Today, my Bill to give more tools to the Privacy Commissioner to deal with privacy breaches was drawn from the members’ ballot.
The Bill gives the Privacy Commissioner the ability to undertake investigations into agencies and require them to become compliant with the Act.
Currently the Privacy Commissioner can only act on complaints from individuals – the Bill would allow her to instigate investigations and require information-handling audits.
It is timely, given the huge number of embarrasing privacy breaches happening under this Government.
From ACC to EQC, through to the deliberate privacy breaches committed by Minister Paula Bennett against two sole parents, the breaching of New Zealanders’ private information has been rife under National.
If they are serious are about addressing these issues, then they will support this Bill, as will other Parties across our Parliament.
Having had three bills drawn out of the ballot in the last 12 months, I’m keen to get to the races to see if I can pull off other trifectas!
Now, for my next bill….
Archive for the ‘justice’ Category
Today, my Bill to give more tools to the Privacy Commissioner to deal with privacy breaches was drawn from the members’ ballot.
The former Liberian President Charles Taylor has been convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
This is the first time since the Nuremberg trials of former Nazi leaders in 1946 that a country’s leader has been held to account for crimes of this nature. It’s an historic and landmark decision. It sends a message that the international community can track down and bring to justice tyrants who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.
It tells those who act in this way that they cannot do so with impunity. While this verdict is welcome, it was a long time coming and there is still a long way to go.
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is currently on trial and former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo is in ICC custody.
However there are dozens of other current and former leaders whose actions justify trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity who continue to be beyond the reach of the International Criminal Court and war crimes tribunals.
Taylor’s conviction is good sign, but there is still much to be done.
Last night I spoke at the launch of the Wellington Branch of the Howard League for Penal Reform. The launch was hosted by Charles Chauvel at Parliament on Monday night and was standing room only.
The Howard League has a great history in New Zealand of advocating for humane conditions in prisons and for wider issues of prison and justice reform. At the launch Peter Williams QC gave a passionate speech recalling this history. You can find out more about the origins of the League on their website. If you are in Wellington and want to get involved in the Branch you can drop me an email at email@example.com and I can put you in touch with the organisers.
Charles spoke at the launch about the Labour Party’s commitment to penal reform and to an integrated approach across the justice sector. As our spokesperson for the sector his responsibilities cover Attorney General, Justice, Corrections and Courts. This is an important shift for Labour to see these as part of an overall picture. Charles is doing a great job of pulling all this together.
My remarks at the launch were very much my personal views on what needs to change in our correctional system. I also spoke about my own connection with the prison system. As has been written about before, my father spent some time in prison when I was younger. What I saw and heard about our prisons then has affected me to this day.
Last year Bill English said that prisons had been a fiscal and moral failure. He is right. The real challenge is to do something about it.
My speech is over the break (more…)
Started getting tweets and emails last night about how people could make submissions to the truncated select committee on the Video Camera Surveillance Bill.
Because of the swiftness of the process, the normal democratic process was not able to be followed.
I was approached by someone at around midnight and asked whether I could lodge their submission. Which of course I did this morning.
In the absence of an electronic process (which is now available I understand) I told people via twitter and facebook they could send submissions directly to me and I would lodge them. I’ve had a steady stream all day.
Keep them coming tonight people. This is democracy in action. It may be flawed. But it’s yours.
Update: email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Or any of your MPs. That’s what we’re here for
On Thursday I attended a Public meeting on the Waitakere Family Court changes. A committed mix of people were there to express their concerns – family violence organisations, the PSA, Community Waitakere, the Waitakere Law Service, Family Lawyers (even a couple who are National Party supporters/ members), local body representatives and other genuinely concerned members of the public. Following that meeting myself and fellow West Auckland colleague Phil Twyford have discussed this issue further with key stakeholders. We do have to wonder – where are the West Auckland Government MPs on this issue (keep in mind there are five of them – John Key, Paula Bennett, Tim Grosser, Pita Sharples and Tau Henare)?
Some have said that what is proposed in the discussion document (link below) seems harmless….well that would be because the implications of the changes aren’t spelt out. Those who actively engage with the Waitakere Family Court, have more of an insight in to what the changes will mean.
Based on the meeting I attended – I’m going to try to outline the situation and the main points of concern.
There are four overarching concerns:
- short term cost saving at the expense of justice
- Failure to adequately consult
- Failure to consider the impact on the local community and the quality of service (the West is being shafted)
- Vulnerable members of society (victims of domestic violence, children, elderly) are being deprived access to justice
He starts :-
Pardon me for swimming against the tide, for presuming to contradict the commentariat’s bellowing consensus, but the whole Darren Hughes-Labour debacle, as it has been claimed to impact on the leadership of Phil Goff, is not quite as clear cut we would be led to believe.
And he concludes :-
Outside the beltway, Mr Goff might have received a better hearing had anyone heard what he had to say: he maintained he put the interests of “justice” and “fairness” before politics.
Insiders would say this is unconscionably naive.
Others, who are neither students of politics nor blooded on the mere whiff of scandal, might say: actually, that’s honourable.
Worth a read. Moderation will be tight.
I can’t get out of my head the case of Cornelius Arie Smith-Voorkamp the guy with Aspergers who was caught stealing light fittings from houses in Christchurch. This has been dealt with on other blogs, far more articulately than I could, but it is still in my thoughts.
I am appalled at the thought of looters in Christchurch, at a time of such utter devastation and tragedy. It seems such a callous crime, and in most of the reported cases it appears to be so. I don’t blame anyone for having a strong reaction to the news. But as ever in matters of justice, it pays to step back, look at each case on its own and hear all the facts and background.
From what I have read, callous is not a word that can be attributed to Arie Smith. As I read the words of his sister in the link above I instantly thought of people I know on the autistic spectrum, some much younger, some older, and I realised how easily they could end up in a situation like this. Arie’s family have acknowledged his wrong-doing and accepted his arrest. But this is a mini-tragedy amidst a much larger tragic situtation, and one that deserves a little understanding.
I don’t know what the circumstances are that saw him covered in bruises. But I do know that it disturbs me deeply, and I want it investigated. I also truly hope Judith Collins regrets her statement made in the wake of looting incidents. She was playing to the crowd of course, and I don’t think was refering directly to Arie, but it was not the calm words of leader in our community.
Overall as a society, even in times of unimaginable tragedy and extraordinary emotion we need think before we act, ask why someone might act in a way we do not like or understand and, when faced with a situation such as this, operate with compassion and understanding. At a practical level we also need to help people learn more about Autism and Aspergers. Here is a place to start.
The breach of name suppression of two sex abuse victims by the Ministry of Justice is a mistake that should never have happened and is another example of the National Government’s failure to protect the rights of victims.
Simon Power says he will be asking questions of the officials tomorrow morning to ascertain how this mistake occurred, when really he should be pointing the finger at himself and his Government. The slash and burn cuts that the National Government have continued to make across the public sector, are inevitably going to result in mistakes being made. The funding cuts to resources and jobs across the sector – equate to, additional pressure being placed on those still working there – leaving them stretched beyond the limit. Mistakes are bound to happen in this kind of working environment. The scary thing is there will probably be more made across the public sector, unless the National Government wake up to the fact that you can’t expect high levels of service, when funding and subsequently corners are being cut left right and centre.
The National Government has been vocal over the past year about suppression orders being breached but if victims can’t trust the Ministry of Justice to protect their anonymity in cases where suppression orders have been granted, then how can they reasonably expect the media or any other group or individual to adhere to stipulations of suppression orders.
Family members have stated that the victims would not have come forward had they known they were going to be publicly identified. The psychological damage that an incident like this causes those victims must be of the utmost concern to the Government. My concern now is that a case like this is likely to have an impact on other victims of sexual abuse victims, stepping forward out of fear that their details might be ‘accidentally’ released to the public.
An apology to victims will now be too late – their details have been splashed on a Government website for the public to see. There’s nothing that the Government can do to take that back.
The Key claim that his Govt placed a special emphasis on the rights of victims – adds insult to injuryPosted by Carmel Sepuloni on February 8th, 2011
The Prime Minister’s Statement to Parliament included a claim that his Government has placed a special emphasis on the rights of victims. What he failed to state was that this emphasis has been negative and detrimental to the rights of victims.
National has refused to enact the Domestic Violence Bill, which was introduced by Labour during the last term of Government. This bill was the culmination of extensive consultation with organisations and key stakeholders who support victims of domestic violence. Instead, whilst Labour’s comprehensive bill languishes on the Governments Order paper, National has passed their own watered down version. The National Government bill does not give Domestic Violence victims the protection and support they need and deserve.
In the last year the National Government added insult to injury by slashing counselling and support to victims/ survivors of sexual assault. Previously they were able to access counselling support via ACC on the recommendation of their counsellors or therapists. The National Government imposed more stringent measures which included the requirement that victims/ survivors be subject to multiple interviews with different health professionals. Salient to this, the eligibility criteria for funding support was narrowed, depriving the vast majority of those who would have been formerly approved.
This unfortunate experiment continued despite calls from; Counsellors, Psychotherapists, social workers, women’s organisations, victim’s rights spokespeople and victims and survivors themselves. We in Labour were proud to stand alongside these groups to challenge the Government. After a year of hell for many victims/ survivors and their families a damming independent report was released, which forced John Key’s Government to admit that it had let victims/ survivors down. The Government subsequently backed down on the more ruthless aspects of their failed policy, however the cost was immeasurable.
The Government claims to have placed a special emphasis on the rights of victims – this is undeniably the case however this negative assault on victim’s rights was not what victims were expecting and is hardly worth John Key boasting about.
I have no desire to be a Law and Order zealot. Garth McVicar I am not. However, the number of constituents who have contacted me recently about our approach to those that cause injury or death on the road has got me thinking.
There is a good reason I’ve been seeing a lot of these cases – there has been a number of totally avoidable deaths on Manawatu roads recently, several involving cyclists.
The thrust of the complaints I’ve received is that we are too lenient on those who cause lethal accidents on the road. It’s an understandable response from people who have lost loved ones.
The gut reaction is, of course, to lock people away longer and to punish them harder. I’m not sure that achieves much but I do wonder if we need to look at how long drivers might lose their license if found guilty of careless, reckless or dangerous driving causing death and what might be demanded of them before that license is returned. Same goes for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
So I have some questions:
- Is the current system too lenient?
- If it is, what is the appropriate method of punishment and rehabilitation?
- Should a driver’s license be automatically suspended when they are involved in an accident causing death pending the outcome of their trial?
There are other ways to prevent road accidents besides tougher penalties and while that is not the focus of this post, feel free to share your thoughts on those too.
OK, so the last time I posted one of these videos, everyone jumped down my throat despite me saying it was not Labour policy, just something I had been sent by one of the groups lobbying for reform.
Having said that, this one is about giving the licensing power back to communities, something I totally support.
Have a look.
The government’s third and final reading of Employment Relations Bill (No 2) and Holidays Amendment Bill, which went through the House today means that unfair employment laws are on their way.
The government pushed through the final stages of two pieces of legislation that attack the rights of wage and salary earners. Both of these bills will impact on health and safety and the rights to challenge the decisions of employers in unjustified dismissals. They will inevitably reduce protections for all workers.
Labour strongly opposed both bills all through the process, along with thousands of submitters and 22,000 workers who marched, rallied and campaigned against them, but National ignored all opposition.
The only small ray of hope in the debate was that the Maori Party changed its mind and voted against the Holidays Amendment Bill. Good on them.
But the National Party couldn’t even do the third reading justice. Their members gave pitiful 3 minutes speeches parroting the government lines – which I thought was a disgrace.
I question whether today was an appropriate day to consider these bills, given the awful situation at Pike River Coal Mine. I don’t think the government gave any thought to the connection between the birth of the Labour Party and the role that miners have played in improving rights for all NZ workers. It certainly wouldn’t have considered that many of the miners on the West Coast are members of the EPMU and one of the missing men is an EPMU delegate.
Unfortunately, all workers will soon be facing the consequences of reduced rights. A sad day all round.
The Education Amendment Bill currently before the house removes the obligation to get a Police check for people who look after babies and young children unsupervised at gyms and mall childcare services.
Labour may have over-regulated but this goes too far.
Tolley promised she wouldn’t do this but has broken her word. She said in the house parents should ask childcare staff if they are pedophiles. And the woman is a Minister.
But you can bet when the first offence occurs she won’t be there to support the child and the parents.
Media – mainly on Sundays – and bloggers especially Cam Slater have been frustrated with Teachers’ Council rules that make it very hard to hear cases in public. I share their concerns. There is almost no way to have suppression orders because the maximum fine for a breach is $1k which deters no one.
The Council is understandably reluctant to risk identifying victims especially of sexual abuse but their rules don’t let them identify accused and not the victim – and won’t change with the current fine level.
This breeds rumours and false conclusions.
I’ve got two SoPs one very simple which increases the fine to $100k and would leave the Teachers’ Council to rewrite the rules. The second, below, is more comprehensive and adopts the position that Simon Power is promoting for the Courts. It has a presumption of an open hearing.
A month or so ago I tabled an earlier draft at the select committee , and sent one to the Minister – received and used advice from officials.
Will be interesting to see if Anne Tolley is prepared to move on this or whether she is prepared to continue to protect abusers.
Likely to be voted on next week – interested in comments on both policy and drafting.
Education Amendment Bill (No 2)
Hon Trevor Mallard, in Committee, to move the following amendments:
Insert new clause 18A:
“New subsections for section 139AW
The following subsections (4) to (7) are inserted after subsection 139AW(3):
(4) Subject to the provisions of subsection (5) and of any other enactment, every sitting of the Disciplinary Tribunal dealing with any proceedings in respect of serious misconduct shall be open to the public.
I will post some more detail on the Alcohol Reform Bill over coming weeks as there is a lot to be considered. To get the debate started I think it is important that we look at the Law Commission’s report on Alcohol: Curbing the Harm and ask whether this Bill will be effective in doing that – curbing the harm. My view is that it doesn’t go far enough and in a way it’s prioritised the wrong issues. The Minister cited age as the most important measure in the Bill, when that is one of the many diversionary tactics they are using to avoid being held accountable for what is missing from the Bill. And to cap it all off the government has managed to trample on Bill of Rights Act obligations – I predict the offending clauses will not survive the select committee process in their current form. In my press release I said National had squandered a once-in-a-generation opportunity to curb the alcohol-related harm evidenced by the Law Commission’s report into alcohol. Only people power through submissions to the committee and demanding answers from MPs will get that turned around. I spoke in Parliament on the First Reading - unfortunately the tape ends before my final comments which were that we the politicians have lacked courage and that hopefully the Bill will be strengthened by the Select Committee process and that we will have the courage to make a difference. I have attached the notes I took to the House. Let the debate begin!
Got sent this today. Thoughts?
Simon Power today announced a Law Commission review of the regulations around how the internet interacts with the justice system.
It’s timely to have a public discussion.
The Law Commission will treat the issue seriously, There are good people leading it. They have more than a year to report. But there are some big issues to discuss and I worry that they may not be able to if the terms of reference are too narrow.
If this inquiry is all about shutting down the likes of Cameron Slater (aka Whaleoil) who delights in flouting the name suppression laws then it’ll be a great shame and will create more problems than it tries to solve.
Slater regularly posts the names of people accused of various crimes which he deems to be not worthy of name suppression. He’s on a crusade. He describes himself as a citizen journalist. Others have more colourful names for him.
I don’t like his style. I try not to read his blog. Though sometimes I do. But I’d hate to see an inquiry happening just because of him.
I do believe there’s an important discussion to be had about one set of standards that applies across different media. But it’s not just about new media vs conventional media.
As David Farrar at Kiwiblog pointed out this afternoon one set of rules for conventional media (print and broadcast media) does not exist now. So the issues are complex.
People’s attitudes and behaviours are changing rapidly with the rise of new media. The discussions and debate around copyright and filesharing have shown this.
We need good law. And we need it to reflect where people are at.
Here’s what Simon Power said in question time in Parliament today. I’m looking forward to contributing to the review.
3. PAUL QUINN (National) to the Minister of Justice: Has he recently referred any projects to the Law Commission; if so, what?
Hon SIMON POWER (Minister of Justice) : Yes; earlier today I asked the Law Commission to undertake a review regarding interaction between the Internet and the justice system. It is my view that the law must keep pace with technology, and that we must have one set of rules and ethical standards for all news media. It is my view that that may not be the case at present.
Paul Quinn: Why has the Minister referred this review to the Law Commission?
Hon SIMON POWER: I am concerned that the lack of regulation or professional or ethical standards for bloggers and online publishers has created a bit of a Wild West in cyberspace. The specific issues I am concerned about include how trials can be potentially prejudiced by information posted on websites and seen by jurors, real-time online streaming of court cases, breaches of court suppression orders, and republication of a libel.