Thursday, June 19, 2014

Submissions on Standing Orders

Sad bastard that I am, I've been looking through the public submissions on Parliament's Review of Standing Orders. They fall into three broad groups:

  • Political parties and Parliamentary insiders suggesting largely procedural tweaks to the rules;
  • Human rights groups seeking a permanent Human Rights Select Committee and greater BORA scrutiny;
  • Members of the public wanting greater transparency and an end to feudal provisions
There's also an enormous submission from the Clerk of the House. As you'd expect, it suggests a lot of ordinary rules changes, but there's also this bit:
New Zealand is a representative democracy, in which certain people are, through elections, charged with the responsibility to make decisions for the good governance, administration and regulation of society. As the pre-eminent political forum, the House could find meaningful ways for the public to bring matters onto the parliamentary agenda, making good use of the opportunities provided by social media to inform its consideration. One option could be through the development of electronic petitions and, through them, opportunities to interface with the legislative process. For example, there could be an investigation of a procedure for Members’ bills that garner sufficient support to be introduced for the House to consider. While there would be significant practical issues arising from such a procedure, it could become a reality in light of moves towards electronic registration of electors and the establishment of the RealMe service.
Currently we're well behind the world on this. Both the US and UK have such systems, with the latter having direct applicability to NZ (get X thousand signatures, force a debate in Parliament). For Member's Bills, you could quite easily use a similar mechanism: X thousand signatures, and it gets introduced, bypassing the ballot entirely. It would be a direct way for us to influence Parliamentary business, and it would mean that parties would have to be more directly responsive to the public. Anything that improves that is a Good Thing.