OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: What Andrew Geddis Said, But Shorter and With More Swearing

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  • WH,

    It's important to separate the question of whether a particular piece of legislation has an unfairly discriminatory effect from the constitutional issues arising from the manner in which such legislation is enacted.

    Parliamentary sovereignty will generally apply to the former, in that the government may lawfully pass legislation that has the effect of reversing a judicial finding that a particular policy is unfairly discriminatory. The theory goes that the government should not necessarily be taken to be legalising unfair discrimination in doing this (although you might personally think that it is), rather it is that Parliament has the final say on what constitutes unfair discrimination.

    The balance of our unwritten constitution applies to the latter, such that any particular method of reversing a judicial decision might well be improper. The use of urgency, for instance, would be a rather transparent attempt to avoid full democratic oversight.

    This power structure means that a lot the real work in changing society falls to what someone once called "community organisers".

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report

  • BenWilson,

    Our unwritten constitution is not worth the paper it's not written on.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    Evening all.

    Just in case y'all thought this was a forgotten outrage, a vague scar in our memories of the Previous Administration That Wrought This Shit...

    I have written to the New Minister in Charge of Restoring the Voters' Trust in Government, to wit, Clare Curran.

    And I'm publicising the fact here...because way back then, Clare Curran cited this sterling post of Keith's in her blog on the Labour party website (which appears to have disappeared, but thank goodness, it has been preserved for prosperity by Scoop )

    And I have this really unreasonable expectation that politicians should do the hounourable thing and stand by their words and keep their promises.

    Just a few weeks ago Clare Curran took the opportunity to bask in the media spotlight and she shared her feelings on the issue of open government...

    Critics have said the OIA no longer functions properly and is widely manipulated to control information for political purposes.

    Ms Curran was somewhat half-hearted when asked if she agreed with that, saying oversight of the Act had improved under new Chief Ombudsman Judge Peter Boshier.

    She said the Labour-led Government would be more open than the previous government.

    ``A different approach to official information is going to ensue.

    ``Openness and transparency and doing things differently is important, so we've got to practise what we preach and actually do it.''

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Might be better to write to the PM or a Minister whose portfolio this more closely applies to - like Justice.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    Ms Curran does have responsibility for 'Open Government', and she did have much to say about the Regulatory Impact Statement....

    We have written to the Ministers of Justice, Health Disability Issues, and I understand others have written to the PM about the Public Health and Disability Amendment Act(2)...what Peter and I chose to do was to write to all the current Government MPs who spoke out against the Bill in the House back in 2013.

    There are only seven. Which is a bit of a worry...but one of them is Grant Robertson.

    Of course what they are going to say is 'We can't just repeal the Bill, we'll have to look into it...." Part of 'looking into it' will be, no doubt, hopefully, if there is any hope of justice here, will be to reveal what was under all those blacked out pages in the RIS.

    Which is Clare Curran's department.

    This will be a test of just how 'progressive' this Government is compared to the last.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    I doubt the RIS is Curran's responsibility at all - more likely Justice. Surely this govt can act quite fast to repeal the most egregious clauses in that Act.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    I doubt the RIS is Curran’s responsibility at all

    You could be right....and it is not immediately obvious who/which entity is responsible.

    However....Curran did jump onto this particular instance of nefarious government practise back in 2013, and has scored her 'dream' portfolio of Associate Minister for State Services(Open Government)....

    So, until some other MP is identified as the responsible party....

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    that's what the PM is for :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    that’s what the PM is for :)

    I doubt that the PM would have much depth of knowledge of this...though I'd be delighted to be proved wrong.

    There are only seven sitting Government MPs who actually spoke about this in the House that day; Dyson, Faafoi, Logie, Lees-Galloway, Wall, Hipkins and Robertson.

    Peter and I have written (real letters, with paper and envelopes and everything!) to all of these, reminding them of what they each said about the Bill and the RIS, and indicating that we believe the title "Honourable" has to be earned... repealing the Act and revealing the redacted sections of the Regulatory Impact Statement would be a very good place to start demonstrating that this Government has more integrity than the last.

    There was a huge response on the blogosphere about this nasty bit of legislative work back in May 2013.

    Geddis' post on Pundit got a massive 56699 page views and three years later he wrote

    That still remains, I think, the most read thing I've ever written in any format. What the government did - explicitly prevent the judiciary from ensuring that government policy is consistent with the laws of the land - was pretty jaw-droppingly outrageous.

    This post of Keith Ng's had over 81500 page views, and I still think that Keith might just get how those of us personally affected by what happened that day felt at the time...

    Ours is a system of parliamentary sovereignty, with only an informal consitution. Parliament *can* change the Bill of Rights, and it *can* make the Government exempt from it. There’s no upper house to stop them, no presidential veto*, no supreme court which can strike it down.

    It’s only “not okay” in the sense that we have a reasonable expectation that the Government respects the principle of the rule of law, constitutional conventions, and the laws which make up our constitution. Because DEMOCRACY.

    When you say it out loud, it really makes our constitutional set-up sound stupid. And it kinda is. But it is, nonetheless, a system. And in this system, *we* are the check against Parliamentary power.

    To exercise our constitutional responsibilities, we need to start by getting really, really fucked off.

    ...and still feel today.

    "We" failed to respond to shit like this from the previous Incumbents by allowing them to get voted back in in 2014. Do "we" now have to get really fucked off with this New Bunch in order for them to at least make some 'we're going to move on this issue' noises?

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    The PM's office will pass it to the most appropriate Minister for you, is all.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

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