Even though more important things are happening on the Mainland, Parliament is displaying its worst and best qualities this week.

Although the dreadful vigil at Pike River overshadows everything else, Auden reminds us that even tragedy cannot stop the world from turning;

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along.

Or, as another great writer summed up the worst that can happen: so it goes.

I do not intend the above to diminish or belittle what is unfolding on the West Coast, but rather to note that as the families and loved ones of 29 men sit in what must be the most awful of circumstances - not knowing - the tawdry minutiae of life carries on irregardless. Specifically, Parliament this week is revealing the worst and the best sides to its character.

First, the worst. On Wednesday evening, barring some miracle (or National's ministers again deciding they need the time for their own "urgent" purposes), Paul Quinn's Bill to strip all prisoners of their right to vote should receive its third and final reading.

I've railed already about what a stupid idea I think this is. And I've pointed out how poorly it has been progressed through the House by National MPs. That basic failure to respect the purpose of Parliament, especially where it is legislating with respect to the fundamental rights of New Zealand citizens, continued at the Committee stage.

Of the 13 MPs to speak on this proposal, only 3 from National's ranks spoke up to defend the measure. The Act Party - the champions, remember, of individual liberty and personal freedoms - didn't even bother putting up a speaker to justify why it was voting to remove a fundamental human right from thousands of citizens.

And to top it off, the legislation's sponsor, Paul Quinn, came up with this doozy in his speech:

Then [Lianne Dalziel] proceeded to go on to ask what the mischief was behind the bill. Well, there is no mischief; this legislation is what the overwhelming majority of people want. ... The overwhelming majority of the community want prisoners not to be able to vote.

That's just excellent. We've an MP admitting that there is absolutely no reason behind - or no demonstrable justification for - his proposal to disenfranchise a set of New Zealand's population. It's just "what the people want" ... even though only two people actually made submissions to select committee in support of his Bill ... one of whom was himself ... and the other was David Farrar.

Well, so it goes, I guess.

But just when I was starting to think that Parliament was a bit of a lost cause, in that it did not seem able to deal with serious topics with the proper respect for its lawmaking job, the House's Electoral Legislation Committee releases its reports on three interlinked pieces of electoral legislation.

While I haven't been able to dig through all the detail yet - which is where the real action always is - my first impression of their work is pretty positive. For one thing, the Committee has taken its time, looks to have taken the submissions made to it seriously, and explained why it has made the decisions it has.

For another, the Committee has been willing to compromise in order to come up with an overall package of measures that have broad buy-in from most, even if not all, parties. This inevitably means that there's going to be something in its proposed package to annoy everyone - it certainly doesn't reflect every aspect of my ideal regulatory regime - but given the pervasive disagreement in this area, that's to be expected. To gauge whether the Committee got its compromises right, I'd suggest that the fact that different parts of the proposals have both "pissed off" David Farrar and caused Idiot Savant to discern "a declaration of intent on [National's] part to behave corruptly" shows that they're in the right ballpark.

But here's the bit I really don't get. Parliament's worst and best moment this week have something in common: Paul Quinn.

It's his Bill that will sully Parliament's legislative record this Wednesday. Yet he also is a member of the Electoral Legislation Committee that did a pretty good job looking at important law. How can this be? Are there really two Paul Quinns - one who behaves like a bit of a dick when given his moment in the spotlight, the other of whom is a capable and thoughtful legislator behind the scenes?

O' What may man within him hide, though devil on the outward side!

Comments (32)

by Graeme Edgeler on November 23, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

Perhaps you can confirm (or refudiate, of course), my interpretation of some of the changes to the Electoral Referendum Bill:

Schedule 2, cl 3(3) states that whatever electoral system we adopt there will be a fixed number of general electorates in the South Island.

Clause 2, cl 8(1A) states that if we have a supplementary member system there will be 90 electorate seats and 30 list seats.

Analysis: if we adopt SM, the number of general electorates in the North Island, added to the number of Maori seats, will be fixed  (at 90 minus the fixed number of South Island seats).

Conclusion: the Select Committee has said that if we adopt SM, we will abandon the principle that electorates should be all represent approximately the same number of people.

by The Falcon on November 23, 2010
The Falcon

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8105570/Prisoner-vo...

John Hirst, who hacked his landlady to death with an axe, said he was celebrating “for the 75,000 prisoners who will be getting the vote – that includes murderers, rapists, paedophiles.

Can't feel too sympathetic to prisoners' rights advocates to be honest.

But on the topic at hand, it does seem weird that so few right-wing MPs spoke on the bill, and those that spoke didn't really provide any justifications. They could definitely have made an argument that the bill prevents mischief. Perhaps National is getting lazy because it knows the bill will not attract much public opposition.

Nice to see you got a shout-out in the Parliamentary debate as well.

by Andrew Geddis on November 23, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Graeme,

Well ... maybe, but probably not. Schedule 2, cl 3(3) simply states: "The principle of a fixed number of general electorate seats for the South Island will not change." It doesn't say that the fixed number will be the current number of 16 in all systems (which would, as you point out, lead to highly unequal electorates if SM gets adopted ... and even more so if FPP or PV is!!). Instead, it's effectively saying that the present method of determining the number of electorates over time will be retained.

I assume what will happen if voters fail to retain MMP in 2011 is that before the 2014 second round, legislation will be drawn up to actualise the alternative system. At that point, a calculation will have to made as to how many South Island seats are needed to produce the requisite electorates for the whole country (i.e. if there are to be 90 (as under SM), then how many seats do you need in the South Island today to produce 90 seats of fairly equal population nationwide?) That number will then be fixed and used in future calculations of the number of each seat after each census.

BTW - based on the 2006 census, a SM House with 90 electorates would have 21 South Island seats (fixed thereafter), 60 North Island seats and 9 Maori seats. Wonder what the Maori Party's take on the MMP referendum is going to be?

by Andrew Geddis on November 23, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Falcon,

"Nice to see you got a shout-out in the Parliamentary debate as well."

Only under extreme duress ... I threatened to reveal certain deep, dark secrets from Grant's past unless he name-checked me in the debate.

Incidentally, while we're sort of on that topic (he says stretching frantically), I'm concerned that DPF's normally acute political radar is failing him with this post: Why Grant Robertson will be PM one day. Surely he knows that Kiwi Mums and Dads are not now, and never will be, ready for a leader who loves The Verlaines?

by Chris Diack on November 23, 2010
Chris Diack

"The Act Party - the champions, remember, of individual liberty and personal freedoms - didn't even bother putting up a speaker to justify why it was voting to remove a fundamental human right from thousands of citizens."

What a cheap shot.  It is deeply ironic being lectured by an ex Marxist about fundamental freedoms.

Unfortunately for Andrew's tale, limiting the right of criminals to participate in elections is a well established exception to the right to vote.  Consider the US (which has a more developed jurisprudence and spent more money, legal and academic resources on such constitutional issues) and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Frankly this one is easy for ACT to reconcile:  with freedom comes responsibility.  You do the crime you do the time.  And if you are doing time you are not voting.

So it's not a biggie.   Sure it's more symbolic than anything.  I doubt the loss of the vote will deter anybody from committing a crime, nor will its restoration incentivise good conduct from prisoners.  Yes it causes practical problems for the enrolment system.

But is it die-in-a-ditch stuff for keeping the flame of liberty alight?  Hardly.

What is a biggie is the bureaucratization of non candidate non party political speech around elections with the Electoral (Finance Reform and Advance Voting) Amendment Bill.  That unfortunate door has been reopened.  And Andrew has been a willing salivating doorman.

That for Andrew is tickety-boo.  All interests (and ideas) balanced up and fair.  It must be ok because ACT opposes that Bill after all.   You know: big corrupting money and all that....

So prisoners not voting is a stain on Parliament's reputation but subjecting non candidate and non party speech to a registration system and criminal sanction - that passes muster.

There is a word for that.

by Andrew Geddis on November 23, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Chris,

Cheap shot, maybe. But, you know ... pretty accurate, isn't it? Because if it is so "easy for ACT to reconcile", perhaps your MPs could do the NZ public the courtesy of bothering to explain the reasoning in the House of Representatives ... the place laws actually get made ... rather than rely on a flunky doing the work on an obscure blog site. After all, the only ACT MP so far to speak in detail about why disenfranchising prisoners is such a good idea is one David Garrett during the first reading debate.

Oh dear.

Oh - by the way - there is no general "right to vote" in the USA equivalent to NZ's guarantee in the NZBORA s 12(a). There are certain prohibited grounds for removing the vote in the US Constitution, but unless a ground is prohibited then it is pretty much up to the individual State to decide who gets to vote or not. So all that "money, legal and academic resources" spent on the issue is a bit beside the point, really. Also interesting that you seize on the one Western liberal democratic jurisdiction that allows blanket prisoner disqualification and ignore all the others (Australia, Canada, the entire European Union) that do not. Cherry picking, perhaps?

As for why one can be in favour of removing completely the rights of some thousands of individuals to have their say at election time while also regarding a cap of $300,000 on the advertising activities of promoters within 3 months of an election as being fundamentally inconsistent with democratic values ... I agree there is a word for that.

Hypocrite lecteur,—mon semblable,—mon frère!

by Chris Diack on November 23, 2010
Chris Diack

Tetchie techie.

Au contraire. A cheap shot is just that: a cheap shot.

I have never said that I am not a hypocrite:  only that my various hypocrisies are justified - it's yours that are not.

Why bother spending Parliamentary speaking time on an inconsequential Bill?  ACT voters don't regard prisoners voting as a biggie in the "keeping the flame of liberty alight" stakes.  That is probably why ACT MPs didn't seek the call.  I doubt it's a priority of the ACT Caucus to meet your particular needs for high quality public policy debate in Parliament (and on that score you are being a bit naïve).   Look, there a multiple public policy outrages in Wellington: one must pick one's targets and recognise that some are worse than others.

As I have established, zapping prisoner voting rights is certainly reconcilable in terms of fundamental freedoms.  I can sort of (squinting hard) see why some would go for it albeit that it causes problems for the enrolment system.

The bigger point is that I cannot see this inconsequential Bill establishing a tread towards limiting the franchise further.   As a principle one should not create a few exceptions to the franchise as possible I grant you that.

On the other hand, I can see a trend to further bureaucraticise non candidate and non party political speech.  National's proposals are better than the former Labour ones, but that's not saying much.

Next it will be: where are the non candidate and non party registered promoters getting their money from?  After all they are "influencing the electoral system" for if they were not "influencing the electoral system" Parliament would not be requiring the registration in the first place.... etc.  Then there will be tampering with the limit.

Having created a faulty scheme to regulate non candidate/non party speech there will be no end to the tinkering with it.  The net result is that citizens are less free than what they were; and the political speech of incumbent politicians is further privileged and advantaged.

The US is also instructive too on regulating political competition.  Large scale non candidate speech "in sympathy" with one or other candidates is a function of the wealth of one's society and the regulation of candidates and political parties.  In essence one causes the problem by too much regulation of candidates and parties in the first place.

As for your slight of hand over the 300k (register promoters are already done for ensnared in returns and audits etc) see Cl 204B(1)(d) & (3) of the Electoral (Finance Reform and Advance Voting) Amendment Bill.  The relevant limit before ones political expression gets entangled with the State is 12k, more than that and one is liable to conviction for an illegal practice.

So the coppers will be chasing down those subversive pamphleteers because they happen to bag an existing pol or party (or referencing a type of pol or party) in close proximity to an election (when free expression is most desirable).

Just love the way the pols define their parliamentary paid election advertisements as "contact information" cause non publicly funded election advertisements never want to provide contact information or to make ‘contact'.  Its not a election advertisement because its contact information.

by Andrew Geddis on November 23, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Thanks for that, Chris. So from ACT's perspective, removing a fundamental right from thousands of New Zealanders in the face of advice that this is an unjustified limit under the NZBORA simply is "an inconsequential Bill", not that much of a biggie, and just not worth its MPs taking the time to address because they've more important things to do ... like stand-up comedy.

Except for David Garrett, of course. Who you might have though had a vested interest in defeating this particular measure, so good on him for showing some true backbone and supporting it.

Ah ... remember the good old days when ACT was all about "principle, not politics"? Now it's not even worth shooting the fish, they've grown so big and the barrel so small.

As for the rest of your post - I've debated these issues with you before to no great effect. As I'm not insane, and hence understand that there's no point doing the same thing over and over again in the expectation the outcome will change, I leave the field to you and your principled hypocrisy.

Alternatively, you may understand me to be recognising that there are "a multiple public policy outrages in Wellington: one must pick one's targets and recognise that some are worse than others", and the travails of those able to spend more than $300,000 on electoral advertising just don't strike me as particularly pressing.

by Graeme Edgeler on November 23, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

Well ... maybe, but probably not. ... Instead, it's effectively saying that the present method of determining the number of electorates over time will be retained.

I agree that that's what we'll do, it is just entirely inconsistent with what they've done under SM. I'm also a little miffed that they made that call without asking people what they think. It strikes me as odd that the Committee/Parliament considers that the proportion of electorate seats to list seats in an MMP Parliament is appropriate for public input, but the proportion of electorate seats to list seats is a matter to be decided behind closed doors without the public even knowing it was up for discussion.

BTW - based on the 2006 census, a SM House with 90 electorates would have 21 South Island seats (fixed thereafter), 60 North Island seats and 9 Maori seats.

I disagree. This involves a change to the method of determining the seats, which you assert we won't do. Based on the 2006 census and Māori option, a House with 21 South Island general electorates would have 61 North Island Electorates and 10 Māori electorates (i.e. 92 electorates); and a House with 20 South Island general electorates would have 58 North Island Electorates and 9 Māori electorates (i.e. 87 electorates). If as you say "the present method of determining the number of electorates over time will be retained" then there cannot be 90 electorates.

Wonder what the Maori Party's take on the MMP referendum is going to be?

I've been saying that for a very long time. I also wonder what the position of those opposed to both MMP and the Māori seats will be. SM will likely see 10 Māori seats, STV/FPP/PV will likely see 13. It could be a near permanent hold on the balance of power (except in landslide elections like 1990 or 2002).

by Andrew Geddis on November 23, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Graeme,

If reworking things to accomodate a 90/30 seat split, I think they would just divide the entire population by 90 to get a "national quota" (my term), then divide the S.I. general population, the N.I. general population and the Maori electoral population by that national quota (hence producing my figures of 21/60/9). Following this initial redistribution, they'll revert back to the fixed S.I. seats/floating other seats model for future distributions (as in current law).

So - yes, a different initial means of calculating the number of each set of seats so as to actually get to 90 (which, as you point out, is very difficult to do otherwise).

by Graeme Edgeler on November 23, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

Following this initial redistribution, they'll revert back to the fixed S.I. seats/floating other seats model for future distributions (as in current law).

That'd be pretty dodgy. We'd be using a calculation that means we know we've deliberately screwed both the North Island and the Maori population out of a seat.

I note with interest that you propose using The LR-Hare method for the one-off apportionment of the seats (your term "National Quota" is identical to the Hare Quota). The Royal Commission considered what system we should use to apportion seats to parties, and recommended the Sainte-Laguë method. If we're apportioning seats between islands I'd say we should do the same. If it absolutely positively has to be 90 seats, I get 20/60/10 using Sainte-Laguë.

[I accept your Hare calculation with these numbers is more proportional - a disproportionality of 0.42% vs 0.7% for mine, but that wouldn't generally be the case)

by Andrew Geddis on November 23, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Graeme,

Sure - I'll buy that. My point simply is that there'll be one way used to determine the initial allocation of seats, then another for future redistributions.

by Graeme Edgeler on November 23, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

My point simply is that there'll be one way used to determine the initial allocation of seats, then another for future redistributions.

I don't accept this. I think that if we were designing another system, Parliament would actually bite the bullet and make the hard call in the initial stage, they'd determine the appropriate number of South Island electorates, wouldn't set an overall size of Parliament and would leave that - in the event the other system defeated MMP - for the Government statistician and the Representation Commission following the special 2015 Māori option.

by Andrew Geddis on November 23, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Graeme,

"I think that if we were designing another system, Parliament would actually bite the bullet and make the hard call in the initial stage, they'd determine the appropriate number of South Island electorates ..."

Given that we are debating something that (1) we have no idea what Parliament means to do and (2) it is likely Parliament hasn't thought about in any way, shape, or form, I don't know that we really can resolve this. That said, how does one determine the "appropriate number" of South Island seats without considering the (likely) overall size of Parliament that will result? Consider your figures above, and the difference that is made by choosing 20 or 21 seats for the South Island. Surely there's no independent metric as to which number is "better" - 20 or 21 - aside from what it will mean for the number of other seats?

by Chris Diack on November 23, 2010
Chris Diack

Oh dear

No. First of all I don't speak for the ACT Caucus or any member of it. I am simply speculating from what occurred

Second (surprise surprise) it is not uncommon for smaller parties to carefully allocate speaking commitments to those matters the Party is most focused on. Some MP's in smaller parties are more or less interested in different issues (individual interests have a bigger impact on the direction of smaller parties). I suspect ACT wasn't that keen on the Bill either way do decided to vote for it in accord with its earlier public commitment without a further call - that is a likely explanation although there are others however

Third, we have established that barring prisoners from voting is perfectly reconcilable with classical liberalism (all but two states in the US stop prisoners from voting). Last I was taught an amendment to the US Constitution is part of the Constitution - that makes the 14 Amendment part of the Constitution. Surprising on this point (barring prisioners from voting) 48 the States of Union agree

Fourth. I am not concerned about the 300k registered promoters. Rather it's the 13k non registered promoter I worry about - they are potentially criminalised. They face officious coppers (who are actually interested in real crime and not this political nonsense, and a busy body Electoral Commission). We are significantly less free than our forebears in this regard

Fifth. The proposed rules actually incentivise political activity via registered promoter status - the rules will generate the mischief that needs fixing. Which I am sure you will argue needs fixing through more rules

Sixth. The regulation of non candidate non party speech ushers in an environment of compliant and rules enforcement. We will face the disgusting prospect of a sitting MP or Parliamentary Party (who has an incumbency value of millions over a three year period for individuals and tens of millions for the two big parties) complaining about some poor bugger who happens to have a snitch on that MP or Party and pamphleteers accordingly.

by Graeme Edgeler on November 23, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

it is likely Parliament hasn't thought about in any way, shape, or form, I don't know that we really can resolve this.

I'm quite sure we can't :-)

However, at least part of Parliament has considered this because I raised it in my submission on the bill:

40. Clause 3 of schedule 2 sets out the assumptions common to the alternative voting systems. I note that in respect of first-past-the-post, preferential vote, and STV, assumptions 1 and 3 are incompatible: if there is a fixed number of general seats in the South Island in an entirely electorate-based system, the House of Representatives will probably not have 120 members.

I believe I also mentioned this matter orally. I'm mentioning it now in respect of SM because the problem is new with it. The problem still remains in respect of STV, FPP and PV:

1. You may have a House fixed at 120 members with a fixed number of electorate MPs;

2. you may have a House with a fixed number of South Island electorates, and

3. you may have a House where all the electorates have approximately the same population.

But you may only have two of things. And The cross party select committee has unanimously declared its voice: if we adopt STV, PV, FPP or SM, then we will have 1 and 2, but not 3.

Given what the bill says at the moment, I feel perfectly confident there could be a legitmate campaign against FPP, PV, STV and SM on the basis that it is a mechanism for Parliament to abandon the principle of equal representation across electorates, to the likely detriment of North Island voters. And if they didn't mean to do that, they shouldn't have said that.

by Andrew Geddis on November 23, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Oh dear, indeed.

First, you speculate. You don't judge. How open minded of you.

Second, we've established that ACT doesn't care about individual rights where "bad people" are involved. That's the price for its soul demanded by the Sensible Sentencing Trust, and when you're on the edge of oblivion you'll grasp at any path to survival. Understood, but it's still not pretty.

Third, slavery was instantiated in the US Constitution. So, by 1850s standards, it was quite consistent with classical liberalism. That's some dandy reasoning there. Boils down to "whatever the USA does is, ipso facto, OK."

Fourth, I failed to understand your complaint was with the New Zealand Law Society and its recommended regulation of independent spenders at election time. Sorry about that.

Fifth, I'll wait and see what happens. Evidence based policy good, ideological "it must be so" policy bad.

Sixth, excellent - an prediction! Now we've a metric to measure the good or bad of this policy by. See you after 2011, and we'll see if you were right.

by Graeme Edgeler on November 23, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

I am not concerned about the 300k registered promoters. Rather it's the 13k non registered promoter I worry about - they are potentially criminalised.

I imagine the most unregistered promoters will commit an offence. Either under cl 51A of the Electoral Referendum legislation, or (new) s 204F of the Electoral Act.

I can't see how most of them will avoid this, the requirement to retain receipts and records for three years is unecessarily onerous and will, I suspect, trip up most (if not all) unregistered promoters.

by Mark Wilson on November 23, 2010
Mark Wilson

Graeme you miss the point - this bill is entirely about restricting free speech. Clark did it without a murmur from the hypocritical left - if the right had done something similar the end of the world would have been proclaimed. Even though Goff apologised (once Labour lost power) they have said yesterday that while it is not their policy they will support it. However  they wont say what their apology is because it is in fact another attack on freedom.

by Petone on November 24, 2010
Petone

The Electoral Amendment bill is more about restricting this sort of carry on: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/23/party-funding-major-donor... than of restricting free speech.

But depends on your definition of free speech I guess.

by Chris Diack on November 29, 2010
Chris Diack

Poor quality analysis there Andrew

1)  I speculate as to why ACT did speak again on a Bill because I don't actually know nor am I representative of the ACT Caucus (despite what you might think).   I am pretty sure they care little for your view about how they should deploy their Parliamentary speaking resources.

2)  The SST stuff is a canard just abuse really.

3)  We have established that denying prisoners the vote is consistent with classical liberalism - 48 out of 50 US States do so.

4)  Last time I looked, among those involved in the foundation of the US that were what we might now term "classical liberals" many knew slavery offended liberalism.  That said I would stack up their achievement against any Marxist.

5)  Actually the fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution (1868) was post US civil war.

6)  Yes let's wait and see the chilling effect of regulating political expression worth more than $12k - but it won't be this election because it's uncompetitive.

7)  What is clear is that Andrew believes removing voting rights for prisoners is an outrage but criminalising and bureaucratising free speech of non candidates and non registered parties who happen to spend more than $12k within 3mths of an election is ok.   I know what I consider to be a bigger impact on our freedoms and a more dangerous trend.

by Graeme Edgeler on November 29, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

5)  Actually the fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution (1868) was post US civil war.

The instantiation of slavery in the US Constitution occurred well before the 14th amendment. I refer you to the US Constituion Article I, § 2, Article I, § 9, and Article 4, §2.

by william blake on November 29, 2010
william blake

Nasty stuff from the right. The National party seems to have learned from the American Republican party that the crim vote isn't a right wing vote. Isnt being locked in a tiny concrete box enough punishment for these bastards?

 

by Chris Diack on November 30, 2010
Chris Diack

5)  Actually the fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution (1868) was post US civil war.

The instantiation of slavery in the US Constitution occurred well before the 14th amendment. I refer you to the US Constituion Article I, § 2, Article I, § 9, and Article 4, §2.

I never said otherwise.  It was the stain and all that....

The key point is denying prisoners the vote can be consistent with classical liberalism.

The suggestion that the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution (a response to slavery and the civil war) passed muster then regarding non voting prisoners because as compared to slavery it's was not in the same league, therefore it doesn't pass muster now, is entirely untrue.  The issue has been repeatedly tested in the US Courts - there are live cases now.

The fact remains it's the default position of all but two US States (nasty old Illinois they were always into slavery)

So while crims not voting can pass muster on a classical liberal view, criminalising and bureaucratising non candidate and non registered party political expression in close proximity to an election does not.

In reality most first world jurisdictions allow prisoners to vote not because of any great commitment to the franchise for the crims but because denying the vote causes significant problems for enrolment systems.  Administrative convenience - it's an argument I have some sympathy for.

by Graeme Edgeler on November 30, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

So while crims not voting can pass muster on a classical liberal view, criminalising and bureaucratising non candidate and non registered party political expression in close proximity to an election does not.

You don't think non-candidate speech in the US is bureaucratised?

by Chris Diack on November 30, 2010
Chris Diack

"You don't think non-candidate speech in the US is bureaucratised?"

Yes.  What a mess too.  Entirely because of the regulation of political competition here.   And of course the SCOTUS is winding it back.

The US is very instructive of what one should not do.  Alas New Zealand is headed off in the same direction.

by Graeme Edgeler on November 30, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

The US is very instructive of what one should not do.  Alas New Zealand is headed off in the same direction.

So we shouldn't ban prisoners from voting?

Or is it that the US is a model to follow in the regulation of voting, but not a model to follow in the regulation of electoral speech?

by Chris Diack on November 30, 2010
Chris Diack

Graeme (Marshall Hall):

You are taking a part of my post out of context.

What I said was that prisoners not voting could be consistent with classical liberalism and cited the US.  Conclusion: shock horror ACT position reconcilable with individual freedom & personal responsibility (if you are doing time you are not voting).

It's the reconcilability that I sought to establish - nothing more.

Actually the US isn't a model to follow on enrolment systems (all 4000+ of them) or the regulation of political competition.

It's the bureaucratisation of non candidate non party speech where we are following the failed course in the US.  Like there and here, the non candidate non party speech "problem" almost entirely results from the regulation of candidates and political parties in the first place.

by Andrew Geddis on December 01, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Chris,

We do know why Act didn't speak during the debate - because they didn't think it worth doing so. That's a choice they can be judged on, given their claims to be a Liberal party that values individual rights. If you don't want to judge them, that's fine ... it is difficult to find fault with those you desperately want to respect. But I do and will. Same thing goes for the Party's  SST connections - you seem to think any criticism of Act and its behaviour/choices is a "cheap shots" or a "canard". Those are weasel words for "I'd rather move on to ground on which I am more likely to win the debate" - which is fine, just a bit ... weasely.

As for your reading of US history and constitutionalism, its really a rorschach ink blot which says more about the viewer than the topic at hand. However, given that your logic seems to be "The US is a classically liberal society, the US bars prisoners from voting, therefore barring prisoners from voting is consistent with classical liberalism", can I also assume that barring gays and lesbians from marrying or serving in the armed forces is consistent with classical liberalism?

Finally, the claim "In reality most first world jurisdictions allow prisoners to vote not because of any great commitment to the franchise for the crims but because denying the vote causes significant problems for enrolment systems.  Administrative convenience - it's an argument I have some sympathy for" is flat out, completely and utterly untrue. They do so because of court decisions finding that the right to vote cannot be justifiably removed from prisoners ... decisions that rather undermine the strength of your claim that US courts consistently have upheld the policy. Unless, of course, only US courts matter?

by Chris Diack on December 03, 2010
Chris Diack

1. "We do know why Act didn't speak during the debate - because they didn't think it worth doing so."

Weird.  That is what I surmised.  Happy to judge the Bill as semi ok.  It's no great threat to liberty unlike bureaucratising non candidate and non registered party speech in close proximity to elections.  Now that's a real threat to basic freedoms.  What is the freedom of expression is for it the first place: having a go at pols and the Government - should not be subject to criminalisation and a State registration system.

We have established is that non voting prisoners can be consistent with classical liberalism.

On the "SST connections" a bit tiresome. ACT ran on zero tolerance for crime and truth in sentencing prior to the formation of the SST - it was probably only a sparkle in Garth McVicar's eyes then (that big ole bogey man)

2. "...given that your logic seems to be "The US is a classically liberal society, the US bars prisoners from voting, therefore barring prisoners from voting is consistent with classical liberalism", can I also assume that barring gays and lesbians from marrying or serving in the armed forces is consistent with classical liberalism."

No.  Denying women the vote was not consistent if you want to add to the list.  Nor this the SCOTUS approach to economic matters (under the commerce clause) classically liberal either.

All the US is evidence of is that barring prisoners from voting is reconcilable with classical liberalism (in fact both voting and non voting crims are reconcilable).  Just like the US provides compelling evidence that regulating political competition in the first place largely causes any non party non candidate speech "problems" especially if your society is wealthy.

I suspect that marriage (like prisioner's voting) is a State matter not a Federal one: thus the US will continue to change on this over time as social mores change.

3"....decisions that rather undermine the strength of your claim that US courts consistently have upheld the policy. Unless, of course, only US courts matter."

As the US is wealthy, has lots of crims and even more lawyers, the issue is and has been extensively tested.  I would hazard a guess more so than in any other jurisdiction.

As I said one can be both for prisoners voting and against prisoners voting and still be a classical liberal - it depends on where one's emphasis is: the exercise of the right or the personal responsibility (the consequences) for one's actions.

Can't really say what's going on elsewhere.

by Chris Diack on December 03, 2010
Chris Diack

I'm more of a Song of the South type than a rorschach ink blot type.

by Andrew Geddis on December 08, 2010
Andrew Geddis

"We have established is that non voting prisoners can be consistent with classical liberalism."

Nope. We've established you claim this to be the case, without any argument at all except for a hackneyed slogan ("do the crime! do the time!") and a reference to US jurisprudence. You then say that other policies adopted in the US (and upheld by the Supreme Court over time) are not consistent with classical liberalism. So your previous reference to the US appears meaningless - it has some policies things that are classically liberal, others that are not. Leaving us with ... a hackneyed slogan as the reason for your claim.

You sure you aren't in ACT's caucus?

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