Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Govt's politics during crisis an affront to democracy

“That the Government is still pursuing its political agenda under the cover of a national crisis is an affront to democracy”, according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Government’s prisoner voting, urban development, and vaping legislation is still being considered by select committees during the COVID-19 crisis. Now oral submissions on the proposed tenancy laws are proceeding.

“Housing Minister Megan Woods wrote to stakeholders on 27 March to say the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill was on hold.

“But the Social Services and Community Select Committee is forging ahead. Even worse, it is giving submitters just 24 hours to decide whether they’ll make a submission via Zoom.

“While New Zealanders are distracted by the greatest public health emergency of our lives, the Government is still pursuing its political agenda. In the case of its prisoner voting law, it is doing so at breakneck speed.

“If people can’t be heard when laws are made, public respect for the law is eroded. This is the worst imaginable time to shorten public consultation on law-making. It amounts to making laws with no public consultation at all.

“The Government can't have it both ways. It can't say ‘we're in a state of emergency, Parliament's shut, and we have extraordinary new powers, but we're still going to push through our political agenda’. Either we're in a state of emergency where we suspend normal politics, or we're not.

“Times like this require leadership from Government. No government should attempt to avoid scrutiny when New Zealanders are dealing with the fallout of COVID-19. That is not the kind of leadership we need.

“Rushing laws through during a crisis is an affront to democracy and the voters whose system it is. The Government should pause its non-coronavirus legislative agenda until the worst of the COVID-19 is over.”