Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No majority

ACT has announced its position on National's plans to oust the rule of law and retrospectively validate unlawful police surveillance, saying that they want the bill to go to select committee. So that's that then. The government has no majority for this change, and will not be able to ram it through without public scrutiny.

The question now is what will happen after the select committee. The legal profession, the Human Rights Commission, and likely the courts will all voice serious objections to the proposed retrospective validation (while supporting in principle the right of the police to conduct such surveillance in the future with proper judicial oversight). Hopefully this will mean the retrospective portions of the bill will be removed, and we'll get a quick-fix which is basically unobjectionable. But the government may try to press on anyway, and try and tar other parties as "soft on crime" (rather than "soft on human rights") if they refuse. The question then is whether ACT or Labour will buckle, or whether they will stand up for our constitution in the face of an assault which exceeds anything done by Muldoon.