Post No 4 on the Canterbury Earthquake Bill

As certain people get hysterical over the fact I have not condemned a bill which was passed unanimously by every MP in Parliament – yes by Labour, by the Greens, even by Jim Anderton. How this makes it partisan is beyond me. It is a rare display of non-partisanship.

But I thought it would be useful to highlight what I have actually said about the law.

Post No 1 was yesterday at 8.19 am. I quoted the concerns of the Greens and ACT over the bill (but they voted for it), and commented:

And people should be vigilant. The powers given to the Government are potentially immense.

I also blogged on how the Opposition, the media and bloggers should be vigilant about how the powers granted under the law are used.

And I praised the Government for agreeing to a Labour amendment to reduce the time period by three years.

Post No 2 was primarily a link to Andrew Geddis, who is extremely critical of the law. Yes I went out of my way to point people to a serious attack on the law. I referred to the act as “constitutionally over-reaching and potentially draconian”. I also blogged:

The Government should indeed be very careful about any use of the emergency powers. There will be a backlash, if they are used un-necessarily.

Also, as I commented on the other thread, it could well be a good idea in say a couple of months, to look at amending the Recovery Act so the powers to amend legislation by regulation is restricted to just those Acts identified as necessary. I can understand that initially there may not have been time to go through all 2,000 or so Acts and identify which ones of them may get in the way of reconstruction – but that could be done over the next few weeks.

So I am actually proposing constructive ways the law can be changed to be less far-reaching. I’ve yet to see anyone else do much apart from whine.

Then we had the third post last night. It basically has two arguments to it.

The first is I actually say that if you go back to the original meaning of a dictatorship (the roman version), then it is indeed arguably correct to say we have a dictatorship. Now if anyone thinks me saying “Oh yes we are actually in a dictatorship” is the message the Government wants out there, they need to get real. I am sure the Government is just delighted that I am saying “Well, technically we are in a dictatorship”. Yes in fact I’ve just checked my daily talking points from the PMO, and in bold underlined text they say “David, please go out there and blog how technically it is correct to say we are in a dictatorship – but stress it is a nice dictatorship”

The second is I made the argument that this is a well intentioned or even benevolent dictatorship – like the original Roman dictatorships were – a temporary granting of power to get through an emergency. I stand by this assertion – I do not think this is some grab for absolute power by the Government. This is an assertion no doubt shared by the Green party and Labour party, as they voted unanimously for the law.

My position remains constant – the emergency law is well intentioned, but constitutionally over-reaching and I would like to see it amended in the next couple of months to restrict the ability to amend laws to those acts identified as likely to need amending for the purpose of recovery.

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