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A Farce Of A Parliamentary Process – NZ Initiative

The New Zealand Initiative has damned the consultation process for the Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Legislation Bill. It urges that the Bill be amended to force rigorous [MB1] post-enactment scrutiny, with the legislation repealed by 30 September if that scrutiny does not take place.

The Government and Administration Committee sent an email at 9:00 pm on Tuesday 28 March, calling for submissions by 5:00 pm the following day, Wednesday 29 March. This move has left submitters with less than 24 hours to respond, a timeframe that Executive Director Dr Oliver Hartwich has described as “outrageous.”

Hartwich further emphasised that the bill is not a “harmless run-of-the-mill bill" but a powerful tool that could effectively suspend primary legislation and grant broad powers to the Minister over an extended period. He expressed disappointment in the lack of democratic etiquette demonstrated by the government, particularly in light of the entrenchment fiasco last year.

The Initiative’s Chief Economist, Dr Eric Crampton, echoed Hartwich’s sentiments, stating that the legislation had received no prior scrutiny and that the current process provided no opportunity for appropriate deliberation. Crampton criticised the select committee process as an insult to those invited to submit and to parliamentary democracy.

In its 2018 report, “Recipe for Disaster: Building Policy on Shaky Ground”, the Initiative recommended that off-the-shelf legislation be prepared well before any disaster, with appropriate scrutiny and consideration.

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The government cannot undo its failure to adequately prepare for emergency situations. But it can require immediate post-implementation review of the legislation, with a more rigorous and appropriate Select Committee process to amend it. In its one-page submission, this is what the Initiative recommends.

The Initiative views this episode as a shameful moment in New Zealand’s parliamentary democracy.

Read our submission: The Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Legislation Bill

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