New Zealand: Salmond on democracy

Dame Anne Salmond [] 2

Dame Anne Salmond says it is imperative that New Zealanders stand up for democratic freedoms … A quiet, obedient, and docile population; a culture of passivity and apathy; a meek acceptance of what politicians say and do – these things are not consistent with democracy.

### NZ Herald Online 5:30 AM Sat, 13 Jul 2013
Dame Anne Salmond: A warning to New Zealanders keep hold of democracy
By Dame Anne Salmond
In 2007, John Key, then Leader of the Opposition, gave a powerful speech to the New Zealand Press Club against the Electoral Finance Bill. He declared: “Here in New Zealand we often take our democratic freedoms for granted. We think they will always be there. We have a Bill of Rights which is supposed to protect our right to freedom of expression. What on earth could go wrong?”
I have a different view. I believe what Thomas Jefferson said – that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. There are times when we have to stand up for our rights, and the rights of our neighbours and friends, and indeed the rights of people we totally disagree with, or else these rights will begin to erode away.
I agree with these sentiments, absolutely. New Zealanders must stand up for their democratic rights when they are threatened, or they’ll lose them.
Who could have imagined that in 2013, this same political leader would be presiding over an assault upon the democratic rights of New Zealanders? This is a matter of such gravity that last month, the Law Society felt impelled to report to the United Nations that in New Zealand “a number of recent legislative measures are fundamentally in conflict with the rule of law”.

When a body as authoritative and dispassionate as the Law Society feels forced to report to the United Nations that the Government in New Zealand is acting in conflict with the rule of law, all New Zealanders should be very worried.

Extraordinary though it may seem, this statement is no more than the truth. In its report to the United Nations, the Law Society lists a series of recent acts that have allowed the Executive to use regulation to override Parliament, that deny citizens the right to legal representation and cancel their right to appeal to the courts to uphold their rights under the law.
The Law Society also draws attention to the use of Supplementary Order Papers and urgency to avoid proper Parliamentary scrutiny of legislation. They express their concern that a number of bills formally declared by the Attorney-General to be in breach of the Bill of Rights have recently been enacted.
This report does not mention other key defects in the law-making process in New Zealand at present. These include the willingness of a minority government to pass laws that impinge on the rights and wellbeing of New Zealanders at the request of foreign corporations – Warner Brothers, for instance, or SkyCity and various oil companies. None of these deals, which amount to “legislation for sale”, can claim a democratic mandate.
Read more

● Anthropologist and author Dame Anne Salmond is the current New Zealander of the Year.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Image: – Dame Anne Salmond


Filed under Democracy, Inspiration, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Pics, Politics

9 responses to “New Zealand: Salmond on democracy

  1. A quiet, obedient, and docile population; a culture of passivity and apathy; a meek acceptance of what politicians say and do – these things are not consistent with democracy. –Salmond

    Case in point: DUNEDIN

  2. amanda

    Ain’t that the truth. And we have local politicians who like it just the way it is too; case in point, Thomson and his outragous comparison of people who want accountability with the French women who sat at the foot of the guillotine. A dig that has taken Brown’s ‘naysayers’ to a whole new level of silly…

  3. Hype O'Thermia

    Thomson can’t tell the difference between accountability and vengeance. Accountability is taking responsibility – or being forced to admit responsibility when people are so obtuse they think their sh*t don’t stink or think mistakes are only made by Other People, so lessons can be learned, supervision modified so it’s effective, and so on. There are inquiries into other things that go wrong – coroners, for example. Inquiries into Pike River. Should Pike River have been shrugged off with “We shouldn’t relitigate the past”? Should cyclists’ deaths on the road, should the discovery of a body in a house where it has lain for several weeks but there is no obvious crime indications, be “Oh dear how sad. Now let’s move on”? The past MUST be examined, to learn what was done right so it can be repeated until even better ways are discovered, and to learn what was done wrong so as to avoid the error of thinking if you keep on doing things the same way you’ll get different results.

    • ### ODT Online Wed, 17 Jul 2013
      No charges over Pike River disaster
      By Laura Mills – Greymouth Star
      Pike River families have been told police will not prosecute anyone over the November 2010 disaster that killed 29 men. About 50 families and supporters attended a meeting with police in Greymouth tonight.
      A lawyer for the families said afterwards that they were now considering their options, including the possibility of some sort of civil action. Lawyer Colin Smith said there was a “sadness” at the lack of accountability, “especially when the disaster was avoidable, so totally avoidable”.
      Read more

  4. Elizabeth, you say: “A quiet, obedient, and docile population.” You could be right, but I prefer to say: “A quiet, obedient and docile government.” One that dances to the tune of the “Master Puppeteer”. That of course is the ‘good ole US of A’. Our Prime Minister is the supreme dancer in his ‘tutu’. Just look at the current GCSB fiasco with all its dangerous connotations for democracy. Then Kim Dotcom felt the fiery breath as well. It is quite pathetic the way most western nations ‘kowtow’ to this ’empire’. That’s what it is, an empire, which exerts its interests onto all other nations willing to follow the leader. Only the ‘rascally Afghanis, Iraqis and Iranians give it the ‘fingers’, and at great cost too. It is no wonder that it spends more than the next ten nations on its ‘defense’ budget. That’s what empires do. And it will eventually bankrupt them. That is what the British Empire did, and look at it now. No longer does it “rule the waves around its empire on which the sun never sets”. Some even speculate that it is in its end game as we speak. Technically bankrupt, printing $gazillions of dollars trying to prop up its whole rotting edifice. It is being challenged now and nations like China seem primed to take its place. In fact China holds the world’s cash reserves and could call the game if it wanted to. All it needs to do is call in the IOUs and it would be game over. But not without a lot of struggles, empires don’t capitulate, they go down fighting and destroying anything in its way. Little old NZ is just a blip on the radar, not worth a candle in the grand scheme of things, but egotists like our politicians can’t handle that. They have to tap their forelock and dance to the tune. But I doubt that it will be ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ for much longer. All we will get will be the fallout, and it won’t be pretty.

    {Dame Anne said that, not Elizabeth. -Eds}

  5. amanda

    Thomson is protecting himself. Why would he make life difficult by challenging the stakeholders or corrupt? Nah. Not for him or Greater Dunedin. Their plan is to smile, shut up and hand over the ratefunds without any questions while at the same time blame those further down the totem pole for not fawning to the powerful as Thomson and mates do.

  6. Why would there be? After all, it was the police who took charge of the “search and rescue” and spent untold hours telling the world at large just how dangerous it was and forbidding any effort by the local miners to go near the mine. It was a negative exercise right from when that senior police officer (forget his name ) took charge. It was said at the time by some of the experienced miners that there was a ‘widow of opportunity’ there but no-one in authority would allow it. You wouldn’t want to go to war with those types on your side.

  7. Hype O'Thermia

    Most apt typo, heartbreakingly appropriate: ‘widow of opportunity’ .

  8. Elizabeth

    Further to Dame Anne Salmond’s mention of SkyCity (see post at top of thread):

    ### ODT Online Wed, 28 Oct 2015
    Fletcher signs with SkyCity
    By Simon Hartley
    SkyCity’s $700 million convention centre and hotel project in central Auckland has contracted Fletcher Building for $477 million of the work, expected to begin by December. […] Despite controversy over the project, there was negligible political response to yesterday’s announcement, other than Minister of Economic Development Steven Joyce talking up the importance of the “national facility”.
    Read more

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