No Right Turn on trusting politicians to protect our rights

It isn’t often that I agree with Malcolm Harbrow at No Right Turn, but he has this one nailed:

But there’s a bigger problem here as well. The right to trial by jury for any offence with a penalty greater than three months imprisonment is currently enshrined in the Bill of Rights Act. Simon Power is proposing to amend that clause. And he can, with a simple majority of the House (in this case, its a majority of zombies and crazies – Roger Douglas and Hilary Calvert). But this is a fundamental part of our constitution we’re talking about! If they can do this, they can also do it to freedom of speech, or the right to vote.

If there’s one thing this debacle has taught us, its that politicians can’t be trusted as guardians of our fundamental rights. It is time to take those rights out of their hands, by entrenching it and requiring either a supermajority or a referendum to modify. We currently do this with the core of the Electoral Act; its time we did it for our other rights as well.

It is a pity he isn’t so keen on holding the politicians to account with the gerrymandering of the electoral system as proposed with the MMP referendum. The thought that the same politicians he holds in such low esteem will be responsible for suggesting and making changes to MMP should it be retained. This is another case where supermajorities need to be used.


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • “If there’s one thing this deba­cle has taught us, its that politi­cians can’t be trusted as guardians of our fun­da­men­tal rights.”


    He really didn’t know that until now??

  • Chris

    The whole of Parliament needs to wake up and realise it’s time to get together under urgency and pass a bill called the “Sack Hilary Calvert from Parliament (Total Incompetence, Zero IQ, Member of Sub-Human Species) Bill. It would also give Parliament a taste of what it’s like to use urgency properly, something that most MPs have probably never experienced, certainly not for a while, anyway.

  • JK

    When this administration took office it was with a wide expectation that they would try to decrease government and, above all, decrease government’s domineering over peoples life.
    And although a number of good things have been achieve, they have continued on the path of diminishing our rights and individual freedom. In all aspects of life and with varies other parties to give them the majority. The Greens helped destroying our medical freedom and now this lot of Act are busy helping destroying the most fundamental cornerstones of our democracy.
    I am still trying to work out what powers are behind this destruction of our democratic society. The Bureaucratic Academic Complex? Or foreign forces? Whatever the drive, I am appalled that this government is willing to stoop to the same level as those who were in power before them.

  • thor42

    While they’re at it, they should also OPEN UP PARLIAMENTARY SERVICES to scrutiny.
    New Zealand must have one of the **least-open** and most-subject-to-corruption governments in the Western world. It’s bloody time that the government got with the program and changed that. FFS – what have they got to lose? They would WIN a shitload of votes by opening things up – why the delay? It can only be surmised that there is something to hide.

  • peterwn

    There is a balancing of human rights involved. People have a right not to be called for jury service unless reasonably necessary in the interests of justice. A reasonable boundary would be if the accused actually faced a jail term of say 6 months or more (jail sentences of less than 6 months are rare due to a legislative change 40 or so years ago). Moving from 3 months (exception – you can get 6 months for assault with no right to jury trial) to 3 years is probably stretching things too far IMO – something in between would better balance the rights between an accused person and prospective jurors even if cost savings are excluded.

    • It’s basically “six months or more” now. Or rather, it’s currently “more than three months” and you can ask for a jury trial (so if the max is three months, you can’t).

  • Paranorml

    Initially I thought Power had gone berserk with his last gasp of political power, but it appears there is more refined thinking behind this bill than the left would have us believe. Have a look at

    The real failure appears to be Powers ability to sell the bill to parliament and the public.

  • It is a pity he isn’t so keen on hold­ing the politi­cians to account with the ger­ry­man­der­ing of the elec­toral sys­tem as pro­posed with the MMP ref­er­en­dum. The thought that the same politi­cians he holds in such low esteem will be respon­si­ble for sug­gest­ing and mak­ing changes to MMP should it be retained.

    You know the alternative is the same politicians designing an entirely new system, right? Without even the pretence of getting expert advice from the Electoral Commission?

    They’re not going to let me or you or the people of New Zealand design the new electoral system. It won’t be our version of STV or supplementary member. It will be theirs.

    If there’s a second referendum it will be between an MMP system designed by MPs and an alternative system (STV or SM or whatever) designed by MPs.

    • That is a pretty parlous state of affairs wouldn’t you agree?

      • Yes, but it’s rock and a hard place. You can’t really slate I/S for supporting a result in the referendum which will let MPs decide what our voting system will look like when:

        1. both options do that.
        2. you yourself support an option that does that.