Thursday, April 29, 2010

The government does not trust the Ministry of Justice

A couple of months ago, we learned that the Ministry of Justice had been dumped from advising on the government's three strikes law, after it gave advice the government did not like. An exchange in Question Time today (link coming) today suggests that something similar is happening with Paul Quinn's Electoral (Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners) Amendment Bill. Clayton Cosgrove attempted to ask which government agency had been appointed to advice the law and Order select committee on the bill - and when that was ruled out as inquiring into a confidential committee decision, asked whether the Ministry of Justice, the government's lead agency on electoral matters, would be advising. That too was ruled out. But the subtext was clear: they won't be. So, the agency which is primarily responsible for advising on electoral matters, and which has the experts to give the best advice on the bill, will be silenced again - presumably because it would support the Attorney-General's opinion that the bill is inconsistent with the BORA.

This is not a good way to make policy. And it suggests that the committee has already made its mind up about the bill. So much for a fair committee process.