Thursday, August 24, 2006


The Education and Science Committee has finally released its report [PDF] on Gerry Brownlee's Education (Trustee Ineligibility) Amendment Bill. The bill passed its first reading in February last year, and would have made those convicted of certain sexual offences ineligible to serve on school boards of trustees. The Committee has recommended unanimously that the bill not proceed, on the grounds that it would not make children any safer and that it is difficult to see why school trustees, who rarely come into contact with students, should be held to higher legal standards than teachers. They also took serious issue with the retrospective nature of the bill (it would have been deemed to have come into effect on March 1st, 2001 - meaning that anyone covered would be retrospectively de-elected). Given that the committee included 4 National MPs, it seems certain that the bill will be voted down when it comes back for its second reading, or simply discharged.

Now, if only every moral panic bill would be handled so sensibly...


There was also a nasty little twist in this bill: the list of specified offences which would result in disqualification included s142 of the Crimes Act 1961, covering anal intercourse. My first thought on seeing this was that it had been repealed by Homosexual law Reform, but it turns out that it was only amended to cover children (it has now been repealed completely and folded into a general sexual violation clause). But even if the intent was only to apply to those guilty of committing the offence against minors, the bill as written would have covered anyone convicted. So, those persecuted for being gay pre-1986 would have been barred from serving on their local school board, over an "offence" which hasn't been a crime for twenty years. Marvellous...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/24/2006 05:48:00 PM