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Abuse of process

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, September 9th, 2009 - 7 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, national/act government, Parliament - Tags:

National put Parliament back into urgency yesterday. It is ramming through the extension to the retail deposit guarantee, the RMA amendments, changes to the Biosecurity Act (and something else that escapes my memory). The RMA changes are particularly contentious but we won’t get to know what the Government is planning until hours before it passes them into law.

Urgency has its place, when time is tight – as it is with the retail deposit guarantee because the Government stuffed around for so long. It should only be used very sparingly though because it is undemocratic. It prevents the public and the Opposition having time to digest the proposed law, precluding informed public debate until after the fact. Also, while urgency is on there’s usually no Question Time, the one direct opportunity for the Opposition to hold ministers to account. There’s no reason to be rushing through RMA and biosecurity amendments through in the middle of the Parliamentary year.

This Key Government is starting to use urgency as a default option. Couple that with their practices of not sending important Bills like the Fire at Will Bill to select committee and ignoring the findings of select committees that do report, and we have a picture of a government riding roughshod over the parliamentary institutions put in place to protect our democracy. Hell, why don’t we just say ‘screw Parliament’ and let Key rule by decree for three years?

7 comments on “Abuse of process ”

  1. Tigger 1

    Hang on “a single stage definitive referendum could be held next year, then applied at the 2011 election.” So Nats want the new system in place by the next election? Wow, they really are drunk with power. Unfortunately half of New Zealand appears to like it’s alcoholic, abusive master…

    • Yeah, well they seem to think that riding rough shot over the he parliamentary institutions is what governing is all about. Makes them look decisive to the average dimwit voter. It also means they make really stupid decisions or greedy if you will but nobody finds out until to late.

  2. dr.whipple 2

    .. a well known phenomenon, sometimes manifested as “the Stockholm syndrome”, well known among people working with abused individuals.

    Could the RMA amendments have something to do with Auckland’s SuperCity ? The waterfront ? Rodney and Papakura Councils ?

    Or to distract headline writers from the prospect of seeking cost-efficiencies among intelligence services ? Think of the implications of such a precedent ..

    • Tigger 2.1

      It really does appear that they are using classic power and control tactics used by abusers to maintain dominance. And they’re taking advantage of this bizarre euphoria New Zealand appears to have for them. No wonder they’re doing things under urgency at the moment – they know that the majority appears to have no issue with it.

      Of course, all they’re really doing is sowing the seeds of their demise.

      By the way, I hesitate to say this but all this talk of abuse does seem mightily ironic given certain matters pertaining to certain President of certain party. Did I keep it vague enough?

  3. Graeme 3

    Urgency has its place, when time is tight as it is with the retail deposit guarantee because the Government stuffed around for so long.

    You haven’t been listening to Lianne Dalziel – she seems quite confident that a foreshortened select committee process could have been held. You might still want urgency to go through the later stages, but there’s no reason it has to be all stages all at once.

  4. r0b 4

    In a rare break with form The Herald gave National a good spanking on this issue very early on:

    It [National] has adopted a bulldozing approach that is disturbingly at odds with democratic Government. Gerry Brownlee would not even name the bills to be passed under urgency, but only the subject areas that they canvassed. Worse, he refused to give Opposition parties advance copies of any of the bills, until just before they were to be debated in Parliament.

    The fact that the matters were being dealt with under urgency already meant that there would be no chance for public submission; there is no room in the action plan for tedious details such as the select committee process, by which interested parties get to express their view about proposed legislation. But the public was denied the opportunity to even see the legislation, because the Nats were producing for debate law that had not been completely drafted and officially tabled and therefore, under Parliament’s rules, cannot be formally published.

    Extraordinarily, it was left to the Greens to scan paper copies and, in a samizdat-style operation reminiscent of the gulag-era Soviet Union, publish them on its own website. It is a state of affairs seriously at odds with the notion of a Parliamentary democracy.

    It is entirely possible that National is in the grip of a first flush of legislative enthusiasm. If so, it will adopt a more measured pace in the new year. If not, there is cause for concern. The Clark administration was often described as taking a “nanny state” approach – but it did consult widely; the Nats, by contrast, are looking remarkably like bullies.

    But they’re still at it. “Cause for concern” indeed. Will media speak up again this time?

  5. You know thinking about the whole under urgency thing?
    What is the difference between holding secret meetings while belonging to a select group in order to come up with laws that are detrimental to entire groups of the population pushing the laws through under urgency and only telling what the laws are all about hours before they are voted on and conspiring?

    Capcha: paid. yep, they sure are.

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