Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Another shoddy analysis

What's the case for the government's Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill? I've been reading the bills Regulatory Impact Statement, and the short version is that there isn't one.

A RIS is a vital part of the quality control process for government policy. The guidelines for RIS's are laid out in treasury's Regulatory Impact Analysis Handbook. A RIS should state the status quo, define the problem and objectives, identify the range of feasible options, and analyse them. Often this is a game of salmonella, with options chosen simply to frame debate and push approval of the government's preferred option. But the mere fact that they have to do that, and assess the costs and benefits of their preferred policy against a default option of doing nothing, means that we get some idea of whether a policy stacks up.

The spy-bill RIS doesn't bother with this. It has a problem, it has a preferred option, and that's it. No alternatives are considered, and there is no cost-benefit analysis. There's not even any human rights analysis (another regular feature of RISs). It is, in short, a shoddy and unprofessional piece of work. Just like their last one (and note that it is the same public servant signing off on both of them).

What about the BORA-vet? Amy Adams thinks the bill is consistent with the Bill of Rights Act. Taking people's passports away, exiling them from New Zealand without charge or trial, sticking video-cameras in people's bedrooms without a warrant? All fine according to her. National security trumps fundamental human rights, and the SIS's desire to spy trumps any safeguard. If this is an example of how the BORA-vet process works, its just another example of why we need judicial rather than political oversight.