Wednesday, 18 October 2006

"L’État, c’est moi"

When Bernard Darnton publicly issued his legal challenge against this Government over their stolen election, he said that in knowingly stealing public money to fund their election campaign Labour broke the fundamental rules that separate liberal democracy from dictatorship.

Yesterday in Parliament that view was confirmed.

Let's see what else is confirmed in what Darnton had to say at the outset of his challenge:
  • "Darnton is calling for the High Court to make a declaration that this expenditure was illegal."
    - That was confirmed in Parliament yesterday.
  • "Helen Clark is not above the law,” Darnton said. “This time she’s not going to get away with it.”
    - Unfortunately ...
  • "This government seems to have forgotten who’s in charge. In a democracy, the people are in charge."
    - The former statement is confirmed; the latter ...
  • "The government is the servant of the people, not their master." Compare this to Helen - Clark's statement that "the job of government is what we say it is."
  • "The appropriations rules are one of our basic constitutional protections. By ignoring the appropriations rules, this government has shown that it doesn’t care about the will of Parliament or the will of the people and is quite happy to behave like a dictatorship." - Hardly needs comment, does it.
  • "A declaration by the High Court that this spending was illegal will send a clear reminder to the Clark regime that they are not above the law and that they are still answerable to their master, the public."
    - They've had the reminder. The answer, it is clear, is now up to you.
Darnton concluded that first statement by reminding New Zealanders "A government that follows the rule of law is essential to a free and open society." This Government has thumbed its nose at any notion of that concept, and reminded us all that in this country, there are even fewer limits to power than we ever dreamed to be true. "We are reminding Government that there are limits to their power," said Darnton. This Government has openly declared its own power off-limits to any challenge.

In 2003, Helen Clark declared that "the government's role is whatever the Government defines it to be." The Clark Government is now defining itself to above the law. Before the 2002 election Helen Clark explicitly declared, "The State is sovereign." With yesterday's legal legerdemain, she is effectively declaring, "L’État, c’est moi" -- I am the State!

As David Slack pointed out last night:
Fitzgerald v Muldoon emphatically confirmed the constitutional position. Parliament trumps everyone. It trumps the Executive, it trumps the One News room, and even though our present Chief Justice has suggested some theoretical constraints to the rule, for the largest part it trumps the judges. If you can get the numbers in the house, then you make the law.
Darnton V Clark has if anything re-confirmed that. It has demonstrated just how bereft we are of constitutional limits on the abuse of power.

What happens next, more than at any other time, is really up to you who is reading this. How angry has this made you? And what are you going to do about it?

LINKS: Seeing red: The press release - Darnton V Clark (June, 2006)
Fallout - David Slack
'The government's role is whatever the Government defines it to be.' Discuss - speech by Roger Kerr, Business Roundtable (April, 2003)
Politics-NZ, Darnton V Clark, Constitution, Law, Politics-Labour

1 comment:

  1. Well, I would be angry if I actually believed the case was not a waste of precious court time and essentially an exercise in self-promotion under the guise of altruism.

    So, the leader's fund money is for use for informing people about your policies. They did that, that's what the pledge card was. Here are my policies. People are sore because it was a campaign that didn't deal with the regular fare of politics - slogans and rhetoric. In a form that will survive tucked in a draw somewhere when you go back to see if they kept their word. Solid promises, not a stupid cartoon. "Here's my credibility, you can keep it".

    Ignoring what the AG decides, was it really such a misuse of our money? As Ms. Fitzsimons said, what are politicians to do once the election has been called? Lose their salary and call on their supporters for the money?

    No, wait, what are they to do for the month before the election is called? He's either calling for parliamentary staff to work with pay over a month in arrears, or more likely he's just not thinking things through. From what I've seen so far, I'm inclined to believe the latter.


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