luxury.

          They do these long term contracts because the cost of compensation is too high to make nationalising a viable prospect. It’s no big deal paying out the remaining year or two of a contract but ten to thirty years worth would break the bank.

          • Macro 4.1.1.1.1

            Every country has many examples of Nationalisation. I suppose it might be considered “ethical” to compensate owners, but that depends upon ones viewpoint and the circumstances, in which the industry or service was acquired or developed, or has been managed after privatisation – if that has occurred.

            • DH 4.1.1.1.1.1

              I think you’ll find that compensation is a standard part of nationalisation pretty much everywhere throughout recent history. It’s not as if a country just takes an asset back & tells the owner to get lost. That’s theft, not nationalisation. Zimbabwe (I think) have done that with white-owned farms and look where it’s got them.

    • AmaKiwi 4.2

      “Opposition parties should be stating clearly now that any changes introduced by National with regards the undermining of the democratic process will be undone on their assuming office at the next election.”

      What about the Auckland Super City, which ended democracy for a third of the population?

      There WAS a law requiring the Super City to be approved by referendum, but the parliamentary dictators revoked it because it was inconvenient for THEM (not us).

      In a dictatorship, the whims of the dictators become the laws of the land.

      Binding citizen initiated referendums are the ONLY way to stop the vicious cycle of rotating dictatorships and their anti-democratic swings from one extreme to another.

  5. Wairua 5

    Welcome to colonized Aotearoa, and a docile kupapa ‘Maori Party’ conniving with all the above.

    It is doubtful that Key, with his short-term trading orientation, has the strategic heft and
    vision to be its mastermind. One should look deeper into his network for impetus and ideas.

    • marsman 5.1

      Hence, enter Ashcroft stage uber right. He seems to meddle in the democratic and political landscape of a number of countries. What were his visits to John Key shortly before the last two elections about?

  6. Rogue Trooper 6

    following ethnological study of the sub-species Finlayson, findings confirm that he is not to be trusted, at all. (original chicken farmer correlation still bears perches).

    • Murray Olsen 6.1

      Around 84 I thought they’d swapped over to pig farming, now it’s back to chickens again.

  7. This article comes up on Feedly as “The stealthy dismantling of democracy by karol”. :)

  8. This authoritarian centralisation you are onto Karol has been going on for a while – throughout the history of capitalism. Its the way the ruling class concentrates power so as to implement its solution to the crisis – i.e. force it down our throats.
    The idea that the “death of democracy” in a capitalist system in crisis can be reversed is utopian since its “bourgeois democracy”, by definition the “freedom” of the property owning bourgeoisie to exploit the vast majority of people, the working class.
    On the other hand, our defence of those bourgeois rights is a necessary starting point for getting rid of the system that denies them to the majority.
    Here’s an attempt to put the ‘end of democracy’ in an historical perspective at the time of the last election.
    http://redrave.blogspot.co.nz/2011/11/aotearoanz-end-of-parliamentary.html

    • AmaKiwi 8.1

      Wider vision, please.

      There ARE democratic capitalist countries just as there are authoritarian socialist countries.

  9. karol 9

    The irony: 11 March 2013: Ian Fletcher Lectures business in Hamilton, on how to keep their information and intellectual property safe from “intrusions”.

    Speech given by the GCSB Director Ian Fletcher at the Gallagher Security conference held in Hamilton on 11 March 2013…

    What can we do about it? Firstly, we need to raise risk awareness in company boards and senior management teams, in the management of academic institutions, and in the community more generally. Aware, engaged management teams will influence organizational behaviour, set the right example, and determine the behavioural expectations for the organizations they manage. …

    Interestingly, it’s not that hard: our Australian counterparts have published research showing that they are just 4 steps that can reduce your risk by between 80 and 85%:

    White listing: that means only running the software your organisation has approved

    Keeping your systems patched.

    Keeping applications patched.

    Minimizing the number of users with administrator privileges.

    As you can see, these are organisational behavioural steps, not technical ones.

    These are all steps which each of us needs to take in our respective company
    or government organization

    • AmaKiwi 9.1

      Ian Fletcher’s appointment is NOT the primary reason Key should resign his security portfolio.

      Unending government data leaks prove beyond a doubt Key has utterly failed to protect confidential cyber data, which is a primary function of GCSB.

      Key has botched his portfolio beyond anything anyone could have imagined. He must resign.

      • AmaKiwi 9.1.1

        One of the three responsibilities of of the GCSB is “ensuring the integrity, availability and confidentiality of official information through information systems security services to Government.”

        As Minister for GCSB, John Key is the worst performing minister in living memory.

  10. JonL 10

    “In a dictatorship, the whims of the dictators become the laws of the land. “……and as such should become non binding on the population due to lack of mandate.
    They become non-laws to me and the people I know…………
    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable – JFK

    • AmaKiwi 10.1

      @ JonL

      Fantastic quote, Jon.

      Here’s one from another Bostonian (Theodore Parker), a phrase made famous by Lincoln:

      “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

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