Thursday, June 28, 2007

An unexpected passage

Well, that was unexpected: yesterday afternoon, the Manukau City Council (Control of Graffiti) Bill passed its second reading - despite a strong message from the Attorney-General that it violated the Bill of Rights Act, and clear recommendation [PDF] from the Local Government and Environment Committee that it not be passed.

According to George Hawkins, this is because the government has changed its mind, and now realises that the council is "leading the way". But a look at the vote tells a different story: The bill passed 108 - 10, with only the Greens and Maori Party voting against (both ACT and Taito Phillip Field were absent) - which means the government couldn't have stopped it if they wanted to. So, they seem to have voted for it purely to avoid the humiliation of a defeat.

The upshot is that in addition to seeing a bad law passed for Manukau (one which will also create a precedent for a patchwork of local criminal jurisdictions with different laws for each), we may also have just seen the demise of the left's "blocking majority", at least on "law and order" issues (of which there are a fair few before the House - including Ron mark's excreable Young Offenders (Serious Crimes) Bill). Our country may be about to become a much nastier place. And we'll all end up paying the price for it.