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Encouraging conversations about justified limitations on rights

Some thoughts on the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 at its 20th Anniversary

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (BoRA) is having its “ups and downs”.   After the hopeful start of being conceived as “superior law”, providing a yardstick against which the courts could strike down legislation that was inconsistent with our civil rights and freedoms, the BoRA was enacted as an ordinary law.   It is, of course, widely recognised as a “super statute”; a statute setting standards that Parliament ought take note of when passing legislation.  On the “down swing” again, it appears that this ideal is loosing ground as Parliament legislates further limitations on the rights in the BoRA, by way of subsequent legislation.

Constitutional lawyers reject the special powers Earthquake Act

A group of constitutional lawyers and law professors have expressed their concerns about the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act in an open letter to NZ and Parliament.

Over and over again history demonstrates that unconstrained power is subject to misuse, and that even well-intentioned measures can result in unintended consequences if there are not clear, formal measures of oversight applied to them.

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