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.
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.