Wednesday, April 05, 2006


The Privileges Committee has released its report [PDF] on the TVNZ board's attempt to punish chief executive Ian Fraser for evidence given before a select committee, and recommended that TVNZ be fined $1000 - the first time in 103 years that it has handed down such a penalty. But while I agree that TVNZ should have been punished for what was in essence an attempt to interfere with a witness, I am deeply uncomfortable with that punishment being handed down by Parliament. In effect, what we have here is Parliament acting as judge and jury in its own case, something that should not be tolerated in any legal system. It would be far better if these sorts of offences were specified in law and prosecuted in ordinary courts, rather than allowing that sort of potential for abuse.


Wel actually Parliament is the highest judge and jury... Thats why its parliament. :)

Posted by Sanctuary : 4/05/2006 09:24:00 PM

The same was said about the King - and the problems with that system are why we now have an independent judiciary.

There is a clear possibility in the privileges process for abuse, and that possibility should be removed. Intimidating witnesses to Parliamentary select committees should be a crime, but it should be the law, not politicians, who decide what is and is not "intimidation" and what the penalty should be.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/05/2006 10:04:00 PM

I can see an argument that Parliament should not be a judge in its own cause (I'm not saying I agree with it, but I can it); however, a corrollary of the argument that Parliament shouldn't punish contempts of Parliament is that the Courts shouldn't be the ones to punish contempts of court.

An important part of the separation of powers, of an independant judiciary, is that the two do not interfere in the other's affairs.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 4/05/2006 11:27:00 PM

First of all, it may have been once "The same was said about the King" but the attempt to extend the excesses of European devine right to our system were ratherly firmly dealt with by Mssrs. Pym and Cromwell. The Star Chamber was an unrepresentative abomination and was dealt with accordingly.

Its not "important to have a seperation of powers." Parliament is supremely sovereign. It is the voice of the people. It follows then that nothing can contradict the will of the parliament.

The alternative would be to gift to some sort of legal priesthood the power of styming the sovereignty of the people.

I am personally extremely comfortable with the way the courts are subservient to the parliament, for I feel our democracy is superior to the US version where the courts are not.

Posted by Sanctuary : 4/06/2006 10:35:00 AM