Monday, June 27, 2016

Fixing the Statutes Amendment Bill

Last October, I highlighted a problem with the government's Statutes Amendment Bill. Such bills are supposed to be used only for "technical, short, and non-controversial amendments", but the bill included amendments to the Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Act 2014 which created new powers and new criminal penalties, as well as being a prima facie violation of the right to freedom of expression.

Following my post, I made a submission to the Government Administration Committee on the matter, and it seems they took it seriously: today, they've split those provisions out into a seperate Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Amendment Bill, allowing them to be properly debated.

I expect that bill to pass - the new powers (to clear courtrooms and make suppression orders around proceedings under VOAVO) are reasonable and a justified limitation under the BORA. At the same time, its good to see Parliament standing up against the constitutional abuses of the National government in trying to slip changes of this magnitude through under the (abbreviated) legislative tidy-up procedure of the Statutes Amendment Bill.