|The old posters didn’t need much of a tweak|
I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been troubled for some time by the crashing silence of David Farrar regarding this government’s assaults on our basic freedoms.
But why does it matter? Because (like it or not, and you probably don’t) David Farrar is pretty much the boss of the blogosphere, and his work is read by journalists and opinion-makers. Cameron Slater may claim to be just as influential as Farrar, but Slater’s problem is that he’s basically a shit, and the problem with shit is that it tends to stink.
So that’s why David Farrar’s lack of noise on the whole GCSB clusterf**k mattered to me. I began to wonder if Farrar was too afraid to criticise National because of all those contracts his company has with the party. They must be pretty good contracts too, judging from his latest holiday blogpost pictures.
I suppose Farrar could have been be forgiven for not posting on the issue while he was on holiday, but his political blogging activities haven’t exactly stopped during his trek across the US.
Well, anyway, I needn’t have worried. Because David Farrar has finally come to the party.
His post entitled “Democracy Under Attack” is a must-read. In it he savages National over its flawed legislative process regarding changes to our spying laws, its lack of consultation, and its attempts to ignore the cries of outrage from the media and respected organisations like the Law Society and the Human Rights Commission.
The post will make painful reading for Farrar’s National Party friends and colleagues, but he does not back down from speaking truth to power.
“This post will be a bit difficult to follow,” he warns, “but it is an important one. It will show how the Government’s actions on this bill are those of naked self interest and to legalise their previously illegal actions.”
“These bills do matter, they do fundamentally skew our democratic framework. They are the sort of laws, which if passed overseas, we would condemn,” writes Farrar.
“This Bill is opposed by almost every independent institution there is,” Farrar writes.
“I never imagined it would be so draconian and unprecedented that one could get the Human Rights Commission and the Law Society agreeing it should be thrown out rather than amended,” he continues.
“Now these are the sort of statements we are used to hearing from overseas human rights bodies about repressive regimes. But this is the NZ Human Rights Commission,” Farrar writes.
Farrar despairs of the flawed and deeply cynical processes adopted by National to ram through unpopular and questionable legislation, and he goes so far as to call for an entrenched written constitution to protect us from our politicians.
“I have been a supporter of moving to a Republic for many years – mainly for reasons of identity and relevance. And the Republican Movement is made up of people from many different political persuasions, all with different motivations – but all agreeing on the desirability of change.
“But the issue that now motivates me most strongly to move to a Republic, is that opportunity it will provide for NZ to adopt an entrenched written constitution to protect the public from parliamentary supremacy as we currently have,” he writes.
Farrar admits that recent events have altered his views on the need for an entrenched constitution.
“Now this is a huge turn about for me. I’ve spent two decades opposing NZ having a supreme law. I’ve argued in favour of parliamentary supremacy and against having Judges able to strike down laws. I’ve argued that our constitutional conventions are as strong as if they were were formal law, and the system works well. I’ve argued one generation of MPs should not be able to bind the next.
“Why have I changed my mind? Well quite simply it has been the destruction of these constitutional conventions,” writes Farrar.
He continues: “Time after time it has become apparent that my previous trust in MPs to respect our unwritten constitution was misplaced.”
He writes that the damage done to our country will never ever be repaired.
“You can’t just turn the clock back and go back to the good old days. Hence the only way forward is to put in place an entrenched Bill of Rights.”
Farrar says that revelations that government agencies may have accessed the communications and phone records of some journalists are deeply concerning, and that attempts by this government to stifle dissent and debate threaten important freedoms, such as freedom of expression and freedom of speech. He wonders if bloggers will be targeted next.
“I’ve said a few times that I value my right to free speech as being more important than my right to vote. I only get to vote once every three years, but through my right to speak out and criticise I can have far more influence,” Farrar writes.
“The tragedy of how the Government has managed this process is that it has prevented people from getting together in good faith to debate and have input into the policy principles which any law should be based on,” states Farrar.
“So sadly,” he goes on, “my position is that the bill should be thrown out entirely, and the Government told to go away and do a proper job of consultation and public debate.”
He continues: “Just more farce from the Government of farce.”
His post concludes with a blunt statement about the proposed changes to the GCSB law: “There can be only one response – Kill the Bill. Now.”
It’s powerful stuff, and it will be fascinating to see how Farrar’s many friends in National react to this public slap on the face.
But it’s a welcome intervention from a powerful and influential voice. After this latest effort I will never question David Farrar’s credentials as a fearless and unbiased commentator again.