Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Contempt for our constitution

Gerry Brownlee's reaction to yesterday's open letter from legal academics condemning the Canterbury Enabling Act? Utter contempt. Here's his response to NZPA:

Earthquake recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the Act wouldn't be changed and he was not worried by what "hand-wringing academics" thought.
And to Radio New Zealand:
The Minister of Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee, says that the Government doesn't need to justify the law, and that any suggestion it will be misused is not worth responding to.
So there you have it: Brownlee thinks he can turn this country into a dictatorship without any need for justification, and that any concern is just "hand-wringing". It's the sort of response I'd expect from the king of Tonga, or from Bainamarama of Fiji, not from an elected Member of Parliament in a democratic country like ours.

But contrary to Brownlee, these concerns are serious. The law is an affront to our constitution, establishing Brownlee as a virtual dictator, able to change practically any law he wants, with no oversight whatsoever. Such powers are anathema to a democracy, and you need something more than the petty anti-intellectualism of a failed woodwork teacher to justify them.

Brownlee - and by extension, the government he is a part of - has shown their contempt for our constitution with this response. And that's not something we should tolerate. One of the few laws he can't change by fiat is the Electoral Act. And we should use it to vote him and his party out of office at the first opportunity.