Parliament passed the Copyright Amendment Act into law under urgency last night, effectively forcing Internet Service Providers to police people allegedly infringing copyrights, with the ultimate sanction being a $15,000 fine and disconnecting the offender from the Internet.
The whole idea is stupid and irritating on many levels, but to me, the worst aspect is the abuse of urgency. Urgency is only meant to be used when things are, well, urgent, but in this case it’s being used to stifle debate.
Even more irritating is Labour’s response, with Clare Curran crowing that Labour only passed 13 bills under urgency in their 9-year tenure. That’s 13 bills too many in my book, and includes such standouts as the Terrorism Suppression Act and the Seabed and Foreshore Act.
I’d dearly like both major parties to revise their policy on urgency, as it is a clear threat to democracy. They may be using it on something as seemingly innocuous as the Copyright Amendment Act today, but they’re on a slippery slope pointing back toward the days of Rob Muldoon.