Thursday, November 29, 2007

EFB: Not just bad law

It's not uncommon to find an academic on the stump berating the government, but when an academic economist fronts up to protest, you know something must be up. And there is.

Canterbury University economist Eric Crampton fronted up yesterday to tell the Cathedral Square march against the Clark/Peters/Dunne/Fitzsimons Electoral Finance Rort that there is bad law, really bad law and law like this that is "so bad the New Zealand Law Society wants it scrapped."

This isn't just bad law, he says, it's bad law that undermines the very basis of freedom and governance in New Zealand:
It's a bad law that affects how we make laws, and threatens the legitimacy of government itself. Constitutional rules stand apart from other bits of legislation. They affect fundamental rights and freedoms, and they set out how all the other rules will be written. The Electoral Finance Bill directly affects our freedom of speech. Once it's passed, we'll only have freedom of speech 2 years in 3. And, it sets out the rules for how an election is conducted - how legislation for the subsequent three years will be formed. These have constitutional implications.

Constitutional rules aren't like other rules. They really require broad agreement across society. I studied under James Buchanan, who won the Nobel Prize in economics for his work in this area. He likened it to setting out the rules for a poker game: you get everybody to agree to the rules before you deal the cards. If everybody's agreed to the rules before the cards are dealt, the outcome of the game is fair and legitimate. What Labour and its support parties here have done is dealt the cards, taken a peek at their hands, and then declared deuces wild. This violates constitutional justice and threatens the legitimacy of any government that is elected under the new rules.

Electoral rules - constitutional rules - require broad agreement if the government that's formed under them is to have legitimacy. We're here today to say that we don't give that assent. If Labour rams this bill through Parliament, shuts up anyone who opposes it during the 2008 election, then squeeks through a tight coalition win after a lot of litigation, will that government have any legitimacy?

That's why this Bill must be stopped and that's why I'm here. The Bill violates the spirit of our constitutional foundations. It throws freedom of speech out the window. And it rigs the election to protect the politicians who pass it. Helen Clark, Annette King, throw out this Bill!
Read all of Eric's speech here. And send Clark, King, Peters, Dunne and Fitzsimons another message this Saturday in Auckland: Get your placards, effigies and chants ready for another day out in the sun, and join the second Auckland protest march -- AND LET'S HELP KILL THE BILL! Says organiser John Boscawen. "The PM was not impressed with 2000.....so I want to give her 5000." Start going through your address book now.

Assemble outside the Town Hall from 2pm for a 2:30 start, and join thousands of other good New Zealanders speaking up for freedom in this country. And once again, keep an eye out for wankers like these who might be there to hijack the march, and your free speech.

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