Thursday, December 09, 2010

Parliament fails

Last night, after a farcical debate, Parliament passed Paul Quinn's Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill, which will strip anyone in prison at the time of an election of the vote. The bill is a shameless abuse of power which was overwhelmingly opposed by submitters. It violates basic democratic principles. It violates our Bill of Rights Act. It violates international law. Despite this, National passed it anyway, just so it could claim Labour was "pro-criminal" for opposing it. Fundamental rights were stripped, just so National could engage in wedge politics and posture on law and order. Those who call themselves "liberals" within the party - and that means you, DPF - ought to be deeply ashamed of themselves and their party.

(But then, DPF isn't a liberal. He doesn't believe in fundamental human rights. Instead, he believes in wedge politics and spin, a classic hollow man...)

But its not just National whose mana has been destroyed by this. The mana of our Parliament has also been destroyed. When the select committee reported back on the bill, Andrew Geddis argued that

This proposal is downright wrong in its intent, outright stupid in its design and (if finally enacted) would be such an indelible stain on the parliamentary lawmaking process as to call into question that institution's legitimacy to act as supreme lawmaker for our society.
I think Hilary Calvert's speech last night ("This bill is not my favourite thing. However we are supporting the National Party on this bill" - and that's pretty much it) more than proved his point.

By passing this bill, Parliament has shown that it will not guard our human rights (worse: it will shit all over them if it thinks there are a few votes in it). Its time we took the job off them and gave it to the courts by entrenching the BORA as supreme law. Politicians have shown they can't be trusted. Judges can be. And at the very least, they have to give reasons for their decisions. Unlike Hilary Calvert.