New Zealander of the Year, Dame Anne Salmond, on how dirty politics tarnished our democracy. Go read the full piece in The Herald:
The Dirty Politics saga cuts to the heart of political life in New Zealand. Over the past 10 years there has been an insidious shift in the way that government works, with increasingly autocratic, arrogant ministers taking away the levers of power from citizens and civil servants. […]
The independence of the civil service has been eroded, with ministers routinely interfering in operational decisions. Last year, the Law Society felt impelled to report to the United Nations that Parliament had been used to pass a succession of acts that strip away rights, freedoms and protections from citizens, in breach of the Bill of Rights. Ministerial accountability has become a farce. […]
If many Kiwis feel disgusted with politics and politicians, and powerless at present, they have good reason.
If the Prime Minister’s office has indeed worked with the SIS to attack the Leader of the Opposition, or colluded with a muck-raking blogger to vilify people who disagree with the ruling party, this is reprehensible, and a constitutional disgrace. It is the kind of governance that makes Kiwis feel terrible about their own country. It’s not okay. […]
There are decent people in all political parties. They must take urgent steps to clean up politics in New Zealand, and to restore democratic checks and balances to the political process. It must adversely affect the lives of politicians, and make them wonder what happened to their own ideals, and how they became complicit in such a dirty game.