Thursday, October 28, 2010

Legislating in secret - again

Last night, I completed my formal submission on the Review of Standing Orders. In addition to the points I raised earlier, I also took the opportunity to complain about the government's habit of legislating in secret. When the government moves urgency, it must identify the business which it is moved for. However, Gerry Brownlee has made a habit of vague and obfuscatory urgency motions, seeking urgency on (for example) "accorded the introduction and passing of Government bills dealing with taxation, employment relations, bail, education, and sentencing"; "the introduction and passing of a Government bill"; and "the introduction and first reading of Government bills". None of these bills were specifically identified, effectively making the urgency motion a blank cheque.

And today, he's done it again, seeking urgency for "the introduction and passing of government bills". He subsequently identified one of these bills as amending the Employment Relations Act for the benefit of Peter Jackson and Warner Brothers. As for the other one, he would only say that it "deals with provisions which are of a legal nature". Which is pretty much anything.

We know that Brownlee is rock bottom when it comes to open government, but this is the absolute pits. He's denying our Parliament the right to know what it will be voting on, until it is sprung on them by surprise. And he's also denying the public the right to scrutinise the Parliamentary process. And that is not acceptable in a democracy.