‘Undemocratic’: Law Society decries Three Waters entrenchment addition & More Trending News


Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta talking through the committee stage of the Water Services Entities Bill in Parliament final week. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Introducing an entrenchment provision into Three Waters laws whereas the Government is working beneath urgency is unconstitutional and undemocratic, the top of the New Zealand Law Society believes.

Law Society president Frazer Barton has penned a letter to Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, criticising a brand new clause that was added to the Water Services Entities Bill, often known as Three Waters laws.

“The late inclusion of an entrenchment clause in the Water Services Entities Bill breaches a well-established convention observed by successive Parliaments,” Barton mentioned.

“Under this convention, entrenchment provisions are reserved for significant constitutional matters outside the scope of general policy debate.

“The entrenchment clause is undemocratic: it proposes to bind the hands of future governments on a contestable policy position.”

Mahuta, who was in Canberra to satisfy Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong, would reply to the letter quickly, in keeping with certainly one of her representatives.

The clause, proposed final week by Greens MP Eugenie Sage who was additionally despatched the Law Society’s letter, launched an entrenchment provision on one other clause that dictated water companies and belongings stay in public possession, that means the latter couldn’t be repealed or amended with out assist from 60 per cent of MPs.

Entrenchment was hardly ever used, reserved for sure electoral legal guidelines and the way lengthy a Government’s time period lasted, and required 75 per cent of MPs to assist a change to these legal guidelines.

The invoice was certainly one of greater than 20 items of laws the Government needed to get via beneath urgency, extending House sitting hours after the equal of per week’s sitting time was misplaced when Queen Elizabeth II died in September.

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage. Photo / Sylvie Whinray
Green Party MP Eugenie Sage. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

The consequence of urgency was that laws wasn’t given as a lot scrutiny because it usually would, highlighted by the actual fact 4 payments have been rushed via with out the general public having the ability to give their ideas on the proposed regulation modifications, one thing that normally occurred through the choose committee course of.

Following the supply being added to the Water Services Entities Bill, a bunch of the nation’s high public regulation lecturers urged the Government to reverse the transfer as they feared it could set a “dangerous precedent” concerning using entrenchment for partisan points.

Barton, in his letter, mentioned he agreed with the lecturers who had beforehand aired their considerations.

“If this bill passes in its current form, future Parliaments may be bound by the policy decisions made by the current Government regarding the ownership of water services and infrastructure.

“The use of entrenchment provisions to hinder policy reform in this manner undermines democracy, and is, in our view, unconstitutional.”

He additionally believed using urgency had compromised Parliament’s means to “scrutinise” the laws.

“Taking urgency also precludes the seeking of further advice from officials, and the giving of proper consideration to the impacts of the proposed amendments.”

Barton “strongly” urged the Government to ship the invoice again to the Committee of the Whole House, earlier than its third studying set for this month, and take away the entrenchment provision.

“Should the Government choose to pursue an entrenchment provision in future, that should be by way of a separate amendment bill, enabling public and legislative scrutiny.”

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern mentioned Cabinet thought of the problem of the entrenchment clause and resolved to kick the matter again to Parliament’s Business Committee – a cross-party group of MPs that debate the operating of Parliament.

It appeared doubtless the a part of the invoice that was entrenched could be eliminated earlier than the laws is lastly handed within the House’s subsequent sitting block, which started subsequent week.

In a press release, Sage mentioned she agreed entrenchment needs to be reserved for issues of “utmost importance”.

“Retaining the public ownership of water assets is of prime importance to New Zealanders, and the Greens believe meets this threshold.”

‘Undemocratic’: Law Society decries Three Waters entrenchment addition

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‘Undemocratic’: Law Society decries Three Waters entrenchment addition

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