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Nats attack democracy on two fronts

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, September 16th, 2009 - 9 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack - Tags:


Again, National has put the House into urgency to slam through unpopular legislation. This time, it’s the Supercity legislation.

National whinges that it has to use urgency to pass legislation that could be passed anytime in the next months because they only get 17 hours a week to pass laws otherwise and that’s not enough for their agenda.

What National doesn’t get, or care about, is that the limited sitting hours of the House in normal running is an intentional and important check on power. If the House just sat as long as the Government needed all the time and the Government just turned up with Bills at the last minute and slammed them through, democracy would be weakened. The Government would have time to do whatever the hell crazy thing it wanted. Laws would be created without the public and the Opposition having adequate time to assess and react to them.

This is effectively what the Nats are doing. Urgency can legitimately be used when time runs out to pass time-critical legislation without it but it should not be used as ‘bonus time’ and an opportunity to avoid scrutiny of laws that will soon be affecting us all.

Getting back to the Supercity Bill itself. It’s interesting to see that Key has crumbled to the wishes of Pakeha in the rural hinterland of Auckland who did not want to be split off into the neighbouring councils (well, partly listened to them, not only do they not want to be split, they don’t want to be in the Supercity either). Yet Maori are totally ignored. Still, why would he listen to them when the Maori Party will vote for his government no matter what indignities he forces them to endure?

There are a large number of National MPs whose electorates will be in the Supercity and whose constituents have been telling them loud and clear they want no part of it. Behind closed doors, and occasionally in public, these MPs have been desperately asking Key to rein in Hide and offer a Aucklanders a democratic system, not a big business rort. Labour MPs have been daring the Auckland Nats to stand up for their constituents and cross the floor to defeat the Bill.

Labour and the Greens have been pointing out that Aucklanders are owed a referendum on whether they even want a Supercity. I’m hoping they put up an amendment to the legislation requiring one. With Labour, the Maori Party, Anderton and the Greens, to pass it would just need the support of Dunne and some ACT MPs – they believe in referenda and choice don’t they?

9 comments on “Nats attack democracy on two fronts ”

  1. I oppose this use of urgency (and numerous other uses of urgency) … but I don’t believe this is accurate:

    What National doesn’t get, or care about, is that the limited sitting hours of the House in normal running is an intentional and important check on power.

    I do not believe that the limited sitting hours are an intentional check on power. They’re as they are because Parliament wants to do a bunch of things: have uninteruppted select committees and cabinet meetings, long lunch hours, days out of Wellington for constituency work, school holidays off etc. 17 hours a week is what they get when all the practical considerations they want taken into account are taken into account.

    It’s practical, not high-minded and intentional.

  2. BLiP 2

    ACT MPs they believe in referenda and choice don’t they?


  3. fraser 3

    how much legislation has been passed under urgency compared to “non-urgent”?

    anyone able to work out the ratio? (only asking cause i have no idea where to start)

    be interesting to see how it compares to other govts

  4. The backtracking on the Rodney boundary is interesting.

    The original decision was absurd and came out of nowhere. Mike Lee suggested at the Labour Party conference on the weekend that a mysterious group of land owners had privately lobbied the Government to move the boundary. The benefit is that if their land is within the Kaipara District Council then no developer contributions will have to be paid on subdivision.

    It would be interesting for a bit of digging into this and to also ascertain if this group has directly or indirectly donated funds to the National Party.

    • Stacktwo 4.1

      To me, as a former long-time resident in Pukekohe, the ridiculously arbitrary slicing of Franklin County into two halves makes no rational sense at all. The community between Pukekohe and the Waikato River have always looked to the north as their centre for business, social life, sports, etc. Slicing off the stern of the boat is not going to be very helpful in keeping it afloat.

      I see that even Federated Farmers agreed 10 days ago.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 4.2

      It is hardly surprising that numerous land holders are sitting on potential gold mines if they are left to develop unrestricted. RDC has only recently brought in new developer levies and has identified areas for growth through several strategic documents. It is not the cost of developer contributions that would hold up development but the difficulty and cost of getting access to many as yet undeveloped areas in the District. Have a look at the billboard advertising sign on SH1 “Puhoi Heights” which is a very large tract of land that would have been outside the contribution zone if the line had stayed. It is in their interest to lobby hard to avoid millions in levies. Now these will be paid to the new council and be sucked up in the general coffers with little local improvements in return just moe rambling houses across the countryside. This will be further aided by the proposed four laning of SH1 being moved up the priority list.

  5. tc 5

    I’m looking forward to a well run, efficiently managed supercity with improved services, accountable management, solid infrastructure/asset base with the well being of all districts at the core of every decision, humanely and intelligently led by that proven and gifted leader John Banks……..YEAH RIGHT ! Let the biggest garage sale in the land commence……we’ll start with those pesky trees that get in the way of more well built waterproof rateable properties.

  6. Swampy 6

    Maori are not ignored, the notion of racially selected seats is being challenged and so should it. Maori have the same right to vote as any other elector. The fact that in Parliamentary elections many Maori choose to vote in general electorates instead of the Maori seats shows there is not a clear cut view in favour of reserved Maori seats.

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