Friday, April 05, 2024

A malevolent authoritarian

One of the fundamentals of the New Zealand government system is consultation. On a broad scale, policy proposals generally need to go through a consultation process with the public, or at least with key stakeholders. And within government, agencies are required to consult each other, with Cabinet requiring formal checks to ensure this is done on certain issues. There are good reasons for this: it stops the government from working at cross-purposes and undermining its own policy agenda, it mitigates against groupthink and silos within agencies, it allows the impacts of policies to be accurately identified, and (most importantly) it stops the government making huge mistakes. But Rimmer thinks it takes too long, so he wants to end it. But only for certain voices, of course:

Minister for Regulation David Seymour is frustrated at the way population ministries can slow down the business of government.

Most proposals have to be farmed out to population ministries like the Ministries for Women, Māori, and Pacific Peoples asking whether they think any policy changes will impact the people they are responsible for.

If the ministries have anything to say, and often they do not, their comments are put in a box on the final Cabinet Paper.

Some papers also receive a climate impact assessment, which triggers if the proposal is likely to have an impact on New Zealand’s emissions reduction goals.

Speaking to On the Tiles, the Herald’s politics podcast, Seymour said this slowed things down and that he was keen to change it, although a final proposal had not gone to other ministers.

Seymour said he believed too many of these ministries were consulted when drafting Cabinet papers.

This is a crystal clear statement of which voices Rimmer think matter and which don't - and in the latter category is everyone who isn't a polluting white male. But its also a clear statement of how he wants to govern: by silencing anyone who might speak out against his far-right agenda, and censoring advice which might accurately identify the impacts of his policies. Which is also something you can see in his command that schools punish climate strikers. The man is a nasty malevolent authoritarian. The question is how much we are going to let him undermine our democracy.