Wednesday, October 18, 2006

In the ballot XVI

Another batch of Member's Bills currently in the ballot. Previous batches are indexed here:

Fireworks Safety Bill (Marian Hobbs): This bill would restrict the sale of fireworks to approved community groups. Sales to individuals would stop, but groups seeking to have a display for Guy Fawkes, Diwali, Chinese New Year, or July 4th (or presumably any other reason) could gain permission from the Fire Service and their local council.

Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill (Heather Roy): This bill would amend the Education Act 1989 to introduce VSM. Existing provisions relating to student's associations at tertiary institutions would be repealed, and replaced with a single clause forbidding institutions and associations from exerting undue influence to force students to join or pay, or from acting in a way "which conflicts with the sprit and intent of this section".

New Zealand Taxpayer Bill of Rights Bill (Rodney Hide): Another attempt by Rodney to become the local Grover Norquist and drown government in the bathtub. This bill essentially combines his Local Government (Rating Cap) Amendment Bill and Local Government (Rates Poll Demand) Amendment Bill and applies them to central government. Government spending or tax revenue could not increase above inflation and population growth, or new taxes, charges or fees levied without the approval of a referendum. As an interesting note, this would be superior legislation - section 4 ("This Act prevails") asserts that "[t]he provisions of this Act prevail over those of any other Act unless that other Act otherwise provides", while section 7(2) bars the government from amending the definition of "taxable income" in the Income Tax Act 2004 to get around its provisions. This is quite unusual for New Zealand (even the Bill of Rights Act, through which every other act is interpreted, is ordinary legislation; it relies on mana and an interpretive clause for its power). Despite this, it is not entrenched, and so would be very easy to bypass (a clause stating "The New Zealand Taxpayer Bill of Rights notwithstanding..." at the top of every appropriations or taxation bill would do the trick).

It's interesting that ACT has traditionally decried the Bill of Rights Act as allowing unelected judges power to decide on crucial issues of social policy, while demanding that they be given that very power in this bill, and in a far more intrusive way. Redistribution via the tax system is a vital part of social policy, and of course, you can't even do social policy without tax revenue - but that is exactly the point.

As a final note, both of Hide's local government bills went down in flames, and I expect this one to too.

As usual, I'll have more bills as I acquire them.


Presumably Hide's bill would count as a money bill and be covered by the confidence and supply agreement?

Posted by Rich : 10/18/2006 03:56:00 PM

rich - no. It doesn't tax, or spend so it's not supply.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 10/18/2006 04:15:00 PM

They would presumably have the financial veto though? (I genuinely don't know myself).

Posted by Anonymous : 10/18/2006 04:23:00 PM

Constitutionally the current parliament is supreme over all others, meaning that an Act of Parliament can't limit the ability of a newer Parliament to Act. Unlike in the USA, the courts have no power over parliament to overturn legislation.

The courts have no power to overturn law set out by Parliament - entrenchment only serves to give legislation a certain mana, as I/S points out with the BORA.

Even if it were to pass with 100% of parliament in favour, from a constitutional point of view if parliament later decided to ignore that law, the Act's only use would be to fold it into paper darts to throw at the Minister of Finance.

Posted by James : 10/18/2006 08:55:00 PM

I/S, Hide's bill doesn't disallow redistribution at all. On the contrary, it allows an increase of government spending at inflation PLUS population change. That is sound ans stops the ridiculous situation we have had in the last six years where ballooning government spending has contributed to, amongst others, high intererst rates. The Bill is a work in progress and if it's not drawn it will be amended for the next ballot but the purpose of it will of course remain the same. An entrenchment provision is not beyond the realms.

Posted by Gooner : 10/19/2006 10:37:00 PM