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Absolute power? Absolutely

Written By: - Date published: 8:27 am, September 15th, 2010 - 151 comments
Categories: law, national/act government, Parliament - Tags: ,

I was pretty stunned to read that the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act gives the Government the power to pass Orders in Council overriding or suspending all but five laws. That makes ministers, not Parliament, the sovereign power in this country. Pretty scary stuff, which I haven’t seen justified by the facts of the quake.

This constitutional stuff is not my specialty so, naturally, I went to No Right Turn to get more info on the ramifications of this Act (I’ll leave out the bit about the Enabling Act, I/S… bit too far):

Earlier tonight, in a unanimous vote, Parliament made us a dictatorship. While Parliament still exists, it is meaningless. We are now under the rule of a single tyrant: Gerry Brownlee, the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery.

Oh, not in practice, of course. But in form. The Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Bill, passed unanimously less than an hour ago, gives Brownlee the power to repeal or modify practically any law on our statute book, without even having to refer to Cabinet, let alone Parliament. With the flick of a pen, Brownlee could:

  • repeal Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act;
  • ban unions;
  • strip anyone he likes of citizenship. Or, for that matter, grant it;
  • make murder, rape, and bribery legal;
  • overturn the results of the SuperCity election;
  • declare the Treaty a “simple nullity” and sack the Waitangi Tribunal;
  • legalise torture, or medical experimentation on pensioners;
  • ban booze and legalise marijuana;
  • declare himself immune from the OIA (which given his performance, I’m sure he’d love to);
  • vest the foreshore and seabed now and forevermore in Paul Holmes;
  • remove income tax on the rich;
  • overturn the nuclear-free legislation;
  • repeal the ETS, or exempt anyone he wants from it;
  • legalise discrimination against gays or Catholics;
  • grant permission for the Central Plains Water Project.

Provided he doesn’t mess with a very short list of laws (basically the Constitution and Electoral Acts, and the BORA – but not the Human Rights Act), he can do anything he wants. While officially he has to “take into account” the purpose of the bill, “take into account” means sweet fuck-all – and thanks to a Fiji clause, the courts have no jurisdiction over the resulting Orders anyway. While he is theoretically subject to the oversight of the Regulations Review Committee, that is a slow process, and he could (if he felt like it) simply remove that clause. Result: absolute, dictatorial power, at least in theory, until 1 April 2012.

I do not for a moment think Brownlee will do any of those things.1 But the mere fact that he can is a constitutional outrage. As Lew put it, we are relying on Gerry Brownlee to not be evil. And that is not acceptable in a democracy. Democratic societies under the rule of law do not trust politicians not to be evil – we tie them up so they cannot be.

No-one questions the need for emergency legislation to empower the reconstruction. But this bill, with these effectively unlimited powers was not the way to do it. And what really stinks is that every party voted for it. Faced with the threat of National labelling them “unpatriotic” (or worse, “unCantabrian”), they obediently fell into line and voted for it in the name of “national unity”. Even the Greens were silenced where it mattered – at the vote. And that is how dictatorship happens.

1 I expect him to do other things instead – like weakening the building regulations which just saved thousands of lives, or exempting some large donors from the “hassle” of the RMA and so forth.

For more info read Lew, Dean Knight, Graeme Edgeler and Andrew Geddis

Has anyone actually shown that there are laws that need to be changed that can’t be changed quickly enough through Parliament, sitting under Urgency if needed?

At least the Greens put up some amendments to limit the law’s scope, although I don’t think they were agreed to. And Labour refused to back National’s original plan for the law to remain in effect until 2015, resulting in it expiring in 2012 instead. But the willingness of Parliament to sign away its own powers as the body of our elected representatives at the first cry of ‘crisis’ is very, very worrying.

So is taking away the Courts’ ability to adjudicate on whether Orders in Council are legal and justified. John Carter says it’s to prevent vexatious cases wasting time. If that’s the concern, make the law that Courts can’t hear vexatious cases. Don’t muzzle the judiciary entirely.

To the growing list of post-quake reforms we need add: a well-thought out Disaster Recovery Act that can be enabled by Parliament after a disaster, so that we don’t get this rush to legislate that results in overkill with massive unchecked power being awarded to ministers.

151 comments on “Absolute power? Absolutely ”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    Ah ha , the woodwork teacher from Ilam has finally attained what he has all ways desired. Now he can be judge AND jury. and his previous conviction for assault can be wiped out. This was from the days when as Brownshirt Brownlee he was responsible for throwing down the stairs those who dared to speak during election rallies.
    I wonder how this will end up as usually happens the underlings assume the powers that our new Overlord has obtained

  2. Oh god he could repeal the protection in Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act.

    I bet he is tempted …

    The speed in which this law was passed suggests that other laws could be passed at a similar pace as long as a basic case could be made out.

    This feels at least in part like a PR exercise to show that the Government is in power and is doing something, whatever that something may or may not be.

    • Bob Stanforth 2.1

      The speed was reflective of the fact that every party and every MP was consulted and agreed to support the bill. And they also know that if Big GB oversteps his reach, its the rope that will hang him, and so they have that pleasure as well.

      Shouldn’t you be more horrified that your beloved left rolled over without a fight? tsk tsk, what were they thinking??? Oh, thats right, because its the right thing to do. Doh.

      AS: again. Yet more ‘the sky is falling’ stupidity. Again.

      • Blighty 2.1.1

        ‘Oh, thats right, because its the right thing to do. Doh.’

        Tell me why it’s necessary for a minister to be able to overrule any law in the land, save 5, because of the earthquake.

        Tell us exactly why that is necessary.

        If you can’t, then as a person who believes in democracy, you shold err on the side of controls on power, not unfettered power.

      • The Chairman 2.1.2

        And they wonder why they have lost their grassroots support?

        This wasn’t the right thing to do – it was over the top.

      • jbanks 2.1.3

        Take your rational, reality based facts somewhere else.

        This is the place of National = Bad.

        • Bright Red

          the facts are that Gerry Brownlee has just been given the power to cancel any law he likes and the courts can’t hold him to account.

          Why do you support Gerry Brownlee having the power to override the Hapeas Corpus Act?

          • jbanks

            It was unanimously passed be the House. NO MP OBJECTED.

            Get with reality would you.

            • Lew

              Nobody’s arguing this was done illegitimately. It was passed into law by due legal process, and is perfectly legitimate. But that don’t make it right or good.


              • jbanks

                But that don’t make it right or good.
                If you think that there will be a problem in practice with this, and not one MP in our broad political spectrum agrees with you – then ya gotta ask yourself the question – ‘Am I being realistic, or am I being a hysterical conspiracy theorist?’

                • Lew

                  If you’d actually read my post on the topic — linked twice in this one, no less — then you’d see that my objections are specifically framed in theoretical terms. Of course Gerry Brownlee isn’t going to make a law requiring that anyone seeking to meet with him to discuss the quake recovery must bring tribute of a pie and a beer. But he could, nobody could prevent him from doing so, and the courts would have no jurisdiction to review the legitimacy of such a decree. And that’s a problem.


                  • jbanks

                    So the problem is that there won’t actually be a problem . . . but there could be . . . even though there won’t be. Lolz.

                    • Bright Red

                      Yes, there’s a problem in that we’re relying on Gerry Brownlee not to abuse the huge power’s he have just been given.

                      That’s not how democracies work.

                      Remember, in a few months time, it could be a Labour minister with all these unchecked powers.

                      Will you be so keen on it then?

                    • Richard

                      No, the problem is that we are trusting to Gerry Brownlee’s good sense that there won’t be a problem.

                      This is not how a parliamentary democracy works.

                    • jbanks

                      Remember, in a few months time, it could be a Labour minister with all these unchecked powers.

                      Will you be so keen on it then?

                      If the entire parliament vote for this to happen, then for me to have a problem with it, this problem would not be not based on outcomes.

                    • Bright Red

                      So, it comes back to you saying that if the whole Parliament votes for something it must be OK.

                      Which takes us back to blue-eyed babies.

                    • Vicky32

                      “even though there won’t be”
                      And you know that how?

                • bbfloyd

                  JB…you really gotta stop doing that stuff when you write these rants… it’s getting messy, and smelly..

            • Bright Red

              If the House unanimously passed a law making it legal to kill blue-eyed babies would you support that law without question?

              • jbanks

                Don’t be a moron. Your analogy isn’t even closely relevant. We have a wide range of ideologies represented in the House.

                • Bright Red

                  you said that as long as it’s passed unaminously, it’s OK.

                  “It was unanimously passed be the House. NO MP OBJECTED.

                  Get with reality would you.”

                  Now, you’re conceding that just because all the MPs vote for something doesn’t make it good law.

                  One defence down.

                  • jbanks

                    All of the MPs vote for something because it’s a good law.
                    Their consensus doesn’t make it good.

                    • Bright Red

                      Why is giving Gerry Brownlee the power to repeal the Abolition of the Dealth Penalty Act good law?

                    • pmoney

                      “Why is giving Gerry Brownlee the power to repeal the Abolition of the Dealth Penalty Act good law?”

                      Read the purpose of the bill you retard.

                      captcha waiting (for some sensible comments on this blog … fat fucking chance)

                    • jbanks

                      Why is giving Gerry Brownlee the power to repeal the Abolition of the Dealth Penalty Act good law?

                      The Bill is temporarily broad in order to get what needs to be done in CHCH, done swiftly and effectively. It’s pragmatic and the potential abuses will only ever be theoretical. All of parliament understand this. It’s not that difficult.

                    • Richard

                      pmoney Read the purpose of the bill you retard.

                      Read the purpose yourself.

                      If Gerry claimed that, say, issuing an Order in Council to “shoot looters on sight” would “facilitate the response to the Canterbury earthquake”. Then he could. There would be no legal comeback (except possibly “crimes against humanity” legislation in a foreign court).

                      There are no redeeming features about this law.

                    • Bright Red

                      pmoney, jbanks.

                      You’ve got to understand that jsut because there’s a need to do something does not mean that this something was the right one to do.

                      This law gives Gerry Brownlee the power to suspend the Abolition of the Death Penalty Act and nearly any other Act. (read the Act pmoney: An Order in Council made under subsection (1) may grant an exemption from, or modify, or extend any provision of any enactment)

                      Is that justified by the need to respond to the earthquake? If not, why should he have that power?

            • RobertM

              Yes it shows the political class are united and have no imagination. What if there is another earthquate, or different sort of civil defence disaster or major political incident, or even a war ? While the suspension of civil rights and consititutional legislation is in place. Given the politicians general lack of interest in civil , political or human rights, might they not just take advantage to conduct all sorts of human rights and planning outrages.
              The failure of the Act and Green Mps to at least abstain shows their worthless.
              Banks is not worth a comment. You still might have to vote for him, considering competent alternatives are non existant in Auckland

  3. NickS 3

    As Lew put it, we are relying on Gerry Brownlee to not be evil.

    Oh shit. Why the hell couldn’t National put someone a bit brighter and less wilfully ignorant in charge?

  4. nilats 4

    Oh, ain’t one so bitchy when it was not Labour who had the control.

    Remember the EFA, that was un democratic and brought in because a group of religious nuts nearly stole the 2005 election. Don’t forget the stolen $800k either. Clark was the evil bring this in.

    We have just had a GREAT natural disaster and you want to be so prissy about what to do next. I hope these laws on developing easier becomes mainstream, we need less pen pushers deciding what can be built at great cost and a more can do and will do attitude.

    Must be sad to you lefties rolling over on this, you want to slag off the response so far (Key, Parker, Brownlee etc) but you know you can’t because your ‘enemy’ have handled this natural disaster flawlessy except for posts of half truth diatribe nit picking etc.

    These new laws will help Canterbury return to normal much quicker but that is not good for the left politically ah boys.

    • Lew 4.1

      If you waved a placard in opposition to the EFA, you should be chaining yourself to the 9th floor balcony with a banner for this one. If you were consistent.


    • Bunji 4.2

      Yes, that EFA that was so undemocratic that an election was held on time and there was a smooth transfer of power to the opposition. It enabled no laws able to be suspended by a single person’s whim… Sounds just like dictatorship to me too.

    • Bright Red 4.3

      yeah, remember how the EFA cancelled the election and prevented anyone from campaigning?

      “We have just had a GREAT natural disaster and you want to be so prissy about what to do next”

      No, we want democratic controls to remain in place. Which means ministers and public servants should only have the powers they need for the jobs they are tasked with and no more. Give us the justification for Gerry Brownlee being able to suspend

      the Employment Relations Act,
      the Crimes Act,
      the ACC Act,
      the Abolition of the Death Penalty Act

      If you can’t give a good reason for him to have the power to suspend those Acts, then why the hell would you support him having the power to do so?

      Or do you just not believe in democracy? Better to have a dictator and trust he’ll always act in accordance with your wishes….?

      • Vicky32 4.3.1

        “Better to have a dictator and trust he’ll always act in accordance with your wishes….?”
        I am reminded of an article in the Sunday Star-Times back in maybe 2002 – a study done by a University Pol Sci guy whose name I have sadly forgotten, showed that 35%+ of New Zealanders favoured the idea of a dictator who “could get things done without having to worry about the (cliched) ‘red tape’. Scary! pmoney and jbanks were no doubt included in that 36 or so %. 🙁

  5. freedom 5

    ignoring the obvious right wing crap that The Bulldozer is likely to slip through behind the scenes, i have a small question about the expiry date stated of April 2012

    isn’t there an election next year? How is that affected by this legislation?
    so in theory Gerry can suspend/cancel the Election? are you sure he can’t change the Electoral Act,

    anyone feeling a tad nervous about this

    • Blighty 5.1

      Electoral Act is not covered. Unless Brownlee amends this Act to allow the Electoral Act to be covered, of course.

      Enabling Act, anyone?

  6. Bunji 6

    The only amendment the Greens got added was that the OIA will apply to the 7 member Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission (so at least we can find out what they’re doing), but ultimately backed down on everything else for ‘national unity’.

    This seems a gross overstep, we don’t need to enable Gerry as the new Henry the VIII – disappointed with all of parliament for the suspension of Court oversight, and the sheer girth of the law that can be overridden.

    Good post Marty.

    • Jim Nald 6.1

      Under the 2008-2011 National Government, New Zealand closed the gap with Tudor despotism.
      Welcome to fast rewind.

  7. Sanctuary 7

    You know, the South American authoritarianism of the likes of nilats is truly scary for any patriotic, democratic, Kiwi to behold.

    • nilats 7.1

      So the EFA was democratic then?
      This law was passed by all & sundry, not a Politburo of self elected leaders.

      • freedom 7.1.1

        ‘This law was passed by all & sundry’
        – so was the Patriot Act in America and look at the bullshit that has happened since that ’emergency power’ was enthroned

        Yes the need for prompt reconstruction is vital, but does it warrant the suspension of democracy?

      • The Chairman 7.1.2

        The lack of political opposition adds to the concern.

      • Bright Red 7.1.3

        If you want to talk about the EFA, do it in open mike. This thread is about the Canterbury Earthquake Act.

        I will, however, note that “So the EFA was democratic then?” Is an admission that the CEA isn’t democratic. You’re just resorting to arguing ‘they did it too’. hardly principled.

  8. smokie 8

    The bit about the enabling act isn’t too far at all Marty. Theoretically, that’s exactly what this is. And I can’t believe the opposition have been such push-overs on these over the top move.

    There’s no event that justifies undermining our democratic system like this.

  9. comedy 9

    Do you think that by posting bombastic shit like this people will have more or less time for your opinions on other issues ?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      You spent the time !! Whether you agree , who cares

    • bbfloyd 9.2

      Comedy… your talking at the mirror again…. turn around.. yes that’s it, see…. there’s real people over there..

      • comedy 9.2.1

        Ummm you don’t get it do you the real people i.e. the vast middle fence sitting rump of NZ voters would look at this and go ……. ‘you’re fucking nuts.’

        Then when you’ve got something worthwhile to say the message is devalued by the previous posts.

        I like a number of [Name deleted – try that again and you’re banned for life]‘s posts over at NRT as he tends to give a serve to politicians across the spectra despite his leanings but when he comes out with a tirade like this with the attendant bullet points all you can do is roll your eyes.

        • insider

          It’s hardly a secret who NRT is. He posts about his submissions on various bills, which are done under his real name and can be found on Parliament’s website.

          You think posting his name merits a life ban in light those circumstances?

          • lprent

            Yes. I’m aware that some on the right are more concerned with gossip than ideas. However I’m not. Privacy is one of those concepts moderated only by considerations of public interest. Since I suspect that neither comedy or yourself could show the public interest in making nrt name public (or most other things we don’t allow for privacy invasions on this site) it don’t happen here.

            I also (like the legal system) believe in a totally disproportionate response to willfully and knowingly violating our rules. So do the other moderators – see above. The only person who should be able to break nrts privacy is himself. As you say it isn’t that hard to figure out if you really needed to know. To go further an publish it is just the action of a purient gossip in it for the thrill. Whale for instance

            • comedy

              To use someone’s first name is hardly making his name public unless it’s a very unusual first name of course – I don’t think he’s been shy about who he is anyway.

              I think Marty just wanted to vent over my critique of his post.

  10. Bill 10

    Might as well cancel the Christchurch local elections as any decisions made by the council with regards how they wish to move Christchurch forward will be overturned by Brownlie if it doesn’t accord with what he wants.

    Just the other day, one of the current Christchurch councillors (can’t remember her name) said that any demolition of older buildings would have to be okayed by council. This was in reference to the increase in quake protection to 66% for older buildings and the potential for owners to look at the costs and the building and the expensive yet underutilised CBD land it stands on and opt for demolition and a highly profitable new building as opposed to repair.


    Will be interesting to note the utter silence and abeyance of Christchurch’s population over this. As I said. Sod the elections. Brownlie can appoint Parker as his little lieutenant and get it over and done with.

    • Bill 10.1

      Say hello to the imposition of ‘work for the dole’ in Ch/ch as the unemployed are put to work repairing roads or whatever for less than the legal minimum hourly rate.

      And say hello to visionless crap being constructed in accordance with the wishes of Brownlie’s mates in the building and construction industry.

      Say cheerio to any damaged listed building that any of Brownlie’s land owner mates and/or mates in the construction industry want to have ‘disappeared’.

  11. insider 11

    To be slightly Pollyanna-ish – isn’t it a good thing that our representatives feel enough trust in each other to give such powers to a few? We don’t just hope that GB isn’t evil, it is our base expectation.

    I’d argue it is a sign of a mature and caring nation, and a sign of a healthy democracy that in a time of adversity we (via our MPs) are willing to take that risk for the greater good.

    Time now to set my burglar alarms, disable my car immobiliser and head off out of my gated community to my work compound.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      isn’t it a good thing that our representatives feel enough trust in each other to give such powers to a few?

      No it doesn’t. In fact I’d go so far as to say that’s a very Bad Thing as it opens the gate to a whole lot more undemocratic laws like this one.

      I’d argue it is a sign of a mature and caring nation, and a sign of a healthy democracy that in a time of adversity we (via our MPs) are willing to take that risk for the greater good.

      It’s a sign that our democracy has lost its way and that we’re about to lose it.

      • KJT 11.1.1

        We never had a democracy in the first place, but I suspect this is a sign of things to come as we start to rebel against the strip mining of NZ and its people with the connivance of parliament.

    • Bright Red 11.2

      “To be slightly Pollyanna-ish – isn’t it a good thing that our representatives feel enough trust in each other to give such powers to a few?”

      Listen to yourself, insider.

      ‘trust me to solve this crisis but I’ll need unchecked’ is the argument of nascent dictators through all history.

      Even your hero Farrar can’t bring himself to say he supports this law.

    • SHG 11.3

      I’d argue it is a sign of a mature and caring nation, and a sign of a healthy democracy that in a time of adversity we (via our MPs) are willing to take that risk for the greater good.
      Hey, once the Separatist crisis has been resolved I’m sure Chancellor Palpatine will lay down his emergency powers. It’s for the greater good!

      • Bright Red 11.3.1

        It aure is great that we can trust Palpatine/Gaius Julius/Adolf/the Junta.

      • Richard 11.3.2

        Hey, once the Separatist crisis has been resolved I’m sure Chancellor Palpatine will lay down his emergency powers. It’s for the greater good!

        Well, surprisingly, Sulla did.

        On the other hand, Augustus didn’t.

        • SHG

          Every one of Rome’s eighty-eight Dictators laid down his emergency powers.

          Augustus was never Dictator, so he didn’t have any emergency powers to lay down.

          I seem to recall that when G. Julius Caesar resigned from his dictatorship, the Senate went and accorded it to him again while he wasn’t even present.

          • Lew

            Good for Rome. How about more modern authoritarian/autocratic states? I can name a few from the past 100 years…


          • Richard

            Augustus was never Dictator

            True, he had a personal collection of powers, because he refused the office of dictator.

            … so [Augustus] didn’t have any emergency powers to lay down.

            The powers he had were originally granted to deal with emergencies (civil war), and then reconstruction following that civil war.

            G. Julius Caesar resigned from his dictatorship, the Senate went and accorded it to him again while he wasn’t even present

            Right. That was just a happy coincidence and dreadful burden for J. Caesar. And I’m sure that J. Caesar had no influence over what the Senate did. Anyway, he was assassinated while still dictator, so who knows when or if he intended to resign.

            • SHG

              Right. That was just a happy coincidence and dreadful burden for J. Caesar. And I’m sure that J. Caesar had no influence over what the Senate did

              Yeah, yeah 🙂

      • Draco T Bastard 11.3.3


        JAR JAR: BROWNLEE: In response to the direct threat to the Republic Christchurch mesa propose that the Senate Parliament give immediately emergency powers to the Supreme Chancellor Governor in Council.


    • KJT 11.4

      Brownlee has already proved almost total incompetence. Now the rest of the politicians have proved theirs.

  12. prism 12

    Every time that the right wingers get in they cite some crisis which then enables changes that they take to extremes. 1984 was one, the Auckland city amalgamation becomes a super city – extreme step, the Christchurch Commissioner overturning the previous democratic process to faciltae favourable water provision to a minority and now Parliament has suspended democracy there with ramifications for elsewhere. And Labour goes alongside in this extreme measure with only a few protests and the Greens ditto.

    And the measures to last till 2012. It’s a long time to wait for that sunset. It’s long enough for those with no institutional memory of what sort of country our parents and elders have worked to institute, to get on a completely different track. Chaos theorists may have much to study. Ordinary citizens will have much to mourn.

  13. randal 13

    all the pols were really annoyed that nothing mjor happened because they really wanted looters to be shot an the whole kit and caboodle so they they could show how masterly they were.
    basically they are a gang of hams entrusted with more power than they properly know how to deal with.

  14. freedom 14

    To see how dangerous this shift of power actually is you only have to go to the Stuff homepage. They have not had the guts to give it its own article. No, they hide it within an article on the State of Emergency being extended untill tomorrow

    Laws of this magnitude only get introduced this softly when there is something to hide

    I do not believe Gerry is about to appoint himself Caesar or any largescale social changes will be witnessed. I do believe that powers in this law will be abused in subtle and discreet ways, most notably the powers that affect publically owned resources, and the funding thereof.

    There are numerous ways that authority of this magnitude can be swayed by special interests and with the removal of OIA oversight i have serious concerns re the privatisation of ACC and the EQC

    • Bright Red 14.1

      Ironically, Caesar was made Dictator by the Senate perfectly legally. Dictators were appointed for six month periods in crises but Caesar’s appointment was to have been for ten years.

      • freedom 14.1.1

        and if you look at how long the idea of Caesar hung around then you begin to see the potential risk posed by our little suspension of democracy,

  15. Henry 15

    I had a telephone conversation recently with someone who claimed a close connection with the National Party.
    That person was adament that a new global currency/world government has already been agreed to, by the big 10 ? and that it will be implemented very soon. This was a telephone conversation with someone I cannot identify so there is a large amount of doubt surrounding the claim. However I do believe this person was genuine in their connection and summation. 18 months maximun was the time frame given.
    This emergency earthquake law is a nice little accomplishment for the Nats in their task of selling us out to a new world government. They can now do anything they like without fear of the law to smooth NZ’s transition to a World Dictatorship .

    • Richard 15.1

      Henry I had a telephone conversation recently with someone who claimed a close connection with the National Party. That person was adament that a new global currency/world government has already been agreed to…

      So, this was a phone sex line?

      Did this person also tell you that he/she was wearing crotchless panties?

    • freedom 15.2

      before all the predictable responses attack this, go look at any of a thousand sites detailing the restructuring of currency and credit. just google ‘global currency’ and then make up your own mind. Over the last few hundred years the Bankers have set into motion a new global ‘currency’ that will supercede the sovereign currency of any nation.
      here is a good introduction to very recent history on the subject

      or are we all just imagining things

      capcha: warned -we all have been countles times-

  16. felix 16

    Excuse me, mods – There may be some identity theft going on here: http://thestandard.org.nz/absolute-power-absolutely/#comment-248476

    Or maybe not, but it’s a bit out of character for the real p-money to turn up on a political blog and shout authoritarian slogans out of the blue.

    [p-money is a sock puppet for another well known right wing loon commenter. I don’t think there’s a serious chance of anyone mistaking it for the real “p-money”, but (you know who you are) please stop using it none the less – r0b]

  17. burt 17

    Given the prevelence of bloc voting in major parties I don’t actually see any real difference because of this law. We have alwys had the fastest law makers in the west with virtually no constraint anyway.

    I suspect much more damage has been done to democracy in NZ by legislation passed under urgency by a single major party voting as told to vote by the party leader.

    Work for dole was also mentioned earlier in this thread, I commented on KB the other day that I was surprised prisoners were being flown to safe locations rather than being put to work in the cleanup. It seems wrong that people are left flapping around in a disaster zone to largely fend for themselves while criminals are moved to other locations.

    • Bright Red 17.1

      they were moved because there was nowhere safe to house them. If the State is going to imprison people, it takes on the responsibility for their safety.

    • burt 17.2

      OK, I get that the state is responsible for their safey and I agree with that. Is a prisoner working on cleanup less safe than a student working on cleanup ?

      People are being denied even access to retrieve personal treasurs from their houses, basic human rights are being trampled on all over the region yet we send the prisoners to a different city where they can have a nice warm room and three meals a day. There is something wrong in this picture.

      • Bright Red 17.2.1

        a) it was their housing that was unsafe, no water pressure in case of fire in the cell.s

        b) how do you propose the public would have been kept safe with hundreds of prisoners out and about and the police too over-extended to watch them all?

        • burt

          Brigh Red

          Christchurch residents fight eviction

          Council housing residents are furious at being evacuated from their New Brighton homes in Christchurch with just an hour’s notice.

          But it’s OK, they are all being flown to another city and given a room and three meals a day… well if they gang up and kill a few council inspectors then they will be given somewhere to live and food…..

          Ordinary people being turfed onto the street and criminals being re-housed. Go figure.

          • Bright Red

            Yeah it’s terrible what the council has done to those people -fucken Bob Parker.

            that doesn’t mean prisoners should have been left in an unsafe jail. It’s not an ‘either or situation’. All should get the help they need.

      • burt 17.2.2

        A ball and chain would solve the public safety issue. Don’t forget the prisoners have been locked up removing their freedom, yet they are flown to a safe location and provided food & shelter – something many people in Chch don’t have at this time.

        • Bright Red

          Again, the State ensuring the safety of its prisoners and the State helping others in need is not an ‘either or’ situation.

          Do you seriously think they have hundreds of balls and chains sitting around or that those would be an adequate way to control prisoners in a disaster zone? Dream world, mate.

        • Vicky32

          “A ball and chain would solve the public safety issue. ”
          Good one Burt, I near p*ss*d myself – it’s a good thing you’re not serious! (But if you like the chain gang thing, if it floats your boat, I suggest you move to Flori-duh! 😀 )
          (Give my regards to Ernie… )

      • Richard 17.2.3

        burt There is something wrong in this picture…

        And there is nothing wrong with a picture that includes slave labour.

        Now, issuing an Order in Council to utilize prison labour to undertake some Worthy and Urgent Measure of Reconstruction is a realistic way that Gerry will probably abuse his new powers.

        • burt

          Yes indeed, making people who have done wrong against other people in society provide free labour to reconstruct order is soooo wrong isn’t it…. Let me guess, we should give the prisoners a big payout because they were scared being locked up when the quake hit….

          • Richard

            burt Yes indeed, making people who have done wrong against other people in society provide free labour to reconstruct order is soooo wrong isn’t it….


          • felix

            Hi burt,

            If you do the crime, you do the time, yeah? Whatever your crime, you’re being punished because you were found by a court to be guilty of breaching a particular piece of legislation.

            A court, in accordance with another piece of legislation, has decided on your punishment.

            You can’t complain because you did the crime, right? You had every opportunity to be aware of the possible legal consequences of your actions, yeah? Enforcement of the “social contract” if you like.

            Having been sentenced and served part of that sentence – doing the time – it seems to me a bit weird that the contract could be re-written at any time and enforced regardless. Even your weird mate David Garrett (or whatever he’s calling himself today) acknowledges this principle in his “3 strikes” law, i.e. it applies only to crimes committed after the passing of the law.

            To do otherwise – as you suggest – would require retr…

            *ahem* re.. re..


            I can’t do it. Finish it for me, burt would you?

          • Lanthanide

            “Yes indeed, making people who have done wrong against other people in society provide free labour to reconstruct order is soooo wrong isn’t it”

            It’s also a very slippery slope: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8289

            “All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum. And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month.”

  18. Henry 18


    No, sex lines are not my style.
    As I said their is doubt surrounding any unidentified person and I’m not willing to endanger their job by revealing what it is. I can say it was a respectable profession they were engaged in. That doesnt mean the claim is correct but I believe the person was genuine and upstanding even if they were off the mark. It is “possible” that this is true.

    • Richard 18.1

      Oh good, we are talking about “possibilities”.

      So, it is “possible” that your secret, very important and credible informant was wearing crotchless panties.

      I think you’ll find more people are interested in your fantasies if you add crotchless panties.

      • mcflock 18.1.1

        depends who’s wearing them

        • Richard

          Sure, who is interested will depend on who is wearing them.

          However, regardless of who is wearing them, there’s bound to be somebody interested.

          • mcflock

            True, but the objective is to use crotchless panties (and – may I? – whipped cream) in order to boost the number of people interested in the story.

            If the source was Mike Moore ( WTO, or even Michael Moore) then the audience would be a bit more . . . specialised than if the source was one of the bright young things (any gender identity) from Hollywood. Ruling out the ones for whom crotchless panties would be “overdressing”.

  19. jbanks 19

    You’ve got to understand that jsut because there’s a need to do something does not mean that this something was the right one to do.

    This law gives Gerry Brownlee the power to suspend the Abolition of the Death Penalty Act and nearly any other Act. (read the Act pmoney: An Order in Council made under subsection (1) may grant an exemption from, or modify, or extend any provision of any enactment)

    Is that justified by the need to respond to the earthquake? If not, why should he have that power?

    Considering we’ve all agreed that Gerry isn’t going to do anything of the sort – then yes, it’s justified to get what needs done, and done now.

    • Bright Red 19.1

      Why bother having the rule of law and an elected Parliament at all if we’re just going to trust those with power not to do bad things?

      Do you support giving Police the power to kill anyone they like because we agree that they’re not going to kill just anyone but only those that ‘need’ to be killed?


      So why give a minister the power to suspend, override, or extend any law?

      The foundation of democracy is checks and balances on power, and there are effectively none on Gerry Brownlee’s now.

      Why didn’t the law just give Brownlee the power to override the laws that he needs to be able to override?

      • jbanks 19.1.1

        Why didn’t the law just give Brownlee the power to override the laws that he needs to be able to override?

        Because EVERYONE in parliament knows that doing it this way would not give the desired results ie, getting the job done quickly. Doing it your way would have been back and forwards for weeks at the expense of the people of CHCH. And for what? To not give Brownlee a power he won’t use anyway. Genius!

        • Richard

          jbanks …doing it this way would not give the desired results ie, getting the job done quickly

          What’s the rush? There’s not exactly an enemy army on the horizon.

          Once the immediate emergency has been handled (which is exactly what is currently been done with the current State of Emergency powers), there doesn’t doesn’t seem to be any desperate rush.

          It seems that what we want to do is a good job of rebuilding rather than a quick job.

          • jbanks

            What’s the rush?

            Why would every single person in parliament (read: even the lefties) support this bill if bureaucracy wouldn’t have significantly slowed down rebuilding?

            • Richard

              Who knows why the morons in parliament do what they do. Presumably, they supported it because they didn’t want to be portrayed as “acting to slow down reconstruction”.

              That doesn’t mean anything with regard as to whether bureaucracy is actually slowing down reconstruction, or whether it is desirable for reconstruction to be rushed.

              • jbanks

                Oh so NOW, the Greens have no principles?

                • Richard

                  I’m sure they have some principles. I’m sure even ACT members have principles of one sort or another.

                  They haven’t displayed any principles worth having in voting for this particular piece of legislation, however.

            • KJT

              Bureaucratic enforcement of the building code is why every house in Christchurch did not fall down. Raced decisions in this case are likely to be bad ones.

        • Draco T Bastard

          And what can giving Brownlee more power actually speed up? Nothing. It will take as long as it takes due to resource constraints. About the only thing that the government really needed to do to help Chch was to ban all exports of needed reconstruction materials – and they haven’t done that so expect such materials to double in price over the next few months. I’m sure that NACT are.

          • jbanks

            Answer my question then. Why would every single person in parliament (read: even the lefties) support this bill if bureaucracy wouldn’t have significantly slowed down rebuilding?

            • Bright Red

              jb. One last time, all of Parliament voting for something doesn’t make it right.

              You tell me why gerry Brownlee needs the power to rescind the Crimes Act.

              • jbanks

                What makes it right then? Your opinion over our representative democracy?

                • Bright Red

                  What makes it right is if it can be justified by argument. If you think that the Parliament voting for something makes it right then we’re back to you supporting blue-eyed baby murder as long as the Parliament approves it.

                  Neither you nor anyone else has given an argument has to why Brownlee needs total power over all these Acts.

                  Look, let’s say Brownlee does need the right to override or extend the Building Act and the RMA and related Acts in anyway he wants. I don’t think that’s true, but let’s say it is for the sake of moving forward. Why would he need the power to reintroduce the dealth penalty or introduce slave labour or nationalise the electricity system?

                  Foundation stone of democracy: don’t give powers to people that they don’t need for a justified reason.

                  • jbanks

                    What makes it right is if it can be justified by argument.

                    Who decides what argument is justified and what isn’t?

                    • Richard

                      Jbanks, what answer would you like? Take your pick of:

                      a) historians
                      b) the audience
                      c) wikipedia
                      d) logic and stuff
                      e) our constitutional processes
                      f) a deity

                    • Bright Red

                      every individual comes to their personal conclusion. that’s how all discussion and debate works.

                      And I want to know why you think Brownlee should have all these powers, which you admit he doesn’t need but ‘trust’ he won’t use.

                      Since none of you righties can offer a reason for Brownlee to have these powers, I conclude that you are reflexively assuming it’s right because it’s done by this government.

                      Take a moment and think. This law gives the minsiter the power to make (nearly) anything legal or illegal: it could be a Labour minister (or a Green minister, or a NZF minister) with that power after the election.

                      Still think it’s a good idea.

                    • jbanks

                      Jbanks, what answer would you like? Take your pick of:

                      a) historians
                      b) the audience
                      c) wikipedia
                      d) logic and stuff
                      e) our constitutional processes
                      f) a deity

                      You’re right. Just because someone thinks their argument is justified doesn’t make it so.

                    • Bright Red

                      it may be new to you, jb, but most of us accept that there’s no such ting as objective truth. the purpose of debate is to convince the other side or the audience of the correctness of your point of view.

                      So, tell me again why we should give ministers the power to do anything. And if you do think that ministers ought to have the pwoer to do anything, why should we obther with democracy at all?

                    • Richard

                      jbanks You’re right. Just because someone thinks their argument is justified doesn’t make it so.


                      Equally, just because someone disagrees doesn’t mean that an argument is wrong.

                      So, the basic arguments against this legislation is that:
                      – it is disproportionate
                      – it is undemocratic
                      – it claims to fix a problem that hasn’t yet been shown to in fact be a problem.

                      So, please show us either how these arguments don’t matter, or show us that the law is in fact:
                      – proportionate
                      – democratic
                      – fixes a problem that exists

                • Richard

                  Nothing makes this correct. It doesn’t matter who voted for it. A terrible idea is a terrible idea.

                  Being committed to a representative democracy doesn’t mean that we have to unquestioningly agree with what our representatives say. Quite the reverse in fact.

                • KJT

                  Don’t you mean our exchangeable dictatorship.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Because they, like you, are stupid.

      • burt 19.1.2

        Why bother having the rule of law and an elected Parliament at all if we’re just going to trust those with power not to do bad things?

        What, like kill off standing court cases to save the party leader from standing in court for stealing public money to win an election…..

  20. jbanks 20

    it may be new to you, jb, but most of us accept that there’s no such ting as objective truth. the purpose of debate is to convince the other side or the audience of the correctness of your point of view.

    Awww you say that so objectively. You better let the guys down at the Ayn Rand Institute know, they’ll be so disappointed to hear that truth is a popularity contest.

    • Bright Red 20.1

      truth isn’t a popularity contest, it is come to by rational debate.

      And you’ve offered no defence of this law that gives Gerry Brownlee the right, inter alia, to declare you and your family illegal aliens, except an argument that whatever Parliament agrees must be right (to which I responded with the blue-eyed baby argument, which is straight out of first year law)

      what’s this got to do with Ayn Rand’s personality cult? Weird to think that Al Greenspan and others worshipped an exiled Russian atheist aristocrat who was into rough sex as a kind of Messiah. Even weirder that the Amercian Christian Right is into her now.

      • mcflock 20.1.1

        can anyone honestly tell whether jb genuinely appealed to the authority of the Ayn Rand Institute, or was he actually being intentionally humourous?

        It’s like the early days of Laibach: are they really that far out, or is it social commentary veiled beneath performance art?

  21. Sigh 21

    Sadly, I don’t think anybody cares. I’d be keeping my fingers crossed that GB does something so outrageous with these powers that he costs National the next election. You know, things that matter like corruption. But unless it somehow involves sex, rugby players, and Shortland St actors, our MSM is unlikely to give it any air time, and the idio^H^H^H^Hpeople of New Zealand who voted for this Government are unlikely to care (not that the last one was much better, let’s be honest, they really got old, got complacent, got tired, and gave the election to National, and they’ve barely learned). I spent almost a year recently living in a developing country, and what is sad is that the corruption their doesn’t feel much different from the corruption here. Some of it’s more obvious, but big behind the scenes stuff seems the same. Don’t kid yourself that Steven Joyce is building holiday highways because its good for the economy, he’s keeping someone happy, or that GB wants these powers only in the best interests of CHC. There’s no need to have all these powers except to abuse them.

  22. Lanthanide 22

    Here’s my boyfriend’s facebook update on the matter:

    “The government has given ministers the capacity to overrule most other legislation to streamline the recovery from the Canterbury earthquake. Good. Now they should use this power to approve every wind farm and mid-scale hydro project currently awaiting RMA approval, overruling the hippies. Lets build the infrastructure we need while we have the chance.”

  23. infused 23

    Another day at the standard…

  24. Daveosaurus 24

    To any Tory who still thinks this is a good idea… here’s a hypothetical situation for you.

    It’s September 2011. After losing his majority due to ACT’s complete implosion and the Māori Party’s withdrawal of support, John Key had called an early election, with the result that there is now a Labour/Māori/Green government with a narrow majority. Trevor Mallard has just been made Minister for Reconstruction, and has taken over the extraordinary powers of this Act, which he will hold for another six months or so. Do you still think it was a good idea to give him such extraordinary powers?

    • burt 24.1


      Well said. That was also one of the lines of consideration that was run when Labour were ramming through the EFA. Labour apologists refused to acknowledge there was anything disgusting about the tilt the playing field legislation until they were forced to face the reality. I wonder if National’s partisan hacks will consider the hypothetical you have put forward or if they will be as f##ked in the head as Labour partisan supporters and pretend there is nothing risky happening here [hands over ears – la la la la – not listening.]

  25. Puddleglum 25

    This is an extraordinary piece of legislation.

    First, one of the discussions and debates being had at the moment in the local paper and other media is over the danger of proceeding too speedily. Yet the justification for this law is that speed is needed in all aspects of ‘the recovery’ and that our laws might get in the way of that speed. In other words, this legislation has already pre-empted that debate.

    Second, the main dangers are not dramatic announcements from Gerry Brownlee repealing massive tranches of legislation but the over-ruling of parts of legislation; an over-ruling that then gets applied in cases beyond the ‘show’ case used to explain and justify the over-ruling.

    A further worry is in 2 parts:

    1. National either believed it needed to pass such incredibly sweeping legislation for PR/electoral purposes or it wished to do it for purposes yet to become clear. If the former, then they are taking Canterbury people for fools. Why would any Christchurch or Canterbury residents want to open the door wide for opportunism and poorly thought out rebuilding, not to mention ‘solutions’ to their problems that they might vehemently disagree with?

    What most people I’ve talked to who own severely damaged or uninhabitable homes want is (a) financial certainty; (b) inspections asap from the EQC to enable repairs/rebuilding to begin; and, (c) somewhere comfortable to live in the interim. What Christchurch people want in terms of the inner city is, overwhelmingly, time to take a deep breath and think through how we proceed. Nobody I’ve spoken to wants this rebuild mucked up. And, no matter how sweeping the legislation, affected businesses will for some time still need to make alternative arrangements for things like retail/office space to keep the cashflow going and financing (or are already resigned to going out of business).

    Frankly, one of my big fears is that the three mayors on this latest government appointed Commission will go for quick ‘progress’ partly to ‘look good’ in general but partly to dole out favours, under the guise of speedy rebuilding, to those able to lobby most ‘persuasively (‘Oh, so you’re finding that law a bit inconveniencing? Well, maybe I can do something about that…I’ll have a word to Gerry, we get on very well, you know!’) – and I simply don’t trust Parker, in particular, not to use this as an opportunity to do just that (if he wins re-election). he will try to ingratiate himself with the business community even more deeply than he already has.

    2. Opposition parties were so concerned about PR/electoral fallout from opposing the legislation that they rolled over. Sadly, it’s all too easy to answer jbanks’ question about why every MP voted for this: They were scared not to. Fear is not what I want from my representatives.

    I agree with the post: This was utterly unnecessary and Cantabrians are going to have to be vigilant to protect themselves and their city from this latest, ironic, legislative disaster.

  26. Bob Stanforth 26

    The only thing that could have made it any worse was if they – those bastards! – had made it retrospective legislation.

    Thank Allah they didnt.

    Wonder who it was who pushed through the last bit of retrospective legislation, that worst of all kinds of law making. Those bastards.

    Who was it again.


    • Puddleglum 26.1

      When you have this legislation, retrospective legislation is pretty pointless, Bob. If the post (and NRT) is correct then this legislation “gives Brownlee the power to repeal or modify practically any law on our statute book”. I assume that means that retrospective clauses (i.e., ‘modifications’) could in theory (but one assumes not in practice) be inserted willy-nilly by Gerry Brownlee.

      That’s the difference here, a difference I presume you’ll be utterly enraged about – this legislation, could make it possible to make someone guilty retrospectively for just about anything without the need to pass retrospective legislation through Parliament.

      • Bob Stanforth 26.1.1

        Yeah, utterly enraged, he has the potential to do stuff. Wow, do. Not did. Do. Please.

        You are utterly terrified that this will lead to the incumbents being shown to be the natural administrators that your Queen Bee was. And they are.

        They all are. And, despite what Jum thinks or says (man, did that comment this morning lose the coming election or what?) a good job is being done.

        Ask Christchurch people. Jum pretends he did, He hasn’t, and meanwhile, in spite of irrelevances like this crap, the Gummint is getting on with it. Just like this site told them they should.

        And when they do, this site fucking moans about it. LMFAO.

        Yay, Parliament had the nads to stand up and act as one. Thank god the likes of MartyG(whiz, what did I miss) dont represent much more than stupidity. Ask people on the ground what they think – or wait a few weeks and see when the results come in.

        • Marty G

          Bob. This law is retrospective, back to the day of the quake. And prior to that, the Nats passed the normal retrospective legislation at the end of the year to validate public spending that was invalid under the budget legislation.

  27. Jeremy Harris 27

    I’ve created a facebook page about this issue, all welcome:


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