Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Tolley lies about gangs and human rights

Its election year, so naturally the government is launching a crackdown on that favourite law and order ogre, gangs. More police funding, more police powers, more searches, and special laws which appear to completely duplicate the Arms Act, only with the vote-getting "gang" in the title. And then there's this bit:

Police Minister Anne Tolley hasn't yet had advice on the human rights implications of stricter targeting of gang-related criminals, but she maintains it's a necessity.

Which is as laughable as her claim that this is nothing to do with the election and the timing is just a coincidence. Since its enactment in 1990, the BORA has been put at the heart of the policy-making process. Policy is scrutinised at every level for human rights implications, because public servants at least take the BORA seriously (if only to prevent or limit later disasters in court). Its a formal requirement that any paper going to Cabinet has a section on human rights implications, identifying any prima facie inconsistencies and the justifications for them or steps taken to limit them. Tolley says these measures have been signed off by Cabinet, so either she's lying that there was no scrutiny, or she hasn't been doing her job properly as a Cabinet minister. Which is it?

But apart from that, this flippant attitude from the Minister is more weight to the argument that the BORA needs to be enforceable by the courts. The law currently has politicians as the ultimate guardians of our human rights, and is predicated on the idea that they will give laws proper scrutiny and pass infringing measures only after due consideration. But here we have a Minister who apparently does not give a shit, who claims that human rights haven't even been considered. If she wants to have that job taken off her and given to the courts, I can't think of a better way of convincing people.