Much has been made about the power that the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010 gives to Gerry Brownlee as Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery to suspend, exempt or extend existing laws under the powerful Henry VIII clause.
But a careful reading of the Act makes it clear that the power is in fact conferred on "any relevant minister"; that is, "the Minister who is, with the authority of the Prime Minister, for the time being responsible for the administration of the enactment [being amended]" (ss 4 and 6). This could be any of the present Ministers, not just Gerry Brownlee.
So the Orders presently promulgated must have been recommended by the following Ministers:
- Chris Finlayson (Canterbury Earthquake (Historic Places Act) Order 2010)
- Nick Smith (Canterbury Earthquake (Resource Management Act) Order 2010)
- Stephen Joyce (Canterbury Earthquake (Transport Legislation) Order 2010)
- Rodney Hide (Canterbury Earthquake (Local Government Act 2002) Order 2010)
- John Carter (Canterbury Earthquake (Civil Defence Emergency Management Act) Order 2010)
- Maurice Williamson (Canterbury Earthquake (Building Act) Order 2010)
- Paula Bennett (Canterbury Earthquake (Social Security Act) Order 2010)
- Rodney Hide (Canterbury Earthquake (Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act) Order 2010).]
Rather confusingly, the Act also refers to 3 responsible Ministers: the Minister for the Environment; the Minister of Finance; and the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery. These are the ministers responsible for, amongst other things, the appointments and other administration of the Act.
One point I'm not entirely certain about is the collective process for promulgation of the Orders. I have heard conflicting explanations of whether or not all the Orders are subject to Cabinet sign-off or not. The usual process in the Cabinet Manual is that any such orders made in Council are signed off by Cabinet as a whole. But I recall the Minister originally saying that proposed Orders would circumvent Cabinet itself and only be considered by the special Canterbury Earthquake Cabinet Committee. I would be grateful if anyone could confirm the present position.