Written By: - Date published: 9:15 am, February 11th, 2011 - 17 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, foreshore and seabed, national, Parliament - Tags: democracy under attack, foreshore and seabed
The Nats regard parliamentary process as an inconvenience to which they must pay lip service, but nothing more. They started as soon as they took office, with repeated abuse of the mechanism of urgency. As early as December 2008 even their fans at The Herald were moved to rebuke them:
Bulldozed rush of legislation makes mockery of democracy
It [National] has adopted a bulldozing approach that is disturbingly at odds with democratic Government. Gerry Brownlee would not even name the bills to be passed under urgency, but only the subject areas that they canvassed. Worse, he refused to give Opposition parties advance copies of any of the bills, until just before they were to be debated in Parliament.
The fact that the matters were being dealt with under urgency already meant that there would be no chance for public submission; there is no room in the action plan for tedious details such as the select committee process, by which interested parties get to express their view about proposed legislation. … It is a state of affairs seriously at odds with the notion of a Parliamentary democracy. …
It is entirely possible that National is in the grip of a first flush of legislative enthusiasm. If so, it will adopt a more measured pace in the new year. If not, there is cause for concern. 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.
Anger mounts over foreshore and seabed bill
Anger continues to mount over the truncated consideration of the new foreshore and seabed legislation … Parliament’s Maori affairs select committee yesterday decided on a majority vote (National and Maori Party members) to send the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill back to Parliament two weeks early with no changes despite thousands of submissions against it. The committee recommended it be passed without major amendment.
Labour, Act and the Greens were outraged. …
Labour leader Phil Goff accused the Government of using internal Maori Party problems as a cover to push the bill through largely unchanged. …
ACT MP John Boscawen complained the committee got less than two hours to consider a 530 page report and said the Government had committed an “outrageous abuse of process”.
Green MP Metiria Turei and Labour’s David Parker accused the Government of wanting to clear the deck of a contentious issue in an election year. “They know it’s deeply unpopular with Maori voters in particular,” Ms Turei said. “What the Maori Party and National have done is very anti-democratic.”
And how do the Nats respond to the charges?
Attorney-General Chris Finlayson today implied there was no point to further deliberation. “Well everyone’s position was very well predetermined… I am not interested in a lot of beltway parliamentary noise I am interested in the issues of principle and dealing with those.”
Got that? The democratic process is just “beltway parliamentary noise”. The Nats have been trampling all over it since the day they took office, and they’ll keep on doing it until they get thrown right back out again. Don’t give these thugs another term.