Another term of Nats bad news for democracy

Written By: - Date published: 7:01 am, October 13th, 2017 - 63 comments
Categories: accountability, democracy under attack, election 2017 - Tags: , , , , , ,

Another term of the Nats would be bad news for the institutions of democracy. Quite apart from rewarding the tactics of blatant lies and dirty politics, the damage to specific institutions would continue. Consider this recent warning on the justice system:

Chief Justice: ‘We need to be careful’

A powerful speech by the Chief Justice Sian Elias has the country’s judges and lawyers talking – and any new government on notice that the rule of law is under threat, Tim Murphy reports.

Judges don’t engage in politics, which is at times a pity.

They do, however, cry enough-is-enough when politicians and bureaucrats are infringing on fundamental rights and changing the quality of our justice.

A little-noticed speech by the Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias, has done just that.

With great care in her words, she has raised questions about cost-cutting, ad-hoc, hasty, and non-consultative decision-making and widening devolution of powers to the police rather than the courts that have sounded alarm bells in the legal fraternity.

Towards the end of her speech, the Chief Justice observed: “It is difficult to escape the feeling that some of these apparently ad hoc developments may not have been thought through in terms of fundamental principles such as the impact on the presumption of innocence, the right to silence and the right to legal advice.”

Cost-cutting was obliquely criticised. Uniform, equal and predictable justice “may not be speedy and it is not likely to be cheap. I do not expect criminal justice ever was speedy or cheap. Its careful observance is however best policy for a state that aspires to live under the rule of law.”

Or press freedom:

Press freedoms stifled by cynical use of Official Information Act: Report

Government secrecy is being blamed for New Zealand dropping out of a top 10 ranking of countries that respect media freedom.

Advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has issued its latest report, which places New Zealand at number 13 in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index. It was number five in 2016.

Joanna Norris, Fairfax’s South Island editor in chief and chair of New Zealand’s Media Freedom Committee, said there were several challenges that threatened media freedom. “Among the most serious of these is the consistent and cynical misuse of official information laws which are designed to assist the release of information, but are often used to withhold it,” she said. …

Similar concerns were raised by David Fisher in 2014 about the whole public sector:

David Fisher: The OIA arms race

The difference between when I started 25 years ago and now is astounding when it comes to dealing with the public service. If I was writing a story then which in any way touched on the public’s interaction with government, I would pick up the phone and ring an official. It really was that easy.

Now, the interviews are gone. We speak to public servants when they have something really good to boast about, or really bad to apologise for. There is no in between. We meet only at weddings and funerals, and that’s no way to build a relationship.

There are far darker, grimmer views out there than mine. Simply, we don’t trust you. By commission or ommission, we think many of those who handle our OIA requests don’t have the public interest at heart. We don’t trust the responses we get.

Of course, we may be completely wrong. We may have made a terrible mistake. But how would we know otherwise? You don’t talk to us anymore. You’re too scared to. Caught between the Beehive and the media, you don’t know which to face. …

See also Felix Marwick in a similar vein.

Another term of the Nats is another term of democracy under attack. And it’s starting to feel a lot like 1996 all over again.

63 comments on “Another term of Nats bad news for democracy”

  1. Keith 1

    National voters are absolutely comfortable with this status quo, as they are with the housing crisis, as they are with our failing health system, as they are with the poverty of our fellow citizens, etc, etc

    And I’ve been reading another article from the Herald regarding National Party MP and most definitely former Chinese spy trainer, at least, Jian Yang, who so conveniently left off his previous work resume when applying for residency and then became a government MP. One assumes the National Party don’t see any issues with the standard of their MP’s.

    But oh the rich irony when Winston goes into partnership with this kind of MP and this kind of no standards party, as I am confident he will do.

    • Ed 1.1

      More of this..

      ‘Jian Yang didn’t disclose Chinese intelligence connections in citizenship application’

      ‘Newly unredacted documents from Jian Yang’s 2004 citizenship application show Yang, who moved to New Zealand in 1999, did not list the 15 years he spent studying and working at the People’s Liberation Air Force Engineering Academy and the Luoyang Foreign Languages Institute from 1978. Both institutions are part of China’s military intelligence apparatus.

      Yang’s links, and subsequent rise to a position of political power in New Zealand, has stoked concerns of our traditional allies over the growing superpower’s soft-influence campaign in the region.’

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11932407

      • Gristle 1.1.1

        Can anybody explain the difference.

        A. Students and other visa holders have recently had their visas cancelled and left, via deportation or threat of deportation, once it was found that information on their applications was incorrect (or in one case when their cafe didn’t make as much money as predicted in their business plan.)

        Versus

        B. Jian Yang excludes very interesting sections of his past from a visa application and later moves onto citizenship on the basis of having residency.

        If the visa application was compromised, then isn’t the citizenship application also compromised?

        • Adrian 1.1.1.1

          Is this why Winston is stalling for time? He likes to be able to find somebody to blame , as any good pollie would, for any decisions he makes.
          I think he wants to go with Lab/ Green but will get a lot of static for doing so but if he paints the Nats as careless and too cosy with the Chinese government here he has a great excuse to not team up.

          • Skinny 1.1.1.1.1

            Labour are not stupid, hence they are not overly fussed, who needs who? They are just cornering Peters to the cross benches with National who fancy a rerun of the election and will pin the failure on Peters fluffing around game playing. If we go back to the polls National will fancy their odds of wiping Peters out this time and possibly Flavell gets the Maori party a second life. It will be business as usual if we do go back to the polls.

            There is very little difference between the 2 main parties and China, both indebted and infiltrated within.

            • red-blooded 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Those are very confident predictions, Skinny. I also think they’re rubbish. When you say Labour are just cornering NZF and National to the cross benches, you seem to ignore the fact that National will grab the lifeline of NZF if Labour don’t. Are you actually trying to look ahead, to the outcome of the next election..?

              The comparison with China also seems a bit obscure. Who do you see as having infiltrated Labour? National? China? What evidence to you have to back up your sweeping claim? Are you a member of any of the above, or are you just judging this from the outside?

              • Skinny

                Can anyone be confident knowing which option plays out? There are 4 political parties involved and then there is Peters.

                From what you have come up with shows your a light weight know nothing. National won’t allow NZF to pull the strings from the cross benches. It would be only a matter of time before Peters will cut them and the sideshow is over.

                You need a name change to Blood Hound with all the sniffing around ( and cocking your leg on me spraying) your doing. Here is a simple task for you;

                Who are the 2 MP’s who have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Chinese community in Auckland?

                And what group have they both got ties with?

                I mix and mingle with them all when needed.

                • BM

                  I’m starting to doubt your authenticity Skinny.

                  • Have a sandwich , BM.

                    Settle down.

                    • BM

                      Just pulling his leg, yesterday the story was that the whole negotiation process was a farce and Peters was just toying with National.

                  • Skinny

                    All good BM the chips are in the oven, the fishing has been outstanding today the snapper is ready to fry in in 10.
                    Speaking of which, whatever way you look at it there is little room to wriggle, the ‘big fish will fry’ once the net is closed. 🙂

                • red-blooded

                  Skinny, have a look at what you said in your first comment and compare it with your second:
                  1) “Labour are not stupid, hence they are not overly fussed, who needs who? They are just cornering Peters to the cross benches with National who fancy a rerun of the election and will pin the failure on Peters fluffing around game playing. ..” Here you seem to be saying that Labour don’t really want to be in, this time, and that National will let their arrangement with NZF fall over, so that they can call for a new election. There’s no “I think” or “maybe” – you sound very confident.
                  2) “Can anyone be confident knowing which option plays out?” Well – exactly. That’s what I was asking you earlier. I’m not sure why you got so aggressive about this query or why you felt the need for personal insults. Did I make any personal putdowns in my query to you? Maybe all the bluster is meant to cover up the fact that you actually have no more idea that I or anyone else what’s going on the minds of the negotiators..?

                  Your “Labour opt out, National let the arrangement fall over and then call another election” scenario is possible, of course, but not likely. How would National run their “strong and stable government” line after this kind of political meltdown on their watch? And why would Peters risk his legacy walking away from a governing arrangement at this stage in his career?

                  Please note, I’ve managed to respond to you without any insults or invective. If you respond to this, how about showing the same maturity?

                  • Skinny

                    Ok you have lost all cred I set you a simple task and you have come back with this dribbling rant.

                    Have an early night and come back making sense.

                    • red-blooded

                      Well done, mate. You managed to both avoid addressing the issue (the inconsistencies in your statements) and continue with the nastiness. Oh, and it’s hard to see how I could have “lost all cred” at 9.26 when at 3.15 you were calling me a “lightweight know nothing” and comparing me to a dog!

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.2

          B. Jian Yang excludes very interesting sections of his past from a visa application

          At the request of the Chinese government no less.

          If the visa application was compromised, then isn’t the citizenship application also compromised?

          You would think so. In fact his citizenship should be revoked immediately and he should be deported back to China with all his NZ assets nationalised under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

          • DoublePlusGood 1.1.1.2.1

            So should all of Jian Yang’s communications be OIA’d to see whether anything would constitute Espionage under the Crimes Act 1961?

        • simonm 1.1.1.3

          Metiria Turei voted in the wrong electorate and was hounded out of parliament for it. She got what was coming to her and justice was done.

          Jian Yang was fraudulent in filling his NZ citizenship application (omitting that he was, and possibly still is, a Chinese government spy) and that’s just fine. Move along now everybody, nothing to see here.

  2. cleangreen 2

    NZF must take the moral high ground here as the party stands whily for saving NZ first for New Zealanders it is as simple as that.

    Any media noise would and should be discounted as we knlw they have a hidden agenda as subjects of the global cabal.

    we are in the same position now as Greece was post election and the wholesale destruction of NZ would follow greece if we allow MSM to rule the agrenda here.

    let NZF rule the moral high ground here.

    • mosa 2.1

      No one would know the ” moral high ground ” if they bumped into it by accident.

      • mosa 2.1.1

        I believe National buried the moral high ground under the cycle way or its roads of NATIONAL PARTY significance.

        • tracey 2.1.1.1

          They started burying it when they polled 20ish% in 2002… and completed the hole after the Orewa speech

        • cleangreen 2.1.1.2

          I agree when it comes to National they have no moral fibre in their DNA, like other political parties attempt to have.

          But every Party is only as good as it’s MPs, so you are correct MOSA.

  3. Keith 3

    The Chief Justice has a good point about pre-charge warnings and the system coincidentally came in around the same time this National government did.

    The stated ideals of the system are in summary, not to tie up court time with small offences, leaving it free to deal with much more important matters. This suggests minor offences are not indicative of problems building and are so inconsequential that parliament may as well repeal the Summary Offences Act that deals with minor offences, or Failing to stop for Police, and other offences, as such offences carry only fines or minor punishment in other acts.

    But therein lies the problem. The police become Judge, Jury and executioner. Sure the person suffers no immediate repercussions but as she says, guilty pleas or admissions of guilt gained by way of incentives is not justice. And such a notation on the police system can have repercussions at some point.

    There is another angle that the Chief Justice does not explore and that is before this system and when people went to court, guilty as sin, lawyers milked the legal aid system for all it was worth and there was plenty of that, with unnecessary repeat appearances and billing to match. And to this day the judiciary has almost no control over these so-called respectable officers of the court.

    Let’s just say that the temptation to bypass that vexed long-term problem rather than deal with it and the other giant temptation, to save money, to well I don’t know, pay for tax cuts maybe, was just far too tempting.

    Justice on the cheap, like health, like education, is really just another hallmark of the present day National government. The one Winston is ever so tempted to join up with!

    • greywarshark 3.1

      Perhaps Justices of the Peace could try the minor matters, where violence or threat of violence didn’t occur. Police could be relieved of the target saying they have to cruise at night looking for stolen cars and encouraging the drivers of both to live out some adrenalin raising race. It’s almost entrapment. That would mean that serious crime would come down by percentage points within a year.

      And the stop and breathe into this bag idea processes many people for a few. Let the recidivist drivers be put through some cold turkey recovery retraining before they are allowed out. They are quite cynical and wayward and I believe that the Court process doesn’t even force them to finish a course of rehabilitation driving lessons and a test.

      It is just a futile practice for show to make it appear that government care about having good standards. No, they just go through the motions while they carry out the real project which is to milk and mine and bilk NZ of all spare moneys and assets, while they can. And devil take the hindmost.

  4. Incognito 4

    Too many now view Democracy as a system epitomised by rules & regulations that can and do get in the way of (political) pragmatism and expediency and (‘resulting’ economic) progress. These same people scoff about principles and values as hallmarks of the ignorant and naive who should have no say in running the country and its economy. This divide has been clearly on show since Election Day and will live on and increase in size until we all realise the importance of Democratic Principles for a healthy functioning Democracy or till we all fully succumb to neoliberal selfishness and unfettered capitalism. TINA, as they say, or, as I say, resistance is futile …

    • Psych nurse 4.1

      Thats because too many are comfortable with the concept of a benevolent dictator.

      • Incognito 4.1.1

        Materialism dictates behaviour nowadays and determines identity. As a direct consequence our egos remain underdeveloped and fragile, like that of a child, or they develop in negative ways. To compensate for this some of resort to ‘bad behaviour’ that temporarily fulfils the needs of their little egos, but most of us reach out for more materialism & consumerism (the retail ‘fix’). Either way, it is a downward spiral till we grow up and become liberated (!) and fully human.

      • tracey 4.1.2

        100% I hear many business people say ” we need a benevolent dictator but the masses wont buy it”

        • Psych nurse 4.1.2.1

          The masses are narsistic and intellectualy lazy, look at the mindless crap that now passes as entertainment, the selfies and passivity. Young people today simply would not protest about social injustice.

          • red-blooded 4.1.2.1.1

            That’s a complaint that’s come from older generations throughout the centuries. It’s as untrue now as it’s always been. I teach a lot of young people who are passionate about social justice and do plenty to back up their convictions.

            • In Vino 4.1.2.1.1.1

              +1 Problem is, they are not a big majority…

            • Psych nurse 4.1.2.1.1.2

              I work with a lot of young bright women whose sole topic of conversation over the past weeks has been about the arranged marriages currently being screened on TV. Their mothers and grandmothers were out there fighting for equality, this lot think feminism is a dirty word.

      • Rob 4.1.3

        Yes, que Winston.

  5. vto 5

    Nobody at all seems to have noticed the newly built Justice & Emergency Precinct in Christchurch…

    The separation of government and judiciary is crucial.

    Yet in Chch they are now one and the same.

    In every town and city around NZ the Judiciary and the Police have always operated independently and from separate locations and buildings. For exceptionally good reason, providing one of the main foundation stones of society – the separation of powers.

    In Christchurch the Judiciary and the Police now operate from the same location and building. The police and judiciary are one and the same.

    This is an extraordinary and unprecedented step in NZs history.

    And not a sole has commented on it. Not one politician has explained this massive change.

    It has just been snuck in.

    “Justice & Emergency” Precinct my arse…

    • RedLogix 5.1

      Good to see you back mate!

      That really is an extraordinary development on the face of it. And it also begs the question of exactly where the Crown Law offices might be.

      It would be interesting to hear from the ChCh legal fraternity on this.

      Still you can see the efficiency in all this; how much simpler for the cops obtaining warrants to spy on all those pesky protester types. /sarc

    • Ad 5.2

      The judges have made exactly the same points directly to MoJ. about this facility.

      Limited success.

  6. Michael 6

    Another term for the Nats will indeed be bad for democracy – but would a Labour-led government be any improvement? After all, the sins enumerated by the Chief Justice did not begin to be committed the day the Nats reoccupied the Beehive – and there are many other sins of government in the Rogernomics era (1984-present) that Dame Sian did not mention. While Labour scored much better in the Party Vote stakes this time than anyone expected before Jacinda replaced Andrew Little, the fact remains that its policy platform offered little or no change to that inflicted on us by the Nats since 2008 (apart from a few cosmetic tweaks here are there to put us off our guard). And there’s another big obstacle to real change in our machinery of government (apart from ferocious capitalist hostility to anything resembling fairness, that is). That obstacle is called the PSA: even though the outfit is not affiliated to the Labour Party, many of its members are also Party members and some of them hold Party offices. As a result, the PSA exercises considerable power over the actions of Labour governments (usually in a negative sense). Readers only have to reflect on the damage done to ordinary New Zealanders (formerly Labour’s base) by PSA members working for ACC and MSD, for example, to conclude that Labour in 2017 has no real interest in making government work for the many and not the few.

  7. Brigid 7

    Has the Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias got her cows out of our river yet?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/80360205/more-complaints-about-top-judge-dame-sian-elias-cows

  8. Bearded Git 8

    after reading bryce edwards article in the herald today, which is basically the views of a whole series of commentators, i am sure winston will go with labour. i think winston’s comments earler in the week about some people are going to be angry is addressed at the inevitable vicious backlash from liar Joyce et al

    • tracey 8.1

      I thought those commenters were pitching at NZF Board not Peters

    • cleangreen 8.2

      Yes Beaded git,

      I feel the same logic as Winston knows alll these sleezeballs already better than anyone else.

      He wants/deserves his moment i the twylight zone to leave his “legacy” and he knows he won’t ever get it being involved in a National lead Government.

      So labour is the best path forward here for NZF.

      • Once was Tim 8.2.1

        “I feel the same logic as Winston knows alll these sleezeballs already better than anyone else.”
        I agree that he does, but he could also coalesce with the gNats piss and cow shit brigade and take pleasure in picking the buggers off one by one. If he did choose that option though, it wouldn’t bode well for the rest of NZ1.

        Do you know @CleenGreen if Ron Mark is at odds with Winnie? The Mischievous Shit Media (MSM) that I saw somewhere was trying to suggest there was some sort of ‘gap’ between the two in the way they framed their story. ????
        I’m not sure that’s the case because as far as I’m aware they BOTH have a fairly decent understanding of the state of the public service, and of the cronyism and corruption/conflicts of interest that’s become normal under the Natzi junta.
        Of course, the media are doing their best to highlight the idea of factions within all and any of the other parties and minimise those within the gNats

      • Bearded Git 8.2.2

        We got it right Cleangreen!!

  9. CHCOff 9

    What power does National have to govern beyond that of it’s vested interests?

    How much difference does it make that it wasn’t suppose to be Labour’s turn?

    I have some personal notions about that, but as in all things, it will come out in the wash of time to be sure.

  10. Patricia Bremner 10

    Along with bad legislation and cost cutting, and probably unrelated to government moves, it is so sad to lose a “voice” for democracy like Rachel Smalley’s.

    Her ability to cut to the heart of a matter will be missed, as she is lost to the corporate world.

    It is to be hoped she is able to blog at least.

    • Michelle 10.1

      really patricia she ( Rachel small leaf ) is crap just like the rest of our media we have in this country and she will fit in perfectly in the corporate world good riddance another one bites the dust

    • Patricia Bremner 10.2

      10 OMG!!!!! I’ve embarrassed myself. WRONG Rachel. Glad that one (Smalley) has gone “Home” to the Corporates.

      Rachel Stewart, I thought was leaving … My Bad!!!! She is amazing and I need to check more!! So sorry everyone. Brilliant writer so sorry Rachel Stewart.

  11. Ad 11

    Fair for the Chief Justice to make her points, but I don’t see how it would be much different under an alternative government.

    Sure the current government ‘s Ministers have really pushed the OIA, but there are also a lot more “professional requesters” than there used to be, so in my experience the public service is far more cautious and circumspect about release.

    In Police resourcing, both main parties have promised massive new funding. Who knows whether either government would hold to that in the 2018 Budget.

    Since the Judges conference was timed after the election result and before a new government was formed, it would have been more usefull if Dame Elias had not beaten about the bush as much, and addressed her criticisms of the judicial system more clearly and more forthrightly.

    Like the Briefings to Incoming Ministers, this interregnum moment is rare and should have been used by the Chief Justice more bluntly to set out the cases for change to a new government.

    • Michael 11.1

      It will be interesting to read the BIMs after the OIA eventually compels the bureaucrats to disclose them. I bet Mrs Windsor’s not so humble and not so trustworthy public servants have prepared two sets of Briefing Papers: one, fawning obsequiously to the Nats, welcoming the resumption of “business as usual”; the other, toadying to Labour (with a nod to the Greens), exulting in a “change of government”, albeit with exactly the same bureaucrats who served the previous government so tirelessly and so brilliantly. I’m not quite sure how the bureaucrats will grovel to Winston, given that he’s on the warpath after some of them provided dirt to his political enemies which they duly used against him.

      • Once was Tim 11.1.1

        “……….given that he’s on the warpath ………….”

        If they’ve got any sense, some of them would be writing out their resignations now. Fucking sight more dignified than having their dirty laundry dragged down Main Street

  12. ” They’re all going mad out there ” ,… said Uncle Hec when listening to the radio broadcast….

  13. Thinkerr 13

    I saw a chart in one of the papers last week that gave the proportion of NZFirst voters who didn’t want Winston to go with this or that party. Interesting chart. Turned on its head, it can be used to show where the majority of NZFirsts support would lean, if NZ1 wasn’t there.

    Example: the fact that Labour is the party that NZ1 supporters would have the least issue with Winston forming a coalition suggests that, if NZ1 didn’t exist, that’s the most likely party they’d vote for.

    So, while we can still not predict our government for the short term, I think the longer term prediction might be easier.

    Those who recall NZ1’s failed attempt to form a long-term coalition with National will be able to imagine how things will play out if Winston goes with them. He gets on with Bill English, but what if Bill English got rolled in a while and replaced with a new National leader? Could he get along with that person? Could he get along with the National Party machine, which could surely only shed its 30 year love affair with neoliberalism quite slowly? To top it off, the language from National as reported in the press since the election suggests they are looking for a support partner, not an equal partner.

    Last time NZFirst went with National, we had maybe a year of an MMP government before the National party machine reverted to an FPP government, in part by poaching some NZ1 MPs and its not hard to imagine that scenario again. But, it brought NZ1 down and only the force and reputation of Peters himself was able to recover it. Again, campaigning on the basis of “Had Enough” implies a call to those who are looking for change, so it isn’t hard to see this aspect of 1996 repeating itself, also. The difference is that Winston personally wouldn’t have the time or ability to recover that kind of damage a second time.

    So, while I can’t predict what will happen next week, I feel comfortable imagining that, should Winston be captivated by National again, we will see a year or so of coalition, followed by the remaining part of the term as a minority National government, relatively powerless to make sweeping changes, followed by another election in 2020 at the latest where NZ1 voters move to one of the bigger parties. The Herald chart suggests that Labour would be the biggest beneficiary if NZ1 implodes.

    Sooner, rather than latr, I think, there will be the change that Winston Peters promised us. The only question in my mind is whether or not his party will be in the mix when it happens.

  14. Brian Tregaskin 14

    I have a hunch and also read the same on NBR comments that National will try and find a way to force a snap election.
    Can you tell me how they could wangle that? If NZF supports on supply and confidence and they have a big disagreement outside a formal coalition –maybe ?

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