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?