Tuesday, April 24, 2012

National doesn't want to hear from us

One of the good things about our Parliamentary model is the select committee process. If the government wants to pass a law, then it has to send the bill to select committee. The select committee almost always asks for submissions from the public, which means that we get to tell the government exactly what we think of their plans.

Except under National. Quite apart from their habit of using urgency to bypass select committees entirely on controversial legislation, they've developed a new habit: perverting the select committee process so that nobody can have effective input:

Parliamentary hearings into legislation paving the way for the Government's partial privatisation plan for state owned power companies have been described as a sham.

The Finance and Expenditure Committee started hearing submissions today and is scheduled to hear 45 today alone, leaving little time for each one.

MPs from both sides of the debate used the hearing as a platform for their views and the tight schedule prompted an outburst from Labour's Trevor Mallard when he turned up to learn most submitters would receive just five minutes each to have their say.

If I was making an oral submission on this bill, I'd be feeling pretty pissed off right now. And with good reason: five minutes isn't enough time to say anything, especially with the committee members using your time to snipe at one another and inject their spin. And its pretty obvious why they're doing it: because almost all submitters oppose the bill. Limiting time is a way of shutting that down, of undermining the public's right to have their say.

Just another example of how National undermines our democracy. The sooner we're done with them, the better.