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Dompost says CERRA needs to go

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, October 4th, 2010 - 19 comments
Categories: democracy under attack - Tags: , ,

The Dom’s editorial begins:

“The rule of law is what underpins civilised society. Germans like to tell the story of how Frederick the Great was irked by the noise of a windmill near his Sanssouci palace, but failed in his bid to have it removed after the courts ruled in favour of the miller.The point of the story is that even Frederick the Great was not above the law, proving that even the mightiest among us are subject to checks and balances.

However, in Christchurch in 2010, were earthquake supremo Gerry Brownlee to find himself troubled by a windmill, he could simply have an Order-in-Council made to ensure its removal. There would be no recourse to the courts”

Of course, we hope Brownlee won’t do that. But what’s to stop him? Democracy doesn’t give unfettered power and hope that it won’t be abused. Already, Brownlee has made favours to his mates in the trucking industry and extended State agents’ emergency powers to, bascially, do whatever the hell they want even though the state of emergency has been lifted.

“There is no denying the need to ensure that the rebuilding of Christchurch proceeds as smoothly as possible, and that red tape does not tangle up those trying to return the city to normal.

But the powers that the Government has granted itself are swingeing, and the portrayal of Mr Brownlee, the minister heading the recovery programme, as a latter-day monarch is not too far from the truth.

The Government can effectively decide to ignore the law except for five acts… Among the laws it can override are the Resource Management Act, the Commerce Act, the Historic Places Act and the Health and Disability Services (Safety Act), the underpinnings of the planning regime.”

I’ve yet to see a solid reason given why the existing planning regime is inadequate. All we get is ‘extraordinary times’ ‘crisis!’ but no actual explanation of the problems that the laws would cause and how making Brownlee dictator solves them.

“Edicts made under the new act carry all the force of the law, no-one acting in good faith under those edicts can be held liable, and there is no right to compensation created by the act. That effectively removes any checks and leaves power unbridled.”

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the removal of the basic right to petition the courts for redress suggests a government that doesn’t care about doing things right.

“There is no suggestion that the Government will use the measure – passed with the support of all parties in Parliament – capriciously. However, nor can there be any guarantee that it will make the best decisions.

There is understandable scepticism over whether Mr Brownlee – the man keen on mining conservation land – should be trusted with architectural heritage of Christchurch.”

Brownlee only got the job because he (nominally) lives in Christchurch. I can’t think of a worse minister for the job (apart from Bennett, Wong, Coleman, te Heuheu, Heatly, Williamson, Groser, Tolley, Turia, Sharples, Boscawen, Hide, lazy ol’ Joyce, crazy ol’ Smith, Mapp, Guy, Carter, Carter, Collins, Wilkinson, McCully, or Dunne).

“Nor should it be forgotten that the tough building code requirements and consent process played a huge role in Christchurch coming through the horrific quake with no loss of life. The public is being asked to accept that the Government will ensure that the standards it applies will be as strong.”

It is extraordinary that the Government wants to power to repeal by decree the very laws that protected Christchurch so well.

“The motives behind the legislation were good, but the execution was not. It should be revisited”

The more we see the media criticise CERRA, the more Labour and the Greens’ cowardly act of voting for CERRA for fear of a media backlash shows the poor judgement of those parties’ respective leaderships.

Don’t forget to join the ‘End the Reign of Gerry Brownlee I‘ facebook group.

PS. It looks like the Greens have done an about face on CERRA and are now calling for a review. All it took was a series of anti-CERRA media articles and the near unanimous damnation of their supporters to help them discover their courage. Not exactly stunning leadership but welcome nonetheless. Now, where’s Labour?

19 comments on “Dompost says CERRA needs to go ”

  1. BLiP 1

    Check out Clayton Cosgrove as he defends the opposition’s cowardice at about 2:33 here where he likens the critics to “latte drinking, hypothesising political pontificators”. He pulls out colloquial examples of people having to put up with portaloos but offers absolutely no evidence that that suspension of democracy will assist those same people. Further in you’ll hear Brownlee stating that he is not even willing to consider concerns – no surprises there.

  2. ianmac 2

    I think that I read an Editorial in the Press a week or so ago, but it does seem strange that such a “democracy under attack” issue has not become a public issue. Brownlie’s dismissive remarks as were Cosgrove’s bewilder me. Review CERRA please.

  3. Bill 3

    “If nothing is done to rectify things, I shall consider putting forward a Member’s Bill to give Parliament another opportunity to amend the more egregious parts of the Act,” said Dr Graham.

    Hardly an ‘about face’. They are, it seems steadfastly supportive of CERRA. All they want is to fiddle with “the more egregious parts”.

    I particularly like the bit where they reiterate their reasoning behind voting to demolish democracy “The Greens voted for the Bill as a signal of support for the people of Canterbury,…”

    There are no qualifiers. No doubts expressed.

    The Greens are maintaining they were essentially correct in what they did.

  4. frog 4

    Kia ora, I really appreciate your concerns and anger about CERRA, but it’s not really fair to characterise the Greens calling for a review as “doing an about-face”. They put up 6 constructive amendments in a very short time frame (they had less than 12 hours to consider the draft bill), all of which cover the concerns that have since been raised by the Law Society. Only one of them passed and Labour and others did not support most of them. Russel Norman and Kennedy Graham gave excellent speeches raising the very concerns that you have so rightly voiced.
    You may disagree with the final decision made about which way they voted in the end, but don’t mischaracterise the Greens position about the Act as one that has changed. They were constructive critics of the Act from the beginning, indeed they were the first to raise concerns about it.

    • BLiP 4.1

      . . . but still voted for it.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        “…but still voted for it”
        “as a signal of support for the people of Canterbury”, BLiP.

        Apparently.

        Thing is.

        I thought it was the Government was asking for the measure. But no. Because in that case The Greens (and the rest) would have been supporting the Government. But as we all know, they were in fact supporting the good people of Canterbury.

        Just, I can’t seem to find any record of the people of Canterbury asking that dictatorial powers be bestowed upon a single person of the Government’s choosing. Of course, I’m simply not being thorough enough in my search. It will be there somewhere.

        Maybe Dr Graham or Mr Norman can make public the letter that was received from the people of Canterbury asking that democracy be suspended? Can you help out on that one frog? Pass the message on perhaps? That some of us are curious as to the source and form of the solicitation for support that came from the people of Canterbury ( Which people? Who were they and what did they say?) that compelled the Greens (and others) to rally round in support and vote through the CERRA.

        At least we know it wasn’t fear of negative press that guided the Green vote. If it had been, they could now do a complete about face in light of press coverage, cop a mea culpa and get on with ensuring a full restoration of (our limited social democratic) democracy.

        But on the increasingly likely scenario that it was not fear of negative press coverage that led the Greens (and others) to vote in the CERRA as was initially claimed by some. And if there is no letter or was no delegation or such like from the people of Canterbury asking for CERRA type legislation, then the question that will remain is why did our representatives decide that we no longer needed he systems of a representative democracy?

        Anyone willing to turn blue waiting for a straight forward answer?

        • ianmac 4.1.1.1

          I do believe that a Mr Parker asked for these powers to go alongside his request to demolish ECan. He said, “Please give me the power to over-ride those silly pesky rules that stop me from building an awesome Empire for me in Christchurch. The other two Mayors will believe anything I say so do it dear John.” And he did.
          (By the way I made that all up. 🙂 )

    • Blighty 4.2

      but still vot.. BLiP beat me to it.

  5. Frog 5

    Kia ora, I really appreciate your concerns and anger about CERRA, but it’s not really fair to characterise the Greens calling for a review as “doing an about-face”. They put up 6 constructive amendments in a very short time frame (they had less than 12 hours to consider the draft bill), all of which cover the concerns that have since been raised by the Law Society. Only one of them passed and Labour and others did not support most of them. Russel Norman and Kennedy Graham gave excellent speeches raising the very concerns that you have so rightly voiced.
    You may disagree with the final decision about which way they voted in the end, but don’t mischaracterise the Greens position about the Act as one that has changed. They were constructive critics of the Act from the beginning, indeed they were the first to raise concerns about it.

  6. Gotham 6

    The Greens should never have voted for this in the first place. I am sure not all MPs supported it, so there must have been some (Norman? Graham??) who pushed for supporting the Act to be passed. Not good enough to now come out and demand changes – the Greens didn’t have to support it in the first place. It’s one of the only benefits of having no power in the House – you actually have the opportunity to stay true to your convictions and principles without having to get into the complicated area of negotiation with your coalition partners…

    A totally lost opportunity for the Greens to have stood up and been the voice of reason from the beginning.

  7. Benjamin B. 7

    The … what … wait. The Dom Post? Who? Eh? *gasp* The Dom Post condemns CERRA while the Greens defend it?

    Looks like I have to revise my opinion of the Dom Post. Ah, and, that of the Greens.

    PS Captcha: discussion … is what the opposition MPs shoulda had.

  8. freedom 8

    It matters not what the various parties decide to do today, or tomorrow, or next week. They unanimously voted to remove Democracy in new Zealand. They are all guilty and it will not be forgotten.

    Actually, the chances are it will be forgotten. A staggering number of intelligent and supposedly informed people still have no idea of what occurred with CERRA. I was talking to some folks on the weekend who pride themselves on ‘knowing what is really going on’ and they could not answer a single question about CERRA. A couple of them reacted with incredulous fervour when i slowly explained for the the tenth time that The government, the entire body of MP’s indeed every elected representative of our Deomocracy unanimously decided to abolish Democracy in New Zealand.

    We as ‘free people’ can not let this act be forgotten, and go unpunished. The dangerous precedent that has been set must be repealed. CERRA when it does finally get stripped of its power must be removed from New Zealand’s books. The obvious authoritarian nature of this most dangerous set of laws is the next time they decide to use it.

    During this initial application of CERRA there is no doubt that a few misdemeanours will occur, like the abandonment of heavy freight safety on our roads, but nothing of any real substance will happen. This time. The pathetic excuses for why CERRA was created are all too easily replicated and with a few flicks of a pen the Act will be refitted to manage whatever future event the powers that be deem needy of action. It is then that the true Dictatorial nature of CERRA and its children will be let loose on your neighbourhood.

    The creation of CERRA is nothing but Politicians unlocking a guncabinet, showing you that the guns are all safe, leaving the shells on the table, then walking away and feigning ignorance when the Homicide Detective begins inquiries.

  9. KJT 9

    As my suggestion that we should have democracy on the open Labour ideas fest got negative voted. I am not sure that New Zealanders have any innate commitment to democracy anyway.

  10. Dean Knight 10

    Just to clarify. It’s not just Brownlee who has this power:

    http://www.laws179.co.nz/2010/10/chcheq-vast-power-but-for-whom.html

  11. Nil Einne 11

    I agree that very likely few people have heard of CERRA so don’t know what it is or why it’s controversial. While the papers have largely condemnded it, they don’t really seem to have made much of a fuss. Definitely far less then the condemnation of the Electoral Finance Act 2007 where at one stage it was difficult not to be aware of it if you read the Herald (yet even with that I think a lot of people didn’t really know what it is about).

    BTW, in the same vein, in terms of political parties, I somewhat understand their POV. The reality is, even with the media criticism that has emerged, they would have been perceived by most as not caring about Canterbury, using the earthquake for political grandstanding, and other manners of ills since in truth most people aren’t really going to bother to understand why they opposed the bill or consider whether they might have a point.

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