Erosion of Democracy Cause for Focus

Opinion by Tony Orman
 
Over the last decade or two I have had increasing concern that democracy is being eroded and is under continuing siege.
Earlier this year, the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand (CORANZ) expressed concern that parliament’s select committee democratic process was being undermined to the detriment of the public giving submissions.
Current CORANZ Chairman Andi Cockroft made an oral submission to a select committee dealing with the Resource Management Act (RMA).
After being beforehand, granted 15 minutes speaking time the chairman Labour MP Duncan Webb, interrupted Andi’s submission after five minutes and said the committee had heard enough thereby cutting the oral presentation short by ten minutes.
The rudeness and snub to democracy left Andi bewildered and angry.
 It has been happening for some years now. Several years ago was the ERMA 1080 poison review in which submitters were mostly given just a token five minute slot. I said at the time, it was evident the ERMA 1080 review was nothing more than a “kangaroo court” and a “token nod” to consultation.
Covid19 Cover
Currently the government  under cover of the Covid19 scare has been pushing law changes through which lack proper democratic scrutiny. Perhaps the Governor-general should be stepping in and giving government a stern reminder about its duty to democracy?
To reiterate it’s been happening for quite a while and it’s fair to say the erosion of democracy is not confined to the current coalition government. The National coalition government (2008-2017) was guilty of a blatant breach of democracy when Environment Minister Nick Smith sacked the democratically elected Environment Canterbury council and grabbed control by installing its own “state puppet” commissioners.
Another example was Environment Minister Nick Smith taking resource contents over 1080 poison aerial drops away from regional council and public scrutiny and giving the government the sole, unassailable power to approve.
MP Public Servants
Politicians are treating the public with disdain, just making a token consultation to listening. After all MPs are in reality, public servants and the Prime Minister is not the people’s leader but the most senior public servant.
Behind central and local government elected representatives were bureaucrats who seemed to manipulate MPs and the procedures to suit political and/or self-serving agendas.
The public believe Parliament is the place of democracy – where you could get a fair hearing from elected representatives based on a historical and moral constitution of honour, truth and justice. It is not a charade.
The manner in which firearm law changes following the Christchurch March 15, 2019 mosque tragedy, were rushed through with “thoroughly indecent haste” showing a total disregard for democracy. Consider the manner of the select committee dealing with 13,000 submissions in just two days. It defies credibility and shows a total lack of integrity.
It was therefore a logical reaction for the public to rate politicians, political parties and governments as among the most untrustworthy.

         

This entry was posted in Home. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Erosion of Democracy Cause for Focus

  1. Charles Henry says:

    “Consultation” is defined by the High Court decision of Air New Zealand Limited v Wellington International Airport Ltd. This decision summarised the relevant considerations for consultation to be as follows:-

    The essence of consultation is the communication of a genuine invitation to give advice and a genuine consideration of that advice. The effort made by those consulting should be genuine, not a formality; it should be a reality, not a charade. Sufficient time should be allowed to enable the tendering of helpful advice and for that advice to be considered. The time need not be ample, but must be at least enough to enable the relevant purpose to be fulfilled. It is implicit that the party consulted will be (or will be made) adequately informed to enable it to make an intelligent and useful response. The party obliged to consult, while quite entitled to have a working plan in mind, should listen, keep an open mind, and be willing to change and if necessary start the decision-making process afresh. The parties may have quite different expectations about the extent of consultation.

    Air New Zealand Ltd v Wellington Airport Ltd HC Wellington, CP 403/91, 6 January 1992

    Faculty of
    Law
    Te Kauhanganui Tātai Ture
    Faculty of Law Research centres New Zealand Centre for Public Law Publications Regulations Review Committee Digest Chapter 13
    Chapter 13: Non-Compliance with Notification and Consultation Procedures: SO319(2)(b)
    A: Standing Order 319(2)(h)
    319 – Drawing attention to a regulation

    (1) – In examining a regulation, the committee considers whether it ought to be drawn to the special attention of the House on one or more of the grounds set out in paragraph (2).

    (2) – The grounds are, that the regulation—

    (h) – was not made in compliance with particular notice and consultation procedures prescribed by statute:

    Hist: SO 315(2)(h) (October 2011 to August 2014), SO 310(2)(h) (September 2008 to October 2011), SO 315(2)(h) (August 2005 to September 2008)

    Regulations can have a significant impact on the rights and liberties of individuals and organisations. Notification procedures allow those that may be affected by proposed regulations to be made aware of their existence. Consultation requirements are designed to give individuals and organisations the opportunity to offer their opinions on proposed regulations, and for those opinions to be considered by the body responsible for making the regulations. Consultation can also allow any problems or issues to be dealt with prior to the regulations coming into force.

    For these reasons, a statute may specify that certain notification or consultation procedures must be undertaken as part of the regulation making process. Two issues may arise when the Committee considers Standing Order 319(2)(h); namely, what notification or consultation requirements did the empowering statute contain, and were those requirements met? Each issue will be examined separately.

    B: When is Consultation Required?
    An Act may contain an express requirement to follow certain notification or consultation procedures. The duty to consult may be framed in several ways. Consultation may be required with specified individuals or groups. Alternatively, the individual or body exercising the power may be given a discretion to consult with ‘appropriate persons’ or ‘those that may be affected by the regulations’. An Act may simply provide that ‘consultation must take place’, while others will set out in some detail the various steps that must be undertaken before a regulation can be made. Section 5 of the Marine Reserves Act 1971 provides an example of the latter. It sets out extensive notification and consultation requirements before an Order in Council can be made declaring an area to be a marine reserve. These include:

    the notification of an application for an Order in Council to be published in various newspapers;
    a requirement to notify adjacent property owners, local bodies, and harbour boards, the Secretary for Transport and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries;
    the preparation of a plan available for inspection free of charge;
    a requirement that the applicant answer any objections to the plan; and
    a duty on the Minister of Conservation to consider all submissions and objections and to uphold an objection if he or she finds that declaring an area to be a marine reserve would have an undue impact on such matters as commercial fishing interests and the recreational use of the area.
    Having established what the consultation requirements in the empowering Act are, the Committee will examine whether they have been complied with. In this case, the Committee found that all obligations as outlined above had in fact been fully discharged.[294] The complainant had argued that the Department of Conservation, as the applicant, had failed to undertake sufficient non-statutory consultation with local interests. Whilst the Committee did express concern as to the level of general consultation, it did not find this standing order to have been breached. This was because the Department was only required to undertake the formal procedures set out in section 5 of the Act.

    An issue that has arisen is whether there can be an implicit requirement to undertake consultation notwithstanding that there is no express requirement to do so. The Committee has adopted different approaches.[295] On the one hand, the Committee has indicated consultation is required even when there is no express requirement to consult. The Whitebait Fishing (West Coast) Regulations 1994 changed the length and timing of the West Coast whitebaiting season. Part IIIA of the Act required extensive consultation procedures to be undertaken prior to the making of regulations. However, the regulations in question were made pursuant to a separate part of the Act that contained no such consultation requirements. This was despite the whitebaiting season being a matter that could have been dealt with under Part IIIA. The issue then became whether the consultation requirements in Part IIIA of the Act should have been adhered to when making the regulations notwithstanding that they were made pursuant to a different part of the Act. The Committee stated that this was ultimately a matter for a court to decide. Interestingly, however, it did make the following statement:[296]

    It is the Committee’s view that the question of whether consultation is necessary requires the department to look further than the express wording of the empowering provisions.

    The Committee’s observation was based, in part, on the unique statutory framework in which these particular regulations were made. The Committee found that Parliament would have intended there to be consistency between the extensive consultation procedures set out in Part IIIA and the making of regulations under different parts of the Act that affect matters also dealt with under Part IIIA.

    On the other hand, in its more recent interim report on a complaint relating to an increased marine safety levy imposed under section 191 of the Marine Transport Act 1994,[297] the Committee was not prepared to find an implicit consultation requirement in relation to the levying power. The Committee nonetheless expressed reservations about the consultation process actually undertaken by Maritime New Zealand. Its concerns included that the consultation was run over the Christmas period, that the consultation period was only extended for those who asked to meet Maritime New Zealand or for those who asked for an extension, and that Maritime New Zealand had advised that the increase would be phased in when in fact the initial increase was 96 percent of the total increase. Further, the Committee recommended that the Marine Transport Act be amended to provide for a statutory consultation process in relation to the levying power. The government response accepted this recommendation, and indicated that an amendment inserting a statutory consultation process would be included in the Maritime Transport Amendment Bill.[298]

    C: What Constitutes Consultation?
    The Committee has previously adopted the common law definition of consultation established in the High Court decision of Air New Zealand Limited v Wellington International Airport Ltd.[299] The Committee has summarised the relevant considerations to be as follows:

    The essence of consultation is the communication of a genuine invitation to give advice and a genuine consideration of that advice.
    The effort made by those consulting should be genuine, not a formality; it should be a reality, not a charade.
    Sufficient time should be allowed to enable the tendering of helpful advice and for that advice to be considered. The time need not be ample, but must be at least enough to enable the relevant purpose to be fulfilled.
    It is implicit that the party consulted will be (or will be made) adequately informed to enable it to make an intelligent and useful response. The party obliged to consult, while quite entitled to have a working plan in mind, should listen, keep an open mind, and be willing to change and if necessary start the decision-making process afresh.
    The parties may have quite different expectations about the extent of consultation.

  2. Nicholas Lorenz says:

    The state can’t give you freedom of speech, and the state can’t take it away. You’re born with it, cherish it and fight like hell to keep it.

  3. Michael Randle says:

    Spot on! Charles Henry comment was most interesting. There is a new book “Free Speech Under Attack” published by Tross Publishing that should be read. It has five key writers.
    In the 21st century there are new forces trying to limit free speech on such absurd grounds as “religious hate speech.” There is an on-going erosion of a vital right to free speech.
    This is a major issue and it is indeed under attack. Get a copy of “Free Speech Under Attack.”

  4. Bud JonesQSM says:

    In 2013 I was granted 15 min. to speak to maori affairs select Com. arguing against a proposed settlement of $`10 mil. to Ngati Toa for loss of marine empire. Crown had prevented them crossing Cook Straight & killing& eating South Island tribes. After 5 min. of my speech the room was agitated, & chairman Ureroa Flavel gave a nod to the brown guards & I was bodily lifted, aim up back & marched out losing 10 min. of my time.
    Bud Jones QSM
    W airarapa

  5. "Bing" Francis says:

    Hi Bud
    That is scandalous. A contempt for free speech by Flavell. He’s out of parliament now. Good riddance.

  6. David Mack says:

    You have to understand that we are living in a post democratic age now. Freedom of speech has been replaced by “cancel culture” and “hate speech laws” which will be ever more rigorously applied to the detriment of those of us who still remember what “freedom” was like. There is one man who is standing between us and the New World Order and their great reset and new normal and that is President Donald Trump. Though not religious myself I pray most fervently for his safety and that of the Secret Service personnel who guard him.

  7. Laurie Collins says:

    I agree with Tony Orman that our democracy has been so severely eroded, especially in the area of the environment, that it will take a long time until it can be seen as acceptable. Recently, I made application to speak to the Buller District Council on why, as a tax payer, they should not be supportive of the use of 1080 in any form. I was given five minutes. I arrived at the council chambers early and sat for thirty minutes, listening to the Department of Conservation repeating the scientifically flawed reasons for the continued and widespread use of 1080 poison and why Buller District Council should be involved and supportive. I cannot recall whether I actually did waste the five minutes granted and put forward the view shared by the majority of rate payers in Buller, against the use of 1080. I recall walking out in disgust. When we look at democracy being eroded, there is normally science behind it. Environmental science in New Zealand has really gone beyond a joke. True science doesn’t impact on democracy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The maximum upload file size: 80 MB.
You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other.
Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded.