Key and his cronies have a long history of passing laws that give themselves sweeping powers and promising (honestly, truly) that they won’t use them. How many times has King Brownlee found himself in court for abusing his dictatorial powers, despite the ouster clauses in his enabling Act? Now, Key, says he won’t actually use the powers he’s getting the the GCSB Bill.
In a scene reminiscent of Fitzgerald v Muldoon, Key has purported to alter the law by press statement, telling the Herald (exclusively! for fuck’s sake) that how he will use the powers he gets in the GCSB Bill will be completely different to how those powers are stated in the law itself. ‘Don’t worry that you’re give me unnecessarily broad powers’ he says ‘I won’t use them’.
Except that’s not how a democracy works. The law in a democracy should give the government only the powers it definitely needs to have for the pubic interest and nothing more. It shouldn’t have a grab-bag of powers that it doesn’t need on a ‘we won’t use them, but just in case’ basis.
Why? Because sooner or later, that ‘just in case’ circumstance comes along from the perspective of the government of the day. Maybe it’s an opposition group that’s giving the government trouble, maybe it’s a segment of the population that’s deemed ‘undesirable’.
You don’t create the conditions for excessive government power and autocratic rule and then trust the government never to use them. Sooner or later, when you give a government excessive powers, you get excessive government action.