The Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act passed tonight. The Act gives the Govt the power to make and break almost every law in the country until April 2012, in the pursuit of the recovery of Canterbury after the earthquake. It uses Orders In Council, a kind of regulation promulgated by Government Ministers and rubber stamped by the Governor General, in order to make and break all other laws.
We tried to improve the legislation. We moved half a dozen amendments, but National and Labour opposed most.
We tried to allow courts to review Ministers’ decisions to recommend Orders in Council. Lab and Nat opposed.
We tried to get Orders in Council published within 24 hours and presented to next day’s sitting of Parliament. Nats and Lab opposed.
We tried to get a majority of elected Cantabrians onto Recovery Commission (rather than a majority of central govt appointees as it is now). Nat and Lab opposed.
We tried to limit the laws that could be altered by OIC to those actually listed, rather than all laws. And we tried to remove Local Govt Official Info and Meetings Act from that list. Nats opposed.
We tried to get a 6 month sunset clause written into the Act, with the ability to move a motion to extend it for another 6 months. Nat and Lab opposed.
We did get the Official Info Act to apply to the Recovery Commission.
And then after all that we had to decide how to vote on it. We decided to vote for it to support Canterbury’s recovery. But it was with a heavy heart given all our reservations about the act.
This Govt really does not respect basic constitutional principles, as we saw with the ECAN democracy abolition act also.