Chris Hipkins calls Govt 'dictatorship' for 'ramming' through law changes, advice shows it could breach international obligations

Newshub can reveal Treasury warned the Government it would breach international obligations by suspending proper advice on policy to meet its 100-day goals.    

Christopher Luxon denies he's riding roughshod over democracy but refused to commit to a one-year review of all policy passed without proper process as recommended by officials.   

Labour leader Chris Hipkins has gone out on a limb accusing the Coalition Government of being a dictatorship - a word he previously refused to use to describe Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

After riding a bluenami to power, Luxon has surfed the wave all over the sands of democracy.   

That vote for change is what Luxon is leaning on to defend his Government's record use of parliamentary urgency, skipping steps in the democratic process to pass reforms in time to meet his self-imposed deadline of 100 days.   

"I would just say to you it has focused the public service incredibly well because we are a Government that is here to get things done," he said on Wednesday.  

Along with putting parliament in urgency and skipping public input through select committees for some legislation, the Government also decided to skip the official advice step, suspending what are known as regulatory impact assessments on some 100-day policies.   

Advice released under the Official Information Act shows Treasury officials warned the urgency of a policy proposal is not in itself sufficient grounds for an exemption from such advice.   

Luxon denies that's trampling on democracy.   

"Not at all. What we're doing is, where we've had clear positions in Opposition and where we've campaigned on policies through the election campaign we're moving very quickly."  

The advice also shows that the Government was warned that New Zealand had international obligations saying specifically, that under the NZ-UK free trade agreement, New Zealand must "endeavour to carry out proportionate impact assessments of proposed major regulatory measures".   

"I've got no doubt that we've not met those, we have met those obligations, yep no doubt at all," Luxon said.    

For policies that didn't get adequate advice, Treasury recommended a post-implementation review a year after the legislation is passed to ensure it meets standards, but Luxon refused to commit to even that.   

"Again... we make no apologies and I appreciate you have an issue about it but the point is when we've campaigned on it, when we've opposed it very strongly, when we've articulated our position for a very long time and we got elected on a mandate for change for getting things done we make no apologies."  

But Hipkins said: "Winning an election does not entitle you to act like a dictatorship."   

Dictatorship, that's a term Hipkins wouldn't even use for Chinese President Xi Jinping.   

"That is what this Government is doing ramming law changes through that they did not campaign on."  

Asked why he pushed ahead without getting proper advice, Luxon said: "I disagree completely. I make no apologies for getting things done for New Zealanders."