Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The new Government's extensive use of urgency is once again under scrutiny. Senior Ministers have offered some justifications, but their reasons have been described as "constitutionally inadequate, and also subtly terrifying".
Parliament has resumed and is urgently considering hastily-drafted bills relating to policing, taxation and the repeal of the Electoral Finance Act 2007. Time permitting, the Government may also introduce legislation allowing emergency state requisitioning of lead sheets, religious artifacts and chainsaws.
Some have questioned whether these measures - and others passed late last year - are in fact urgent enough to override normal scrutiny.
Minister for Justice Simon Power defended the urgent introduction of the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Bill, which allows police to arrest anyone they want to take DNA samples from.
"DNA is the stuff of life on earth, common to all creatures that evolved on this planet," explained Mr Power, "It may be the only way we'll be able to tell."
Mr Power then declined to discuss another bill relating to organised crime, saying that he had "said too much already".
Bill English, the hollow-eyed and increasingly hunted-looking Minister of Finance, said the Taxation (Business Tax Measures) Bill concentrated on making things easier for small to medium enterprises. "Large enterprises were not so much of a focus," said Mr English, "What with one thing and another we expect people will soon be reluctant to gather in groups of larger than 30."
Prime Minister John Key laughed off suggestions that he would get through his entire legislative agenda in the first 100 days, chuckling hollowly for a full minute before saying, "When else am I going to do it?"
Asked to clarify the reason for his Government's haste, Mr Key said that the public "would find out soon enough".
"I wish I could tell the people of New Zealand what's so urgent about the Sentencing (Offender Levy) Amendment Bill, but are they ready to know?" said Mr Key.
"Are you?" he continued, turning directly toward his questioner, press gallery reporter Guyon Espiner.
It is understood that Key's eerie gaze bored straight through Espiner, as if staring into the heart of distant, frozen suns.
Parliament will sit for two weeks, before breaking to resume, "God willing", on March 3. Day 0 of the new Government's 100-day programme will occur on March 18.