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The first diktats

Written By: - Date published: 8:07 am, September 21st, 2010 - 26 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, housing, local government, transport - Tags: , ,

On Thursday, our new dictator Gerry Brownlee decreed by Order in Council that the following Acts of Parliament were amended: the Building Act, the Local Government Act, the Resource Management Act, various pieces of transport legislation, and the Civil Defence Act (the Social Security Regulations were also amended by ordinary ministerial powers and an Order in Council activating emergency provisions in the Taxation Administration Act was promulgated).

Most laws and regulations a government (even a bad government) implements are pretty non-contentious and so it is with most of these diktats. There’s the minutiae of government, like ensuring people who get earthquake donations aren’t chased for tax on the income (you can imagine the journos jumping on a story like that).

But there’s some other stuff that’s not so innocuous.

The powers granted to agents of the State like Police under the Civil Defence Act during a state of emergency have been extended. These extraordinary powers (like the power to “to examine, mark, seize, sample, secure, disinfect, or destroy any property, animal, or any other thing”) and additional offences remain in place even though the state of emergency is now lifted.

I understand that during an emergency these powers may be necessary but only during an emergency. If the state of emergency is over, State agents should not be allowed to hang on to these extended powers. If the situation is such that those powers are still legitimately needed then the state of emergency should remain in place – that’s what it’s for.

The amendments to the Local Government Act remove (amongst other things) requirements for good decision-making by the Canterbury councils. They are “in the course of the decision-making process,— (a) seek to identify all reasonably practicable options for the achievement of the objective of a decision; and (b) assess those options by considering— (i) the benefits and costs of each option in terms of the present and future social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of the district or region”

So councils are now free to govern by guesswork and without considering the consequences. This is supposedly meant to speed things up. But if these requirements aren’t necessary why do we have them at all?

The fact is that council decisions should always be made in light of “the benefits and costs of each option in terms of the present and future social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being”. In the rebuilding after a disaster, which can be a time of opportunity, a chance to forge a new path, it is even more important that these issues are taken into account.

Then there’s the amendments to the transport legislation. These allow overweight and over-dimension trucks to drive anywhere in the country as long as they have the permission of one of the Canterbury councils and it can be said to be in some way related to the earthquake.

There will be 122 sets of crossed fingers in Parliament hoping that an overloaded truck of wine going to a warehouse in Christchurch, or something equally banal, doesn’t crash and kill someone thanks to this law. After all, we have weight and dimension restrictions for good reason and I see no sound rationale as to why they need to be relaxed.

If anything does go wrong, we’ll know who to blame – the people who made Brownlee dictator.

26 comments on “The first diktats”

  1. jbanks 1

    On Thursday, our new dictator Gerry Brownlee decreed by Order in Council that the following Acts of Parliament were amended: the Building Act, the Local Government Act, the Resource Management Act, various pieces of transport legislation, and the Civil Defence Act

    Noooooooooo! Dam you evil dictator!

    • Marty G 1.1

      eddie. you know more than three lines is too much for jbanks to process.

    • prism 1.2

      I think jbanks you see this blog as a type of net game. As it is actually about real life not even Second Life., I wonder if you will ever be able to put in some useful individual insight and ideas.

  2. Bunji 2

    The very first order was the one allowing oversize trucks, thus getting National’s proposed oversize truck trial for “free”. As you say, they’ll be hoping there’s no bridge collapses under the weight…

    The police powers are a bit scary. This government really does have some authoritarian tendencies. Goes well with their anti-democratic ones I s’pose…

    • Kevin Welsh 2.1

      As you say, they’ll be hoping there’s no bridge collapses under the weight…

      …causing death.

      • Armchair Critic 2.1.1

        That’s probably being a bit melodramatic. It is possible that a catastrophic failure could occur, but it is quite unlikely. A catastrophic failure causing death is even less likely. Bridges generally are designed to fail by the steel yielding. They retain some their structural integrity, enough to be walked on and maybe driven on by a car, if the steel does yield. Also, they are designed with factors of safety, and many smaller bridges may not get the full weight of the truck, due to the length of the truck.
        What I’m sure will happen is extra wear and tear on bridges, and maybe some partial failures. These will only be picked up by bridge inspections, which will probably happen some time (months or years) after the failure occurs. For political expedience, many can be written off as earthquake damage, too. The result will be the necessity to bring forward expenditure on bridge replacements, which will actually be quite costly.

  3. Tigger 3

    Ctually I’ll blame the dictator and the govt for the misuse of power. Any slamming of labour and the greens on this issue has no future.

    • Armchair Critic 3.1

      Any slamming of labour and the greens on this issue has no future.
      Maybe, but by voting for the legislation they reduced their ability to criticise effectively. National can always say “but you voted for it”.
      What it means is it is up to others outside parliament (that’s “us”) to become more directly involved in politics, and to provide opposition to our dictator misusing his powers.

  4. Bored 4

    It will be informative to watch out for the first “water rights” allocations and conditions. Any excuse will be used.

  5. D14 5

    How does the ordinary person now know what the law says?
    Where is it published.?
    How long before scam artists turn up to to examine, and , seize, property?

  6. comedy 6

    Truly he is emperor palpatine

    do do do do de do do de do

    • Blighty 6.1

      false dichotomy. it’s not a matter of ‘either he’s pure evil or everything he does is fine’.

      Abuses of power will be subtle.

      this is exactly the kind of overreach and favours for mates that we have been warned about.

    • bbfloyd 6.2

      Comedy…catchy tune. can you write out the arrangement for me? i’ll put it on my next album.

      i’ll use it as my theme song when i take your job as nat apologist.

    • Oscar 6.3

      Brownlees too thick to be Palpatine.

      English – Palpatine
      Brownlee – Darth Maul
      Key – Jarjar Binks

      • comedy 6.3.1

        Indeed he’d make a fine Hutt though…… I suspect there are several Hutts posing as humans in parliament !

  7. Doesn’t it strike anyone as exceptional that two weeks after the quake, a couple of days after the appointment of Brownlee as the dictator in chief a whole slew of laws has been changed in a detailed fashion and published in proper unreadable legalese?

    I mean not that any government would conspire against it’s own population of course and most certainly not those stupid New Zealand backwater politicians but you know it’s all go isn’t it?

  8. Carol 8

    Here’s a reference to the comments I heard made by John Key on Morning Report this morning:
    http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/newsdetail1.asp?storyid=182694

    Prime Minister John Key has hinted that the legislation aimed at driving Canterbury’s earthquake recovery could be wound up early

    Hints from the Prime Minister that the legislation aimed at driving Canterbury’s earthquake recovery may be wound up early.

    There’s been criticism in some quarters that the legislation gives the Government too much power without proper public oversight.

    John Key says as things stand, the wide-ranging law is needed and will run for 18 months.

    He says that period of time may be shortened, or the reach of the law narrowed, if its felt it’s no longer needed.

    Surely it opens the door to immediate challenges to narrow the reaches of the law NOW, in areas where they are not needed?

  9. Bobby Stingray 9

    I always thought Jerry Brownlee was more like Jabba the Hutt!

    Darth Maul is far too agile and cunning. Bill English is obviously Darth Vader, standing next to his lord and master Emperor Key; crushing the bill of rights in his hand and force choking a homeless woman.
    Winston Peters is also Boba Fett defending the old wealth by hunting anarchists with his jetpack and wrist rockets.

    Why must we have so many Star Wars cliches in Parliament?!?!?

    Power hungry scumbags nonetheless.

    • bbfloyd 9.1

      he looks and sounds more like oliver hardy. and he sits behind his famous sidekick stan laurel. that’s the one with the goofy grin.

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