On filibustering and public political meetings

Written By: - Date published: 9:15 am, May 15th, 2009 - 52 comments
Categories: auckland supercity - Tags:

democracy-under-attack1Labour is filibustering in the house on the Auckland super-city enabling legislation. The would-be dictator of Auckland’s future for the next year and a half, says

Mr Hide says the amendments are a waste of time, as the Government has the numbers to defeat them.

Correct for this particular battle. However it is the war that counts.

However Rodney and NACT have been doing everything in their power to avoid debate on the super-city. Most recently by refusing to release the legislation to the opposition until shortly before the bill went into committee under urgency. Presumably this was to ensure that there was insufficient attention paid to the detail of the bill, which must make even hardened National MP’s worry about its scope.

It looks like Labour have done the correct thing for that type of bad parliamentary behaviour both over the bills, and over the rushed and inadequate consideration that NACT have done on the super-city. Hell NACT still haven’t costed the transition costs to what they are proposing in the next two bills.

Labour have made the appropriate response and slowed the pace to allow more consideration within the framework of rules. This will continue for the next 18 months as Aucklanders fight to regain the control of their city that this legislation removes. Rodney, expect a whole lot of submissions to the select committee in the next phase.

Update: The bill is here (PDF)

In the meantime, it looks like National MP’s aren’t that good in public meetings. Here are some to go to and express your mood.

National MPs and the Hon John Carter, Associate Minister of Local Government, are beginning a series of
public meetings to hear your views on the proposed changes to local government in Auckland.

  • Dr Lockwood Smith, 17 May, 4.00pm Stanmore Bay Leisure Centre Brightside Road, Whangaparaoa
  • Paula Bennett, 20 May, 7.00pm, Kelston Community Centre Cnr of Awaroa, Great North Roads, Kelston
  • Nikki Kaye, 19 May, 7.30am, Leys Institute Hall 20 St Marys Road, St Marys Bay
  • Nikki Kaye, 20 May, 12.30pm, Surfdale Community Hall 6 Hamilton Road, Surfdale, Waiheke Island
  • Nikki Kaye, 5 June, 1.30pm, Grey Lynn Community Centre 510 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn
  • Nikki Kaye, 10 June, 7.00pm, Pioneer Women’s Hall, Corner High Street and Freyberg Place, Inner City
  • Dr Jackie Blue, 11 June, 7.00pm, Hillsborough Room, Fickling Centre 546 Mt Albert Road, Three Kings
  • Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, 18 May, 7.00pm, Ellerslie War Memorial Hall 138 Main Highway, Ellerslie
  • Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, 19 May, 6.00pm, Onehunga Community Centre 83 Church Street, Onehunga
  • Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, 25 May, 7.00pm, Panmure Community Hall 7-13 Pilkington Road, Panmure
  • Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, 9 June, 7.00pm, Papatoetoe Cosmopolitan Club 53 Rangitoto Street, Papatoetoe
  • Dr Paul Hutchison, 25 May, 5.00pm, Hunua Electorate Office 13 West Street, Pukekohe

Have fun…

52 comments on “On filibustering and public political meetings”

  1. Brad H 1

    Is the North Shore not going to get any meetings?

  2. Not on the list I have. It appears that they don’t currently consider it important.

    • bilbo 2.1

      Have you seen our mayor and city council………… honestly a group of battery hens sitting around a table would be as much use.

  3. schrodigerscat 3

    Dr Lockwood Smith, 17 May, 4.00pm Stanmore Bay Leisure Centre Brightside Road, Whangaparaoa

  4. Well as we don’t have a say on the first Super-City bill, perhaps we should really focus our efforts on the second one:

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2009/0036-1/latest/whole.html?search=ts_bill_local+government_resel#DLM2044901

    This bill will set the number of ward councillors versus at large councillors. It will also set the powers of the Local Boards. I think a clause by clause analysis might be necessary, along with suggested changes.

    I think a few questions/points should be made:

    1) Clearly I would want the at large councillors to be eliminated. So all councillors are elected from wards.

    2) How many wards though? Is 20 enough – I tend to think not. It would seem obvious for the number of wards to match the number of local boards, so each area served by a local board also has a ward councillor. The only difficulty here might be dealing with Waiheke & Great Barrier Island.

    3) What powers should the local boards have? I know everyone says that they should have “real” power, but how would that be enshrined in the legislation? I guess some change to Section 11 would be necessary, which reads as follows:

    Status of local boards:
    (1) A local board is an unincorporated body.
    (2) A local board is not a local authority, a community board, or a committee of the Council.
    (3) A local board may not—
    (a) acquire, hold, or dispose of property; or
    (b) appoint, suspend, or remove employees.

    What would be a better way to word this? Perhaps they should be a “community board”?

    4) Section 13 of the bill outlines the functions, duties and powers of the local boards (it’s quite long so I won’t quote it here). What ways could that be improved to actually give the local boards more power?

    5) Then we have the Maori seats issue….

    I do think we need to be constructive here in improving this bill. It has some significant flaws in it – but if the government is true to its word and wants to hear the voices of Aucklanders on the issue we really need to start thinking about how it could be better.

  5. Zaphod Beeblebrox 5

    This is either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid. Is Auckland MP Melissa Lee going to front one of these meetings?
    The roles and powers (and size relative to the wards) are the key issue that needs to be cleared up. There are numerous logistical problems with having an unempowered but elected group who will be responsible for a lot of things over a large area. Keep asking.

  6. Bearhunter 6

    “Dr Lockwood Smith, 17 May, 4.00pm Stanmore Bay Leisure Centre Brightside Road, Whangaparaoa”

    That’s Rodney, not North Shore.

  7. randal 7

    you wanna listen to all the kneejerks on radio ritalin this morning (newstalkszb)
    the world is coming to and end because her majesty’s loyal opposition is demanding an accounting to make up for the fact there was no committee stage and no public consultation on this further example of stealing public assets and flogging them off to pals
    new zealand has once again descended into rabid right wing politics with the agenda hidden by incitement of the masses by the shallowest media in the western hemisphere

  8. Pascal's bookie 8

    “radio ritalin.”

    Gold

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    Courtesy of The Hand Mirror

    Where are they?

    Let’s break them down by existing TLA boundaries:

    * Rodney – 1 meeting
    * Waitakere City – 1 meeting
    * Auckland City – 8 meetings
    * Manukau City – 1 meeting
    * Franklin – 1 meeting

    North Shore City and Papakura? No mentions.

    • MikeG 9.1

      What about the Tamaki electorate? Peachy isn’t bothering to hold any meetings in his electorate.

  10. Pat 10

    Currently in parliament Labours amendments are going as follows:

    “The Auckland Council shall also be known as the Auckland Supercity Proposal until 28 July 2010”

    and then 27 July 2010 for the next one
    and 26 July 2010 for the next one

    and so on…

    I’m sure Labourites think this is all great fun. Personally I find such a blatant waste of taxpayers money abhorrent.

    Surely Labour risks facing a backlash in the media on this filibustering, and then they turn a positive week for them into a negative.

    • Maynard J 10.1

      If they can the urgency part, tell people what the proposal will cost and give some real details, or put on hold (maybe to one of the dates Labour suggest) until they can, Labour will drop it.

      I don’t think there will be a backlash given the support of their cause. If they do it to the budget or a popular Act then maybe.

    • lprent 10.2

      The point is that NACT hasn’t passed this bill through the usual parliamentary processes designed to modify or stop lousy legislation. They are putting through legislation that is designed to remove the ability of democratic institutions elected in 2007 from functioning in the role that they were elected for. Also NACT gave the bills out incredibly late.

      Labour is reminding them of where this type of behaviour leads. The quality of the amendments is directly related to the lateness of the release of the bills.

      Frankly Hide and Key should be ashamed of themselves for their behaviour over misusing urgency. I’m confident that they won’t want your viewpoint pushed too hard because it leads to question of why this is being done.

      The solution to not having this happen is simple. Let bills go to select committee. Don’t try bulldozing over the protections in parliament against the abuse by government against democracy.

      You note that this is being done completely within the rules of parliament? That is why those rules are there. This is the equivalent of a MAD strategy that is available to all oppositions, including NACT, who did use it periodically.

    • Anita 10.3

      I’m not a Labourite, and I’m not sure it’s “great fun” but I support filibustering as an acceptable way of protesting bad parliamentary procedure.

      FWIW I also supported National’s protest against the last Labour led government removing the quorum to cater for a state dinner and denying the house time for private members bills. The Nats, if my memory serves me, tabled each standing order in turn until Labour agreed to progress the private members bills (in the place of government bills).

  11. Pat 11

    Who disagrees on having one Council? As Jarbury has rightfully posted, the structure and powers of the new Council/Community Boards is the real issue.

    • lprent 11.1

      Few points.

      I personally agree with a single council. I’m also probably in a minority (and aware of it) on that point. Essentially the discussion that is required to bring that to a agreement inside Auckland hasn’t happened. However Rodney is pushing it as it it has and that it is a done deal. That is simply wrong.

      The legislation that has been put forward in the bill that is being ‘debated’ gives draconian powers to the transition board. Essentially they have veto on ANY decisions by my council. Quite simply they could veto the new footpath that has just been put in outside of my house, and I’d have zero recourse. They could stop fixing the potholes in roads for the next 18 months, and there is nothing that could be done about it. The bill is way of the top and simply too simplistic.

      After that there are a lot of issues to do with governance assuming that a single city goes forth. This bill doesn’t give time for those to happen because its time frame is too short. This all has to be done by the time local body election boundaries are set in April next year. Bearing in mind the thousands of submissions that will have to be considered, the bill is totally unrealistic on timeframe.

      None of these things have been considered yet. They haven’t even produced a bloody costing for their proposal, or for that matter for the council resources that the transition authority is going to pull from my rates to do the transition.

      It is completely lousy governance by NACT. Apart from anything else as a ratepayer, they are going to tax me an (unspecified) amount, to do (unspecified) things, while removing my representation to protest against this.

      Civil wars have been fought for less.

  12. Maynard J 12

    I confess I do not know the specifics of the first bill. I gather it curtails the powers of the currently elected counsellors, which strikes me as undemocratic. If they will not let anyone talk about it as is part of due democratic process, Labour should not make it easy for them.

    I gather a few weekends are disrupted. Maybe they will think twice about abusing urgency though they did this before at the start of their term too.

  13. lukas 13

    Anyone else find the smug look on Darren Hughes face rather weird as he spoke in Maori? And anyone else think this is just a blatant waste of time by the opposition?

    • felix 13.1

      It’s an act of protest against the misuse of urgency, lukas.

    • Anita 13.2

      I have this theory that Hughes’ greatest asset is his look of teenage smugness. It winds up his opponents until they behave badly and he brings out his angelic smile.

    • inpassing 13.3

      ta-soh lukas, for such an encouragingly blatant expression of support for use it or lose it..

  14. They’re up to April 8….. fascinating viewing 😉

    • Anita 14.1

      Who’s currently chair? It looks like a very grainy Rick Barker but I suspect that’s the graininess 🙂

      • lukas 14.1.1

        I feel sorry for the Clerk and the interpreter

        • Maynard J 14.1.1.1

          How much do they get paid? Better than data entry, and about as challenging 🙂

        • Anita 14.1.1.2

          There are some strong relationships with the interpreters. My hunch is that there’ll have been some conversations and Labour will stop voting in Māori if it causes personal difficulties for the interpreters.

          Actually Labour stopped voting in Māori for a while there (although it was Hipkins right through) so it seems likely they’d agreed to give the interpreter a break.

          Someone could confirm tho.

          • Maynard J 14.1.1.2.1

            I see what you mean – bit crap to keep them in all weekend!

          • Anita 14.1.1.2.2

            It doesn’t help all the other public servants who’re required to stay on tho. I have a vague memory of having to keep private secretaries available during urgency.

            BTW it’s National’s fault as much as Labour’s they could just stop at dinner time today and start again next week.

  15. Ooohhh… they’re up to 2nd March now. I wonder if they’ll skip the Xmas holidays?

  16. Anita 16

    Anyone else see Labour just help out the Māori Party? Very cool 🙂 Sometimes cross party stuff actually works, it gives me moments of hope.

    (First raising a point of order to make sure Katene had time to get to the House, then pointing out she’d voted the wrong way by following National’s lead. Gently done too)

  17. They were still going at 1am last night. And are back there today.

    I guess the politicians are earning their keep lately 🙂

  18. Felix 19

    If they are filibustering, why aren’t they talking slowly?

    • felix 19.1

      Hey another felix – are you the bizzaro felix?

      Why are they not talking slowly? I think they’ve been popping reds to do the long hours.

  19. Swampy 20

    How many people do you expect to turn up to these meetings? What percentage of the Auckland population will come out to express their views?

  20. Swampy 21

    Well then, if there are a lot of meaningful issues that need to be considered, why has Labour wasted so much time on completely frivolous amendments?

    Like a load of rubbish about paid parental leave when the legislation makes it perfectly clear that terms and conditions of employment are carried over. All the amendments trying to change the name, Labour Party speaker after speaker proposing new names for the Bill etc.

    Now, it is the fact that Labour has wasted so much time on completely frivolous amendments that shows, in reality, that their interest is in keeping this in the public spotlight. It’s the 2010 Auckland Council election campaign opening, and of course Mt Albert.

    • Anita 21.1

      Swampy,

      Parental leave is not a term and condition of employment. It is a statutory entitlement based on continuous employment. Transferring staff from the old structure to the new one will make their employment discontinuous and no mother or father will be entitled to parental leave for six months after the cut over, and their entitlement will be reduced (if not removed) for the six months after that.

      You might find this handy table useful.

  21. Hoolian 22

    Woah? Is anyone else overwhelmed with the total hypocrisy here?

    However Rodney and NACT have been doing everything in their power to avoid debate on the super-city.

    That’s blatantly untrue – there are two bills going through the select committee. Select committees are full of “debate”, so that completely negates that severe untruth. This bill (which has passed incidentally) was merely the creation of the Super City – which Labour supports!

    The point is that NACT hasn’t passed this bill through the usual parliamentary processes designed to modify or stop lousy legislation. They are putting through legislation that is designed to remove the ability of democratic institutions elected in 2007 from functioning in the role that they were elected for. Also NACT gave the bills out incredibly late.

    Um, anyone remember the debate over a bill validating political parties’ election overspend? Hmm, that was done under urgency. Oh and it was lousy.

    Or the ETS? That piece of legislation which was cited as one of the most complicated pieces of law in NZ? Hmm, that was passed under urgency also – with 785 amendments if I recall properly. Also lousy.

    And remember how the Labour-led government put Parliament into urgency so it can pass 13 bills through their remaining stages before the election last year? Definitely lousy.

    So where were your outcries then?

    Bah, this site spends too much of its time defending the indefensible. You have undermined your own argument.

    • r0b 22.1

      That’s blatantly untrue – there are two bills going through the select committee. Select committees are full of “debate’, so that completely negates that severe untruth.

      Rodney Hide has already made it clear that this process will be a sham Hoolian. It’s all been decided and they won’t listen:

      But Mr Hide made it clear those who opposed the plans for the Super City and how it was being structured should prepare to be disappointed.

      Also:

      Auckland Mayor John Banks said Mr Hide was prepared to listen to everyone who had something sound and sensible to add to the debate. “The structure of the proposition won’t change. What will happen now is we’re going to get a coalition of agreement on how we should build more democracy into those community boards.

      Mmmm yes, community boards with no powers. Very democratic. The structure won’t change. No consultation on the powers of the mayor, the local councils, the social issues board – all decided by Rodney and John without consultaiton of any kind – in fact with the opposite of consultation when they threw away the Royal Commission.

      Um, anyone remember the debate over a bill validating political parties’ election overspend? Hmm, that was done under urgency. Oh and it was lousy.

      Oh, and following the advice of Treasury to do so it was supported by all parties in parliament except National and Act (who also overspent).

      And remember how the Labour-led government put Parliament into urgency so it can pass 13 bills through their remaining stages before the election last year? Definitely lousy.

      All governments use urgency on occasion. Only National has so abused the process as to earn a stern rebuke even from their fans at The Herald, which wrote of National’s tactics in its first 100 days:

      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. But the public was denied the opportunity to even see the legislation, because the Nats were producing for debate law that had not been completely drafted and officially tabled and therefore, under Parliament’s rules, cannot be formally published.

      Extraordinarily, it was left to the Greens to scan paper copies and, in a samizdat-style operation reminiscent of the gulag-era Soviet Union, publish them on its own website. 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.

      Sure enough, they’re still at it. “Cause for concern” indeed.

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