This is the kind of talk that makes me proud to be an ACT member.
From ACT leader Rodney Hide’s Blog
The Centre for Independent Studies has complained a Taxpayer Bill of Rights capping government spending would breach Parliamentary Sovereignty.
But who should be sovereign? There are three immediate choices: a king, parliament or the individual. I think the individual should be sovereign. I believe that human beings have rights independent of parliament and that parliament’s job is to uphold these rights, not to grant them. These rights exit irrespective of whether a king or a parliament recognises them.
Why should the rather weird concept of parliamentary sovereignty trump a person’s right to their property and life?
Besides, a taxpayer rights bill would not overturn parliamentary sovereignty. Sadly, a simple majority could overturn it like it can overturn all rules and all rights in New Zealand.
6 thoughts on “Right on Rodney!!!”
What I mean precisely, apologies for the wording, is that the bill purports to limit the actions of a future parliament, something which under a classical (Dicey et al) conception is offensive to the idea of unbounded Parliamentary sovereignty.
What I think is meant by the report is that the bill is in itself contrary to legal convention, since it pretends to do something it can’t.
“The bill would limit Parliamentary sovereignty because it would bind future Parliaments to the will of this one, when the composition of Parliaments and Governments frequently changes.”
Not true Fergus. Should there ever be a Government with the testicular fortitude to remove the Act, it would require a simple majority of the House.
I Capische Fergus-and I disagree.
I think constitutional government ala the US constitution is far better than our parliamentary system.
I have no problems with future parliaments being bound by this one if it is done on sound principles.
I agree with Rodney-personal sovereignty should trump parliamentary sovereignty, except perhaps in matters of national defence and criminal law.
We have Parliamentray sovereignty because its a tradition of the Westminter style of Government and according to democratic political theories parliament embodies the people’s will better than (far from perfectly) any other mechanism.
As for a theory of individual sovereignty, I’m guessing you’re referring to a natural law or theory of inalienable rights, which could be incorporated into a constitution.
Such as an enshrined supreme law limiting the actions of Parliament (US Bill of Right, Canadian Charter and to some extent the Knessets Basic Laws are examples), a potential problem with these is that they politicise the interpretation of the law to a greater degree, not entirely of course. (see Dworkin’s theories for some idea of the difference between legal principle and political theory). Found any closet marxist judges yet ?
These rights, such as a right of individual freedom will always be limited by considerations of reasonableness and balance between competing rights, which leaves a lot up to judicial interpretation. (see for example “the subject to justifiable limitations” clause of the NZ Bill of Rights).
Parliament is always going to be a better represenative of the people than a judge interpreting a constitution.
The bill would limit Parliamentary sovereignty because it would bind future Parliaments to the will of this one, when the composition of Parliaments and Governments frequently changes.
The legislation also has the potential to be dramatically unflexible, haven’t seen the text of it but potential disasters, involovement in conflicts or new commitments might fall afoul of it, hampering governments response, capability to help or threatening our international relations and security.
Well said Rodney….and more is needed.I feel the philosophy behind ACT’s positions and policy’s need bringing forward much more often and into focus.It may cause more thought and reflection than the standard economic arguments that are used.
Rodney Hide standing up in Parliament and calling taxation theft,shop closing laws immoral violations of freedom and drug laws failed experiments that put our children in harms way would get my heart beating proudly.
Just checking it works