Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Urgency for abuse

The House has just gone into urgency for two key (for the government) bills - the first to punish retroactively people who have already been punished, the second to steal from the poor.

The first bill is the government's returning offenders legislation, designed to impose "parole-like conditions" on New Zealanders deported from Australia after serving their sentences. This means not just a host of invasions of privacy such as taking fingerprints and DNA, but also restrictions on where and how they live and the ability to recall them to jail:

Those who breached the conditions would be "dealt with as any other offender" and could be put back in prison, she said.
But, as noted above, these are people who have already completed their sentence. They've done their time, been deported - and now the government is proposing that they be punished again through invasion of privacy, conditions, and possible jail - for a crime they have already been punished for. And this, pretty obviously, violates s26(2) of the Bill of Rights Act:
No one who has been finally acquitted or convicted of, or pardoned for, an offence shall be tried or punished for it again.
[Emphasis added]

And yet, somehow, the bill failed to attract a section 7 report from the Attorney-General. Benefits of urgency, I guess. But once again, we're seeing all-stages urgency being used by National to pass a bill repugnant to our constitution and to basic standards of justice. And once again, its a strong argument that parliament simply is not fit to decide such things, and that they need proper supervision by the courts.

The other major bill they're passing under all-stages urgency is a bill to steal from the poor. For 18 years, WINZ deliberately underpaid beneficiaries, robbing them of a day every time they signed up for a benefit. And then when they were caught, the government's solution is not to pay people what they are owed, but to legislate retrospectively to legalise this theft. It is unfair, and it is unjust, to rob from the poorest New Zealanders. But isn't it so very, very National? And isn't it so very, very National to bring Parliament into disrepute by committing such theft under the cloak of urgency?