Brownlee tripped up by rule of law

National’s Minister for Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee, has been given some food for thought this summer with today’s decision by the Court of Appeal reinforcing the limits on his powers, says Lianne Dalziel.

The Court of Appeal has upheld the previous decision of the High Court and invoked the essence of the rule of law, stating that the sweeping powers, conferred on Minister Gerry Brownlee under the CERA legislation, are not ‘untrammelled’.

“The Minister has to ensure that he exercises his powers under the Act ‘in accordance with its purposes, and he can only exercise those powers when he ‘reasonably considers it necessary’. 

“His decisions relating to the Regional Policy Statement last year failed to meet these basic tests.

“When the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act was introduced Gerry Brownlee claimed that the checks and balances would ensure that the necessary powers for recovery were used judiciously, be open to public scrutiny, and provide for judicial oversight.

“But he has tripped at the first hurdle.

“Gerry Brownlee over-stepped the mark and needs to realise that while he has been entrusted with wide powers, he still has to exercise them with responsibility,” Lianne Dalziel said.