Thursday, June 16, 2016

End the veto!

Today's abuse of the financial veto to prevent the passage of a law Parliament supported and the government did not have the numbers to defeat tells us one thing: we need to end this practice. The financial veto - and its companion monarchical veto in Standing Order 313 - is an affront to our democracy. It allows the arbitrary whim of the few to prevail over the expressed will of our elected Parliament. Not as a "check and balance", but as a political weapon to suppress Parliament.

That is not how our democracy is supposed to work. As Kenneth Keith put it, "the queen reigns, but the government rules, so long as it has the support of the House of Representatives". Parliament is supreme. It passes the laws, it votes the money, and if the government wants to change either of those things, Parliament has to vote for it.

Normally it does, of course, because the government is the government because it has a majority. But MMP means it doesn't have one on everything. And in such cases, our constitutional principles are clear: Parliament's will should prevail.

The financial veto is an affront to that principle. And all democratic political parties should commit to its removal.