Brexit and the popular vote – a lesson in folly that should steer NZ First away from facile referenda

Veteran journalist David Barber, a champion of  voluntary euthanasia, and Ken Orr, spokesman for Right to Life, have found common ground.  Both agree that our elected politicians should not be passing the buck on the End of Life Choice Bill to a referendum.

They question the need for a binding referendum being held at the 2020 general election, if the contentious End of Life Choice Bill is passed at its third reading on November 13.  This is the consequence of the nine MPs of NZ First pledging to support the third reading of the bill on the condition that Parliament votes to support its supplementary order paper requiring such a referendum.

But the Brexit shambles in Britain provides ample evidence that a referendum can undermine a democracy rather than buttress or strengthen it.

The shambles is the subject of an article, headed Brexit is putting parliamentary democracy in question, recently published by the European Council on Foreign Relations, an international think-tank.  

It begins:

“Brexit may well become a textbook example of the damage that a referendum can wreak on parliamentary democracy.” Continue reading “Brexit and the popular vote – a lesson in folly that should steer NZ First away from facile referenda”

What’s up, doc? Oh, a sharp difference of opinion on legislation to help the terminally ill

Deep divisions in the medical community have become apparent as David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill is about to return to Parliament – on Wednesday next week – for what promises to be a tortuous clause-by-clause third reading debate.

A group of doctors who support the Bill – which would allow the terminally ill to get  medical assistance to end their suffering – this week accused the New Zealand Medical Association of ignoring international evidence on the issue in favour of “conservative cultural and personal beliefs”.

In a letter to NZMA chair Dr Kate Baddock, the group accused the six-member NZMA board, which opposed the Bill in submissions to the justice select committee, of ignoring international “disciplined, rational, evidence-based scientific medicine” on the issue.

“As such you and the board could be accused of being no more advanced than the ‘anti-vaxers’ or the ‘anti-1080 lobby’, whose beliefs cannot be impinged upon by science, fact or rational thinking,” the letter said.

It was signed by Dr Miles Williams, cardiologist, of Hastings, and 18 other practising and retired doctors. Continue reading “What’s up, doc? Oh, a sharp difference of opinion on legislation to help the terminally ill”

Calling for Bills to be read aloud is one stalling tactic – and in NZ we should brace for Maggie’s amendments

A reform bill aimed at further regulating the fossil fuel industry was seen as a certainty for passage in the American state of Colorado, where Democrats control both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office.

But wait.  Republicans, historically supported by the gas and oil industry and determined to stall its enactment, invoked a rule which entitles them to ask for bills to be read aloud on the Senate floor.

They used this device to require the reading aloud of a 2,000-page bill (unrelated to the energy bill).  It was estimated the reading would take some 60 hours.

Democrats read for nearly four hours before coming up with a plan:  they used five laptops to read the bill at an incomprehensible 650 words a minute, completing the task in a single day.

You can check out the incomprehensible consequences on YouTube. Continue reading “Calling for Bills to be read aloud is one stalling tactic – and in NZ we should brace for Maggie’s amendments”

Assisted dying: professor advises against snuffing reform today from fear of what legislators might do in the future

Otago law professor Andrew Geddis highlighted important realities about law-making in a response to Maxim Institute chief executive Alex Penk’s  concerns about the End of Life Choice Bill currently awaiting a second reading in Parliament. T

Some of Penk’s concerns are misplaced, Geddis said.  Others are missing some important context.

Penk’s article, headed MPs should examine facts on euthanasia, rather than crystal balls, notes that David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill – if it passes the parliamentary process – is likely to require a referendum at the 2020 general election.

In other words, the public will get to decide on the legalising of euthanasia and assisted suicide.  This should take care of the doubts Penk raises about the extent of public support for voluntary euthanasia.

But another of Penk’s problems is that the public haven’t been given good information.

Continue reading “Assisted dying: professor advises against snuffing reform today from fear of what legislators might do in the future”

MP’s Mandarin prayer is all very well – but what about those unanswered questions?

Raymond Huo, a Labour MP,  officially celebrated this year’s New Zealand Chinese Language Week by reading the Parliamentary prayer in Mandarin at 2pm on Tuesday.

News of the reading was contained in a press release from Silvereye Communications and is recorded at Hansard, but news media seem not to have paid much heed (at least, Point of Order found no media report of what transpired in a Google search).

It didn’t escape the critical attention of economist Michael Reddell, however, who posted his thoughts in an item  headed Shame on our MPs. Continue reading “MP’s Mandarin prayer is all very well – but what about those unanswered questions?”