David Farrar on referenda and consultation

Written By: - Date published: 10:45 am, April 27th, 2009 - 84 comments
Categories: blogs, democracy under attack - Tags:

democracy-under-attack1

rOb comments on David Farrar’s sudden conversion to not needing a referendum on the Auckland super-city, when DPF’s previous history is to always favour consultation and referenda. It raises questions about the rapid changes in DPF’s beliefs post-election.

DPF is the worst kind of hypocrite. In the past he has pontificated extensively on referenda and consultation – his words are below. His current role as lame apologist for National’s arrogant assault on democracy in Auckland shows just how little he believes what he writes:

The Press on MMP referendum

I am amazed that some people advocate that the people can not be trusted to vote on what electoral system we use. It is the worse sort of elitism.

National nukes nukes

The second and more important is that any change needs to be durable and preferably bipartisan. Only a referendum could do that. The one thing the US wants even less than the status quo,is having their ship visits become a regular election issue where they are in, out, in, out etc. Now some partisan hacks will scream and rant that National will in fact go ahead and change the law anyway, without a referendum. This is of course lunatic raving as anyone of intelligence can work out.

Tim Barnett on Referenda

Incidentially I also believe the supreme court change was also of enough constitutional significance that it should have been decided by referenda. As for other issues, I am content with the Citizens Initiated Referendum Act which allows 10% of voters to trigger a referendum on legislation they do not like.

Electoral Finance Act articles

This remains the real damage done by the EFA – the process used to develop it in secret with no bipartisan consultation. There was no public policy process or consultation prior to writing the EFB.

Stupid NZ Herald Editorial

Hello, What do you call the changes Labour has made, without consultation, but naked political opportunism?

Wellington – the peace city?

This is patronising politically correct bullshit of the worst order. And it amazes me how this can be almost slipped through without consultation.

Kiwisaver and arrogance

But the way the Govt introduced compulsory employer contributions without consultation or warning I deplore.

Perhaps David would answer himself on his own public reasons to favour referenda and consultation.

You’d have to wonder what or perhaps who has influenced David’s change of position about referenda and consultation. Surely simply having his preferred government in power isn’t sufficent to change his beliefs? It was noticeable when looking at the Fire At Will bill, and getting more noticeable all of the time.

84 comments on “David Farrar on referenda and consultation”

  1. grumpy 1

    Is this the Judy Kirk authorised version?

  2. Tim Ellis 2

    Those are interesting points. The same could be said of Labour’s hypocrisy and its sudden conversion to referenda.

    Labour didn’t have referenda for kiwisaver, changes to kiwisaver, the electoral finance act, abolition of the privy council and changes to the supreme court, and a referendum on MMP, to name just a few. Surely the fact that Labour is now no longer in Government hasn’t brought about a sudden change in Labour’s policy on referenda?

    • r0b 2.1

      Don’t recall any of those having referenda required by law Tim. And Labour was well known for consulting. As The Herald wrote on National’s previous assault on democracy, the abuse of urgency:

      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.

      What do you make of Hide and Key refusing to hold the referendum required by law? Are you an apologist like DPF?

      • Tim Ellis 2.1.1

        r0b, are you an apologist for the Labour Party? Ask a rhetorical question, and you’ll get a rhetorical response.

        Was Labour really well known for consulting? So the level of consultation over the EFA and other major constitutional changes that Labour brought through is the standard of consultation that you would expect National to follow? Excuse me while I clean the coffee off my computer screen.

        The Local Government Act isn’t supreme law. Parliament is perfectly entitled to change the structure of local government in any way it wishes, without a referendum.

        The Royal Commission, which Labour set up, rejected the idea of holding a referendum on the supercity proposal. You might have missed this gem from the RC report:

        31.4 Nor does the Commission consider that a reorganisation proposal would be an appropriate mechanism for implementing the proposed reforms, despite the superficial attraction of using an existing statutory mechanism.1 The reorganisation process requires the review of any reorganisation proposal by the Local Government Commission, followed by consultation with stakeholders, the notification of a draft proposal, and public submissions. It also requires a poll of electors which, by simple majority, determines whether or not the proposal will proceed. Plainly, the complex and wide-ranging recommendations in this Report are not suited to this process;

        That seems to cover quite plainly whether a referendum is appropriate.

        It would be nice to see Labour say just what their preferred position on the supercity is, though. If you could share any light on this, that would be helpful r0b, because like many New Zealanders I’m very confused about just what Labour wants.

        • BLiP 2.1.1.1

          Who cares what Labour wants so long as they help Aucklanders get what they want? And what do Aucklanders want? To be given the respect of due process and a pause in proceedings to consider carefully handing over $3 billion of assets to the business equivalent of a CEO and Board of Directors.

      • r0b 2.1.2

        r0b, are you an apologist for the Labour Party? Ask a rhetorical question, and you’ll get a rhetorical response.

        Answer the question Tim. What do you make of Hide and Key refusing to hold the referendum required by law?

        Was Labour really well known for consulting?

        Apparently, yes.

        The Local Government Act isn’t supreme law. Parliament is perfectly entitled to change the structure of local government in any way it wishes, without a referendum.

        Only by ignoring existing law and precedent and trampling all over the rights of Aucklanders. Key and Hide find democracy inconvenient, so they’re going to legislate it out of existence.

        You might have missed this gem from the RC report:

        You might have missed the very cogent response here:

        Wrong. The Royal Commission made one passing mention of the need for a poll within the context of the normal Schedule 3 process for merging councils. That process is to be overridden by the Government’s special legislation but there is no reason that legislation cannot include the referendum. The Royal Commission does not say referenda are unsuitable for complex issues – it says that the consultation process in Schedule 3 has already been effectively dealt with by the Royal Commission. At no point does the Royal Commission rule out having a referendum and it would be wrong if it did.

        like many New Zealanders I’m very confused about just what Labour wants.

        Labour wants Aucklanders to have a referendum and a voice in their future, instead of being dictated to by an increasingly arrogant government. Pretty simple really Tim.

        • Graeme 2.1.2.1

          What do you make of Hide and Key refusing to hold the referendum required by law?

          No referendum is required by law.

          • r0b 2.1.2.1.1

            You’ve already had this explained to you Graeme:

            When is the required referendum?

          • Graeme 2.1.2.1.2

            Quite right. And I’ve already explained why that was wrong.

            A referendum is a good idea. But that doesn’t make it a legally-required one.

          • sean 2.1.2.1.3

            it would be if the government were going through the normal process for merging councils, rather than using its power to stamp over our rights.

            so are you for having a referendum, graeme?

          • lprent 2.1.2.1.4

            Graeme has already said that he is in comments on another thread.

            He has argued, quite effectively, that one is not required by law. However that he thinks one should be held.

    • sean 2.2

      Tim. If you think labour should have had referenda on those issues, surely you think that National should allow Auckland their one.

      • Tim Ellis 2.2.1

        Sean, I don’t think Labour should necessarily have had referenda on those issues. I’m just pointing out that Labour didn’t have referenda on what were major constitutional or policy changes. They simply used their numbers in parliament to push their platforms through, and then faced the political consequences for those decisions.

        I’m pointing out that there is a disconnect between what Labour does in Government (no referenda), and what it is proposing from opposition (must have referenda). The purpose of this post is to point out the disconnect between what DPF says while National is in opposition (must have referenda), and what he is saying while National is in government (referendum not needed).

        I’m also pointing out that Labour is guilty of exactly the same about-face and hypocrisy over the use of referenda on major issues that the Standard is pointing in DPF’s direction.

        I’m also pointing out that apart from having a referendum, we have no idea what Labour Party policy on the supercity is. This doesn’t enhance the outcome of a referendum at all, in my view. Labour’s only stated policy–to have a referendum–seems to be in lieu of actually having a policy at all.

        For all the carping from the Left about National not having any policy last year, it would be nice for Labour to come out and say just what it wants to see.

        • r0b 2.2.1.1

          I’m just pointing out that Labour didn’t have referenda on what were major constitutional or policy changes.

          Still (deliberately) missing the point Tim. In the case of merging local councils a referendum is required by law. National is planning to trample law and precedent by passing special legislation to take that right away from Aucklanders.

          I’m also pointing out that Labour is guilty of exactly the same about-face and hypocrisy over the use of referenda on major issues that the Standard is pointing in DPF’s direction.

          See above. DPF is a screaming hypocrite, all Labour is suggesting is that National follow the law.

          I’m also pointing out that apart from having a referendum, we have no idea what Labour Party policy on the supercity is. … For all the carping from the Left about National not having any policy last year, it would be nice for Labour to come out and say just what it wants to see.

          This is the latest brilliant meme out of the National Party research unit eh Tim? Last year was an election year, policy was required by parties seeking government. This year is not, and Labour is under no obligation to spell out detailed policy. However, if you want to know Labour’s views, here they are.

          • gingercrush 2.2.1.1.1

            Rob you make good points but Graham has continually said that a referendum is not required by law so stop using that in your points.

          • r0b 2.2.1.1.2

            Sorry gc, Graeme seems like a splendid chap, but he ain’t the boss of me. Aucklanders have a legal right to a referendum, maybe I’ll stop saying it when Phil Goff stops saying it:
            http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0904/S00303.htm

          • Tim Ellis 2.2.1.1.3

            On that basis, r0b, you can start saying that you have a legal right to fifty cookies a day, if Phil Goff starts saying it.

            Are you even an Aucklander r0b? Seems to me there are a lot of non-Aucklanders with some pretty strong views about whether Aucklanders should have a referendum.

          • r0b 2.2.1.1.4

            Getting lamer and lamer Tim. Clause 49 of Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act:

            If a draft reorganisation scheme has been approved a poll of electors on the proposal that the reorganisation scheme proceed must be held in each district or region that is directly affected by the scheme.

            What part of “must be held’ is unclear?

            Are you even an Aucklander r0b?

            And again with the ad hominem, always your point of last resort. I’m a New Zealander with an interest in the health of our democracy. Whether or not I’m an Aucklander is none of your business.

          • lprent 2.2.1.1.5

            gc: The point is that if they’d followed the system in the Local Government Act, then they’d have been required to consult on the proposed plan and to hold a referendum.

            The Royal Commission said that they felt that consultation was not required because of the 18 months of it. They felt that a seperate bill was required to not go through that consultation process.They never commented on the referendum side.

            However Rodney threw virtually ALL of the Royal Commissions main proposals out and put in his own, but still intends to pass a separate act. That violates the spirit of the Local Government Act even if parliament is entitled to do it.

            Because there has been no consultation on his proposals and bearing in mind the timeline he proposes to follow, there effectively will not be any consultation. So the government is violating the principle in the Local Government Act not only of having a referendum, but also not having consultation then they are creating a new principle – local government changes do not require democratic input.

            Parliament is pre-eminent in any case – they can put in Acts to whatever they want. However this government are being hypocrites when they say that they have or will be consulting on their proposal.

            We’re pointing this out long and clear – because the voters in Auckland will take their revenge at the next general election – which is why governments do not take this kind of arrogant and un-democratic action.

          • Tim Ellis 2.2.1.1.6

            Thanks, r0b, I’ll take that as a no. For a guy who consistently attacks me for being a National Party stooge working in the research unit, you have some cheek saying I engage in ad hominem attacks.

            For a guy who doesn’t live in Auckland r0b, you sure seem to have some very strong views about whether a referendum should be held. Your views also coincide very closely with those of the Labour Party. You still haven’t taken up the opportunity to explain just what Labour’s policy is on the auckland supercity proposal, though, which just goes to confirm that Labour doesn’t have a policy.

          • Tim Ellis 2.2.1.1.7

            LP, there’s been 18 months of consultation with Aucklanders through the royal commission process. And there will be months of consultation with Aucklanders through the select committee process.

            Since when does “consultation” mean “referendum”?

            r0b, you still haven’t said what your proposal for Auckland is, or what Labour’s proposal should be. Graeme has pretty much ridiculed your interpretation skills and your claim that a referendum is a legal requriement under the Local Government Act. But thanks for playing.

            • lprent 2.2.1.1.7.1

              TE: But Rodney threw almost all of that proposal out, so it became 18 months of wasted consultation. So you’re proposing that an more radical reorganisation of the local bodies than the royal commission proposed deserves only a few months of review?

              It is clear from the Local Government Act that consultation includes the consulting of the public using a referendum. So do you support having a say on Rodney raising your rates?

          • Graeme 2.2.1.1.8

            Aucklanders have a legal right to a referendum, maybe I’ll stop saying it when Phil Goff stops saying it:
            http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0904/S00303.htm

            A quote from Phil Goff’s press release:

            Let Auckland decide on local government changes

            The National-Act Government should seek a mandate from Aucklanders before fundamentally restructuring local government in Auckland, says Labour leader Phil Goff.

            “Section 49 of the Local Government Act 2002 provides for a poll of electors to be held before reorganisation of local government occurs,” he says.

            And now for a quote from section 49 of the Local Government Act 2002:

            49 Establishment of community boards
            (1) A community board must be established for each community constituted, in accordance with Schedule 6, by—

            (a) an Order in Council giving effect to a reorganisation scheme; or

            (b) a resolution made by the territorial authority within whose district the community will be situated as a result of a proposal by electors to establish a community; or

            (c) a resolution made by the territorial authority within whose district the community will be situated as a result of the territorial authority’s review of representation arrangements.

            (2) The community board must be described as the “[ name of community ] Community Board’.

            • lprent 2.2.1.1.8.1

              Yeah it is section 46. It is a common mistake doing a 9 for a 6. Maybe someone copied the same typo I made a few weeks ago in a post.

              See – direct evidence that Labour politicians read the site. By the time one of the wingnut conspiracy artists like Wishart, Whaleoil, or Bassett have finished, it will turn out that I wrote the socialist manifesto.

              • Graeme

                Local Government Act, section 46:

                46 Members of local authority liable for loss
                (1) If the Auditor-General has made a report on a loss to a local authority under section 44, then, without limiting any other person’s liability for the loss, the loss is recoverable as a debt due to the Crown from each member of the local authority jointly and severally.
                (2) If the members of the local authority or any other person or persons do not pay the amount of the loss to the Crown or the local authority within a reasonable time, the Crown may commence proceedings to recover the loss from any or all of those members.
                (3) Any amount recovered by the Crown under subsection (2), less all costs incurred by the Crown in respect of the recovery, must be paid by the Crown to the local authority concerned.
                (4) It is a defence to any proceedings under subsection (2) if the defendant proves that the act or failure to act resulting in the loss occurred—
                (a) without the defendant’s knowledge; or
                (b) with the defendant’s knowledge but against the defendant’s protest made at or before the time when the loss occurred; or
                c) contrary to the manner in which the defendant voted on the issue at a meeting of the local authority; or
                (d) in circumstances where, although being a party to the act or failure to act, the defendant acted in good faith and in reliance on reports, statements, financial data, or other information prepared or supplied, or on professional or expert advice given, by any of the following persons:
                (i) an employee of the local authority whom the defendant believed on reasonable grounds to be reliable and competent in relation to the matters concerned:
                (ii) a professional adviser or expert in relation to matters that the defendant believed on reasonable grounds to be within the person’s professional or expert competence.

          • r0b 2.2.1.1.9

            LP, there’s been 18 months of consultation with Aucklanders through the royal commission process.

            And the fact that all that has been thrown in the bin by an increasingly arrogant government is exactly the point here.

            Graeme has pretty much ridiculed your interpretation skills and your claim that a referendum is a legal requriement under the Local Government Act.

            Has he indeed?

            National are making a mockery of both the law, and their own stated pre-election policy to consult. I expected them to dig their own grave during their first term, I just didn’t expect it to be this soon, or this egregious.

        • r0b 2.2.1.2

          For a guy who doesn’t live in Auckland r0b

          And Tim surrenders the argument completely.

  3. The above comments are pretty much on the money. it smacks of hypocrisy seeing this site suddenly start demanding more democracy after spending two years defending erosion of democracy.

    • George.com 3.1

      BB. Whether or not The Standard spent two years eroding democracy, I think that premise is debatable, that is not the actual point raised in the original piece. The actual point is whether David Farrar is consistent in his demands for consultation and referenda. A reasonable list of quotes has been presented of Farrar demanding that the citizenry be involved to some extent in decision making. If Farra is consistent he would support a referendum. At this juncture, with there being some demand for a referendum, Farrar is changing his tune. The question being asked is “why”.

  4. gingercrush 4

    Why is this published under The Standard? Sorry but this blurring of what single authors say and what this blog is saying in general is becoming more and more blurred. It use to be that we were accused of being a troll for referring to “The Standard” because “The Standard” is just programming. Is that not the case anymore?

    Secondly, politics is all about hypocrisy. The left accuse the right of hypocrisy and the right accuse the left of hypocrisy. It is of course only hypocrisy when its the other side. Nevermind, that the side accusing the other of hypocrisy also commits hypocrisy when it suits them.

    • Tane 4.1

      “The Standard” is used when nicking someone else’s work and reprinting it. “Guest Post” is used when someone has sent us a guest post. I’ll make this one Guest though to avoid any confusion.

    • Daveski 4.2

      I’ve posted on this a couple of times. I’ve accepted LP’s moderation of comments accusing this site of being a Labour Party lapdog (conspiracy theory LP is short for the LP!!!) and I must admit that Tane in particular is prepared to criticise Labour at times.

      The use of The Standard moniker for this is a mistake and unless some strong guidelines are put in place, LP will have to rewrite the about section 🙂

      And yes, it is totally hypocritical for all the reasons listed above.

      I have no doubt it would be smarter politics on the Nats behalf to take a less confrontational. The Standard (see, I can now use this phrase) has seemingly adopted well to being in opposition. Regardless of the position, it will oppose oppose oppose.

      Mind you, based on the poll results, Labour might have to get used to being in opposition for a few more years yet

      • sean 4.2.1

        so, you’re for a referendum, daveski?

      • lprent 4.2.2

        We do tend to publish other peoples work under The Standard when we simply republish.

        I didn’t have time this morning to get hold of rOb to ask if he wanted this as a ‘Guest Post’. It was so good and totally on topic, that I wanted to get it up as a post, so I used “The Standard”.

        I think that any of the sites writers would be happy to support the government if they proposed policies that we could support. This government seems to have few. The last one had more, but often didn’t go far enough.

        The reason that this site moved easily to opposition, is because we never left it. Last year writers were known to make scathing comment on Labour policy. However we made even more on National’s lack of policy or on their habit of proposing bonehead policies.

        Anyway, do you have any comment on the actual topic of this post?

        • Daveski 4.2.2.1

          I’ve made my views clear previously and no longer try to bore people silly by repeating my comments.

          However, for your benefit, I will do so 🙂

          This is nothing short of a beat up. Labour initiated the Commission which itself has recommended against a referendum. Labour has opposed whatever is proposed on reasonable grounds but without providing any constructive alternatives. Funny, that was the criticism of the right prior to the election.

          Democracy under attack??? Please. I suggest some of flip floppers here should read their own comments about the EFA last year.

  5. Felix 5

    It raises questions it raises about the rapid changes in DPF’s belief changes post-election.

    Can someone please fix this sentence? FFS.

    [lprent: done…]

  6. Chris G 6

    Just goes to show that deep down righties dont care about the people and infact will use big government as often as they can… even though they constantly rant about how bad government is, they just use that line to drum up support.

    Hollow.

  7. ieuan 7

    Why does any one care what David Farrar thinks??

    I would be more concerned that David Kirk might pop up as the head of the board charged with restructuring the Auckland councils.

    • lprent 7.1

      He is more the symptom of a problem.

      Some on the right appear to be vastgly concerned about ‘democracy’, ‘consultation’, and ‘referenda’. But only on the issues that they choose. On other issues they always seem to think it is a waste of time and money.

      A very variable belief system, and I’m happy to help point it out with some mischief in mind…

      • Tim Ellis 7.1.1

        And so is Labour’s policy on referenda very variable LP. It now seems to be the habit of the major opposition party, of any colour, to call for referenda on issues as a substitute for coming up with a policy.

        I would have thought that on such an important issue as the structure of Auckland, Labour might have a view. Does Labour support the Royal Commission’s recommendations or not? If so, which of the recommendations do they support, and which do they oppose?

        • lprent 7.1.1.1

          The royal commissions proposals have never been debated and are now moot. Labour, like myself, were probably still reading them when Rodney ditched them.

          So what we are talking about here is a totally new set of proposals that Rodney made up in 2 weeks, and says he will make into law, without consulting the people of Auckland.

          Do you support the government not consulting the people of Auckland on how they wish to be governed? That is the question.

          I seem to remember your rather strong views regarding other topics about having adequete consultation. For instance that the EFA select committee procedure was rushed. To get this through on his time table Rodney will not have time to consider many of the submissions to the select committee. Hardly adequate consultation. So do you believe that is a good procedure for making law?

    • BLiP 7.2

      No one cares what Farrar thinks; no one really knows what he does think because of his hypcrisy. What’s of concern is what he says and what he does.. His influence is insidious and it is important that he be called on his bullshit at every opportunity lest even more be suckered into believing his expressed concern is genuine.

  8. grumpy 8

    Why not hold a referendum in the rest of the country so that we can decide what we want for Auckland?

    Such as – go join Australia (or Fiji).

    • BLiP 8.1

      Ironic that John Key believes his government models democracy well enough to give Bainimarama a lesson or two.

  9. Jacob van Hartog 9

    Farrar remember has long ago worked in Beehive, for Jenny Shipley when she was leader and then for LoO Bill English. Those were formal roles in Parliament.

    As well he seems to have worked for the Party in their research/dirty tricks unit ‘outside parliament’ before this.
    This seems to be when he was prosecuted for spreading malicious lies

    KB 16th Sept 2003…I am the accomplice it seems. When it happened neither myself or Mike Moore (no not that one) actually worked in Parliament so Helen got that wrong. She also picked a bad comparison as we did get charged and prosecuted..

    Often he presents background information from ‘his spies’ as he puts it in his blog, which is either from his old/new mates in the dirty tricks department or straight from Ministers offices

  10. DeepRed 10

    “Mind you, based on the poll results, Labour might have to get used to being in opposition for a few more years yet”
    Then again, George Bush Sr seemed unstoppable with Glasnost and the first Gulf War in 1991. Less than a year later, he was political toast. And the reason? “It’s the economy, stupid!”

  11. vto 11

    Go the referendumdums! Give the power back to the people.

    I agree there is a horrid stink of hypocrisy here.

    Nothing gets the goat more than people in a privileged position of power assuming they know better than the people.

    Mind you – an issue such as this can be very complex and require a great deal of knowledge and probably experience in the labryinthinage world of local authority authority before being seriously able to make an ‘informed’ decision.

    But that is secondary to the primary need to keep as much power as possible in the hands of the people. Not that labour was any better than the natmaori govt in that regard.

    • sean 11.1

      so, underneath all that vto stands on principle and supports a referendum rather than adopting the reactionary approach of the other rightwingers. good on you, vto!

      • vto 11.1.1

        y thanks sean. i always figure that while principle may lead to the odd dramatic but minor problem from time to time overall it is the correct and only possible apporach.

  12. jarbury 12

    I think DPF is important because half the National Party reads his blog, and it seems to have a certain “jump” on many policy-making decisions. I get the feeling his National buddies get him to post something (like his tirades against the Super-Gold Card for example) to see what the reaction will be in the comments section and on other blogs, so they have some idea what response they might expect in the wider community.

    Not that the comments section of Kiwiblog should be considered as representative of the wider community. At least, it better not be!

  13. gingercrush 13

    r0b – A legal right is not a REQUIREMENT under the law. You need to learn to read press releases.

    • r0b 13.1

      Clause 49 of Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act: “If a draft reorganisation scheme has been approved a poll of electors on the proposal that the reorganisation scheme proceed must be held in each district or region that is directly affected by the scheme.”

      What part of “must be held” is unclear?

      • gingercrush 13.1.1

        Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act will not apply to any legislation put into the house by the National/Act government. Therefore, Schedule 3 and Clause 49 is meaningless.

        • sean 13.1.1.1

          gingercrush with that logic one can repeal the right to life with new legislation. would you be ok with that too just because its legal?

          • gingercrush 13.1.1.1.1

            I don’t believe I have stated my opinion on referendum. Opinion and fact are two different matters. The fact is a referendum is not a requirement under the law, which is my whole point in stating that to r0b.

        • lprent 13.1.1.2

          gc: No. It is not required because Rodney has decided to override the Local Government Act and make it meaningless. He is planning to use the preeminent domain of parliament to make a separate act, instead of using the current procedure

          His pretense is that the royal commission did the 18 months of consultation. However they did not do it on Rodney’s proposals.

          Face it – this is Rodney using parliament to override the need to have consultation on changes to local government. A autocratic, high-handed, arrogant attitude.

          For which Aucklanders will reward bot ACT and National in the general election with a ‘fail’. In the meantime we’ll point out what a arrogant little dictator both he and John Key are.

  14. Graeme 14

    r0b – what part of “draft reorganisation scheme” is unclear?

    Schedule 3 (only) applies to draft reorganisation schemes. It requires that draft reorganisation schemes go to referendums.

    This proposal is not a draft reorganisation scheme. Therefore schedule 3 does not apply to it. Therefore there is no legal requirement for a referendum.

    From the Local Government Act 2002:

    24 Reorganisation proposals
    (1) A reorganisation proposal may deal with any or all of the following matters:

    (a) the union of districts or regions:

    (b) the constitution of a new district or region, including the constitution of a new local authority for that district or region:

    (c) the abolition of a district or region, including the dissolution or abolition of the local authority for that district or region:

    (d) the alteration of the boundaries of any district or region:

    (e) the transfer of a statutory obligation from one local authority to another:

    (f) a proposal that a territorial authority assume the power of a regional council.

    (2) Schedule 3 applies to reorganisation proposals.

    • Pascal's bookie 14.1

      Q: Why isn’t it a draft reorganisation scheme?

      A: ’cause they dinnae want a referendum.

      Q: Why don’t they want a referendum?

      A: ’cause to win a referendum they’d have to actually pay attention during the consultation faze and include the public’s views into the scheme.

      G: fair enough.

      • Graeme 14.1.1

        Q: Why isn’t a draft reorganisation scheme?

        A: because draft reorganisation schemes are proposals made by a joint committee of affected local authorities, with decisions oversight by the Local Government Commission.

        They are limited to doing certain things, which I detail above. The Local Government Commission cannot recommend the creation of an executive mayor, or entirely new entities called local boards or … etc. etc.

        Q: Why don’t they want a referendum?

        I don’t know why, but I want (Aucklanders to have) one.

    • r0b 14.2

      Graeme – just because they aren’t calling it a reorganisation scheme doesn’t mean that it it isn’t a reorganisation scheme.

      Please do tell me how the Auckland Supercity proposal is not covered by any of the points (a) – (f) above. If it is covered by any of points (a) – (f) above, then on what legal basis does the Local Government Act not apply? Because Key says so?

      • Graeme 14.2.1

        It creates an executive mayor. It gives the mayor powers to appoint committee chairs and present the council budget. It creates local boards, which are neither councils, nor community boards. It wants to allow the council to set local rates differentially for areas covered by local boards, etc. etc.

      • r0b 14.2.2

        Yes yes, it does a lot of other things too, but if it does any of (a) – (f) then on what basis is it not bound by this law?

        Are you suggesting that any law can be ignored just by including a case or action which is additional to situations covered by the law?

        • Graeme 14.2.2.1

          Yes yes, it does a lot of other things too, but if it does any of (a) – (f) then on what basis is it not bound by this law?

          Because it goes beyond those things.

          Are you suggesting that any law can be ignored just by including a case or action which is additional to situations covered by the law?

          No. In fact, the opposite.

          The Government can only do what it is allowed to do under the law, and must do all the things the law requires of it. Because the proposed changes goes beyond the changes that are allowed to be made under the Local Government Act, the Government can’t make these changes at all.

          Rather, it will be up to Parliament to decide.

        • r0b 14.2.2.2

          Because it goes beyond those things.

          Clearly aspects of proposals which go beyond existing law need a new mechanism for approval. But to suggest that aspects of proposals that fall within existing law are not bound by existing law strikes me as both bizarre and dangerous, and I would be interested in your legal justification for such a claim. (Have to disappear for a few hours but I’ll be back).

          • Graeme 14.2.2.2.1

            It may help to have an explanation of what the Local Government Act does…

            In 1988/89 Parliament passed a law which changed the entire structure of local government in New Zealand – there were mergers and dissolutions and several hundred bodies with local authority ceased to exist.

            In 2002, while keeping the format of local government, the Local Government Act was introduced, it includes (as did the Local Government Act 1974 before it) a mechanism to change certain aspects of local government – to create new bodies, merge others, change boundaries etc. (those listed in paragraphs (a) ~ (f) in our posts above.)

            This process involves the Local Government Commission, and can involve joint committees of local authorities, and requires referendums to approve the government’s proposals etc.

            The only power that the government has to change local government these things is through the procedure in the Local Government Act 2002. It doesn’t have a choice – if it wants to make such changes it has to use that process.

            So in this case, the government could use this process to make only some of the changes it desires, but because it wants further changes it can’t. The government doesn’t have to power to create an execuitve mayor, or local boards – so it’s stuck. The Government just is not allowed to to this at all.

            So it will be up to Parliament to make the call – as it did in 1988/89.

          • Graeme 14.2.2.2.2

            It’s possibly useful to compare the powers of the Government in relation to local body reorganisation with the powers of Government in another area.

            Parliament set up the system of passports we have in New Zealand. It did this by enacting the Passports Act (passport law was just the first thing that entered my head).

            The Government can now issue passports, cancel those given out because of fraud, punish people who make fraudulent passports etc. In the Passports Act, Parliament devolves to the Government the power to make regulations setting fees for the issuing of passports, and the power to make regulations necessary to give full effect to the law. These regulations will have set out the required forms, the standard for proving entitlement to a passport (must have a birth certificate or old passport, must have someone sign the back one of your photos, etc.), must follow this process when cancelling a passport etc. When it makes these regulations, it must publish it’s intention to do so in the Gazette, and the regulations must be published under the terms of the Acts and Regulations Publication Act, and abide by the terms of the Regulations (Disallowance) Act.

            In 2005, the Government decided it wanted the power to cancel passports on the grounds of national security. Although the Passports Act did provide that the government could cancel a passport (if obtained fraudulently), and did delegate the power to make regulations to the Government, the government wasn’t legally allowed to make regulations allowing it to cancel a passport on national security grounds, and would have been breaking the law if it did cancel one for that reason.

            This is the case even though the law sets out processes by which regulations can be made, and must be publicised.

            Parliament set up local government in New Zealand, but it delegated to the Government the power to make changes to certain things – boundaries etc. Just like the power to make regulations is subject to certain requirements (Gazette, publication etc.), the power to reorganise local government is subject to certain requirements (Local Government Commission, Gazeette, public approval of Government plans through referenda etc.).

            And just as it would be erroneous to chastise the Government for not going through the process in the Passports Act 2005, and the Acts and Regulations Publication Act to allow national security cancellation of passport, it is erroneous to chastise the Government for not using the process in schedule 3 of the Local Government Act.

            The Government isn’t proposing to ignore the Local Government Act when it makes changes to Auckland governance, it would be ignoring the law if Rodney Hide just announced “we don’t need a law, I’m the Minister of Local Government so next election Auckland will have a supercity and executive mayor”, and it would even be ignoring the law if it tried to use the powers Parliament gave it to reorganise local government to try to make these changes – if the Government tried to use its reorganisation powers under the Local Government Act, and followed the requirements in schedule 3, and held a public referendum under that section on its proposals (or the Royal Commission’s proposals) it would be breaking the law (just as it would have been if it had just made regulations abour cancelling passports on national security grounds).

            Parliament impliedly said to the Government “you can’t use the regulation-making power under the Passports Act to allow you to cancel passports on National Security Grounds, if you want to do that you have to come back to us”, just as it impliedly said to the Government “you can’t use the reorganisation powers under the Local Government Act to create an executive mayor and local boards, if you want to do that you have to come back to us”.

          • sean 14.2.2.2.3

            Graeme. you forget to add – “none of which is an argument against having a referendum on the supercity”

          • Graeme 14.2.2.2.4

            Quite right.

          • r0b 14.2.2.2.5

            Righto Graeme, sorry for the delay.

            Your comments above are well and good, but they are repeating the same point over and over, that new legislation is required to address proposals to do things not covered by the Local Government Act.

            What you haven’t said is why those proposals that are clearly covered by the terms of the LGA (several of points (a) to (e)) are not governed by the LGA. Any concept of natural justice or precedent suggests that the LGA applies.

            As far as I can tell the only legal principle you are appealing to to escape the LGA is that as the ultimate law making body in NZ parliament can do as it damn well pleases. This is of course true, but I will still claim as above that when they do so they are trampling over the legal requirement to hold a referendum.

          • Graeme 14.2.2.2.6

            Any concept of natural justice or precedent suggests that the LGA applies.

            Not really.

            There are procedural safeguards in the LGA for when the government wants to bypass Parliament and reorganise local government without getting permission from the elected representatives of New Zealanders.

            In this case they are not bypassing Parliament, so why would they be legally required to follow the procedural safeguards Parliament set down as being required only in cases where the government wanted to bypass Parliament?

            If someone is arrested and questioned by Police, they must be told of their right to silence. If the police rock up to my door and ask if I saw something suspicious at my neighbours yesterday, they won’t tell me I have a right to silence. What part of “must be told of their right to silence” is unclear?

          • r0b 14.2.2.2.7

            In this case they are not bypassing Parliament, so why would they be legally required to follow the procedural safeguards Parliament set down as being required only in cases where the government wanted to bypass Parliament?

            This amounts to the same thing as my summary above. The LGA exists, its terms cover major components of the reorganisation, and mandate a referendum. The only way that the terms of the LGA can be avoided is by the direct intervention of Parliament. But when Parliament makes such an intervention and refuses to take heed of the relevant terms and precedent of the LGA then they are trampling over the legal rights enshrined in the LGA.

          • Graeme 14.2.2.2.8

            This amounts to the same thing as my summary above. The LGA exists, its terms cover major components of the reorganisation, and mandate a referendum. The only way that the terms of the LGA can be avoided is by the direct intervention of Parliament.

            You might consider a couple of things: the rationale for the rule; and what the precedent actually is.

            The precedent is more like this:

            When the government reorganises local government it holds a referendum. Thus it did this in Banks’ Peninsuala, and Napier-Hastings.

            When Parliament reorganises local government it doesn’t hold a referendum, thus in 2002, when the powers of local government were greatly increased (in what was described as “the biggest constitutional change since MMP”) there was no referendum. And more cogently, when Parliament reorganised local government in 1988/9, abolishing around 400 local bodies, merging and re-drawing boundaries etc. it didn’t hold a referendum then, either.

            When the government does it, there’s always a referendum.
            When Parliament does it, there’s never a referendum.

            Should they follow the precedent?

            I note we’ve gotten a little off track here. At the beginning, this was about a contention that a referendum was legally required. This was based on an argument that the Government was required to follow schedule 3 of the LGA. You’ve argued it was required. I’ve argued, above, that the opposite is in fact true – far from being required to use schedule 3 to achieve this change, the government is forbidden from using schedule 3 to achieve this change. I’ve yet to see an argument that could convince me that this is not the case.

          • r0b 14.2.2.2.9

            When Parliament reorganises local government it doesn’t hold a referendum, thus in 2002, when the powers of local government were greatly increased (in what was described as “the biggest constitutional change since MMP’) there was no referendum.

            If these changes were not covered by the terms of the LGA then obviously the LGA is not relevant.

            And more cogently, when Parliament reorganised local government in 1988/9, abolishing around 400 local bodies, merging and re-drawing boundaries etc. it didn’t hold a referendum then, either.

            Since these changes are covered by the terms of the LGA then I would argue that parliament should certainly have held a referendum at that time.

            When the government does it, there’s always a referendum. When Parliament does it, there’s never a referendum.

            The government by definition controls the parliament, so the distinction is somewhat blurred. If the laws of the country that bind the government are ignored by the parliament (in real terms by the government hiding behind the legitimacy of the parliament), then this strikes me as a rather dangerous situation.

            I’ve argued, above, that the opposite is in fact true – far from being required to use schedule 3 to achieve this change, the government is forbidden from using schedule 3 to achieve this change. I’ve yet to see an argument that could convince me that this is not the case.

            You continue to treat all aspects of the proposed reorganisation as a unitary package (“this change”). Unpack it. Parts of the reorganisation are not covered by the LGA and new legislation is required. Parts of it are covered by the LGA, so why should the LGA not apply? I’ve yet to see an argument as to why the LGA can be ignored, except for the fact that parliament can do whatever it likes.

            I appreciate the effort that you’ve put in to putting your case, and I’ve certainly learned a lot, but I feel that we’re now going in circles, so unless something radically new comes up I’ll probably leave it there for this thread.

          • Graeme 14.2.2.2.10

            You continue to treat all aspects of the proposed reorganisation as a unitary package (‘this change’). Unpack it. Parts of the reorganisation are not covered by the LGA and new legislation is required. Parts of it are covered by the LGA, so why should the LGA not apply?

            That could be fun. Parliament passes a law allowing an executive mayor for Auckland, with the power to appoint the deputy mayor, and chairs of council committees, propose the budget for Auckland, etc. and then they find that there isn’t a combined Auckland council.

            Would they then get to appoint the deputy mayors of Manukau, and the North Shore?

  15. lprent 15

    Graeme: Which pretty much leaves Rodney’s plan to introduce a separate act, ignoring the local government act as simply parliament making decisions for Auckland without any significant consultation or without any significant local input.

    That is the action of a dictatorial parliament. Something that the governemnt has to take responsibility for rather than hiding behind the consultations that the royal commission used to come to a set of proposals – which were then ignored.

  16. jerry 16

    . and while the lefties and righties argued until they went blue in the face the ratepayers were none the wiser about whether the rates would be going up or down and whether the super council would be better or worse than the crap they’ve had to put up with over the last several decades.

    But that’s OK because all that really matters is which side of the political fence you sit on.

    • Chris G 16.1

      well said.

    • sean 16.2

      it’s up to proponents of the supercity to show that it would be better. They haven’t really have they?

      so I guess you would be keen to have a referendum so you could choose whether you want to vote for or against this giant expriment.

      • jerry 16.2.1

        Sean all I really give a crap about is whether my rates will be higher or lower under the new supercity – I don’t delude myself that it will be any more/less democratic or more/less efficient than the current buffoons.

        What everyone seems to forget when fighting the right vs left battle is that they whole pack of the elected officials are a useless mendacious pack of turds irrespective of political leanings.

  17. Irascible 17

    Farrar’s definition of Free Speech is the same as that of the National Party and always has been: “As a NACT member I have the right of free speech because I’m right. everyone else has no right because they’ll simply oppose me/us so they shouldn’t have any platform for free speech.” There’s nothing inconsistent with the belief system inspired by “Pomp & Arrogance” inc.
    The campaign to remove the rights of residents of greater Auckland region to vote on the decisions of Rodney & Co to suck the region into the black hole of central Auckland is unconstitutional & unacceptable and must be opposed and continue to be opposed even when it has been imposed on the ratepayers of the region.
    As a ratepayer in the region I want to retain the right to see my rates spent in my suburb and my present city in the region.
    I do not want to see my rates swallowed by a rapacious super city controlled by Big Business / moneyed interests.

  18. SPC 18

    When one’s rights are related to the amount of wealth one has to invest in political advocacy, the right is all for greater freedom of speech in our democracy. When the ability of those with access to capital to acquire public utilitiy assets is aided by denying the people a voice in the democratic process, they have no problem with that.

    This National government is about preparing the way for the next one – every step is focused on their longer term ideological goals – things the public restrains them from doing now. Thus reducing the capacity of the public to block them is what they are about.

    Thus the referendum on ending MMP and denying a referendum in Auckland.

  19. SPC 19

    With one rates bill for them all – someone (2/6 3/6 4/6 5/6 6/6 areas)will be paying a rates bill increase of more than the CPI – and without a referendum first.

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