Friday, September 04, 2015



Action on refugees?

Public pressure to raise the refugee quota to help some of the millions of people displaced by the Syrian civil war and ongoing fallout from the US invasion of Iraq is growing, and now our political parties are responding, with not one but two members bills seeking leave for urgent introduction and passage next week. First, Labour has a bill to allow an extra 750 refugees this year as an immediate response to the crisis. And the Greens have one to immediately increase the annual quota to a thousand.

In terms of process, both will have to seek leave for introduction and swift passage, similar to that granted to David Seymour for his rugby meathead boozing bill. But as the Greens' Denise Roche points out.

“If Parliament can pass urgent law to allow bars to open all hours during the Rugby World Cup, then Parliament can pass a law with similar urgency that can save desperate children and their families.

Tuesday will see a serious test of our country's - and the National party's - values. Hopefully the government will make the right choice.

(Of course, if they don't want to spend Parliament's time on this, all they have to do is issue a new Immigration Instruction raising the quota. Which takes merely the stroke of a pen. And hopefully the prospect of these two bills will see that happen by Monday).

New Fisk

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

More secrecy from National

Two years ago, the government announced a plan to transform school property, including a $300 million fund to fix mouldy schools. The government has made a lot of noise about how they're going to spend a lot of money on this, but when asked about it, they refuse to say where:

A list of the country's most leaky and mouldy schools is being kept secret by the Government because it doesn't want Crown ministers pressured to make decisions.

[...]

The Herald asked the Ministry of Education for a list of those schools needing major redevelopment.

It was given the names of just 16 schools - those already publicly approved.

The rest of the list was declined, with the head of the infrastructure service Kim Shannon saying their redevelopments were "by no means guaranteed".

"The list may change due to budget constraints and due to the possibility that other schools may be identified as higher priority once condition assessment work is completed."

The request was declined under section 9(2)(i) of the Official Information Act "so as not to prejudice the decisions of minister and/or Cabinet decision-making process".


As the article notes, that section actually applies to information which would prejudice the government from engaging in "commercial activities" - which simply isn't the case. Its a bullshit withold, and obviously so. (Its also hard to see what other grounds could apply? "Negotiations"? Not internally. "Free and frank opinion"? Doesn't apply to facts. "Confidential advice"? Might apply to the priority, but not to the list itself).

In light of such an abuse, the Greens' Catherine Delahunty is asking, with some justification, whether the Minister has instructed officials to withhold information unlawfully in order to protect the government. Its a good question. Officials don't use such transparently bullshit tactics on their own, and the natural suspicion is pressure from above. And this government has demonstrated a clear preference for secrecy, and for abusing the law to maintain it.

Thursday, September 03, 2015



New Fisk

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

Climate change: No, they can't

The Greens launched an ambitious new climate change policy today, aimed at showing that we could do better than the government's pathetic target of an 11% reduction (by carbon trading) and achieve actual domestic emissions reductions of 40% (on 1990) by 2030. Its an important policy: climate change is the challenge of our age, and one we have to do our bit to solve if we don't want our lives to get significantly worse. And its an opportunity for the Greens to show that they have serious solutions to this problem. Unfortunately, when I started digging into their numbers, they just don't add up. There are some very serious and credible policies in there, but some appear to be pure fantasy.

First, the good bits of their proposal:

  • Cutting 4.8 MT from electricity emissions by moving to 100% renewable electricity generation by 2030: This is ambitious, but achievable. The market is heading in that direction already, shutting down fossil fuel plants while building renewables, so its pushing with the trend. To get there, we need to ban new thermal generation, and shut down Stratford, the rest of Huntly, and Whirinaki. That's not as hard as it sounds - the Stratford Combined Cycle is nearing the end of its life and will shut down before 2030 anyway, and Whirinaki hardly ever runs. For the newer Huntly turbine and the Stratford peakers, it will mean shutting down significantly earlier than planned. But as part of the proposal is to shut down Tiwai Point, freeing up 10% of our generation, the market will probably kill them anyway.
  • Cutting 2.2 MT from agricultural emissions: At the moment, farmers do nothing towards our climate change target (except for spewing nitrous oxide and methane into the air). The Greens would tax their emissions, giving them an incentive to pollute less. 2.2 MT is about 6% of current farming emissions, and a cut of that magnitude by 2030 seems perfectly doable given the technology we have and those in the pipeline. The ambition here is in bringing farmers in at all.
  • A mass tree-planting program to sequester 180 MT by 2030: This requires planting 50,000 Ha a year of permanent pine forest on marginal land. Planting native forest would require more land, as would planting for future harvest. It sounds like a big ask, but we achieved higher rates in the early 1990's, so its certainly do-able (and that was without government intervention); the question is one of political will. The problem though is the time-curve - the later we start, the more we need to plant.
  • Reducing industrial process emissions by 2.1 MT: Half of this comes from adopting EU regulations on fluorinated gases (used in refrigeration systems and air conditioners), which outlaw the most dangerous gases and require servicing, containment and recovery. These are expected to reduce emissions from this sector by two thirds, or 1 MT in NZ. Of the rest, half comes from closing Tiwai Point, something which looks likely anyway - that's another 0.6 MT. Finally, they think the efficiency of the iron and steel industry - which means the Glenbrook steel plant - by about a third, saving another 0.5 MT. The last bit may be questionable, but the rest is solid.

The slightly dubious bits:

Cutting 7.7 MT of transport emissions by improving public transport and improving vehicle fuel economy: The problem here is that total 2013 road transport emissions were only 12.5 MT, so the Greens are proposing a ~60% cut in 15 years. Which seems insanely ambitious. And breaking it down it doesn't get any better. The best number in there is to halve road transport emissions through using 50% biofuels, which would give a solid 2.8 MT cut - but requires building a 40 PJ a year biodiesel industry in just 15 years. Policywise that means some sort of biofuels obligation like the one Labour passed and National shitcanned out of spite, but instead of a gentle-ramp up, it requires annual growth rates of more than 25% a year. And I am not sure that we can do that (OTOH, if we can, then someone is going to make a hell of a lot of money).

They propose doubling the decrease in car use from 1% to 2% per annum by better public transport and urban form. This would mean a 26% decrease in car emissions, saving 1.8 MT. Its a nice dream, but I'm not sure whether the measures proposed will hit that target, especially in the timeframes involved: urban form is a very long term project, and serious public transport infrastructure like Auckland's City Rail Link has lead times of a decade. While I think the CRL will make a huge difference to Auckland, I doubt it'll mean that half the city stops using their cars overnight, which is what's needed for the Greens to hit that target when the thing is built. For other cities, Wellington has good public transport, and would be hard-pressed to have a solution for the south of the city built by the target date of 2030. And Christchurch is still settling after the earthquake.

Finally, there's a suggestion of improved fuel efficiency standards (a policy I support), with a quick implementation of the EU 2020 fuel efficiency standard and a move to require that new vehicles be electric by 2030. That's do-able, and would have a serious effect; the average age of NZ's car fleet was 13 years in 2012, so it would mean a serious increase in average fuel efficiency. But not enough to save the 3.1 MT they want, because cars hang around for a long time and people buy used as well as new. Their solution to this is "an increase in our vehicle turnover between 2020 and 2030". That's right: the Greens want to save the environment by forcing us to buy more cars. I'm not sure that that's a good solution.

Still, there's some good stuff here which will make a big difference. Some of the assumptions about how much of a difference and how soon are a little heroic however.

Then there's the outright bad:

  • Reducing industrial fossil fuel use by 3.7 MT: This is supposed to come about by cutting coal use by 90% and liquid fossil fuels by 40% through carbon taxes. Great! The problem is that industrial coal use is only 2 MT, and liquid fuel useage 1.3 MT. Even if they eliminated those entirely, it still wouldn't be the cut they're after. There's 2.5 MT of gas too, but they want to keep that steady (and presumably some of that coal and diesel would switch to gas, so it would likely increase unless users move to biomass).
  • Cutting 3.6 MT of emissions from waste: The Greens point to the example of the UK, which managed to cut its solid waste emissions by 2/3rds since 1990 through reduced input (driven by a landfill tax) and increased methane capture. Based on this, they say that "it should be achievable to reduce New Zealand’s waste emissions by 40 to 70 percent by 2030". But their number is 78% of our 4.6 MT emissions from solid waste - well beyond what they say they're estimating, and beyond the UK example. They also note that 55% of those emissions come from small farm dumps, but that these could be reduced by regulating them. The problem is that those dumps will continue to emit, while small farms dumps aren't so good for doing methane capture on. There are definitely improvements to be made here (and we even have the legislation to drive some of them, in the form of the Waste Minimisation Act), but I'd like some more credible numbers based on the NZ situation rather than the UK one of vast, centralised landfills.

On the positive side, the economy wide measures: replacing National's bullshit ETS with a carbon tax, establishing a climate change commission to report on progress, and a Green Investment bank to drive change, are all sensible. But their numbers just don't add up. And that's a serious problem, because it undermines the credibility of the credible solutions they do offer, while providing National with further excuses to do nothing. And this isn't the first time they've done this: every Green climate change policy has had this same problem of letting ambition get ahead of the numbers.

We can do this. We can beat climate change. Its going to require ambitious policies to drive massive technological and economic change. But we're not going to do it by overestimating the effects of our policies and lying to ourselves about how easy its going to be.

[Numbers drawn from the 2013 Inventory Report and CRF tables]

Wednesday, September 02, 2015



Justice for Maher Arar

In 2002, Maher Arar was detained in the USA while on a stopover returning home to Canada. The Americans then labelled him a terrorist and rendered him to Syria, where he was tortured at their behest. Now, Canada has formally charged one of his torturers:

Canada has charged a Syrian intelligence officer with torturing Maher Arar, the Canadian whose 2002 rendition to Syria by U.S. authorities became a cause célèbre.

The criminal charge against Col. George Salloum is reportedly the first of its kind in Canada and marks a formal acknowledgment that Arar was tortured after the U.S. handed him over on suspicion of terrorist links. An earlier official Canadian inquiry declared Arar innocent of any such links.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who brought the charge against Salloum, are calling for him to be extradited to Canada. Salloum allegedly oversaw Arar’s torture in Syria’s notorious Sednaya prison.


This is good news, and hopefully Salloum will be extradited to face justice. But at the same time, there's an obvious question: shouldn't Canada also be charging the American spies who rendered Arar and arranged his torture? Or do they get a free pass because they're American?

Raise the quota

New Zealand prides itself as being a decent country which does its bit on the international stage. We help out when there are disasters. We give international aid (though not nearly enough). And we're always ready to join in when George or Tony (or Dave or Barrack) want to bomb somewhere and need some sucker to lend them legitimacy (OK, so maybe that's not so good).

But on refugees, we're appalling. We take just 750 a year (plus or minus 10%). And we haven't changed that number since 1987. In the interim, our population has grown by almost 40% and our GDP has more than tripled. In other words, we're not doing our bit, and we could do a hell of a lot more.

John Key, whose mother was a refugee, is reluctant to raise our refugee quota, even temporarily, because its the wrong time, and he doesn't want to care for them, and we have to have a referendum on the flag, don't you know. But his support parties disagree with him, and there's now a clear majority in Parliament to take more. So how do we do it?

Conveniently, the Greens' Denise Roche already has a bill to do this. Its missing two words, "at least", the consequences of which are that future increases can only come through statute, but its a start. But currently its waiting on the ballot, when the world is facing a crisis.

But there's another way. Some of you may recall that just a couple of weeks ago, Parliament granted leave for David Seymour's sportsball booze bill to be effectively progressed under urgency. Some readers in the Waikato may think I lack perspective, but IMHO if they can do this so rugby meatheads can get pissed at 5am while watching some bullshit sporting event, then the least they can do is do it so that helpless people don't die.

So, how about it, Parliament? Want to show that we have a democracy we can be proud of? Or are you really only interested in football and fucking flags?

Something to go to in Wellington

Interested in the Open Government Partnership and New Zealand's (lack of) commitment to it? Steven Price, the OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism researcher for New Zealand (and thus the effective watchdog on whether we're fulfilling our obligations) is hosting a public consultation meeting in two weeks time:

VUW law lecturer Steven Price is the New Zealand researcher for the IRM, the agency responsible for assessing New Zealand’s performance under the OGP. He is convening a meeting at lunchtime on 14 September 2015 to provide an opportunity for those interested in the OGP to comment on New Zealand’s Action Plan. Do you support it? Could it be improved? Has there been proper consultation? Has the plan been put into action in the past year? What has been achieved? Is it making a difference? Might it be done better next time? How?

The meeting will be held in the Moot room on the 3rd floor of VUW Law School in the old Government Building. Please RSVP to steven.price@vuw.ac.nz.

Steven has some great documentation on the OGP and NZ's action plan here.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means

Yesterday's flag announcement having been met with a lot of "meh" (I mean "ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOFLAG"), the Herald's
Claire Trevett is now breathlessly reporting on "plots" to "gerrymander" the referendum:

Four shortlisted flag designs will be put to the vote in November but plots to gerrymander the referendum results are already under way.

[...]

Labour's flag spokesman Trevor Mallard said the koru was "absolutely awful" so it was likely he would vote for it as a protest vote. Officials had earlier warned there was a risk that opponents of change could vote for the least attractive option to try to ensure a weaker contender against the current flag.

The RSA and NZ First are also both urging opponents of change to either destroy or spoil their ballot papers in the first referendum and Labour leader Andrew Little said he will not vote.

Flag Consideration Panel chairman John Burrows said it would be a shame if attempts to skew the results emerged. "I hope there won't be much gerrymandering because I think people have got to see what an important occasion this is.


In case Trevett can't use a dictionary or wikipedia, "Gerrymandering" is the practice of manipulating district boundaries to create partisan political advantage. Which clearly isn't what is going on here (for a start: there are no districts). Instead, people are suggesting tactical voting for their preferred outcome, or strategic abstention to undermine the legitimacy of the result. And that's not "gerrymandering", but good old-fashioned democracy in action. And if Burrows and Trevett find that somehow dubious, it says a lot more about them than it does about us.

[With thanks to Inigo Montoya]

Tuesday, September 01, 2015



"A threat to national security"

That's how the UK government describes Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn:

A Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn would pose a threat to national security by undermining the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, according to the chancellor, George Osborne.

The chancellor said “an unholy alliance of Labour’s leftwing insurgents and the Scottish nationalists” would shatter decades of near-unbroken Westminster consensus in favour of maintaining a nuclear capability.

Both Corbyn, the favourite to succeed Ed Miliband, and the SNP oppose the renewal of the Trident missile system being pursued by the Conservative government. Osborne said that would be disastrous.


Because Cthulhu forbid that people actually be presented with a political choice on whether they want to host weapons of mass destruction or threaten the mass-murder of civilians as a means of foreign policy.

But the real problem here isn't that the UK government thinks that its nuclear toys should be beyond democratic control; in a democracy, they're entitled to think that, and to advocate it and face the judgement of voters for doing so (and lets face it, being denounce dby nuke-happy Osborne is like being denounced by Tony Blair: good, not bad). The problem is that it maintains a number of organisations specifically established to deal with "threats to national security". And by using that particular term, Osborne has just given them carte blanche to intervene in domestic politics and go after one of his political rivals. And that threatens the basis of UK democracy itself.

When a government retains power by denouncing its opponents as treasonous, they are dangerous and must be removed. The quicker UK voters vote the Tories out on their arse, the safer they'll be.

Meh

Today the government announced the four candidates for John Key's vanity flag referendum: three ferns (one of them the logo of Immigration NZ and the Companies Office) and a koru. And really, all I can say is "meh". The interesting designs - Matthew Clare's "Seven Stars of Matariki" and Tomas Cottle's "Modern Hundertwasser" - didn't make the cut (the latter being removed for copyright reasons). So basicly we've got three variations on a rugby meathead symbol and a koru which has already been dubbed the "hypnoflag" (all glory to the hypnoflag). Which at least gives us a standing political joke any time a politician tries to appeal to it.

Its a preferential vote, and with two variations on the same thing (and one very close option), its pretty clear which one John Key and his "independent" panel wants to win. But while strapping the chicken might get him his way in the first vote, I'm not sure that it will in the second.

New Fisk

In treating needy refugees like invaders, we risk losing our humanity
Jailed Al Jazeera journalists: Canada is the final hope for Mohamed Fahmy's shocked wife

Australia's wasteful racism

Earlier this year the Australian government cut a dodgy deal with Cambodia to dump refugees there. So how has that worked out for them? Not very well at all:

Australia’s $55m plan to resettle refugees from Nauru to Cambodia appears finished, with just four refugees moved to the south-east Asian country at a cost of more than $13m per refugee.

Four refugees – an Iranian couple, Iranian man and a Rohingyan man from Burma – were transferred from Nauru to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in June.

Since then, they’ve lived in relative luxury in an Australian-funded villa, and will remain there indefinitely.

However, Cambodia expects it will take no more from Australia’s resettlement plan.

“We don’t have any plans to import more refugees from Nauru to Cambodia,” interior ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told the Cambodia Daily. “I think the less we receive the better.”


Just another example of the colossal waste of Australia's racist anti-refugee policy. But while $13 million per refugee is extreme, its worth remembering that they already waste $859,000 a year per person for offshore imprisonment (mostly to its gouging contractors, Transfield Services and Wilson Security).

But if Australia is willing to pay such an obscene amount of money not to see brown people, maybe we should step in and take them. Two refugees would pay for John Key's vanity flag referendum. Eight would feed the kids with a universal school lunch program. A hundred would allow us to double government science funding. And if John Key did the decent thing and doubled our refugee quota, and took them all from Australia, it would almost pay for our entire education system (plus, they'd get to go to Australia anyway as NZ citizens).

Not that we should be profiting from Australian racism. But it does illustrate the insane amount of money the current Australian government is willing to spend, and the sheer wastefulness of it. And I am glad to see the program failing.

Friday, August 28, 2015



Mass-murder

That's the only way to describe the UK government's welfare "reforms", given their effects:

More than 80 people a month are dying shortly after being declared “fit for work” according to new data, prompting campaigners to call for an overhaul of the government’s controversial welfare regime.

Statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions on Thursday show that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after a work capability assessment (WCA) found they were able to work.

The administration of the WCA by officials has been widely criticised as crude and inaccurate by campaigners. There have been hundreds of thousands of appeals of fit-for-work decisions over the last few years, about four in 10 of which have succeeded.


While DWP is mongering doubt about the correlation, the Black Triangle Campaign has been tracking people who have died as a result of this policy. There's a list of the dead here. Those deaths can be laid squarely at the feet of the UK Cabinet, who should be tried as mass-murderers.

Meanwhile, it really makes you wonder how many have died here in New Zealand as a result of National's welfare "reforms"...

Places to go, people to be again

Yes, I'm buggering off again to go and pretend to be a succession of other people. This time I expect to be spaced, zombified, defrauded, murdered, classified, and villified.

Normal bloggage will resume on Monday.

Thursday, August 27, 2015



New Fisk

Why is Interpol doing the work of Arab despots?

Open Government: Doing it really wrong

Earlier in the week I blogged about the State Services Commission's response to an OIA request seeking information about their current consultation on the Open Government Partnership Midterm Self-Assessment Report. When faced with a clear request for advice on the consultation process, SSC played the "due particularity" game, asking "duh, which consultation" (they also refused a request for the report itself, which under OGP rules should have been released at the start of the consultation because that's what people are being consulted about). And now that I've jumped through their hoop and confirmed that when I asked about advice on the Midterm Self-Assessment Report, I really did mean the Midterm Self-Assessment Report, and not something else, they've come back with another delay: a two-month extension until October 27 due to the "large quantity of information" involved.

And if you believe that the SSC really got so much advice on their OGP consultation that they need two months to look through it all, I have a building on The Terrace to sell you. Instead, it looks like they're blatantly trying to bury information - not just until after the consultation period has ended and the report has been submitted, but until after the OGP Summit in Mexico (which just happens to be on October 27. What a coincidence!) You can draw some obvious conclusions about why they might want to be doing that, but regardless, its unacceptable. So I'm off to the Ombudsman with an urgent complaint. I guess we'll see whether I even get a number before SSC responds.

Meanwhile, people might like to think about the irony of SSC going to these lengths to bury information about open government - and what that says about New Zealand's commitment to the OGP.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015



Australia has effectively abolished its FOI watchdog

Last year the Australian government tried to gut the Freedom of Information Act by abolishing its enforcer, the Australian Information Commissioner. The move failed in the Senate, but that hasn't stopped the policy: instead of legally abolishing the position, they've simply defunded it. And now, they're refusing to appoint a replacement:

Attorney-General George Brandis​ refuses to say whether he will appoint a new freedom-of-information commissioner eight months on, amid plans to abolish his office.

Previous FOI commissioner James Popple resigned in January. The Attorney-General's department told a senate estimates committee this week that it had not started to select a replacement or set up a process to do so.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner was set up under the Freedom of Information Act in 2010, as an independent body to manage the public's access to information and provide advice to government. Three commissioners responsible for freedom of information, privacy and information were appointed to oversee it.

The office would not be drawn on when a new commissioner would be appointed, referring the committee to the department's response to the question.


So effectively they've abolished it, despite there being no Parliamentary majority to do so. Its dubious legally, and even more so constitutionally - but its so very, very Abbott, isn't it?

What trials does National want to keep secret?

Yesterday we learned that National's Health and Safety at Work Bill - the one which exempts some of our biggest killers from health and safety coverage while cracking down on dangerous worm farms and lavender growers - contained a clause allowing secret trials with secret "evidence". The bill has now finished its committee stage, so barring a re-commital (highly unlikely), those provisions will become law. So what sorts of cases might they be used in?

Firstly, while the law has a section allowing for the appointment of a "special advocate" for non-government defendants, the law really only applies to cases against the crown. However it applies to "any criminal or civil proceedings (including public law and judicial review proceedings)" under the Act. So not just to (unlikely) prosecutions by MBIE, but to private prosecutions and claims for compensation or to enforce duties. So, this is aimed squarely at those who seek to hold government bodies to account for their failures.

Secondly, while the law supposedly restricts "classified security information" to operational information or information supplied by other governments on a confidential basis (and which furthermore would be prejudicial to security, international relations, or the maintenance of the law if released), it also makes the designation unreviewable:

The court must keep confidential and must not disclose any information provided as classified security information, even if it considers that the information does not meet the criteria set out in clause 3(2) and (3), unless the head of the specified agency that holds the information consents to its release.
Which means that in practice, government defendants can apply it to anything they want, and it will be kept secret.

Thirdly, the law doesn't just apply to defence and intelligence agencies (who BTW are already in practice exempt for actual deployments anyway), but to the police or any government department named in Schedule 1 of the State Sector Act 1988. So, it applies to Corrections and Immigration, but also to the Ministry of Health, or even to Internal Affairs (who are the nominal employer of the Beehive's politicised "ministerial advisers").

Combined, this is a recipe for government agencies who kill people through clear and obvious failings to co-opt the Judiciary to cover up the details.

As for how it might be used, think of some notable health and safety cases or civil suits against government agencies in the past. Here's a few examples:
  • The Army doesn't train its drivers properly, resulting in three men dying when their truck plunges into a river. Information on the army's training (or lack thereof) would obviously be "prejudicial to security" and revealing it would expose NZDF methods, so any trial can be cloaked in secrecy.
  • The RNZAF tolerates "a dangerous and deadly culture of rule-breaking" and allows unqualified pilots to fly, leading to three unnecessary deaths in a helicopter crash. Similar logic applies, so the evidence of this can be declared secret, hampering any private prosecution.
  • The police shoot and kill an innocent bystander during a gunfight on the Auckland motorway. Police information about exactly what happened is of course operational and might expose police methods (and incompetence), which of course would "prejudice the maintenance of the law". So any court case for compensation would be hampered by secrecy and likely not get off the ground.
  • Corrections doesn't bother to segregate high- and low-risk prisoners during transport, resulting in a young man being murdered in the back of a van while being taken to court. Information on prisoner transport policies is of course operational, and its exposure could help prisoners escape, which is clearly prejudicial to the maintenance of the law, so it can be classified and kept secret, preventing any OSH prosecution.
None of these are a particular stretch on classification, and well within the respective agencies' mindsets as revealed by OIA requests. But in each case, this law would have shut down a major government health and safety scandal and prevented justice. And that is its purpose. It is rotten law, and we should not accept it.

Member's Day

Today is a Member's Day, but it has an unusual schedule. Thanks to leave given two weeks ago, most of the day is likely to be spent on David Seymour's absurd Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Extended licensing hours during Rugby World Cup) Bill. Because obviously Parliament should use special procedures to pander to drunk rugby meatheads. There might be some time for Chris Bishop's Financial Assistance for Live Organ Donors Bill, and if the House moves quickly they may be able to make a start on Denis O'Rourke's New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income (Pro Rata Entitlement) Amendment Bill. Both of these latter two bills have been formally reported as violating the Bill of Rights Act, so it will be interesting to see if Parliament does its job as the supposed defender of our human rights, or rubberstamps abuse to scratch some political itch. Sadly, I'm expecting the latter.

Due to the sportsball bill is there is unlikely to be a ballot tomorrow.