Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Erasing a stain on our democracy

National's prisoner-voting ban was a stain on our democracy. Passed in defiance of the Bill of Rights Act, with an absence of thought, it brought our parliament into disrepute. But now, that stain has been at least partially erased, with the passage of the Electoral (Registration of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill tonight. But the bullshit the ban symbolised isn't over:

The Green Party have won a last-minute change to the prisoner voting bill that may technically allow all prisoners to register to vote - with the help of the National Party.

But Justice Minister Andrew Little says this change to the bill will be corrected.


“We saw mindless politics from the National Party tonight. The Green Party SOP had two separate amendments. The one that extended the right to vote to all prisoners was voted down. The other one taking away the Electoral Commission’s power to remove disqualified voters from enrolling was inexplicably supported by the National Party. We will be correcting this in the House next week," Little said in a statement.

So it seems that Labour is just as keen on performative cruelty and human rights abuse as National. But if they want to "correct" it next week, they're going to need urgency, and they're going to find that difficult without Green votes. Unless they want to club together with the opposition to fuck over their confidence and supply partner - in which case the latter should simply tell them to rely on National to pass the rest of their legislative program for the term.

Meanwhile, in the long-term, this debacle has shown us that we can not trust Parliament to guard our human rights, as venal politicians will always abuse human rights to suck up to arseholes. But it has also shown us the solution: the courts seized the power to declare legislation inconsistent with the BORA, and effectively shamed them into this repeal. The government is currently trying to tame this power with a bullshit half-measures bill, which would channel that public shame into a parliamentary report - another fine example of Labour's status quo "reform". If you think that that's not enough, and you'd like a BORA with real teeth, then please submit on the bill here.