Monday, November 06, 2017

Hypocrisy all round

Why do the public think politicians are unprincipled scumbags? Because they seem to take every opportunity to prove us right.

Today's example is National's complaints over the drop in the number of select committee positions. "Undemocratic!" cries National. Except that the shift was approved unanimously by the Standing Orders Committee, introduced by the very National MP who is now complaining about it, and passed unanimously by the House, including by every National MP. In other words, he voted for it, so why is he complaining?

I don't know enough about the workings of Parliament to judge whether 12 or 13 select committees is optimal. But when the change gets such universal support at the time, including from everyone who speaks to the issue, then I'm willing to defer to their judgement. Unlike National, I don't believe that the merits of the case change depending on whether their party is in government or opposition.

Also unedifying: Labour's response. Because while the reallocation of committees was widely approved, National's refusal to allocate their chairs proportionately was not. Here's Trevor Mallard - Labour's likely Speaker candidate - complaining about it:

Under Labour, select committees will go back to being creatures of the Parliament and not rubber stamps for the executive. There will be many more Opposition majorities and Opposition chairs of committees so that they can work through the legislation and give a proper parliamentary opinion rather than being a place for people who are greasing up to the executive in order to try to be Ministers going forward. We have had too much of a history of that recently—people who do not do their jobs as chairs of select committees because they want to become Ministers—

In the Review of Standing Orders, Labour, the Greens, and NZ First all supported a proportional allocation of select committee chairs (meaning more opposition-chaired committees and reduced government ability to pervert the committee process). But today, Chris Hipkins is saying "fuck that", essentially because they're now the government and National is now the opposition. Meanwhile, the actual principle that they previously supposedly supported - an independent legislature which works for all its members rather than simply being a rubber-stamp for the government - is forgotten. Hopefully the Greens and NZ First will be better than Labour.