Labour must stop anti-democratic tactics

The lengths Labour will go to in order to avoid scrutiny and accountability are quite extraordinary. The National Party will not stand for any more of their antics; the Epidemic Response Committee must be reinstated as soon as possible, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“When Prime Minister Ardern unilaterally suspended Parliament, she assured the New Zealand public this wasn’t a big deal because Select Committees would function as forums for scrutiny. Anyone who has witnessed the farce that is Select Committees under this majority Labour Government knew that was utter nonsense.

“Most Select Committees are chaired by Labour MPs who since the last election have frustrated attempts by all other parties to call ministers and officials to appear before them and have blocked attempts to ask meaningful questions of them when they do.

“This week we have seen new levels of cynical politics from Labour and it needs to be called out. From the Labour MPs in the Māori Affairs Select Committee voting down National’s motion to have Minister Hipkins front on low vaccination rates for Māori to Dr Liz Craig in Health Committee trying to dictate what aspects of Covid-19 could be discussed.

“Not only was Jacinda Ardern never going to front at any Select Committee to answer questions, trying to get some of her ministers to front was like pulling teeth. Even in Environment Select Committee Labour blocked National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson’s motion for the Environment and Conservation ministers to appear.

“The degree to which Ardern has been allowed to control and restrict channels through which she might be made accountable is incredibly concerning.

“The role of Opposition in our Westminster parliamentary system is vital to a properly functioning democracy. Our system is adversarial not simply because the Opposition want to win the next election, but because of the serious part we must play in scrutinising the Government and having them justify their actions to the New Zealand public.

“Jacinda Ardern is actively disrupting the Opposition from being able to fulfil our democratic function.

“We are in a time of crisis and New Zealand needs to be able to hold its Government to account. It is National’s job as Opposition to do so. It is time Jacinda Ardern leads by example and stops the anti-democratic tactics.

“The Epidemic Response Committee must be reinstated with urgency under the same operating terms as last time. The ERC is an Opposition led committee; that is why Jacinda Ardern doesn’t want it set back up and that is precisely why New Zealanders should demand it.”