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May 27, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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John Key Is a ****

The holiest day on the calendar for political nerds is Budget Day. Sadly, two weeks ago we saw a budget with no real new ideas, no big plans to help New Zealanders and a dodgy surplus thrown together by petrol taxes and making cuts to Student Allowance. It was all pretty shit. But what’s shittier is the ‘trash’ they threw out with the Budget. You see, as we all get excited about the Budget, the Government can get away with doing some less popular lawmaking without drawing too much attention. This year we have seen the Government adopt the truly astounding position of giving zero fucks about democracy.

It started on Tuesday of Budget Week. Judith Collins announced that there would be no changes to the MMP system. In 2011, 57 per cent of Kiwis voted to keep MMP, on the understanding that a review would result in improvements to the system. The review received over 1000 submissions and proposed making minor changes to make our elections more democratic. Collins proceeded to send one letter to other parties asking if they supported the changes. There was broad support from all parties, except for her own. As a result, she threw out the recommendations, making a joke of the review process in order to make future National-led Governments more likely.

On Friday our democracy took a second blow. The House sat on a Friday (unusual) to pass a Bill that bans protest around oil-drilling operations (undemocratic) without the Bill being sent to select committee for public consultation (unconscionable). Using urgency for this Bill is inexcusable, and is no more than an attempt to sweep bad law under a thick layer of Budget crap. The law did not need to be urgently changed and it is unthinkable to bypass public consultation for a Bill which curtails democratic rights.

On Saturday came the final blow. In a desperate attempt to scrape together a surplus in their Budget, the Government changed the law so that those who care for disabled family members no longer receive payment. It means that strangers taking care of disabled people will be paid, but family members doing the same job get nothing. This law overruled a decision made by the Court of Appeal. The Bill was introduced to the House on the same day it was passed. It had no consultation, and key parts of the documentation accompanying the Bill were blacked out as “legally privileged”. W***ers.

But it gets worse. The Government’s own chief legal advisor, the Attorney-General, officially advised that the law is contrary to the Bill of Rights. And in a move to really kick the most needy squarely where it hurts, the law also expressly prevents further legal action being taken. So, it’s a discriminatory law but if you want to challenge anything about it in court, you’re shit out of luck.

National: Three
New Zealand’s Democracy: Nil

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