A couple of days ago Labour MP Brendon Burns posted a self-congratulatory piece over at Red Alert celebrating the ‘rare unity’ among parliamentary parties in voting to make Gerry Brownlee dictator of New Zealand for the next 18 months.
The response from Labour’s grassroots was swift and brutal. Here’s a selection of comments:
Shame it was unity in granting Gerry Brownlee dictatorial powers to change any law he wants with no oversight. That’s the sort of unity we can do without.
This is terrible legislation to see in a democracy, I’m all for speeding up the process of recovery in Christchurch but extending central government power over councils and past legislation in such a way is scary, especially when Gerry Brownlee is in charge…
Add me to the list of appalled, especially at opposition parties supporting this legislation. Shame on you all for allowing such an undemocratic piece of legislation, and giving even more powers to a government that has already thumbed its nose at democratic procedures in a large number of unnecssary ways
Can we please have one of those opposition parties that actually opposes the government when they pass legislation that subverts our democracy?
This legislation is an outrage. By all means, give the government powers to aid recovery but this law is not the solution. It’s a sad day for our democracy. This is New Zealand’s PATRIOT legislation. Best of intentions – appalling execution.
Yep, ‘Shock Doctrine II’ is here.
Shame on you, Labour – you introduced ‘Shock Doctrine I’ in the 80’s and now are willing accomplices to this…
This is a terrible, terrible piece of legislation to vote for… What an utterly useless, idiotic opposition we have… I would have hoped that Parliament wouldn’t unanimously abdicate the government to Gerry Brownlee.
I heard part of your speech(es) last night, Brendon. I have no doubt that you – and Labour – wanted to do the right thing. I also believe (genuinely, no sarcasm) that Gerry Brownlee sees these powers as part of the recovery, and nothing more. But it’s not about intentions. It’s about power, and democracy. Kings can have good intentions too. But we don’t put them in charge any more. This is bad law. Bad precedent. I think many MPs know it, deep down. I hope they reflect on what they have done.
This is a terrible law and as a party member I am very disappointed in you and every other MP who voted for it.
I am deeply disappointed. There was no need for this law. There might be “rare unity” in Parliament but you have missed the opportunity to enhance and empower local communities. Why the rush? This bad piece of law making has just made a horrible situation even worse.
I also am disquiet about this law. It doesn’t seem right to believe that the government will do the right thing, based on the fear of OIA requests. Which the current ministers duck without fear of consequence.
A Act that is designed to give the government power to temporarily override the Building Act in Canterbury, should be aimed only at the application of the Building Act in Canterbury, and have a grandfather clause. Surely, this is overkill. Gerry Brownlee, with the consent of cabinent can change a staggering array of laws, all around the country. Come on guys, pick up your game.
Add me to the list of extremely perturbed citizens. As Idiot Savant said this is the sort of unity we can absolutey do without. I object!
Labour voted down virtually every amendment that would have introduced democracy or accountability to this bill. Sometimes I expect good things from the New Zealand Labour Party. I really, honestly, do. And then I’m reminded that there isn’t a principle that can’t be traded away for political expediency. Fat lot of good you lot are as an opposition. We need better than this.
The more I learn about this legislation the more angry and upset I feel. Its not a surprise coming from NACT’s but that my party supported it is just too disappointing. I could weep.
This is unbelievable!! How could you vote for this bill, and vote against many of the amendments providing greater protections. This is the worst piece of legislation in NZ for a very long time. I am extremely disappointed and disillusioned in the Labour Party today.
Supporting this legislation was a an act of breathtaking gutlessness. Every citizen now knows that there is not a single person,or party, in parliament who cares a whit about democracy.I’m not at all happy about this. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I listened to this on the radio in absolute horror. You guys are meant to be the opposition, yet there was barely a whimper, even from the Greens. There are some terrible aspects of this Bill and you, as a party, let them past. The lack of courage is appalling.
All of the above and another disappointed member. I’m gobsmacked 120 mps, especially my favorite 43, voted away the ability to hold the govt to account on this incredibly important rebuild, and any credible opposition to the shonky results that may follow
The most astonishing thing is that these comments are all from Labour members and sympathisers. Yet not a single one of them wrote in support of Labour’s position on this bill. Even the usually sycophantic Spud could only manage a bunch of sad cartoon faces. Talk about being out of touch with your own supporters.
No one questions that the damage in Christchurch needs to be fixed urgently and that there’s a case to be made for giving the government the tools it needs to get on with the job. But not this. Effectively suspending our democracy and handing absolute power to one person in the hope they won’t abuse their power is inexcusable, and deep down Labour’s MPs must know it.
Though if Brendon Burns’ reply to this thread is anything to go by, the parliamentary wing of the party isn’t interested in listening. In a post emotively entitled Women and children first, Burns dismisses the anger of his supporters (and, I assume, the universal condemnation of constitutional experts) as “howls of outrage” that are illegitimate because “every other party and MP in Parliament” supported the bill. As if that makes it all okay.
He then utterly fails to address any of his supporters’ concerns and implies that if you don’t support the bill you are misinformed and don’t care about Christchurch quake victims. Oh, and it’s kind of like the Blitz but not really. That’s quite some arrogance. Maybe the guy’s suffering a bit from the stress of what’s going on, beats me. But this is neither his, nor Labour’s, finest hour.
Image credit: Scoop.co.nz
[I can’t help but notice the irony that the next post on Red Alert is Chris Hipkins complaining about National’s abuse of parliamentary process.]