Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Punishment without trial

National has released more welfare policy today, making the usual promises to crack down on beneficiaries and beat them with bigger sticks. Most of it is just the usual beneficiary bashing, wanking about fraud (which makes up 0.01% of the total welfare budget) and denying benefits to people who fail drug tests (alternatively: push people off benefits and into crime). But there's also this bit:

Those beneficiaries evading a Police warrant will also have their benefit cancelled.

“Taxpayers should not be paying criminals to evade the law,” says Mr Key. “We believe in a welfare system which is fair for to those who use it, but is also fair on taxpayers who fund it.

So, if the police accuse you of a crime, you get your benefit cancelled, with no chance to defend yourself or contest matters. I guess guilt on accusation isn't just for downloaders anymore.

Obviously, this is a prima facie breach of the right to justice affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act. But National will probably take that as a badge of honour, rather than a reason not to do it. Which is another reminder that we need an enforceable BORA, to keep authoritarian government in check.