The Bully State

The New Zealand Herald reports:

A group representing 30 officers who have worked for a privately run prison made a submission this week to Parliament’s law and order select committee, which is considering legislation to enable private operators to run jails.

After Bart Birch, Uaea Leavasa and Satish Prasad criticised how Auckland Central Remand Prison was run under private contractor GEO between 2000 and 2005, Mr Garrett weighed in.

“You say that you don’t want to go back to working in this environment – to the private [sector]. You’d be aware that given your submission here, you wouldn’t get offered a job anyway, would you?

Now, Parliament has rules about this sort of conduct by Members – notably Standing Orders 400 and 401 relating to Contempt of the House:

401 Examples of Contempt
Without limiting the generality of Standing Order 400, the House may treat as a contempt any of the following:

(t) intimidating, preventing or hindering, a witness from giving evidence, or giving evidence in full, to the House or a committee:

It will be interesting to see if any MP makes a formal complaint about Garrett’s conduct. I hope one does, because this is an extremely bad look by Garrett. Witnesses before Select Committees should feel free to give whatever evidence they choose without the fear of reprisals that Garrett’s comment seemed to imply.

On top of Minister Paula Bennett’s releasing personal information to intimidate two women who had the temerity to publicly criticise welfare benefit policy, it is starting to look very much like the “nanny state” has replaced by the “bully state”.

Sir Robert Muldoon would be proud.