Friday, May 24, 2024

Bringing our democracy into disrepute

On Monday the government introduced its racist bill to eliminate Māori representation in local government to the House. They rammed it through its first reading yesterday, and sent it to select committee. And the select committee has just opened submissions, giving us until Wednesday to comment on it.

Such a short period for submissions seems intentionally designed to minimise public participation and scrutiny, especially by local authorities (who typically have to formally approve their submissions). It's the Parliamentary equivalent of Douglas Adams' famous locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a "beware of the leopard" sign on it. And it brings both Parliament and our democracy into disrepute.

Unfortunately, this is the new normal under National. They are an inherently anti-democratic party. And despite MMP, with the collusion of explicitly anti-democratic coalition partners, they are returning to the Muldoonist mode of exercising power described in Palmer's Unbridled Power (or alternatively, the "blitzkrieg" of Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson), where "the fastest legislature in the west" makes decisions in a flash, without any pretence of public consultation, and tells us to eat it. But that is not how kiwis want to be governed, and we will not tolerate it. Last time, our response to such abuses was to change the electoral system in an effort to prevent it. Clearly stronger measures are now needed to constrain our out-of-control political class.

(Meanwhile, please submit on the bill. If you're not sure where to start, pointing out that it breaches te Tiriti and that parliament should never pass such legislation is a good place to begin).