Friday, February 20, 2015

A dilemma

The Privileges Committee has called for submissions on their Question of privilege regarding use of social media to report on parliamentary proceedings. Its an important topic with huge implications for our democracy, and normally I would be encouraging people to submit in favour of a more open Parliament. However, we've been down this road before. Just a few months ago, we also faced an important topic with huge implications for our democracy, in the shape of Key / Kitteridge Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill. I encouraged people to submit, wrote a submission guide to help them, and many people did based on that. And the committee didn't read any of them. The entire submissions process was a fraud, a charade designed to lend democratic legitimacy to a decision that had already been made and which was going to be rammed through regardless of what we thought of it. And our participation only helped provide cover for that.

So, my question is, do I encourage people to submit on this, and lend their democratic legitimacy to the process, knowing how it has been abused in the past and that National may simply be looking for a rubberstamp for a decision it has already made (and National, by raising this, clearly Has Some Views on what people should be allowed to say about them and their patsy Speaker over Twitter during Question Time)? I can't in good conscience encourage people to waste their time. But I'm not sure that I can just walk away from our democracy either.

And that's the core problem: when you abuse the democratic system as National has, people lose faith in it. And that really is not good for our democracy.