Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Unbridled power

It seems we have another neo-liberal experiment about to happen in Christchurch, joining Auckland as a guinea pig but with a larger knife. Dean Knight has bothered to read the legislation being crammed through parliament at near light speed, and he's not a happy chappy:
The Bill contains a massive Henry VIII's clause, allowing the Minister to re-write any legislation that is "reasonably necessary or expedient for the purpose of the Act". The power to direct the Governor-General to issue an Order-in-Council to "grant an exemption from, or modify, or extend any provision of any enactment" (including 22 specifically listed enactments - but thankfully not the Bill of Rights 1688, the Constitution Act 1986, the Electoral Act 1993, the Judicature Amendment Act 1972, or the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990). That's incredible power!
This has set off the notoriously precise Graeme Edgeler, who has pulled out the big guns:
Section 6(3) states:
The recommendation of the relevant Minister may not be challenged, reviewed, quashed, or called into question in any court.
I'm pretty sure the courts would tell them to stuff off anyway, but that's not really the point - they shouldn't be trying to do this anyway.

I have often wondered what it would take for me to swear off a political party forever. It would be a very rare circumstance. Plenty of things would stop me voting for a party. I wouldn't support a party that intended to reintroduce the death penalty, for example, but swearing off a party forever is quite drastic.

It is a terrible and permanent thing to swear off a party, to eliminate a choice forever more. I've only cursed one party with that distinction; not Alliance (unworthy) nor Labour, but Act.

What began as misgivings in the mid 1990's turned to confusion when Owen Jennings ran for the Taranaki-King Country by-election. Apathy spanned the Donna years, replaced with vague hope when Richard Prebble stood down and it was either Rodney or Stephen Franks. Not long after Dancing with the Stars, that hope reverted back to apathy. Then, another glimmer of hope when Roger Douglas rejoined the anarchy. And then John Boscawen and David Garrett happened along, and then there was Lindsay Mitchell's mana abuse, and the bad fish n chip brigade stunt. And then the front fell off. Forever.

I can understand a bit why National are slamming through bits and pieces of dogma under urgency. They've got their 2008 election bribes to slam into place; the MMP referendum, DNA testing for all arrestees, three strikes. But it seems as if they're getting a bit too keen on the rush of power.

Ever since the introduction of select committees in the 1980's, I have kept an eye on the ever-increasing propensity for Order in Council motions. And this is the biggest bastard of them all. Order in Council powers to do anything short of declaring war on Antarctica. This is the executive picking winners like a horse race, and it's on the taxpayers' card.

Poor bloody Christchurch. They won't feel a thing. They won't even see it coming.