The Futility Of Consultation

It’s more or less as everybody thought. That suspected syndrome of the government consulting, (so it can trumpet that it did), then it goes ahead and does what it planned to, all along. Recently, the 1Law4All newsletter editor received confirmation straight from a local MP. The MP concerned said that the Bill before the Select Committee was about water quality standards. As they all drink the same water, that’s something that should be easy for all parties to get some agreement on.

A number of well-respected and qualified specialists made submissions – written and oral. At some point, the chairman leaned over towards the MP concerned – who was keenly promoting the Bill – and whispered: don’t waste your time xxxxxx; we’ve got the numbers. (to ensure the Bill would not be adopted).

At the time of writing, the government had 18 Select Committees. Those committees consult with and hear submissions from all New Zealanders on Bills (proposed new or revised laws) that parliament has proposed. The committee then provides a report and recommendation to parliament on what the committee thinks ought to be considered about a particular Bill. Select Committees have members from all parties represented in parliament, from the opposition and government. The government chooses the select committee members.

With the exception of two, Select Committees have a National Party chair person. And the chairperson has a casting vote, should a select committee have a tied vote on some matter. That way, the National Party almost always gets the decision it wants, because all the select committee memberships are ‘stacked’ to achieve that.