Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Coalition of Losers

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  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Is an UH the best way to enforce serious contemplation/consultation by Parliament? Just seems kind of roundabout way of getting that to me.

    I was in Oz when there was a threat of a double dissolution. Wish I had taken more interest in the why's and wherefore's at the time but from memory it didn't strike me as being a terribly good way to run government nor that such a situation (double dissolution) would logically happen only once in a blue moon.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    What happens if people interpret that as a 5 way choice?

    Say MMP has 45% of preference, 20% want FPP, 15% PV, 15% STV and 5% SM (just for instance). (and MMP supporters who answer the second question split 19%/14%/14%/3%).

    Then that'll be 45% for MMP and 55% for another system, so it'll go to "another system" and FPP will win, even though it got 20% of support.

    That seems like an unfair voting system to start with. If you don't vote MMP on Part A, you're effectively choosing whatever system wins in part B.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4413 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    What happens if people interpret that as a 5 way choice?

    Say MMP has 45% of preference, 20% want FPP, 15% PV, 15% STV and 5% SM (just for instance). (and MMP supporters who answer the second question split 19%/14%/14%/3%).

    Then that’ll be 45% for MMP and 55% for another system, so it’ll go to “another system” and FPP will win, even though it got 20% of support.

    That seems like an unfair voting system to start with. If you don’t vote MMP on Part A, you’re effectively choosing whatever system wins in part B.

    You're really not.

    If MMP loses the vote in the first question, then there will be second referendum in 2014 which runs the current MMP system against a fully fleshed out system of whatever wins the second question (e.g. if we know that the second system in STV, we'll know how many electorates of what sizes there will be etc.).

    Most people will vote in both questions. This is what happened in the effectively identical referendum in 1992. I note for a start that the numbers for the second question add up to 105%, but if that's how the numbers played out, then there would be a second referendum in 2014 which would run the current MMP system vs. FPP. Whichever of those gets more than 50% would be our voting system.

    This is a non-binding referendum. If MMP loses the first question, we do not automatically adopt whatever tops the second question.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2991 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    I was in Oz when there was a threat of a double dissolution. Wish I had taken more interest in the why’s and wherefore’s at the time but from memory it didn’t strike me as being a terribly good way to run government nor that such a situation (double dissolution) would logically happen only once in a blue moon.

    A double dissolution, which places all of the senate seats up for grabs in the election (rather than half) is a bit of a risk for the Government. Because the Senate is elected in State by state under STV, putting all the seats up for election at once makes it much easier for a smaller party to be elected.

    Each state gets 12 senators, so at an ordinary election, electing half the senate, ~14.3% of the vote within a state is needed to get a seat. With a double dissolution only ~7.7% of the vote is needed to get a seat.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2991 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    The Aussies seem to be doing OK with their bicameral system.

    Gough Whitlam would disagree; I also don't think that the Australians have a generally higher quality of law than we do. Obviously this isn't something you can test objectively. In general upper houses seem very civics, and not particularly useful.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1316 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    I was in Oz when there was a threat of a double dissolution. Wish I had taken more interest in the why’s and wherefore’s at the time but from memory it didn’t strike me as being a terribly good way to run government

    Which is a nice segue back onto one of my hobby horses, fixing the election date. Muldoon's infamous game of chicken in 1984 (or Clark's own strained justification for a snap election in 2002) doesn't strike me as very sound either.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11857 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    "Doesn't give my opponents much time either.... (hic)"

    A memorable piece of political history.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    In general upper houses seem very civics, and not particularly useful.

    Yes, unless they're all legal experts, I can't see them driving quality into our laws. They're more likely to just slow things down that are against their own agenda. Which is sometimes good, sometimes not.

    I've got a similar view of constitutions. They set up an authority (usually judges) who stand over the legislature and slow change down that they don't like. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. They're not magic things that make the system automatically better.

    While a slower moving system is less inclined to radical bad changes, it's also less inclined to radical good changes. Our system is unusually fast, and changes can be "rammed through". But that does have the nice benefit that it is actually possible for a party to honor it's electoral promises, something that can be incredibly difficult when the system is so inherently conservative that no big change is really possible. Then you start getting government by a system rather than by representatives, and you place massive power into the hands of bureaucrats.

    American foreign policy leaps to my mind. It seems like Presidents don't really have as much control over it as existing policy documents and the people who administer them do. It sounds like day one of a new Presidency involves being schooled that everything you promised is not really possible. Not because of some unexpected crisis, as in the case of when Lange took power here, but rather just because there's a powerful narrative about America's grand plans which transcend any President.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I never knew that Geoffrey Palmer was known as “Piggy”. Learn something new …. etc.

    (I’m pretty sure it’s a line from “Unbridled Power”, but am open to a reference.)

    Speaking of learning something new. I'd heard the line as attributed to Muldoon, not to Palmer, but the all-knowing Google informs me that it is indeed from Unbridled Power.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    While a slower moving system is less inclined to radical bad changes, it’s also less inclined to radical good changes.

    In NZ's case, most of what's been radical has been of very, very arguable benefit, especially when it's been shoved through under urgency.

    I guess my biggest concern with how things are run here is that governments can (and do) misuse urgency to avoid public consultation. I have no real objection to budgets being passed under urgency, but the current lot in particular have used urgency for any number of things that ought properly to have been subjected to public consultation and debate. In the absence of a law (easily repealed under urgency!) to restrict the use of urgency, an upper house is the best option I can see for enforcing unavoidable consultation requirements.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    A law restricting urgency sounds (ironically) far less radical than an upper house.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    We've had an upper house before, however. And urgency is not actually a statutory concept, just a procedural one. Parliament doesn't like telling itself how to behave in legislation.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    In the absence of a law (easily repealed under urgency!) to restrict the use of urgency

    It's difficult to legislate against immoral leadership. Yet another prime example from the current lot are revelations of Ministerial interference in DoC renewing grazing permits to pollute Lake Ellesmere - without consulting the co-managing iwi. But then, rules are for other people, eh.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16444 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    And urgency is not actually a statutory concept, just a procedural one.

    Sure, but procedures can be changed. In the case of urgency, they definitely need to be.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to BenWilson,

    Sure, but procedures can be changed. In the case of urgency, they definitely need to be.

    As is customary, at this stage in the parliamentary cycle the Standing Orders Committee is currently reviewing the Standing Orders in order to make recommendations to be adopted for the next term. I am confident that urgency will be a matter of particular importance to them in this round.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2991 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sacha,

    without consulting the co-managing iwi

    Separate story in the Press about that, complete with cutesy quote marks.

    Official documents, released to The Press, reveal that Ngai Tahu contacted DOC in September to ask why it was not consulted.

    DOC staff replied "no concession had been processed or issued" and Clark's application would be sent to the tribe for comment.

    Green Party co-leader Russel Norman last week said the Government "lied" to Ngai Tahu by suggesting the decision had not been made.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16444 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    As is customary, at this stage in the parliamentary cycle the Standing Orders Committee is currently reviewing the Standing Orders in order to make recommendations to be adopted for the next term. I am confident that urgency will be a matter of particular importance to them in this round.

    Is membership of the SOC based around number of MPs a party has or the party's presence in Parliament? If it's an MP per party then something might actually happen, but if it's based on the number of MPs per party then National and Act will overrule anything that might impede their ability to ignore the proletariat in the coming term. They think abuse of urgency is just gravy.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Is membership of the SOC based around number of MPs a party has or the party’s presence in Parliament?

    Each Party (even United Future and the Progressives) is represented by one member. Labour and National by two. And the Speaker chairs. It generally makes decisions by consensus, or close to it. It make recommendations that are adopted by vote in the House (always unanimous) that apply to the next term, when the power balance may differ. This at least encourages parties not to grab for power (cf. the US House of Representatives, where the majority re-writes the rule-book as the first act after swearing-in).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2991 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    In NZ’s case, most of what’s been radical has been of very, very arguable benefit, especially when it’s been shoved through under urgency.

    The First Labour Government made a whole bunch of radical changes that have been of huge benefit to the country.

    I can see no evidence that Upper Houses improve the quality of law; instead, generally, they allow a different group (or groups) a veto point.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1316 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I never knew that Geoffrey Palmer was known as “Piggy”. Learn something new …. etc.

    Um. Late to this, and may be missing the point, but "Piggy" was Muldoon.
    ETA: Ah, I see further on that it's the line not the person. As you were.

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    In the absence of a law (easily repealed under urgency!) to restrict the use of urgency, an upper house is the best option I can see for enforcing unavoidable consultation requirements.

    I'm somewhat dubious. It would only have that effect if it's makeup wasn't dominated by the same party/ies that dominates the house. The US seems to get things through both when they suddenly need to invade anywhere pretty quick.

    I'd much rather the ability of the government to use urgency was much more restricted. The changes to our education system that National rushed through without select committee hearings really stand out from the current term. That should not be allowed to happen.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6157 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    That should not be allowed to happen.

    Yep. Was there any rationale that went with the use of urgency there?

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1131 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    The changes to our education system that National rushed through without select committee hearings really stand out from the current term. That should not be allowed to happen.

    Or the way the Electoral Act was fucked around with under extreme urgency, for no other reason than because nobody wanted a by-election in New Plymouth.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11857 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    We do effectively have an upper house. It's called the Business Roundtable.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4141 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Or the way the Electoral Act was fucked around with under extreme urgency, for no other reason than because nobody wanted a by-election in New Plymouth.

    I could see an argument for a movement into urgency requiring a higher proportion of votes, which would mean that in order to do it you'd basically need a significant sized party on the other side to agree. 60% or something.

    There would probably need to be exceptions which someone who has more of an eye on parliament would raise. I could imagine that some tax or commercial changes need to happen instantly or people will take financial advantage of them in between them being announced and passed.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6157 posts Report Reply

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