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On Minister Mahuta and the Advocacy of Supermajorities by (leftist & rightist) economists


We try to be non-partisan on this blog, taking issue with left and right alike. And on that note, Kiwi rightists are currently agitated about attempts by Minister Mahuta to insert an "entrenchment clause" in the Three Waters legislation, meaning that any future attempt to privatise the infrastructure would require a supermajority in the House. National Party leader, Chris Luxon, wants her sacked from Cabinet.


He is reported as saying, “Three Waters is a debacle. Not only is the government confiscating assets from community ownership but, in an effort to rush it through urgency, the responsible minister tried to sneak in unconstitutional and undemocratic entrenchment provisions against Cabinet guidelines.


Political commentator Bryce Edwards today said that although it is unclear why Labour tried "pushing through constitutionally objectionable & anti-democratic entrenchment provisions for Three Waters, there is now little doubt that Mahuta was driving the change".


Turns out former Chair of the Business Roundtable in NZ, Roger Kerr, supported entrenchment & supermajorities. He wanted a supermajority to be inserted into our Public Finance Act. This is what he wrote in the Scoop article below, "there is a case for a super-majority requirement for tax increases because of the risk that a simple political majority may act in a predatory fashion on either a minority of the population (eg high income earners who pay the lion's share of tax) or on a relatively unorganised majority of taxpayers".


In other words, Kerr wanted a supermajority to make it harder for the government to pick on high earners by taxing them more. His argument was that supermajorities make the system more democratic since they constrain governments from picking on minorities. By the way, the reincarnation of the Business Roundtable is the NZ Initiative, which is regularly consulted by Luxon for advice & has effectively become the informal think tank of the National Party.


To clarify, maybe the process which Minister Mahuta was using to get a supermajority written into law - by way of "urgency" - was not appropriate. However, as for the supermajority itself, such "entrenchment" of legislation has a long history of being supported by the right, as well as the left, in order to support, in their opinions, better economic outcomes.


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