Monday, March 07, 2011

Foreshore and seabed: Earthquake cover

Parliament is back tomorrow, and according to the Order Paper, the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill - AKA Foreshore and Seabed Act, v2 - is up for its second reading tomorrow. The timing is unfortunate - it looks like the government is trying to pass this hugely controversial legislation under the cover of the Christchurch earthquake.

That may not be the government's intention - but they have only themselves to blame for this interpretation. The bill was well down the Order Paper when the House adjourned two weeks ago [PDF]. They have, post-earthquake, consciously decided to prioritise it. If its not their intention to use the earthquake as cover, they're doing a bloody good impression of it.

On the one hand, I expect Parliament to continue to do its job no matter what disasters beset us - that's the sign of a strong democracy. On the other, I also expect politicians to refrain from exploiting those disasters for political gain. This looks just a bit too much like the latter to be comfortable.

(As for whether it is passed under urgency, now that Brownlee has been replaced as Leader of the House, I'm hoping there will be a change from his abusive House management polices. Simon Power's a decent guy, and I don't expect him to be nearly as thuggish).