It seems like the government is intent on passing the Policing (Involvement in Local Authority Elections) Amendment Bill through all stages under urgency. A shame really, as I was intending to make a submission opposing the Bill.
The Bill looks like a technical one, removing a prohibition on police officers from standing for local authorities, in order that "all employees of the New Zealand Police are treated in the same way as other State servants".
But that's the problem, they're not. Part of their responsibilities, as constables, is to enforce bylaws passed by local authorities. It's a basic violation of the constitutional principle of the separation of powers to have a person passing laws also enforcing them.
The Policing Act 2008 recognised this problem and included the current prohibition (a prohibition which basically replicates the prohibition at central government). But now the restriction is being removed at a local level.
The Police's regulatory impact statement acknowledges the potential for some such "conflicts of interest" to arise, but suggests they will be addressed through "internal policies", amongst other things, clarifying that Police officers should not be involved in drafting or approving bylaws".
That's not good enough, in my view. This is a serious constitutional matter, with the potential to lead to the abuse of the coercive power of the state.
And it's not good enough that legislation which is constitutionally dubious to be rushed through under urgency, without the opportunity for public submissions and proper scrutiny.