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The Mapp Report: Labour plays by a new rules

The Mapp Report

www.waynemapp.co.nz

Labour plays by a new set of rules

This week Parliament passed the bill that left Parties with no obligation to pay back any of the $1.17 million in election spending, which was previously found to be unlawful spending in the Auditor General’s Report.

On Wednesday October 18 I gave a speech in Parliament regarding the Appropriation (Parliamentary Expenditure) bill before the bill was put to a vote. The following is the text from my speech. Parliamentary speeches are not read from text, but are given in debate form without notes.

Test of honour

It is the fundamental right of all citizens to hold the Government to account. We do not do that just through elections. As citizens we also want to know whether Governments and parliamentarians are lawful – whether they obey the law. That is one of the fundamental checks in our democracy.

There is no more powerful a case on that than Fitzgerald vs Muldoon when, back in 1975, the Government of the day sought to overturn superannuation by a non-legislative procedure. The courts were absolutely emphatic that one cannot do that – that one must pass law to establish the law of the nation. In essence, the same principle arises here, does it not?

Surely it is fair to demand to know whether the actions of the Labour Party last year followed the law – whether it breached its Appropriation bills or whether it did not. Surely that is a fundamental right of citizens in holding the Government to account.

So what does the Government say?

The Government is saying: “No, we don’t want the courts to judge our actions. We’re going to pretend – because that is what we are actually doing today”.

Let us not fool the public here – that what was unlawful is now lawful, as if it never happened. The public will not be fooled by that. The public will judge the parliamentary Labour Party and its followers, the New Zealand First Party and United Future, harshly for that. They know that the fundamental right of citizens is to have their cases heard and to have judgements from the courts that in essence say: “Were these actions” – the actions of the parliamentary Labour Party last year – “unlawful”. It is a fundamental right of citizens to know that.

But this Government is saying that it is going to take a highhanded approach and remove the right of citizens to know whether the Government’s actions were lawful, as if there were never an issue in the first place.

Labour takes one step towards Third World status

Labour’s attitude is reprehensible, because Western democracies – countries we model ourselves on – are countries of law. Our actions are judged by independent courts. But in this case the Government says “No”. It is going to reduce this country to the level of a Third World democracy, where courts are routinely browbeaten by the lawmakers of the day, and that is, of course, what the legislation does. The Government is saying to the courts and to the citizens that their rights do not matter. It is saying that it has absolute power and will use it ruthlessly to its own end.

Face the music

The public will judge it harshly for that. If those members are true to their word – if they believe in the rule of law – then they will be willing to be judged. They will be willing to have their actions submitted to an independent test of the courts. They can make their submission to the courts. They have, in fact, filed a statement of claim. They can have the judges of the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and their Supreme Court adjudicate to find out whether this Government, this parliamentary Labour Party, actually obeyed the law. Surely that is a fundamental right of all citizens.

20 October 2006


Dr Wayne Mapp


Visit my website for more information at: www.waynemapp.co.nz


ENDS

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