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NRT: More secret government laws

Written By: - Date published: 10:33 am, August 17th, 2011 - 88 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, Parliament - Tags:

Urgency

As expected, the House has gone into urgency to pass assorted bills through their final stages. I was going to say that this was uncontroversial, part of the usual practice of the House in the leadup to an election. But of course this is National. So in addition to a pile of bills going through their final stages, we also have urgency for “the introduction and passing of a Government bill”. Yes, the House is legislating in secret again.

This is fundamentally undemocratic. And it undermines the requirement to specify what business urgency is required for, effectively turning the urgency motion into a blank cheque. We won’t know what this bill is until it hits the House. By which time, its too late.

Democratic governments do not operate like this. Labour certainly didn’t – I can’t remember a single occurrence in their nine years in office when they asked for urgency for a bill which they refused to even name. But such secrecy has become standard practice under National. It is undemocratic, and it is wrong.

88 comments on “NRT: More secret government laws ”

  1. vto 1

    They may as well not even bother making this secret law. Why not just go ahead and do whatever currently illegal thing it is that they want to do rather than waste time making it legal? Just keep it secret and nobody will know..

    The effect is the same.

    Criminals. Makes a mockery of the system.

  2. pmofnz 2

    “the introduction and passing of a Government bill”

    The secret bill that will outlaw leftie blogs. One lives in hope.

    • Carol 2.1

      How fitting to see Nats’ cheerleaders support an undemocratic society & government, where they get no critical opposition or debate.

      • pmofnz 2.1.1

        That would be like the same critical opposition and debate NZ witnessed yesterday with the name calling by Mallard?

        • mik e 2.1.1.1

          pmofnz so we can all go to the dole bludgers site and slide around like a slippery slater in whaleoil .Thats demockery for you from the defenders of freedom .Thats the Westminster system and long may it live if you don’t like it go to a country that doesn’t have it and stop right whinging

    • chris73 2.2

      I wouldn’t outlaw all lefty blogs but I’d seriously consider banning the excessive use of emoticons: Spuds law

  3. Benjamin B. 3

    Why is that legal in the first place? Can someone explain that in detail please?

    • queenstfarmer 3.1

      Because Parliament can make its own rules. There are standing orders, but these can still be manipulated to suit.

      The previous and current Govts have abused urgency. It should stop. My long-proposed solution: an upper house.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        The previous and current Govts have abused urgency. It should stop. My long-proposed solution: an upper house.

        This National Government has used urgency more often in a two year span than any other in the history of NZ.

        My long-proposed solution: an upper house.

        Better solution: kick the bastards who don’t fundamentally believe in democracy OUT.

      • Lanthanide 3.1.2

        I too am wondering if an upper house would help NZ out. One of the reasons changing the electoral system (to, eventually, MMP) was because we don’t have an upper house.

        That would be like turkeys voting for Christmas though, so it doesn’t seem very likely to ever happen.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2.1

          I too am wondering if an upper house would help NZ out.

          It won’t. If the same party/coalition held both houses you’d still get the same abuse. If they didn’t then you’d get no laws passed at all (or, at least, laws so compromised that they just won’t work ie, the US farce about their debt ceiling).

      • Campbell Larsen 3.1.3

        How about we fix the one we have got.

        The last thing we need is yet another layer of unaccountability and even less representation.

        When more power is concentrated into fewer hands the dangers of corruption and abuse are increased – and we have plenty of both already.

        • queenstfarmer 3.1.3.1

          An upper house would (if done right) alleviate those things. It de-concentrates the ability of a 51% majority ramming through whatever it wants.

          NZ is about the only country I can think of with a single House and no super-constitution. That puts us at odds with Aussie, Britain, Canada and the US (among others).

          • Campbell Larsen 3.1.3.1.1

            ‘if done right’

            Chances of that happening in the current environment – 0%

          • Richard 3.1.3.1.2

            Doesn’t it just mean that you need 51% in two places instead?

            • Lanthanide 3.1.3.1.2.1

              Essentially, yes, but it means you can have a lower house with a National majority and an upper house with a Labour majority, which forces them to come to sensible compromises. Instead of simply coming into power and repealing policy put in place by the previous government because they don’t like it.

              • queenstfarmer

                Also, an upper house can also have a somewhat different “agenda” from a lower house. While one house may be willing to ram through some controversial law, it is possible that it may face dissent from the upper house (even if controlled by the same party). The upper house could then maybe soften the bill, or send it back for reconsideration.

                And introducing an upper house could also (probably should) be coupled with constitutional reform putting other checks and balances in place.

                • mik e

                  QstfWe’ll just end up in dead locked like the states we’ve got a good system its always been like this.We generally do alright. When the outrage gets to much we vote them out drive tractors onto parliaments steps or have a hikoi of hope!

                  • queenstfarmer

                    we’ve got a good system its always been like this

                    No, actually it was only in the 1950s that we got rid of our upper house, which put us out of line with most other similar countries.

                    Deadlock can occur (which can have its upside) but that depends on the rules. E.g. some upper houses cannot block legislation, only delay it for a period (eg 2 years).

                    • mik e

                      Qstf Just more bureaucracy like the right are vehemently opposed except when it suits them.

              • Ed

                The sort of ‘sensible compromise’ recently achieved in the USA? No thanks, that sort of extremist brinkmanship was merely expensive polarising – the real problems continue.

                • Lanthanide

                  That’s only because the republican party has been hi-jacked by the insane nut-job tea party, although only in congress and not in the senate.

                  If anything, our system is even more vulnerable to that – if Actoids took over National (or Labour, cf Roger Douglas) then they could ram through any law they wanted without an upper house to stop it.

                  • Rich

                    The US has two problems (well, it has over 200 million problems, but I’ll discuss these two here):

                    – the Senate can filibuster a measure indefinitely unless its proponents have a 60:40 majority
                    – the executive doesn’t need the confidence of the legislature

                    This means that the legislature can prevent a president passing supply, and the president doesn’t have the option to call an election (for presidency or legislature) if that happens.

                    In Westminster systems (and most others) this can’t really happen. If an NZ government can’t pass its budget, it has to call an election.

                    • insider

                      Do they ‘have’ to call an election? couldn’t the governing or another party go to the GG saying they think they have the ability to get the confidence of the house and attempt to form a govt?

                      No doubt it’s in the electoral act and some constitution wonk can put me right.

                    • Lanthanide

                      I believe you’re correct, Insider, there’s no requirement to have an election.

                      That’s just what happens in practice, though – if there was sufficient opposition to a budget, that same majority can pass a motion of no confidence and in doing so dissolve parliament.

                    • Vicky32

                      The US has two problems (well, it has over 200 million problems, but I’ll discuss these two here):
                      😀

              • Richard

                …but it means you can have a lower house with a National majority and an upper house with a Labour majority

                Of course, but the system still doesn’t work in exactly the same way as the current system if the same group has a majority in both houses.

                So it doesn’t really solve the abuse of urgency it just means that there is a slightly different set of circumstances under which it can occur.

                Afterall, in the current environment National doesn’t have a majority in the house. It is only able to abuse urgency because it a) wants to, and b) has coalition partners that let it, and c) the electorate apparently doesn’t really care.

                The real problem is the fat man, Gerry Brownlee.

              • Draco T Bastard

                …which forces them to come to sensible compromises.

                No it fucken doesn’t. What it does is force unworkable “compromises”.

                • Rich

                  Rather than having an upper house (you can imagine the sort of superannuated old gits that would fill the benches) we should just have a rule that urgency is for genuine emergencies and has to be approved by a 75% vote in parliament.

                  (Not to mention entrenching the core parliamentary standing orders so that governments can’t change them).

          • mik e 3.1.3.1.3

            Krd Drag Queen. the 49% can wield as much power as it likes by injecting more or less cash than the govt .The National Govt might just play silent partner there are many permutations.

      • freedom 3.1.4

        to suggest an Upper house is a fix is like saying paralysis is better than amputation

        much simpler to just destroy party political agendas and try Representative Democracy for once

        • Jim Nald 3.1.4.1

          What a fantastic idea for Nats’ cheerleaders to suggest an upper house – when the Nats run out of excuses to blame Labour, etc, they can blame the upper house. And then the upper house can also reciprocate by returning the blame.

        • insider 3.1.4.2

          An upper house is just another layer of representative democracy just like a court of appeal is a layer of judiciary.

          Plenty of countries operate successfully with an upper house without the angst of the US. That said I don’t see a need here.

  4. tc 4

    Cue all the trolls defending this practice as good open government with not a hint of nanny state.

    Graffitti from the 80’s under Muldoon ‘jail…where the big criminals send the little ones’

    Vto’s got a point, just pass something retrospective under urgency after doing an inventory of all the dodgy stuff you need ‘fixed’.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Yes its quite visible in the UK. If you are a bankster looter who absconded with tens of billions as the consequence of highly fraudulent transactions, you get a few strong words from the politicians and your annual bonus of a million pounds.

      If you are a teenage looter who absconded with a five quid bottle of wine, you get a 6 month gaol sentence and told by David Cameron that if you are old enough to do the crime you are old enough to do the time.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    My inkling is that the ‘government bill’ will be taking up the VSM bill, which would have been debated today during members bills.

    • freedom 5.1

      why would they be working so hard to keep that secret?

      • Richard 5.1.1

        They aren’t working hard, they are just lazy and arrogant.

        They probably aren’t desperately trying to keep anything secret. They just don’t care about democratic conventions enough to bother informing the opposition and the public about what they are doing.

      • Lanthanide 5.1.2

        Coup’d’grace and comeuppance against Labour for filibustering it for so long.

  6. Ed 6

    I hope that the opposition does everything it can to delay any law that should have been signaled in advance and for which National are by-passing public submissions and a select committee process. I appreciate that the tyranny of the majority is difficult to stop, but it would at least make the point that at least some opposition parties are making an implied (or explicit?) commitment not to abuse processes themselves when they are elected to government. At least some speeches should point out the National / ACT record regarding abuse of urgency and lack of consultation.

    • TightyRighty 6.1

      The opposition is in on it. Secret back room deals and all. You’d think labour would have something to say about secret back room deals after epsom etc. Hmmmmm….

      • bbfloyd 6.1.1

        “the opposition is in on it” you almost had me until you came out with that .. what a load of codswallop! you guys got nothing better than”labour is really still secretly running the country, so it’s their fault this is all turning to crap” .. what kind of stuff do you have to snort before this shit makes sense? or is a lobotomy helpful in understanding conceptual conservatism?

        • TightyRighty 6.1.1.1

          LOL!!!

          We know labour isn’t running the county. Nice Blue Star Digital spin trying to plant the seed though. Labour engaged in shady back room deals so that the government could force through legislation in ninety minutes. Which of course would take you till 3am to figure out. You should put the bottle down before commenting, or are you really andrew williams?

          You. Are. Such. An. Idiot.

          • mik e 6.1.1.1.1

            Looks like your wrong again tighty almighty labour did a back room deal with crusher collins today

  7. Lanthanide 7

    Andrea Vance has the inside word on what the mystery bill is:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/blogs/what-s-he-said/5460707/The-overuse-of-urgency

    “On the Order Paper is a mystery “fixit” bill to close a loophole in some unnamed legislation. After a secret deal with the Labour Party, it will be whipped through in about 90 minutes tomorrow morning, with no input from select committee.

    We’ll find out then what it is. According to Government sources, it’s not major policy and was passed under the previous Labour government. But if it were made public, unscrupulous types could take advantage before the loophole is closed, we’re told.”

    So much for any white-knight acts from Labour.

    • queenstfarmer 7.1

      Hopefully it’s urgent legislation to prevent the release of Graham Capill.

      • McFlock 7.1.1

        Given that it’s both lab and nat support, it could be a vote of Athenian-style ostracism against Winston Peters.

      • mik e 7.1.2

        Capill will join up with his old mates Alistair Thompson Garth McVicker and form a new political party Mysogynists United & Predators Party Employers &Tacky Sicophants
        MUPPETS

        • Bob 7.1.2.1

          Hey mik e , you left out his other good mate , Graeme Lee ” the lemon from Paeroa ” . Such is the joy of living in the Coromandel / Hauraki electorate .

  8. TightyRighty 8

    It seems labour are complicit in this. Maybe labour DO operate in the environments from which power emanates in the manner you find so unbecoming of the most popular government ever.

    • Lanthanide 8.1

      “the most popular government ever.”

      Citation please.

      More people voted against National at the last election than voted for them.

      • queenstfarmer 8.1.1

        Hmm, you seem to be equating “not voted for” with “voted against”.

        I don’t think it’s quite right to say, for example, 93% of the people “voted against” the Greens just because they got ~7%. Or to say more people “voted against” Labour than the Nats.

        I confess it would be an interesting possibility for a new electoral system – each person also has an “anti-vote” that can be used to deduct one vote from a party’s tally 🙂

        • Lanthanide 8.1.1.1

          You can vote for something, vote against it, or abstain.

          In the case of general elections, there are multiple ways to vote against a particular party. Pretty simple.

          • queenstfarmer 8.1.1.1.1

            Exactly. Which is why it doesn’t make sense to assert that more people voted against a particular party than for them No-one knows what it was.

            • Lanthanide 8.1.1.1.1.1

              If you didn’t vote, you abstained. If you voted for National, you voted for the government.

              If you voted for anyone else, you voted against National. I really don’t see why it’s hard to understand.

              • queenstfarmer

                Well that’s a very odd way of looking at it, especially considering no-one knew who was going to win the election or what coalition permutations might arise. What about a Labour voter who got annoyed at Labour and voted Green. Were they voting for the Greens, against Labour, against the Govt, or a combination? And are they also voting against every other party? What if you voted Maori at the last election? Was that a vote against National, even though you didn’t know who they might go into coalition with? Who were the United Future voters voting against? You seem to be able to read everyone’s mind, so do tell.

                • Lanthanide

                  I don’t see why you’re having trouble with this.

                  You vote for some one.
                  You vote against someone.
                  You don’t vote for anyone.

                  If you voted for Labour, that means you voted against everyone else.

                  • queenstfarmer

                    Not necessarily. You have no idea what anyone’s vote “meant”.

                    Anyway, I shall await election night to find out just how many people voted against each party standing.

                    I’m hoping that at least 95% of the population votes against Winston.

                    • Lanthanide

                      “Not necessarily. You have no idea what anyone’s vote “meant”.”

                      Yeah you do. You know that if someone voted for Labour, they “meant” to vote for Labour, and therefore voted against everyone else.

                      Voting against someone is the pure act of voting for someone other than them. As Bush put it; you’re either for or against us.

                    • queenstfarmer

                      This is fun. So what about the scenarios above then? Or what about someone who plans to vote Act – they have already said they’d go into govt only with National. So are strategic voters who vote Act voting against National, even though they actually want to support National, and are only voting Act to do so?

                      And don’t forget spoiler strategies. E.g. if a Labour supporter votes National in Epsom specifically to prevent Act getting in and therefore support Labour, would that have voted against Labour (and every other party standing)? Of course not.

                      And hey, it’s MMP – what if you vote National with party vote, and Labour with electorate vote – what’s the outcome then?

                      PS it’s not usually considered a good thing to cite George Bush in support of a logical proposition.

                    • mik e

                      Quaint Frankly He’s on 4% in the latest polls don’t hold your breath.BigPharma!If theirs any one who can unseat Key its the Wylie old fox Peters who knows as much about media image and no substance as what John does. And he’s learned less is more in politics

  9. weka 9

    On the Order Paper is a mystery “fixit” bill to close a loophole in some unnamed legislation. After a secret deal with the Labour Party, it will be whipped through in about 90 minutes tomorrow morning, with no input from select committee.
    We’ll find out then what it is. According to Government sources, it’s not major policy and was passed under the previous Labour government. But if it were made public, unscrupulous types could take advantage before the loophole is closed, we’re told.
     

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/blogs/what-s-he-said/5460707/The-overuse-of-urgency

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      “Unscrupulous people could take advantage” ????

      So the few in the know, as they would around the traps in parliament and especially the National party wouldnt be unscrupulous and make a quick buck or million.

      The lights will be burning late in the big law firms tonight

  10. insider 10

    What I don’t get is, how can this post be by The Standard? I thought The Standard was just a machine and the authors are all independent indviduals blah blah blah….

    [lprent: I am sure that I have explained this to you previously. We use “The Standard” otherwise known as “notices and features” for reprints and stuff that is not unique to the site or is repetitive (like OpenMike). It means it isn’t written by a site author or a guest post.

    Hopefully I won’t have to exert myself explaining this to you again. There are easier solutions. ]

    • higherstandard 10.1

      [3 week ban for attempted outting. Eddie]

      • Eddie 10.1.1

        In reply to your unpublished compliant, HS, I/S has specifically complained about people trying to out them in posts we re-post. No matter what you say, they are not ‘out’ in their opinion. And if we want to continue reposting great posts like this we must respect I/S’s wishes.

    • Lanthanide 10.2

      Apparently “NRT:” in the title is sufficient these days.

      I’ve already complained. Lynn chose to do nothing.

      • lprent 10.2.1

        It is up to whoever puts the post up. I explained this extensively the last few times it was raised. Damnit, I’ll add it to the About or Policy since it keeps getting raised.

      • Eddie 10.2.2

        you’re welcome to keep complaining, Lanthe, but not everything on the site has to be the way you want it.

        The excerpt starts “I/S at No Right Turn” and the title of I/S’s article is copied with a hyperlink in the very first word of the body. Maybe it should in bold and large font. For that oversight, I heartily apologise.

        • Lanthanide 10.2.2.1

          The excerpt doesn’t show on the article page itself, only on the main page. I very very briefly look at the main page, clicking through to the article pages themselves basically whenever I see something new.

          I don’t personally care what you do either way, I’m just pointing out that if you want to avoid people ascribing opinions to ‘The Standard’, you should try and make it very clear who the author of each post is. At the moment reading the article page, the only hint is a little phrase “NRT:” in the title and a hyperlink. But lots of posts have hyperlinks in them that don’t take them to some other blog where the original post was posted, so just saying “look, there’s a hyperlink” isn’t really enough.

          IMO the best thing would just be to put a single line at the top in italics “This is a re-post from I/S at No Right Turn”. This sort of thing used to be done all the time. I’m not sure why it stopped.

          • weka 10.2.2.1.1

            And perhaps standardise this, so that every guest post or reposted post has a single line at the top of the article stating that. How hard would that be to standardise? Herding cats hard, or establishing policy and sending an email to each person with editorial control?
             
            (personally I think it should be explicit in both the front page intro AND at the start of the post itself, but the main issue is that it’s inconsistent and unclear. If it has to be one, I think it’s better for it to be the article, because anyone coming from an external link will miss the main page intro).
             
            btw, I don’t expect to get to tell you at TS what to do with your site. It’s just feedback and suggestions 🙂

            • lprent 10.2.2.1.1.1

              Lots of cats… Do you realize how little contact we have with each other? Usually it is simplest to just have a couple of us agreeing and then upgrading all of the posts to a standard until everyone’s more or less up to scratch. That was how such things as categories, tags, excerpts, and thumbnails got put in. Probably r0b, me, maybe Eddie, Ben or Zet.

  11. freedom 11

    i understood they use The Standard as author tag when presenting a Post from another Blog,
    in this case No Right Turn,

    Perhaps they could use ‘The Standard presents’ in the author tag?
    it is a trifle more direct and stops this ever so common
    fruitless and tedious discussion on the identities of the Standard’s inhabitants

    • lprent 11.1

      The idea of it being “The Standard” was to make the name shorter than “notices and features”. No real point in making it bigger. It is less of a problem on the posts themselves since we widened the format a few years ago. But it is an issue with wrapping on the front page.

      The only half way decent suggestion I have ever seen was to make it “Other” or “No-one”.

      • freedom 11.1.1

        as the tag id is for articles brought in from elsewhere, have you considered using ‘ The Source ‘ ?

      • Richard 11.1.2

        What’s wrong with “GUEST AUTHOR”?

        • Lanthanide 11.1.2.1

          Guest Author implies it was submitted directly to this blog and it’s first publication is on this blog (or at least that the author submitted it on their own accord).

          I believe these reposts, typically from NRT, are put up here by the authors with permission from I/S. That is to say, I/S didn’t ask for it to be posted, the authors here asked him/her if they could repost it.

          • Richard 11.1.2.1.1

            Guest Author implies it was submitted directly to this blog and it’s first publication is on this blog …

            I don’t see that implication, and even if people thought that, it is way less misleading than “THE STANDARD”. It is still a post by a guest author regardless of the particulars of who asked who.

            Alternatively, “REPOSTED FROM NRT”, would be just as good, with NRT replaced as appropriate.

          • lprent 11.1.2.1.2

            Pretty much. Same with almost every other republished post under the standard. The only thing that we will usually republish on a push are notices.

        • lprent 11.1.2.2

          They aren’t guests. We are just republishing.

          We have a seperate author for guest posts, which are ones that are first published here and written to be published here.

  12. randal 12

    bang bang shoot em down eddie.
    my baby loves the western movies too.

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