Protecting due process and avoiding Executive Abuses

That the government, in close collaboration with others in Parliament and with civil society and regional and local government:

  1. Refrain from inserting powers of Ministerial override into legislation and refrain from using Ministerial overrides of local government;
  2. That the government does not use any other mechanisms for ministerial override of due process;
  3. Respect and give effect to democratic norms and due process;
  4. Ensure that the rights of civil society and individuals are respected and that measures that reduce trust by society of government, and of society in government are not introduced.
  5. Reduce its use of mechanisms that decrease scrutiny of legislation and policy, and that diminish participation, such as the use of Urgency in Parliament, the bypassing or curtailing of Select Committee hearings, and other short-cutting of due processes.

Why the contribution is important

In the pursuit of narrowly imagined "efficiency" and "streamlining" and its desire to implement what it wants, this and other govermments have run roughshod over due process.

Some of this has been done with actual or still pending changes to allow Ministers to override local and regional government, to make decisions with no or little regard to staturoty grounds for decisions, disregard of the Purpose and provisions of Acts and so on.  In the Parliamentary realm, there has been over use and abuse of Urgency, the use of democracy short-circuiting devices such as Supplementary Order Papers in Parliament to deny civil society and Select Committee scrutiny of proposed legislation; the use of non-Select committees that avoid due process (e.g. the Intelligence and Security Committee), the stacking of the cast of committees and review agencies; the excessive use of whip controls to deny govenrment MPs the right to engage in questioning or discussing matters at Select Committees; the restrictions on the rights of submitters to Select Committees by allowing very short time windows for submissions, for allowing tiny time slots for oral submissions and questions, and so on.  

An example of the latter is the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill - a compendium Bill which is very long, amends, in often very significant ways, the Resource Management Act, the Conservation Act, the Reserves Act, the EEZ & Continental Shelf Act and the Public Works Act.  Individual submitters were mostly allowed only five minutes for oral submissions, organisations were allowed only 10-20 minutes to submit on a huge Bill with vast numbers of changes. 

Due process and democratic norms are essential for good government, for democracy, open government and public participation.  Transparency, public participation, good government are all at stake here.

by Wallacca1 on August 24, 2016 at 03:52PM

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  • Posted by JanRivers August 24, 2016 at 20:24

    This is a great idea and was the general gist of many of the responses made by respondents to the ECO survey. It is hard to see a metric or an action that would make it clear that restraint is being applied in the way suggested with this action. It may be that approaching the constitutional question is the best approach to reining in arbitrary power by government and Ministers.
  • Posted by engage2_Facilitator August 24, 2016 at 22:00

    Thanks for this suggestion - it aligns strongly with actions suggested by Hui E! which is great.
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