This week, the Government slammed through the Policing (Involvement in Local Authority Elections) Amendment Bill. It lets Police stand for local elections under the same rules as other public servants.
Is it a good idea? On the one hand, people should be allowed to stand in elections as a basic tenant of our democracy. On the other, the Police are the sharp end of executive government and the concept of separation of powers says we should keep the executive divided from the legislative – otherwise you have the same people making the rules as enforcing them.
It’s an issue that deserves to be debated. Instead, it was rushed through by this government in yet another shameful act of disregard for transparent government and active democracy. Hell, why don’t we just make John Key king for three years if they’re going to treat the process and public input into legislation with such disdain?
Even David Farrar, who is smelling the sweet air of freedom in Labor-ruled Australia, agrees:
“urgency sometimes is used to avoid a bill going to a select committee, and to pass it into law within a day or two. This is a necessary power for bills that are genuinely urgent. Common use is excise tax changes and sometimes in the early days of a new Government it is justified so some policies can be implemented immediately.
I do not believe there was a good justification for the bill to bypass the select committee stage. It doesn’t matter that it was inevitable it would be passed anyway as both National and Labour supported it. We, the public, were robbed of the chance to submit on it. The select committees are our voice.
Without an upper or second house, they are even more important. Bypassing them should happen as rarely as possible.
Some may argue it had to be passed in time for the local body elections. I agree, but it could have been introduced to Parliament earlier, or the Select Committee could have been given a shorter than normal (six months normally) period to report back.”
Yup. But, David, you know why they didn’t give the public our chance to have a say – they don’t give a damn.