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Yet more abuse of Urgency

Written By: - Date published: 8:17 am, June 26th, 2010 - 20 comments
Categories: accountability, democracy under attack, democratic participation, local body elections, Parliament, police - Tags:

This week, the Government slammed through the Policing (Involvement in Local Authority Elections) Amendment Bill. It lets Police stand for local elections under the same rules as other public servants.

Is it a good idea? On the one hand, people should be allowed to stand in elections as a basic tenant of our democracy. On the other, the Police are the sharp end of executive government and the concept of separation of powers says we should keep the executive divided from the legislative – otherwise you have the same people making the rules as enforcing them.

It’s an issue that deserves to be debated. Instead, it was rushed through by this government in yet another shameful act of disregard for transparent government and active democracy. Hell, why don’t we just make John Key king for three years if they’re going to treat the process and public input into legislation with such disdain?

Even David Farrar, who is smelling the sweet air of freedom in Labor-ruled Australia, agrees:

“urgency sometimes is used to avoid a bill going to a select committee, and to pass it into law within a day or two. This is a necessary power for bills that are genuinely urgent. Common use is excise tax changes and sometimes in the early days of a new Government it is justified so some policies can be implemented immediately.

I do not believe there was a good justification for the bill to bypass the select committee stage. It doesn’t matter that it was inevitable it would be passed anyway as both National and Labour supported it. We, the public, were robbed of the chance to submit on it. The select committees are our voice.

Without an upper or second house, they are even more important. Bypassing them should happen as rarely as possible.

Some may argue it had to be passed in time for the local body elections. I agree, but it could have been introduced to Parliament earlier, or the Select Committee could have been given a shorter than normal (six months normally) period to report back.”

Yup. But, David, you know why they didn’t give the public our chance to have a say – they don’t give a damn.

20 comments on “Yet more abuse of Urgency ”

  1. Bored 1

    Police standing for local authorities has not been an issue as long as I can remember, Whats so bloody urgent now. Who, where ,why?

    • Tigger 1.1

      Yes, and look at the outcry from the MSM…they’ve been covering this story day and night with all the passion they showed when chasing Chris Carter down the halls of Parliament. They won’t rest until this attack on democracy is crushed!!!!

  2. Dave 2

    Perhaps Clint Rickards is to be the supermayor? actually wait, thats not even funny 🙂

  3. RedLogix 3

    Separation of powers is a vital bedrock principle that should in this instance have taken precedence of Police personel’s right to stand for election.

    Police, especially senior officers, are individuals with entrusted with considerable powers of discretion around what investigations to prioritise, what evidence they uncover…and most potently…what charges to lay.

    In a relatively small provincial communities it’s not too hard at all to dream up quite plausible scenarios where a senior police officer serving on a local body leverages this power, or even the threat of this power, to his or her own advantage.

  4. randal 4

    the fundamental characteristic of this government is the desire to bully others.

  5. Benjamin B. 5

    Labour supports this? Are there any sources for that?

  6. BLiP 6

    democracy noun (pl. -ies) [mass noun]

    thing, or circumstance causing inconvenience or annoyance: an unreasonable requirement following election victory

    (BLiP Shorter, Revised Edition, November 2008)

  7. Jenny 7

    Should we be surprised when the present Commissioner of Police, Howard Broad is arguably the most political policeman to have ever held this post.

    From the very start he has been lobbying for numerous extraordinary powers for police, and has mostly got what he asked for from compliant politicians.

    The list of his achievements in office reads like a horror list of right wing repressive measures, from the illegal detention of anti-racist protesters, protesting the inclusion of an Israeli tennis player in opposition to an international sporting and cultural boycott against this apartheid state.

    To the paranoid anti-terror raids launched against Tuhoe and various leftists.

    To the recent scandal over the profiling of Maori youth with the illegal taking of DNA samples, which Broad has refused to deny or admit.

    Howard Broad spends a good part of his time in Washinton D.C. (at the taxpayers expense), and is a committed War On Terror hawk.

    His extreme right wing political views were first on show during the 1981 springbok tour, when he got an early reputation as being heavy with the baton with anti-racist protesters and when during the height of the protests Broad going against the official police line of impartiality, hosted a party for supporters of racist rugby.

    Recently this extremist, has announced his intention to seek a further term in his role at the top of the police force. A move that all democrats should oppose.

    • Rex Widerstrom 7.1

      Is Police Commissioner one of the roles on which the Opposition are customarily consulted? Should we be giving them a prod? And if they are, and if we did, and if they demurred, would that effectively veto it?

  8. Santi 8

    Both parties are to blame for abusing urgency. Wasn’t Labour which used urgency, including Duynhoven’s “misstake” and the despised Electoral Reform Act?

    Sad to see you complaining when the shoe is in the other foot.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      Urgency is there for a reason and Labour did use it but they never, IIRC, abused it. NACT have abused it since they got into office. They haven’t once had a valid reason to go into urgency.

    • Ari 8.2

      “They did it too” is not exactly relevant here, especially given the incredibly disproportionate use of urgency by the current government- they set the record for the use of urgency in their first full year of governing. The current National Government has also used urgency to skip past the select committee process for more bills than ever before.

  9. prism 9

    Not a good look. Police involved in politics local or otherwise is not something I approve of. Getting too close to USA with political winners choosing their own service people. Police are hard enough to keep on the straight and narrow now.

  10. prism 10

    It looks like the policies allowing for urgency need to be discussed by the electorate with the Law Commission or someone. We need to get better rules for our parliament.
    captcha – engineers – the pollies certainly know how to engineer their agendas.

  11. WOOF 11

    They are cocking their legs all over democracy in this country!

  12. equality watcher 12

    Has everyone been asleep?

    On the 9th November 2008 New Zealand became a fascist authoritarian state, complete with removing a lovely man (who was gay) from the Good Morning show and replacing him with mr macho, flooding television with macho war films all geared to get the male blood up ready for the next manipulated war and all the police powers being beefed up by Volkner to keep the citizenry rabble under control. Of course you’d want a police party if you were a NAct government.

  13. I laugh at this use of ‘urgency’. Before National came to power Paula Bennett went on and on and on in her video diary about Labour’s use of ‘urgency’ just before the election and how wrong it was and an abuse of power. Now the Nat government is using ‘urgency’ as an almost weekly tool to get questionable laws through Parliament.

  14. Rob 14

    It is somewhat laughable to me to say we have separation of powers when our executive heads are entirely members of parliament. Separation of powers is an ineffective way to govern. What we really want is for any person in an important decision to refrain from making decisions due to bias. This does not mean excluding people who happen to fall into two positions. It means having adequate systems to declare conflicts of interest.

    Police officers have a unique view of how society works which is under represented by not allowing them to stand. The enactment of bi-laws relating to policing are not going to come up that often and the likelihood is there will be a max of 3-4 police staff on any local council so they are hardly going to be pushing changes through merely giving an additional view. I see no reason why they should not be allowed to stand.

    On the other hand this use of urgency was completely unacceptable. This bill should have gone to select committee for people views on it to be aired and to make sure there were no issues that had not been though of with passing this law. Urgency should only be used in this way to pass technical amendments which don’t need a select committee or that require secrecy to have the desired effect e.g. tax changes. Or finally it is not possible to wait.

    This bill was none of these. yes police staff would miss the next election if this went to select committee but we have done without for the last few decade there is no reason we cannot wait 3 more years when there were no clear candidates in advance of the bill passing who wished to run. It sucks but you do have to wait for the procedures of parliament every time if you want a corruption free government.

  15. The reason this bill as others were pushed through under urgency was because they don’t want the people having a choice.

    This is the National Government here, they want to set up a system where they get the benefits and they can’t do that if they give the people a choice.

    If you are a worker you are there to keep the country working and to give shareholders their divedends other than that these guys are not even interested in the worker.

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