NRT: Needlessly shitty

Written By: - Date published: 1:18 pm, April 17th, 2014 - 12 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, Parliament - Tags: , , ,

no-right-turn-256No Right Turn points out here about a select committee filtering out submissions because of language. 

Parliament has been rejecting select committee submissions for not being written in English or Maori:

The Health Select Committee is rejecting 60 submissions against plain packaging legislation because they were made in neither English nor Maori.

[…]

Committee chairman, National MP Paul Hutchison, said 60 submissions were made in languages other than English or Maori.

Fairfax Media understands that most of all of the submissions were made by retailers who submitted against the legislation.

Hutchison said the submissions were rejected on the grounds that they used unparliamentary language. If the submissions were re-entered in English or Maori, they would be accepted as late submissions.

This seems needlessly shitty – not to mention undemocratic. Parliament is supposed to represent all New Zealanders, not just those who write their submissions in one of our official languages. And while it would have been extra hassle to gain translations, I would expect parliament of all places to have access to the resources to do so, and to bend over backwards to make it happen to enable people to have their say.

12 comments on “NRT: Needlessly shitty”

  1. George 1

    This was tobacco industry filibustering, designed to add cost and time to the process.

    NZ makes allowance for other languages where necessary. It could do more. This isn’t such a case.

    • George 1.1

      For example, we might imagine Samoan language submissions to a bill enabling Pacific language education in NZ schools. I’d like to have a step down from ‘official language’ with ‘recognised languages’ which are given greater leeway.

      The large number of foreign language submissions (more than 60), and the unusualness of this happening in the select committee process, lead me to believe that they were deliberately generated as foreign language submissions.

  2. Populuxe1 2

    Goodness me! Expecting official submissions to be submitted in one of the country’s official languages? Golly-gosh, whatever next?! Boo frigitty hoo

  3. Naturesong 3

    I’m ok with submissions to parliament having to be submitted in official languages only. Like George, I think allowing submissions in other languages is open to abuse.

    If a New Zealand citizen or resident does not speak one of New Zealand’s 3 official languages they may need to seek help in translating their submission.

    If they don’t know anyone in their family or community who is able to help, or at least direct them to a person or institution that can provide help/support, then contacting Settlement Services may be in order. I’m sure they can put them in contact with a translator who has appropriate experience.

    If they then wish to present their submission and speak to the select comittee, Parliament should provide the translator.

    Even then, this won’t cover all cases. If there is legislation, or an inquiry before the select comitee that has an outsize affect on one or more immigrant communities then some flexibility should be shown.

    I spent the best part of 10 years overseas, the majority of that time in countries where English was not an official language, and often was seldom spoken or understood (apart from OK, Yes, No).
    Apart from immigration, all other dealings with local, central government, or other legal matters were done in the official language of the country. And on more than one occasion, I had to supply my own translator.

  4. Lanthanide 4

    They could even just run it through google translate as a really shitty basic step.

  5. Awww 5

    Fair enough. Why should taxpayers be forced to pay for translation because someone couldn’t make the effort themselves – especially when most of them are businesses?

    If they were calling on submissions for refugee legislation I might feel differently.

  6. RedBaronCV 6

    Not only are you not allowed to make a submission in another language , you may not make a submission to a review being undertaken by the Chief Justice unless you cough up your email address as well. Nobody without a computor need apply – justice is only for the technologically enabled who are willing to void all privacy.
    If this is how the Courts carry on no wonder there is limited access to justice. Relevant snip below.

    “In-Court Media Coverage –a consultation paper

    Submissions
    [104] Written submissions on the issues raised in this paper are now sought from interested parties. Only submissions that are signed by an identified submitter and which provide a working non-electronic address and an email address will be considered. Once the submissions have been reviewed a decision will be made as to whether to give the opportunityfor the presentation of the submissions by submitters, and if so the nature of that process.
    [105] Submissions must be filed by 1 June2014. They shouldbe addressed to:

    Media Review Panel
    c/-Ministry of Justice –National Office
    19 Aitken Street
    DX SX 10088
    WELLINGTON
    Email:mediareview@justice.govt”

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Nobody without a computor need apply – justice is only for the technologically enabled who are willing to void all privacy.

      1.) Don’t need a PC to have an email address – gmail and hotmail are readily available.
      2.) The second part of your sentence makes no sense.

      • RedBaronCV 6.1.1

        Of course people can have an email address without a computor but my point is:

        1)Why should a private email address be a requirement? If access is through an out of home computor then this is not immediate and a deadline may well be missed.
        What exactly is wrong with a handwritten posted submission?
        An email is also something personal but it can be used in a web search. Why should this level of personal detail be required. Does the GCSB or someone else need it?

        2)Commenting on proposals is part of being a democracy. The more constraints and conditions put on making a submission then the harder it becomes for some groups in the community to take part in the process. The Justice system is for everyone in the community not just those with access to and skills on a computor, and therefore commenting should be made easy. Otherwise justice wioll eventually suffer.
        Imagine if submissions could only be hand delivered to a place in say Westport and the proposed change was significant? There is a slippery slope here and this is a small step towards it.

        • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.1

          Why should a private email address be a requirement? If access is through an out of home computor then this is not immediate and a deadline may well be missed.

          We can probably assume that someone putting in a submission will be checking their email regularly.

          What exactly is wrong with a handwritten posted submission?

          If you saw my handwriting you wouldn’t be asking that question. Printed is much easier to read than handwriting at anytime.

          An email is also something personal but it can be used in a web search. Why should this level of personal detail be required.

          It really is no different than requiring your home address.

          The Justice system is for everyone in the community not just those with access to and skills on a computor, and therefore commenting should be made easy.

          Commenting via computer is the easiest way available both for the person making the submission and the people receiving it.

          • RedBaronCV 6.1.1.1.1

            Thanks for confirming DTB but an extra access barrier is an extra access barrier, and asking for unneccesary information is just that too.
            Now imagine you are a solo parent with three kids under 5, on a benefit in a small town without a library within easy distance and thre is no public transport.
            You may if you are lucky have a prepay cellphone that you top up annually …you’re behind before you’ve started.
            The quality or otherwise of your handwriting or mine is irrelevant.

            The electronic/digital divide is very real.

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