There are an interesting couple of posts over at Red Alert about an editorial in the Dominion Post yesterday. Grant Robertson describes it as a bitter diatribe. Trevor Mallard thinks it is a bit over the top. I think that the editor who wrote it is an authoritarian git who really needs to consider why we have due process, and what the consequences are if you don’t follow it.
I’m not even going to bother with the subject of the act concerned. In fact I’m going to remove all references to it in this post (read the links). It is the salient fact that the politically illiterate editor at the DomPost forgot to put into his editorial that is of interest to me.
The process of this act was that it was:-
Now the DomPost editorial says
Just who is in charge of our public (sector) system?
Is it (the minister) in a Government overwhelmingly voted into office last November? Or (the affected)? The answer should be (the minister).
Wrong. This pathetic excuse for an editorial managed to miss the key fact about the act entirely. They did not mention the process by which this bill was passed into law. Their rationale is that the government won an election so might makes right. Duh… where have they been for the last couple of centuries? Living in a dictatorship?
There is a phrase that describes this exceptionally ignorant attitude – tyranny of the majority. It is the single biggest flaw in democratic systems. Typically democracies have systems that ameliorate the effect and to provide limits to the powers of parliament.
In fact it isn’t even a majority. Virtually every democratic government is elected by a minority of possible voters and usually a minority of people who voted. This includes our current one. So in fact democratically elected governments usually lead with authority of a minority and the reluctant acquiescence of the majority.
In New Zealand, a large part of fix for this flaw of democracy is the select committee process. People and groups with an interest and opinion on the subject are able to put their views and suggestions to a group of parliamentarians. The purpose of this process is to allow for amendments to get around problems that the bill drafters did not have enough experience in an area to perceive. It also means that people and groups affected have had a chance to affect the process and therefore to feel more comfortable with whatever the eventual result is – even if they do not agree with it.
In this case a newly elected and inexperienced minister of an incoming government chose to bypass the limits on parliamentary power on this bill, along with the other ones passed early in the term of this government. Parliamentarians in government must at least listen to opinions contrary to their own or they will face consequences of various forms of civil disobedience. You can be sure that there will be more of this on the bills passed bypassing the select committee process.
So to answer the DomPost editorial question above.
The responsibility for opposition to a stupid law lies with a minister (Anne Tolley). Her inept handling of the process of the bill will now cause her to have to deal with the inevitable consequences. The select committee process is there for a reason. By choosing to bypass it, she also chose to deal with the consequences.
Whoever the git is who wrote the editorial at the DomPost should piss off back to the 19th century or its modern local equivalent – the sewer. There the same authoritarian wingnut views run rife. However they have little relevance in a modern democracy.