Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The file-sharing bill

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  • 3410,

    uh, no. Only if the government fails to get a majority on a confidence or supply motion is that true. It's possible (and has happened) for the government to fail to pass legislation without bringing about an election.

    Okay, sure, it's possible, but in the normal state of affairs a govt. that can not pass its legislation is circling the drain, which is to say that by far the most normal situation will be that Labour, when in opposition, can not stop a Nat. bill by opposing it. That's a fact. How can it follow that they should therefore not vote against it?; they'd end up voting for all govt. legislation.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    It's possible (and has happened) for the government to fail to pass legislation without bringing about an election

    Technically, yes. But if it's failing to pass legislation, it is usually because its coalition is falling apart or it's internally divided, even.

    I take 3410s point as hinting that failing to stop a bill is not the only reason to vote against it. That's an unlikely outcome anyway, even at the worst of times. You could vote against it because you disagree with it. Actually voting for it, is a traditional indicator of agreement. That's my understanding of what the phrase "vote for" means. If it doesn't, then I really don't get our parliament at all*.

    Now sure, there is an argument that if you don't vote for this, then they'll do something worse. But that's rather undermined by the fact that "it won't stop the bill". They won't do something worse because the bill passes. What does happen, however, is that the Opposition is on record for having dozens of their members officially voting something they disagreed with into law. IF they disagreed. I can't actually know if they don't vote using the usual meaning of the phrase "vote for".

    *Edit: A distinct possibility

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to 3410,

    I keep hearing this argument, but I just do not get it.

    What I'm picking up, notably from Lianne Dalziel's comments on Red Alert, is that Labour's Chch MPs got some sort of concession they felt was vital for their constituents, in return for voting with the Government. What I'm hazy on is what the concession was, and what consequences they feared from voting against.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Besides, what does voting for legislation that you disagree with get you?

    On the one hand, it gets you a few meagre compromises from the govt. (and they'll very quickly learn to factor such "compromises" into future legislation).

    On the other hand, you've just pissed away any legitimacy in complaining about any future negative consequences of the act.

    How is that a good deal?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    What I'm picking up, notably from Lianne Dalziel's comments on Red Alert, is that Labour's Chch MPs got some sort of concession they felt was vital for their constituents. What I'm hazy on is what the concession was, and what consequences they feared from voting against.

    That may be so, but if the act is seriously faulty, how is that Labour's fault?

    If Labour is against something then they should vote against it, and when the shit hits the fan they can say "National did that, and that's why you should vote for us, not them".

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Okay, sure, it’s possible, but in the normal state of affairs a govt. that can not pass its legislation is circling the drain

    Yeah but nah – that’s a peculiarly FPP view of government.
    In the MMP environment, parties can govern very effectively by negotiating in good faith with other parties
    firstly, to ensure a stable majority for confidence and supply (which is how parties get to form a government in the first place); and then
    secondly, to create sufficient agreement to pass legislation on other issues (which may mean working with different people for different bills).
    The catch is that open negotiation should then be the “normal state of affairs” – rather than National’s somewhat diametrically opposed manner of operation.

    If Labour is against something then they should vote against it

    + several thousand.
    (And clearly state WHY they oppose it.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1941 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to linger,

    In the MMP environment, parties can govern very effectively by negotiating in good faith with other parties

    Yes, that's particularly true if these good faith negotiations involve their Opposition voting how they are told to by the government. Extremely effective. So effective, that any party that could swing that would seem like the natural party of government for as long as the Opposition allowed it. Hell, I might even vote for that party. Why not - voting against won't stop them getting in?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    If Labour is against something then they should vote against it, and when the shit hits the fan they can say “National did that, and that’s why you should vote for us, not them”.

    Well sometimes. But the proposed legislation might be something that you’re not happy with, but which is better than the current state of affairs, so you might vote for it.

    In this instance, for whatever reason, the govt clearly made an offer to labour to improve the legislation as long as Labour voted for it straight through, no amendments etc.

    It’s possible that if Labour hadn’t voted for it, the government would have pulled the improvements and due to them voting against it would be worse law.

    So sometimes there are clearly judgement calls to be made.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    If Labour had any reason to be confident in its comms ability, then they could explain why they voted against the CERA bill, tell voters positively what their preferred solution would be and campaign on that basis to become the government so they can fix any problems after November.

    That is what political parties have done for many. many decades. Passing bills is not the be-all and end-all; there are a range of ways to shape political discourse. We've all seen parties in power change course in the face of well-organised opposition between elections. Labour backing down on Closing the Gaps in the face of Brash's racist dog-whistling is one instance.

    Instead, we get more feeble fudging from this hapless bunch of losers fed by what seems to be a presumption that anything this government does now is not up for challenge for 4 years because the opposition lacks the balls to make it otherwise. I hope they are ashamed of themselves.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    It’s possible that if Labour hadn’t voted for it, the government would have pulled the improvements and due to them voting against it would be worse law.

    Yes, it would be worse law, but not "due to [Labour] voting against it"; due to National introducing it and garnering enough support to have it passed.

    (But yeah, Kyle, totally agree that it's not black-and-white).

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to 3410,

    not "due to [Labour] voting against it"; due to National introducing it and garnering enough support to have it passed.

    ..and due to National being far better right now at political strategy and communication than Labour - despite their own manifest failures that would provide ample fodder for any half-competent opposition.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to 3410,

    If Labour is against something then they should vote against it, and when the shit hits the fan they can say "National did that, and that's why you should vote for us, not them".

    They need to communicate well before that. You do not need to wait to do stuff. That's where Pagani's message of hopelessness seems way wrong to me.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    I hope they are ashamed of themselves.

    Say what you really feel!

    It’s possible that if Labour hadn’t voted for it, the government would have pulled the improvements and due to them voting against it would be worse law.

    What 3410 said. It seems an unlikely scenario to me, that they would repeal their own bill, and introduce a shittier one, just to spite Labour for not bending over.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Sacha,

    If Labour had any reason to be confident in its comms ability, then they could explain why they voted against the CERA bill, tell voters positively what their preferred solution would be and campaign on that basis to become the government so they can fix any problems after November.

    Which might've been a credible response to the file-sharing bill, but is actually very much not a credible response to CERA when it's full of draconian powers that will be available for use immediately because "it's an emergency". Plus, in Labour's current situation it would be a hard sell to the public to justify things on "We'll change this really bad law in November." Because if they don't win in November we're stuck with "this really bad law" for at least three more years, by which time it'll be thoroughly embedded, and if they do win in November there's nothing to stop them passing the changes they want to see.

    Lots of black-and-white analysis in here of a very grey problem.

    As for National "repeal[ing] their own bill, and introduc[ing] a shittier one", why not? It's not hard. They have the votes to do anything they want, and we don't know which sections were amendments inserted at Labour's behest. National could've just put in an amended bill, since this was all done under urgency. The rules are not the same as they are for ordinary procedure.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Which might've been a credible response to the file-sharing bill, but is actually very much not a credible response to CERA when it's full of draconian powers that will be available for use immediately because "it's an emergency".

    Fair point.

    Plus, in Labour's current situation it would be a hard sell to the public to justify things on "We'll change this really bad law in November."

    What, harder than "we don't like it but we voted for it anyway but we can't really say why"?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Lots of black-and-white analysis in here of a very grey problem.

    Meh, sometimes things aren't as complicated as they can be made to seem.

    why not? It's not hard. They have the votes to do anything they want, and we don't know which sections were amendments inserted at Labour's behest. National could've just put in an amended bill, since this was all done under urgency.

    This would be done after having passed their own bill? I don't think they'd want to look like such fools. Indeed, I don't think they really want it to become bigger news, that they have used urgency for something like this. It would be the perfect example of why NOT to do that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    This would be done after having passed their own bill? I don’t think they’d want to look like such fools. Indeed, I don’t think they really want it to become bigger news, that they have used urgency for something like this. It would be the perfect example of why NOT to do that.

    The agreement by Labour to vote for the Bill had to have been made before the Bill was presented to the House, though. Otherwise how did they get their compromise position inserted?

    If you're suggesting that Labour should've then welched on the deal and voted against the Bill despite having agreed to vote for it in order to get their compromise, then you're advocating that Labour behave in bad faith and in a manner that would diminish Labour's ability to achieve anything while in Opposition.

    [redacted]

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    If you're suggesting that Labour should've then welched on the deal and voted against the Bill despite having agreed to vote for it in order to get their compromise, then you're advocating that Labour behave in bad faith and in a manner that would diminish Labour's ability to achieve anything while in Opposition.

    Yes, it would probably be bad faith to do that. Not so sure about the diminished power to achieve anything, though. Playing nice with National isn't going to work. But no, I think they should have opposed everything about the bill, and proposed their amendments, and said they were going to vote against it anyway. If, on reflection (for which there was not much time) they found they disagreed with it. It's then on National to adopt the amendments or not, but even more on them for ramming the whole thing through in the first place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    Not so sure about the diminished power to achieve anything, though.

    Well, as it stands, Labour are stating that they achieved concessions in both the CERA and file-sharing bills by agreeing to vote for them. In the case of CERA we don’t know what they are, but one assumes that Labour’s CHC MPs considered them worth fighting for. In the case of file-sharing, if the choice is forcing the Executive to defend account termination in the future, or having it in force immediately, I think the former is a minor win.

    Those are both achievements, and neither would’ve been possible had Labour previously acted in bad faith towards National over votes on legislation. If you don’t think those are at all worthwhile achievements, so be it, but certainly on file-sharing I (and others in here) disagree with your assessment.

    ETA:

    It’s then on National to adopt the amendments or not, but even more on them for ramming the whole thing through in the first place.

    You seem to be under the misapprehension that National give a flying fuck what anyone thinks about their abuse of urgency. They don’t. They also don’t give a fuck about passing good legislation, or they wouldn’t be abusing urgency. In that situation, I’m very torn as to whether I would rather that Labour voted against an awful law that will pass regardless or voted for a less-awful law that is only less-awful because of their intervention. Saying that they can repeal/alter when they are next in power is only helpful to those who will otherwise be fucked by the new law if Labour keep the period of damage to six months. Which, at present, is not looking terribly likely.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to 3410,

    Yes, it would be worse law, but not “due to [Labour] voting against it”; due to National introducing it and garnering enough support to have it passed.

    + 1
    I really don't understand what the problem is with calling a spade a spade. I get the feeling Labour isn't telling anyone the whole truth. What are they concealing? In the absence of an explanation of why they voted for it, which would satisfy those who think this law is a horror bound to be repealed, imaginations conjure up all sorts of ideas. I just wish I had seen something that convinced me there wasn't some skulduggery going on.

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

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Yes, it would be worse law, but not “due to [Labour] voting against it”; due to National introducing it and garnering enough support to have it passed.

    True. But I suspect there's a lot of people who get into parliament to make things better. And they might not be going the right way about it all the time, but their party is in a hole and they're looking at another three years in opposition so they're probably going to take what they can get at some stage so they can go back and say "we made this better than it was going to be, but not perfect".

    If they hadn't done it, there'd probably be just as many people saying "why the hell did you stand on principle when you could have been practical and made it better. now look at this even crappier law we're stuck with". It's an age old principles vs practicals in politics game.

    It's more unusual here with strong whipping, but in the USA this sort of horse trading happens all the time as people can vote how they want. I don't see that as always a bad thing, here it's just been a caucus-wide decision.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    There’s something that really gets my goat about Labour opting to pass with amendments/compromise rather than fighting a bill outright:

    I just have no idea if this is just because the dialogue here trends left, but all the opinion expressed or implied here about the Christchurch bill seems to be that it’s appalling policy, and very bad news for the people of Christchurch (and, presumably, could have been worse). If it’s true that the policy is really that bad, then conflicting political ideology aside, why the fuck do we have to rely on the opposition to make all the compromises to prevent our own government from screwing up their own constituents?

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Maybe rather than conspiring with National behind closed doors to pass amendments (Which ones - we aren't being told?) Labour could table the amendments, argue for them and decide whether the final bill deserves their support.

    Their current actions just show that they have almost as much contempt for open parliamentary democracy as National.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Heather Gaye,

    why the fuck do we have to rely on the opposition to make all the compromises to prevent our own government from screwing up their own constituents?

    This. And surely Labour has to worry about the ambiguity it casts over its positions.

    But I think it speaks to a larger issue as well. There was something that a woman (forget the name, sorry) from a disabilities advocacy association said on Morning Report today about the ministry of health appealing a high court decision that recognises the right of compensation of families who look after severely disabled adult children. Quizzed by Geoff Robinson on the fact that there is an unfortunate bipartisan agreement on this particular piece of inequity, the woman rather exasperatedly mentioned the fact that Labour said it "would take some sort of look at it". I feel like this has been going for the past two years - the sense that Labour will take some sort of look at things, instead of stating quite clearly its position on most issues.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    You'd be thinking of Wendy Neilson of the Disabled Persons Assembly. This morning, Radio NZ featured a few stories (here's the main one, 5 minutes streaming) about the long-running case of parents of disabled people fighting the Misery of Health for the right to be paid like any other suitable person to provide round the clock support. ACC have managed to do this for years but the Ministry seems to believe they're special and fundamentally that their clients are not to be trusted.

    I've met several of the families involved in the lawsuit and they're not the type to complain unless they're backed into a corner. This has dragged on so long that one of the mothers has literally died waiting. After nearly a decade of legal wrangling where every stage has found against the government, they still refuse to get on with improving their policy and practices. Instead they have spent over $1.2m of your tax money to keep on saying NO. The Human Rights Commission has been consistently supportive and is appalled by that course of action.

    The current Minister, Tony Ryall, has proclaimed that any change would set a broader precedent than the context of the case and cost a huge amount across all government services. You may recognise this argument from the parallel case about sleepover shifts, along with the same exaggerated numbers and scaremongering. It is probably all too similar to hand-wringing about the 'unreasonable' cost of ending slavery back in the day.

    This government have been all too keen of course to reach into the public purse to subsidise big polluters via the ETS, investors in dodgy finance companies, corporate farmers and wealthy yachties.

    It is a classic example of the contrast between what governments - of all persuasions - have said they believe and what they actually do for disabled New Zealanders and our families.

    How hard is it for someone to stand up and say forcefully and clearly that this is wrong and we will fix it?

    Quizzed by Geoff Robinson on the fact that there is an unfortunate bipartisan agreement

    His FPP line of questioning pissed me off, actually. Like several other matters, the Greens have provided the most effective party political opposition about this lately, spearheaded by Catherine Delahunty in this case. Robinson had interviewed her about the case no more than an hour earlier. And yet couldn't resist asking Wendy Neilson about what the "two parties" were doing about it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

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