Monday, June 12, 2006



Delayed

Looking at the list of bills before select committee, I see that George Hawkins' two Manukau local bills - the Manukau City Council (Control of Graffiti) Bill and the Manukau City Council (Control of Street Prostitution) Bill - have had their report-back dates pushed back to September 18. They were originally scheduled to report back last week. This suggests that the Labour caucus hasn't been able to decide what to do with them. Both bills are flatly draconian and have extremely harsh penalties for trivial or non-existent offences, and both contain sections found to be inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act (the two bills' BORA reports are here and here). The prostitution bill in particular will be opposed by the liberal faction within Labour's caucus for attempting to effectively overturn on a local scale the Prostitution Reform Act 2003.

Obviously, I'm not exactly unhappy with this delay. But I'd far rather the committee recommended that the bill not proceed than leaving it to hang around and possibly be resuscitated later on. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens in September...

Update: Fixed link to BORA analysis.

12 comments:

Intesting speculation, but it is incorrect. The simple reality is that some of our Select committees are very overworked (and under resourced) and have lots of legislation before them. This Committee and the Justice and Electoral Committee both come into that category. They have delayed several bills, not just these two. usually the delay comes becuase of the number of submissions, and both these two bills (and the others that have been delayed) all recieved many submissions and requests for oral submissions making it impossible for the Committee to hear all submissions before the report back date.

The alternative is to not hear all those who wish to be heard, which is pretty undemocratic.

Posted by Tony Milne : 6/12/2006 09:25:00 AM

Speaking of draconian, IS, what about a column on Taser use at some point? I work in the mental health field, and I'm coming to the conclusion that these so-
called low-end restraint devices
could cause major problems for
those mental health consumers
whose medication may cause some
cardiovascular difficulties
already...

Craig Y

Posted by Anonymous : 6/12/2006 09:51:00 AM

"Both bills are flatly draconian and have extremely harsh penalties for trivial or non-existent offences, and both contain sections found to be inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act"

Your links to the BORA reports are both links to the same report (the Justice pre-screening report on the Street Prostitution bill). The links to the AG s 7 reports are here:

http://otherpublications.clerk.parliament.govt.nz.clients.intergen.net.nz/attachments/FileForWeb-20051207-040845-Manukau%20C%20C%20Graffiti.PDF

and

http://www.justice.govt.nz/bill-of-rights/bill-list-2005/m-bill/section-7-manukau-city-council-control-street-prostitution.html

I must dispute that the bills contain extremely harsh penalties for for non-existent offences; extremely harsh penalties for offences that really shouldn't be offences, perhaps, but you really can't go too much further than that.

Moreover, the BORA inconsistencies in the bills aren't really such that that the bills are unfixable, indeed I would suggest that they are pretty standard for members' bills where the member involved has no public law background (similar problems have afflicted other recent members' bills, the bill could still achieve its main purpose if amended, but it seemed like a good idea to a non-lawyer at the time).

Deletion of the clause effectively requiring self-incrimination in both bills wouldn't affect their purpose greatly (and nor would changing the age in the graffiti bill to 16). That said, I can't see the graffiti bill passing (as the pre-screening report suggests) it's really not going to do anything).

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 6/12/2006 11:28:00 AM

Tony: The committee isn't that busy. The two Manukau bills were referred in December, and submissions closed in February; the only real business the committee has had to deal with in that time has been the Local Government Law Reform Bill (which is supposed to report back today), the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Bill (which doesn't report back until August), and a couple of local bills which were reported back months ago. What have they been doing all this time? Working on the Kerikeri National Trust Bill (delayed since 1994)? Please don't make me laugh...

It's also worth noting that oral submissions on the Manukau bills were heard some time ago. The delay is in the reaching conclusions stage, not in the hearing of evidence.

Craig: Oh, I'll get to that. Probably.

Graeme: Oh, the bills are fixable - but violating the BORA was the reason Manukau City went to Parliament in the first place. And really, I'm not sure why anyone would want to fix them. They're both crocks, better to simply dump them...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/12/2006 03:41:00 PM

Spraying graffiti is already illegal anyway - it's criminal damage (unless with the agreement of the building owner).

Incidentally, given that just about all the legislation before the current parliament is either unneccesary or plain bad (or is unlikely to pass), it might be a good idea to make copious submissions on every bill in an effort to gum up the process. Is that a cynical attitude?

Posted by Rich : 6/12/2006 03:52:00 PM

"violating the BORA was the reason Manukau City went to Parliament in the first place"

For the graffiti bill sure, but the BORA-inconsisent sections in the prostitution bill aren't integral to it - it could easily be fixed.

I guess it almost goes without saying that you'd want to fix them because if Parliament is going to pass laws that are crocks, it's still better that those crocks don't breach the Bill of Rights - whether street prostitution should be lawful in Manukau is something about which I see scope for reasonable disagreement - abolishing the right against self-incrimination/criminalising those exercising the right to silence is on a different plane.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 6/12/2006 04:34:00 PM

Graeme: Sure, if they're goign to be passed, then I want them past in the least-worst form possible. But really, I'd rather that they weren't passed at all...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/12/2006 04:59:00 PM

Having read the graffiti bill, it strikes me as either vague or an interference with free expression.

It criminalises the act of "marking graffiti". Without the agreement of the property owner, this is already (as I noted above) intentional damage and an offence under the Crimes Act. Does the act intend to also ban graffiti painted *with* the agreement of the property owner? And what is the difference between graffiti and a mural?

Posted by Rich : 6/12/2006 05:27:00 PM

I've just chatted to the Chair of the Committee to find out why those bills are being delayed, and the real reason (as I indicated in my first post) is that the Committee has been spending most of its time meeting on the Local Government reform Bill (which implements Labour's Rates Rebate promise at the election) to try to get that into the house by July. It's also come into difficulties with the microchipping stuff as reported in the papers today.

Feel free to give any member of the Committee (Government or opposition)a call and I'm sure they will confirm that that is the case.

That's not to say there aren’t political issues with the Manakau Bills, but to say that they are being delayed because the Labour caucus hasn't been able to decide what to do with them is incorrect.

Posted by Tony Milne : 6/13/2006 10:21:00 AM

Tony: fair enough. So, any hints on whether Labour will back these bills...?

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/13/2006 12:57:00 PM

Perhaps you should delete your incorrect accusations?

Posted by pinkliberal : 6/13/2006 02:57:00 PM

That's ok I/S. I can understand how it would appear that way.

My former boss, Tim Barnett, was the Chair of the Justice and Electoral Committee for quite a while and most bills that went to the Committee we're delayed becuase of the work-load.

It's an interesting point, because under MMP Select Committees are becoming more important - almost like our second chamber - to scrutinise legislatoin. Yet they are under-resourced and only able to meet for limited time while the house sits.

On the Bills, I hope they both fail, but I have no inside info except to say that Tim Barnett put in a written submission against the Street Prostitution Bill. He was going to do an oral submission but was in hospital for 3 weeks so couldn't.

And I know there are National MPs who want to vote against it also. Whether they are allowed or not is another matter of course.

Posted by Tony Milne : 6/13/2006 03:32:00 PM