National have taken to the Human Rights Commission with a very tight noose. The Human Rights Commission have enormous power in relation to most Departments, the Human Rights Review Tribunal has the power to force Government to accept their rulings. When the right have such vast transformation in mind with corporate gulags using forced prison labour and private companies being paid bonuses to disqualify beneficiaries from welfare, making sure the Government have stacked one of the few avenues for citizens to complain to is vital.
It's part of a very obvious campaign by the Government to turn our watchdogs into lapdogs by underfunding them or by appointing right wing flunkies to their governance.
Turning our watchdogs into lapdogs is a neat trick, but the long term impacts don't bode well for our liberal democratic aspirations.
Public Broadcasting is supposed to be a watchdog, but by re-defining talent shows as public broadcasting (because it's broadcast to the public) we mutilate the concept into cheap entertainment to numb and distract rather than engage and challenge. Combine this redefined Circus Maximus content equation to cutting back on public broadcasting funding and the political appointment of John Key's electorate chair onto NZ on Air into the mix, and we have a public broadcasting watchdog that has been neutered and muzzled.
John Armstrong (hardly someone you would call a woolly socialist) pointed out what underfunding the Ombudsman is doing to slow unchecked political power. Slowing our Ombudsman watchdog to a snail's pace could be considered an oversight, but when linked to the exact same resourcing problem at the Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner and we get a picture of two of our highest placed watchdogs so squeezed for funding that they can't afford to bark.
These examples pale when you compare them with what National have done to the HRC. Appointing right wing ideologues like ACT MP Ken Shirley or the Reverend Ravi Musuku (who was explaining one election that all Prisoners needed was the word of Jesus to help them along) to the HRC Tribunal is bad enough, but appointing a homophobic bigot like Brian Neeson who has spent his entire political career trying to stop homosexuals gaining any rights is human rights vandalism.
What made all threes appointment to the HRC Tribunal even more difficult to swallow was the underhand methods National used to get them appointed in the first place... "As Justice Minister, Simon Power agreed to a process where candidates for appointment to the Tribunal were interviewed. This happened for a number of candidates, but it is clear from the papers that have been released that Brian Neeson, Ken Shirley, Ravi Musuku, Wendy Gilchrist and Gavin Cook were suggested as members by Ministers late in the process, and did not go through the same process as others who had been nominated," Grant Robertson said. "It is not unusual for Ministers to suggest nominees, but in this case it goes directly against the advice of the Chair of the Tribunal Royden Hindle. The papers note his view that "without interviews by an appropriately selected interview panel the process will not provide an opportunity to properly assess the candidates suitability and thus will fail to provide sufficient security that conflicts of interest and any other potentially adverse issues are identified."
So on top of off of this we now see Judith Collins appointing her mate to the Human Rights Commission. Over riding official recommendations and then trying to keep your relationship with the person you are appointing secret isn't a good look and you know this is serious because Judith's favorite attack dog/pet, Cameron Slater, immediately went to attacking David Fisher the journalist who broke the story with a mock column in the Truth.
Our watchdogs have been defanged and leashed right when major Government social policy is aiming to disqualify thousands from welfare while pushing forced labour camps.
I don't think Seven Sharp will be covering this on Monday night.