Thursday, August 06, 2009

In the ballot XXVII

Another batch of Member's Bills currently in the ballot. Previous batches are indexed here:

Animal Welfare Amendment Bill (Catherine Delahunty): currently a quirk in the Animal Welfare Act 1999 allows the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee to approve codes of practice for farming which violate basic standards laid out in the Act itself. This bill would amend the Act to ensure that such practices (such as sow crates and battery cages) were phased out within five years. While fronted by Catherine Delahunty, the bill is in fact one of Sue Kedgley's.

Crimes (Self-Defence) Amendment Bill (David Garrett): currently the law around self-defence distinguishes between people and property: you can reasonable force in defence of either, but you can only strike or cause bodily harm to someone when defending a person or your home. this bill - an old Steven Franks number, now taken up by the even more demented David Garrett - would change that, allowing people to threaten and use force, including weapons and firearms, to defend mere property. In other words, you could shoot someone over a TV set. And just to make it clear that that is what it is about, it would amend the Arms Act to ensure that people were exempt from the normal secure storage requirements for firearms "where it was necessary to ensure reasonable self-defence". In other words, you can keep a loaded rifle under the bed (or indeed, a loaded pistol on the bedside table if you have the appropriate licence) if you are paranoid about "crims", and then use it when some kid tags your fence.

This bill is a further step in the othering of criminals, and a recipe for disaster. I am hoping that it never gets drawn.

Smoke-free Environments (Removing Tobacco Displays) Amendment Bill (Iain Lees-Galloway): this would amend the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 to ban the display of tobacco products and smoking accessories at the points of sale. Currently tobacco advertising is banned, but retailers (with the aid of tobacco companies) get around this by using the tobacco products themselves as an advertisement (the "powerwall"). The bill would require them to move their cancer-products out of sight of customers. They will still be able to sell them, but the only way they could advertise the fact would be with a price list and the standard "smoking kills" sign.

The bill obviously raises BORA-issues around freedom of expression; OTOH there is a strong argument that it is a justified limitation (significant public purpose? Check. Rationally connected to that purpose? Check. Proportionate? Given the number of people these products kill, quite possibly). But given National's alliance with the tobacco industry, I don't really expect it to pass.

As usual, I'll do more bills when I get round to them.