John Armstrong pulls no punches on the government’s constitutional review:
Disgraceful plan flawed at every step
Shame on National and the Maori Party too. The so-called review of New Zealand’s “constitutional arrangements” is little short of a disgrace.
If a review is really necessary then it should be conducted by a royal commission, not by Bill English and Pita Sharples, politicians whose parties have a vested interest in the outcome. Auckland had a royal commission examining its local government arrangements. Surely scrutiny of constitutional issues at a national level deserves nothing less. …
If the review is flawed in principle, it is also flawed in design.
Its terms of reference do not include the question of whether New Zealand should become a republic. This is ridiculous. But it ensures Maori can retain their Treaty relationship with the Crown. A republic would leave Maori with no Crown with which to relate.
The terms of reference do include looking at the size of Parliament and the size and number of electorates. This is nonsensical. Any recommendations on those matters made in 2013 could well be shortcircuited by Justice Minister Simon Power’s 2014 referendum on the electoral system. …
This is the second recent piece from Armstrong that is deeply critical of the Nats (“Shame on National. That party’s behaviour in Parliament over the past couple of weeks has on occasion veered close to being a disgrace both to itself and the institution”). And it’s not often that you find Armstrong on the same page as Winston Peters:
A constitutional review to be led by the Government and the Maori Party is undemocratic and should be boycotted by all New Zealanders, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says. …
Mr Peters said he was concerned that the review was being overseen by politicians rather than judges or constitutional experts. “This is a shameful blight on this country’s proud tradition of sticking to the rules of democracy and ensuring that every citizen has the right to participate in the process of electing governments in a fair and open way,” Mr Peters said.
Add it to the list. The systematic abuse of urgency. Abolishing a local body election in Canterbury. Giving themselves the powers of a dictatorship (CERRA). Ignoring the Bill of Rights Act and the advice of the Attorney General. Taking away the voting rights of prisoners (an “indelible stain” on lawmaking). Attacking public sector neutrality. Overriding the Royal Commission on Auckland. Making a mockery of the select committee process. Threatening the Press Gallery. And now bungling the constitutional review. Is this the worst government for democracy in the history of NZ?