|Marama Davidson: Defending draconian legislation.|
THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC has further highlighted the rigid conservatism of the parliamentary Green Party. When the times are demanding that political parties express a policy position that isn't based on the interests of 'the market', the Green's continue to insist that an environmentally market economy is possible. That's the same market economy plunging New Zealand and the world into the greatest economic crisis seen since the 1930s. Yet, an economically and ecologically sane alternative, a Green New Deal, remains an anathema to a Green Party that can only talk of the 'investment opportunities' offered by so-called 'green capitalism'.
If the Green Party leadership thought its dour centrist position would translate into wide public support, that has also proved to be a failure. The opinion polls consistently show the Green's floating around the crucial five percent eligibility mark. If things do turn seriously pear-shaped for the Green Party, it risks being kicked out of Parliament altogether.
The Green's have only added to their troubles by the astonishing decision of its leadership to support legislation that will allow the police to conduct warrantless searches of private premises for the next three months. The Covid-19 Public Health Response legislation has been steamrolled through Parliament with zero public scrutiny. The Human Rights Commission says it is 'deeply concerned' about the lack of scrutiny of legislation and its rushed process 'is a great failure of our democratic process'.
Professor Jane Kelsey wrote an open letter to the Maori MP's, in a last minute attempt to dissuade them from supporting the legislation. In that letter she observes that the assurances of safeguards today echo those given for the 2002 Suppression of Terrorism Act. That legislation resulted in the police raids on te Urewera.
The passing of the legislation comes at a time when it has been revealed that the police have been experimenting with controversial facial recognition software without informing either the Government or the Privacy Commissioner.
None of this though has troubled the Green Party enough not to support the legislation and for MP's like Chloe Swarbrick, something of a liberal darling, to stand up in Parliament to speak in its defence.
Green co-leader Marama Davidson claims that the police will be 'responsible' in its use of the new legislation. But such evidence-free assertions have failed to convince many, judging by the backlash against the Green's in the social media.
Kate Aschoff, a spokesperson for the Green Party's youth wing, told the media that the new legislation provided the police with 'unjust powers' which could be 'used disproportionately' against Maori.
'Police powers to enter homes and private dwellings without a warrant demonstrate an extension of power that is likely to be abused and create more damages between the Government, police and Maori.'
What this draconian legislation does is serve as a constant reminder that, even at so-called Level 2, we remain in a state of emergency. And, of course, a society that lives in such a state of emergency can be never really be described as a free society. These draconian measures have been introduced at a time when the neoliberal status quo is under threat of collapse. This though appears to be of little consequence to the Green's. But as former NZ Herald columnist Rachel Stewart has observed:
'These days most of Labour's support, and virtually all of the Greens', is made up of mostly white, middle and upper class academics or professionals. Anyone with half a brain can see why the consequences of this Bill for indigenous people is worrying - except them. Funny that.'