Tuesday, December 08, 2009

More private law

Last week we learned that the Primary Production Committee had inserted a clause into the Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Bill for the private benefit of Northland boat-builder Doug Schmuck. Now, according to Morning Report this morning, they've done it again [audio], inserting a clause into the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill to grant a retrospective resource consent to an illegal Coromandel marine farm, completely bypassing a current battle before the courts.

This stinks. Quite apart from it being bad law, its a terrible process which denies natural justice to those who have used normal processes to contest these claims. It also raises the spectre of corruption - something we saw in the UK cash for amendments scandal.

These clauses are not yet law, and if the government has any sense, they'll remove them at the committee stages. Otherwise they will have set a terrible precedent, and undermined the image of Parliament as a neutral lawmaker.

And OTOH, with Bill English constantly getting the rules changed for his own financial advantage, can we really blame other people for trying it on?