Views on Validating Legislation

October 18th, 2006 at 8:56 am by David Farrar

Dean Knight provides some excellent analysis of the validating legislation. He, like myself, is not opposed to legislation per se.

Dean makes two important points:

1) The legislation validates all illegal Parliamentary expenditure, not just those activities found to be unlawful by the AG. If for example a corporate box had been leased at the stadium, this would now be validated also. The Government has drafted the validation far too widely – it even validates advertising which was clearly illegal – stuff saying “Vote for Me”.

2) There is no need to legislate for temporary rules. The Speaker could simply issue new directions, as the interpretation challenges have occurred at the level of the Speaker’s directions, not at the legislative level.

The above shows why it is such a bad idea to ram the legislation through Parliament in 24 hours. A law with no scrutiny will be a bad law.

The NZ Herald covers the debate in the House last night. Their editorial also slams the legislation, and especially Labour’s “stubborn refusal to accept the Auditor-General’s judgment and let it stand.”

John Armstrong warns National about trying to be on the moral high ground. LBJ at Sir H also criticises some of National’s tactics in the House.

For my 2c, I think National is right to oppose the legislation, and especially ramming it through under urgency. However I do think they are emphasising the wrong things in opposing it. The focus shouldn’t be on whether it allows a party to not pay it back (the repayment was voluntary anyway). The focus should be on how it affects the Darnton v Clark lawsuit, making sure it is amended to exempt wiping that out, and also opposing the new temporary definitions.

The Dominion Post editorial is also critical of the legislation.

No tag for this post.

26 Responses to “Views on Validating Legislation”

  1. Fred () says:

    Dave thinks the angst of the scandalised masses at another political money scam will carry Don to victory next election.
    Overestimating the already short attention span of the punters is classic National Party.

    Too many voters on Hulun’s payroll means none of this sticks.

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  2. LawGeek () says:

    The legislation renders Darnton v Clark irrelevant. Not because it makes the spending lawful, which many are arguing, but because it constitutes an admission by the government exactly in line with what the litigants are seeking. They want a declaration from the High Court that certain funds given by parliamentary services to political parties was outside the scope of Vote Parliamentary Services – i.e, unlawful. The only reason for the government to seek parliament’s validation of that spending is if they have admitted it is unlawful.

    The High Court is now unlikely to grant relief not because the spending is validated, but because the declaration would serve no purpose. Unlike Muldoon back in the day, the government has effectively caved on the lawfulness point (although they’re unlikely to want it portrayed that way, its the truth). Declaring that the spending was unlawful at the time would be the equivalent of declaring that an admitted murderer was guilty of murder – it’s legally correct but perfectly pointless.

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  3. Ross Nixon () says:

    What I would like to know, is that could a National government in a few years time, pass legislation reversing Labour’s “validation legislation”, making the expenditure illegal again.
    I hope so.

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  4. Ross Nixon () says:

    What I would like to know, is that could a National government in a few years time, pass legislation reversing Labour’s “validation legislation”, making the expenditure illegal again.
    I hope so.

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  5. sonic () says:

    Bit of a fatal flaw in your plan Ross, the clue is the phrase “a National government”

    ;)

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  6. Nicholas O'Kane () says:

    “What I would like to know, is that could a National government in a few years time, pass legislation reversing Labour’s “validation legislation”, making the expenditure illegal again.
    I hope so.”
    I hope so too. Hulun Clark deserves to have her day in court to prove she innocent. Somehow I don’t think she is innocent.

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  7. Chuck Bird () says:

    John Armstong says, “National bizarrely opposes a measure which will put the Crown accounts back in order.” I would have expected a more informed comment from a political commentator. I think it would be a good idea for him to read Kiwi blog. As I understand it National would not be opposed to a sensible considered measure which will put the Crown accounts back in order.

    However, they would expect it not to be rushed through under urgency. They would also expect that there be a guarantee that the money would be paid back and also that this legislation does not affect the court case that was initiated before the Auditors Generals report. I would be very interested to get some comment from John Armstrong.

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  8. Andrew () says:

    Ross – Sonic is right. Why would a government armed with executive priviledge even consider running a fair election process when the concept of ‘legality’ can be changed to re-secure power? That’s what used to happen in a democracy… and we’ve moved on now.

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  9. sonic () says:

    Andrew is making excuses already, is that Nats slogan for the next election going to be

    Three More Years! (of opposition)

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  10. Danyl Mclauchlan () says:

    John Armstong says, “National bizarrely opposes a measure which will put the Crown accounts back in order.” I would have expected a more informed comment from a political commentator. I think it would be a good idea for him to read Kiwi blog.

    And maybe Peter Jackson could learn more about movies if he read ‘Hello’ Magazine.

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  11. Fred () says:

    Sonic is correct ….Don will choose to stay in Opposition rather than take any actual policy risks that differentiate the Nats as something other than a conservative Labour faction.
    Don is good at harmless rhetorical ‘risks’. Like the Orewa speech.

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  12. Andrew () says:

    Sonic mate, you’re so frustratingly close to being 100% correct. But the word you were looking for was ‘Oppression’.

    It doesn’t matter where you are on the ideological continuum. Rulers that change laws to keep themselves free from the consequence of their illegal actions are oppressors. Period.

    We really have arrived wouldn’t you say?

    (Oh, and the ‘Three More Years’ slogan was used in BritPolitics in the ‘80’s so not original enough)

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  13. sonic () says:

    In Britain Andrew parliament is elected for 5 years not three.

    The reference was to US politics where incumbent Presidents use that slogan.

    As for national being oppressed you sound just like…

    http://www.intriguing.com/mp/_pictures/grail/large/HolyGrail007.jpg

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  14. David Farrar () says:

    Sonic – you have avoided stating your view on the validating legislation. Can I ask you:

    1) do you think it needs to be rushed through under urgency and without scrutiny?

    2) Do you agree with a lawsuit against the PM being able to be knocked out through retrospective legislation?

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  15. Andrew () says:

    Great photo- I love Monty Pyhon!

    It doesn’t matter where you are on the ideological continuum. Rulers that change laws to keep themselves free from the consequence of their illegal actions are oppressors. Period.

    National are not oppressed…. all New Zealanders are oppressed.

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  16. Ed Snack () says:

    Sonic, the US call is, of course “four more years”. The US Presidency is for 4, not 3 years. If you must correct, correct correctly !

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  17. sonic () says:

    David, on the legislation, to be honest I do not see it as such a big deal. I’m pretty much in agreement with John Armstrong in this morning’s Herald on that. I’m also not familiar enough with the legal position to decide on the urgency question.

    On the law suit, I think it is a distraction. Ideally the government should be dealt with through politics not by “activist judges”

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  18. David Farrar () says:

    Wow so Sonic think lawsuits are a distraction. He is against the right of citizens to stop the Government from breaking the law. by judicial review.

    And you claim to support a progressive party. If only.

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  19. SPC () says:

    The legislation is catch all over-kill and it is clearly to be superceded by some new legislation to be introduced and enacted before the end of 2007.

    The reason for the backdating before 2000, is possibly an attempt to secure government from any “Public Finance” legal consequence from the Darnton court case, something to which a mere Speakers’ ruling clarification could not speak.

    I wonder if the Maori Party spots a similarity here to F and S legislation? This would explain their position and the Greens abstention.

    Now clearly the right wing print media has added blanket opposition to tax funding of political parties as a new bottom line alongside their universal support for tax cuts.

    But when will they declare their interest in seeking uncapped election campaign free for alls where parties with the rich backers can exploit this through privately paid advertising (what does Labour have to do, guarantee an extension of the broadcast allocation via tax funded allocations for print media advertising?) or the representation of their owners in advocacy of tax cuts for (foreign owned) business in Enzed.

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  20. Andrew () says:

    Sonic, with respect, the Government should be subject to the law in an exemplary fashion, not excused from it for the sake of political convenience.

    To brush off claims for compliance to be tested by the court is to mock democracy. The ‘activist judges’ you allude to are citizens who where part of the process of assigning the Government with executive power. They, along with the rest of us, are duty-bound to call them to account.

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  21. sonic () says:

    David, you seem to have misread my post (must be the red mist)

    Ideally the government should be dealt with through politics not by “activist judges””

    I wonder what thought processes led this simple preference to become ” lawsuits are a distraction”

    Do tell!

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  22. David Farrar () says:

    You refuse to say a bad word about the squuashing of the lawsuit by retrospective legislation. You labeled the lawsuit a distraction. by saying ideally they are not dealt with by Judges, you promote MPs being above the law.

    I really wonder how you guys can be devoid of anything approaching a moral principle.

    I’ve critixsed National several dozen times on this blog for various things, when I don’t agree with them.

    You however show an appetite for looking the other way or applauding anything the Government does.

    In the end you will be sorry, because by condoning such low standards for Labour, you negate your own ammo for when a future National Govt may (sadly) do the same.

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  23. Sinner () says:


    Now clearly the right wing print media has added blanket opposition to tax funding of political parties as a new bottom line alongside their universal support for tax cuts.

    Yep. It’s called… freedom


    But when will they declare their interest in seeking uncapped election campaign free for alls

    .. and this is called democracy

    by condoning such low standards for Labour, you negate your own ammo for when a future National Govt may (sadly) do the same.

    .. whereas I at least am repeatedly calling for National to do just this: bring in a solid anti-corruption investigation dating back to, well, Labour’s election, and starting with that painting!

    It’s called justice.

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  24. david () says:

    Right so lets move on from calling them corrupt. Time for a new label: Immoral

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  26. zbywdo wgbzanjt () says:

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