Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: He is Henry the Eighth, he is

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Is s.6(3) really a privative clause that purports to exclude the courts from examining the lawfulness of an Order in Council?

    No it isn't. The very existence of cl 7(5) implies that Parliament intends that the Orders-in-Council made under this legislation will be able to be held invalid for some reasons. That doesn't mean it isn't dodgy, however.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Ugh. This is one reason why I'm increasingly desirous of an entrenched constitution. Sure we might be able to trust the current lot, but if it is this easy to pass something of this import, well I guess I can see how a strong executive can subvert parliament

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1019 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Are you for Christchurch or are you against Christchurch.

    Where have I heard something similar?

    We ain't patriots huh?

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1588 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    Has anyone seen the film "Draquila"? This is scarily reminiscent of Italy's use of emergencies to justify unconstitutional acts. In that context, this Bill seems not only Draconian, but Berlusconian.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    You don't need to be paranoid about Gerry Brownlee's secret Idi Amin fantasies...

    You clearly haven't seen this morning's order in council, or you would call him by his correct title - Field Marshal Gerry Brownlee, V.C.

    More to the point this legislation is a direct demonstration - yet again - of the dangers of the instinctive authoritarianism of our entitled and entrenched political elites.

    The sooner we bring in limits on the pay and tenure of our elected representatives the better.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2210 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Also, note that my promise began "If anything even remotely dodgy is done under this law...", I can also hope that nothing does.

    You think you'll be allowed to vote in Gitmo, you terrorist troublemaker?

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2210 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    OK, do I believe for a moment that Jerry Brownlee and Trevor Mallard are in the Beehive basement with a can of petrol as we speak?

    No, I don't. But you don't have to double Godwin yourself to think this is the worse possible occasion for Parliament to legislate in haste (and there's nothing more hasty than extreme urgency), and make the rest of us repent at leisure.

    If anything, it exposes a certain intellectual and philosophical vacuity at the heart of both Labour and National. Whether you're on the right or the left, I'd prefer our politicians to have an understanding -- and respect for -- the rule of law in the base code of their political DNA.

    Nobody (including Idiot Savant) is suggesting that certain emergency powers were out of order here. But we put chains on state power for a reason: No because we think politicians, the judiciary and Police are evil. But because we know that they're HUMAN, and there is a profound truth in the saw that absolute power corrupts absolutely. It only took four thousand years to get this far, and I'm disinclined to start walking backwards.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    OK, do I believe for a moment that Jerry Brownlee and Trevor Mallard are in the Beehive basement with a can of petrol as we speak?

    But "believe" is not a basis for good democracy. Especially when you have as supercilious fool as Gerry Brownlee in charge. I don't actually think much will come of this; all sorts of winking & nodding - the usual Tory old boys corruption that greases the wheels of business in New Zealand - will be safely done behind closed doors, and much will be done to ensure all the "right" people and families will make money from the rebuilding of Christchurch.

    But like I said, it is most alarming how quickly our self-serving political elites toss democracy out the window when it suits their purpose, and something done once can quickly become something done habitually.

    The answer is to clean out our entire, rotten, political class and get representatives that are not all just arrogant insiders and authoritarian careerists.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2210 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The sooner we bring in limits on the pay and tenure of our elected representatives the better.

    I think the current limits on their tenure are called elections.

    The immediate reactions about changing the crimes act etc, they're not the likely thing. Apart from anything else they'd be electoral suicide.

    It's the fringe things that could be done. Canterbury needs to get back on its feet again - let's approve those dairy farms. Building codes smilding codes?

    Democracy wouldn't die by having its head cut off, it'll slowly wither by a hundred small cuts. Each one the media can look at and say "government is pushing the limits" but never completely call them out on.

    I would have liked to have seen the Greens vote against. To me they've always done well for taking principled stands, and this one looks to me like a winner in the long term. They might get burnt a little now, but come election time it would look like a reason to vote for them.

    Plus on a principles vs pragmatism sliding scale, this one seems to fall on the principles side.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But "believe" is not a basis for good democracy. Especially when you have as supercilious fool as Gerry Brownlee in charge.

    Keep reading, Tom. :) I think I'd rather know our politicians can't be evil, instead of trusting they won't.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • John Fouhy,

    You clearly haven't seen this morning's order in council, or you would call him by his correct title - Field Marshal Gerry Brownlee, V.C.

    Well, I certainly haven't seen it. What was it?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    This is scarily reminiscent of Italy's use of emergencies to justify unconstitutional acts. In that context, this Bill seems not only Draconian, but Berlusconian.

    The parallels between Italy and NZ's governments continue to disturb. Next Steven Joyce et al will be buying TVNZ.
    The ACT "Super City" is a monument to dictatorial behaviour. The dumping of the elected board of Environment Canterbury because they were trying to protect waterways from degradation by farmers is just disgusting.
    The decision to charge farmers 3% of our Kyoto protocol costs when agriculture produces 49% of emissions delivering subsidies to agriculture and large industries of between $100 billion and $200 billion (depending on the carbon price) is robbery. Two thirds of this would be paid to pastoral farmers. http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/dairy-milking-new-zealand
    I used to think Labour and National were as bad as each other. I think if you got them both in the same room they'd secretly fantasise about taxing the young while exempting land-owners. National would probably just get over-excited and ruin everything by admitting that it dreams of just ruling without needing those pesky old laws and elections though.

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 350 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I think the current limits on their tenure are called elections.

    Except with MMP's party lists it isn't. I would like to see as an essential MMP reform an absolute limit on how long you can serve in the house of representatives, maybe nine or twelve years. My view is if you can't achieve anything in that amount of time then get out, parliament isn't a soft option for time servers on a good salary. Such a time limit would also automatically see off the grossly entitled Chris Carter's of this world, and ensure a decent turnover of people in parliament.

    And wages? I would like to see MP's wages pegged to something in real New Zealand, like, say, the minimum wage - start with the PM's salary fixed at six times the minimum wage (still a respectable $156,000 a year plus expenses) and work back from that. MP's want a pay rise? Put up the minimum wage.

    At the moment we've got a grossly overpaid and out of touch beltway political elite, something that has taken some considerable effort on their part to achieve in a country of only 4.3 millions.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2210 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Tom: I don't think the answer is a fixed term limit for MPs, exactly. There should be some way of retaining the services of talented people (such as - in recent years - Anderton, Birch, Clark, Cullen, Tanczos) for as long as they are able and willing to do the job.

    Would a better solution would be to require that any given MP should periodically (say, once every 3 terms?) have to stand for election in an electorate, without the backup of a list placement?

    Actually, no - that would favour members of major parties at the expense of small parties that depend solely on the list.

    So what we would need instead to address the problem you've identified is some direct way for voters to influence parties' list rankings.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    As I understand it, the Greens were in a bind - they could only get National to support their ammendments (all the ones they had passed), or allow them to be part of the process if and improve the bill if they actually voted for the legislation. Now this is a pretty fucked up way for a government to make legislation, but the Greens haven't done themselves any favours by not clearly explaining the constraints they were under.

    Edit. I've just seen Russel Norman's blog post. Now I'm pissed off. National and Labour opposed pretty much everything, but the Greens still voted for it. Idiots all round.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    The more I think about this the more scared I get. Dictatorial powers just aren't needed, and I can see abuse of them being not just possible but actually likely. It will start with minor laws, the checks and balances types, such as the RMA. No need to actually fix those laws, lets just ignore them under emergency powers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    So what we would need instead to address the problem you've identified is some direct way for voters to influence parties' list rankings.

    One other reform I am of a mind to like is to change the currently derisory 500 member requirement to register as a political party to contest the party lists to something much, much more robust - say 10,000 or 15,000 paid up, signed up, bone fide members.

    In a much smaller population, Labour and National once boasted of memberships of 80-100,000 between them. Surely, it isn't to much to ask a party that presumes to rule the country to have a decent party membership?

    Such a reform would FORCE our current arrogant elite cadre parties to - *gasp* - recruit amongst the great unwashed, and listen to them lest they drop below the membership threshold...

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2210 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    They really do believe you vote for a bill "to send a clear message of support to people trying to rebuild in Canterbury". Do the Greens really think that the people of Canterbury won't forgive them for voting against bad legislation? In short, do they think people are stupid?

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Time now for some philosophical mash-up.

    "Power comes from the barrel of a gun." - Chairman Mao.
    "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." - Lord Acton.

    Therefore, power and corruption come from the barrel of a gun.

    In this day and age, absolute power comes from the barrel of an executive's pen. Therefore, absolute power and absolute corruption come from the barrel of an executive's pen.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Except with MMP's party lists it isn't. I would like to see as an essential MMP reform an absolute limit on how long you can serve in the house of representatives, maybe nine or twelve years. My view is if you can't achieve anything in that amount of time then get out, parliament isn't a soft option for time servers on a good salary. Such a time limit would also automatically see off the grossly entitled Chris Carter's of this world, and ensure a decent turnover of people in parliament.

    Chris Carter is going to be like Hitler. An example that can be used to argue for everything, only not very well. The list of damn good MPs that you'd chop off halfway through their career at 12 years is a rather long one, start with linger's (umm, Birch :P) and keep adding.

    One other reform I am of a mind to like is to change the currently derisory 500 member requirement to register as a political party to contest the party lists to something much, much more robust - say 10,000 or 15,000 paid up, signed up, bone fide members.

    Also making it virtually impossible to build a new political party. But keep going.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Just a note for future historians, accessing this blog through their digital implants:

    The day after New Zealand's Parliament cheerfully abolished itself, the country's biggest newspaper* spoke out, with a thundering editorial on the design of America's Cup yachts.

    Democracy under a tack?


    (*unfreeze grandpa, he'll explain)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1319 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    It will start with minor laws, the checks and balances types, such as the RMA. No need to actually fix those laws, lets just ignore them under emergency powers.

    To be followed shortly afterwards by "Look, we've been ignoring the RMA in Canterbury with no problems. Based on that, we don't anticipate any issues with removing it from the country as a whole."

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    @Kyle:
    One solution suggests itself: make the party membership requirement proportional to the size of the party list. Thus, a party fielding only a handful of candidates would need only 500 members (as at present), while a party wanting to field 100 candidates would need 10000.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    One solution suggests itself: make the party membership requirement proportional to the size of the party list. Thus, a party fielding only a handful of candidates would need only 500 members (as at present), while a party wanting to field 100 candidates would need 10000.

    For what benefit? How does that give members any more control over party lists?

    And when did who was 20 to.... whatever on the Green, Act etc party lists ever matter except as an academic exercise?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

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