Friday, April 03, 2009

How did it happen?

Yesterday, Parliament took less than an hour to pass an unnecessary and repressive law which imposed retrospective arbitrary detention on child sex offenders for crimes they had already been punished for. So how did it happen?

I missed the debate, but having talked to people who watched it and read the Greens version, it seems the government asked for leave to pass the bill through all stages, on the basis that it was a "technical change", though an urgent one. All parties - including the Greens - granted leave. Chris Finlayson then tabled his s7 report warning that the bill in fact introduced a completely new power which violated the BORA in new and interesting ways [PDF]. But by that stage, it was too late - all the Greens could do was vote against it (and in the end, they were the only party which did).

So, the government tricked them. I wonder what they're going to do to prevent it from happening again?

Meanwhile, I am flabbergasted that the government thinks this is an appropriate way to pass a law which raises significant human rights concerns. And if they're going to do things like this, it makes you wonder why we bother to have a Parliament at all.