Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Standard procedure

Two months ago, the rabid right were crying "corruption!" over the government's retrospective validation of Parliamentary Services funding, and claiming that any such validation was unconstitutional. Today, the government introduced the annual Appropriation (2005/06 Financial Review) Bill. And what does the explanatory note say?

This Appropriation Bill confirms transfers between outputs made by Order in Council and confirms expenses incurred for the 2005/06 financial year in excess of appropriation by Parliament but with the approval of the Minister of Finance. It also validates unappropriated expenses and capital expenditure.

(Emphasis added).

As I pointed out at the time, this sort of retrospective validation is entirely normal - and it has to be done as all government expenditure must (one way or another) be authorised by Parliament. This bill (along with others of its type - which are listed on the Parliamentary website) tends to confirm this picture. What I'm wondering is whether we'll see the same outpouring of constitutional outrage - or whether the rabids will stay silent because it really is just standard procedure.


If you are arguing that after concequences have been arranged that paliment can 'validate' expenditure (rather like how sending someone to prison validates the crime) then I dont see the problem. Maybe different english term would have made it more palitable, one that didnt imply it was a simple excusing of the behaviour.

If you mean that it is entirely normal to validate inapropriate spending without concequences well... er.... Rightio....

Posted by Anonymous : 12/06/2006 06:57:00 AM

So, tell me, why could the "validation" of the pledge card expenditure not wait until this entirely normal Financial Review bill?

Could it be that the Labour party was due in court at the end of October and Labour couldn't risk appearing in the High Court because the High Court requires rather more truth-telling and a lot less mud-slinging and obfuscation than Parliament?

Posted by Bernard Darnton : 12/06/2006 08:38:00 AM

It could have waited, if it hadn't already been found, and if that didn't cause innumerable problems in the normal operations of Parliamentary Services - it just made sense to put the validation in with the rest. These bills rely on pretending we don't know things, and on the general futzing of figures to leave a bit of a buffer area.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/06/2006 10:03:00 AM

I (and many others) were levelling charges of corruption based not on the misappropriation, but on the overspending (a corrupt practice, if done knowingly).

This is different, however; the beneficiaries of the legislation are not in this instance the people who are voting in Parliament whether it should pass (I'll reiterate here, that I was in favour of the introduction of the validating legislation, and in favour of it's being treated with urgency).

Anonymous at comment 3 - it need not have caused innumerable problems for the Parliamentary Service - the rule against spending the money on "electioneering" was contained in a Speaker's Directive, an amendment to the Speaker's Directive to 'clarify' that electioneering was asking for member, money or votes was all that would have been needed.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 12/06/2006 11:08:00 AM

Disappointing comments. You're normally non-partisan, but in thsi case are not taking a principled stand.

The sensible critics of the validating legislation were not against legislation per se. But what was outraegous was:

1) Ramming it through under urgency
2) Expanding the scope to cover everything since 1989 (which prevented National being investigated for the TAB postcard)
3) Most of all passing it in such a way to wipe out a current lawsuit (Darnton v Clark)

Posted by David Farrar : 12/07/2006 04:00:00 PM