A quick note to the NZ Police. You don't own all the information on your computers or in your files - and if academics want to see it, you have to let them do so without imposing conditions. Most of the time, anyway!
The Government is seeking to retrospectively change the law to match the Ministry of Social Welfare's practice. Retrospective legislation is bad generally, and very bad in this case.
The Government has introduced a Bill which retrospectively changes the Social Security Act 1964 so as to nullify Crown liability to beneficiaries. It is generally accepted that retrospective legislation is generally not a good thing.
The Treaty of Waitangi negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson is wrong in his public criticisms of the Waitangi Tribunal. Perhaps the Attorney-General Chris Finlayson could have a quiet word in his ear about the importance of the separation of powers in our Constitution?
Via NewsTalk ZB (and sorry for the full cut-and-paste), it would appear that Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson is starting to get a little bit fed up with the Waitangi Tribunal:
Parliament's powerful Privileges Committee (P3C!) is going to have to decide the boundary of fair criticism of the House's Speaker. This should be fun!
According to Phil Lyth on Twitter (hey - it's how you know News is new!), Andrew Little and Chris Hipkins have been referred to Parliament's Privilege's Committee (or, as I've had cause to call it before
Australia's mandatory deportation of (many) criminal offenders is causing us in New Zealand to get very excited. And now John Key realises he can't do anything about it, he's getting ugly.
It's one of life's little ironies that a country in part founded by individuals deported for their criminal actions is now so obsessed with ridding itself of those individuals who display the same characteristics. I refer, of course, to Australia's recent enthusiasm for deporting those whose offending demonstrates a lack of "good character".
There's a legal saying that hard cases make bad law. But sometimes the opposite can be true - an apparently easy case can lead a Court into some pretty swampy terrain.
The story of Jonathan Dixon doesn't raise much sympathy. He was a bouncer at a Queenstown bar back in 2011. While working there, he observed the English rugby player Mike Tindall - who had just married the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips - "cavorting" with a woman on the dance floor.
It is now legal for anyone in New Zealand to get hold of and read a copy of Into the River. This happy ending to a sorry saga demonstrates that it perhaps is time for a change of leadership at the Film and Literature Board of Review.
Caution: contains sweary stuff ... you may need to wash your eyes afterwards.
In the eyes of this upper-middle class, not-quite-very-old, liberal legal academic, the Film and Literature Board of Review has brought a bit of sanity back to the world by deciding that a book openly showing young men (and soon-to-be young men) how bad choices can create bad outcomes ought to be freely available for them to read.
Jane Kelsey's court victory over the evil MFAT/Tim Groser empire is probably too little, too late for her campaign against the TPPA. But it sends some important messages to a range of public actors in New Zealand's governing arrangements.
A couple of recent cases show that being right about the law isn't enough - you also need to get the courts to do what you want. Because if you can't, you may even end up worse off than when you started.
In any court case, there are (at least) two big questions. The first is, what does the law say about the matter? Then there is the second; given what the law says, what will the court do as a consequence?
The TPP may not deliver an immediate big bang for our dairy industry. But there's an awful lot to like in it - and New Zealand really has to be a part of it.
Helen Clark had the most succinct and best explanation of why New Zealand had to be part of the TPP. I know for a fact that her late intervention caused some people who were sceptical about the TPP to revise their opinion about the necessity for New Zealand being in TPP.
If the Trans-Pacific Partnership becomes an Agreement, New Zealand will become bound by a set of "Investor State Dispute Settlement" procedures. What are these, and why should anyone care?
I write this not knowing whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership will become an Agreement or merely a very long, stressful yet ultimately fruitless set of negotiations. I also write this with an admitted lack of expertise in the issue of international trade and economics.
Parliament's powerful Privileges Committee has had a hard look at how social media is being used to report on Parliament ... and decided that everything is working pretty much fine as it is. Hooray!
Parliament's powerful Privileges Committee – it is, apparently, mandatory to refer to it as such in print, so I shall shorten the term to PPPC or P3C – has just put out a report on "the use of social media to report on parliamentary proceedings".
Will taking the Union Jack off New Zealand's flag "open the gates of hell" and give John Key absolute power? No. No it won't.
So last night I had a bit of fun on TV3's Story, commenting on the conspiracy doing the rounds in cyberspace about the real reason behind the push to change New Zealand's flag.
The reasons given for imposing an order stopping anyone from being able to access Into the River do not justify it. The order is wrong.
Yesterday I wrote this post on the decision by the President of the Film and Literature Board of Review, Dr Don Mathieson, to issue an "interim restriction order" in respect of the young adult novel, Into the River.
Just how dangerous can a book be? And in order to combat that danger, how far should our expressive freedoms be restrained?
The young adult's novel, Into the River, certainly seems to divide folks. I should note at the outset that while some unkind souls may say that I behave as if I'm smack in the middle of the book's target demographic market, I haven't read it.
The only reason that makes any sense for giving a Saudi sheep breeder an $11 million farm is because we thought it might buy us a Free Trade Agreement with his country. It's a good thing that we're not a corrupt nation, isn't it?
Let's start off by giving the National Government a bit of a lifeline on the whole "Sheep-to-Sand" saga. Bacause by post's end I'll be using it to hang the Government's handling of the matter.
A New Zealand High Court has just told Parliament that its law limits rights in a way that cannot be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. In other words, it failed in its basic task as a lawmaker.
The issue of prisoner voting - or, rather, the issue of prisoners not being able to vote - has been a regular bête noire of mine. Here, for example, is my view on the National Government's decision to remove the right, back when I was young and full
The High Court just gave the Government (in the form of officials in the Ministry of Health) a complete shellacking over the way it decided to remove funding from the Problem Gambling Foundation. It's worth going into the memory hole to recall what was said about that decision at the time it was made.
Judicial review of government decisions can sometimes be a bit nit-picky. It's a pretty complicated area of law. The rules around what processes officials and ministers have to follow in order to make "good" or "proper" decisions - in the eyes of the court, at least - are sometimes pretty technical .
Or, in the immortal words of Darryl Kerrigan:
Parliament - or, at least, a committtee of Parliament - is finally getting the chance to allow the public discussion of end of life choice that (most) everyone says is needed in the wake of Lecretia Seales' court case. Will it now do its job?
Update: Yes. Yes it will.
[Update: That was quick! Turns out this post was pretty much unnecessary!
Parliament's Health Committee has agreed to hold an inquiry into whether or not the law should be changed to allow voluntary euthanasia.
There may be a question mark as to whether the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club is acting unlawfully in stopping Sikh men from eating at its restaurant. But there's no question that it is acting stupidly.
The Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club has gotten itself back into the media with its dogged refusal to allow Sikhs to dine or drink on its premises whilst wearing a turban. To make it clear, this isn't because the Cosmopolitan Club does not like Sikhs.
It looks like Nick Smith and the National Government may be doing what they should have done from the outset - talking to Auckland Iwi about how they can be the developers of housing on the Crown's land in Auckland.
Otto Von Bismark is widely attributed with the remark "Laws are like sausages — it is best not to see them being made." Turns out he never said it, but that doesn't stop the sentiment being any less true.
Make no mistake - the live export of 53,000 animals from Timaru to Mexico is worth getting grumpy about
Radio New Zealand National’s Morning Report made me more than a little grumpy this morning. And no, it wasn’t because presenter Susie Ferguson was corralled into another live-on-air taste test of a vile consumer product, but instead because she said this:
The Seales v Attorney General decision was a pretty comprehensive legal loss for proponents of aid in dying. But it is by no means the last word on the matter.
I've waited a few days to post on the outcome of the Seales v Attorney General decision, finding not only that the Crimes Act totally prohibits doctors from providing aid in dying to competent, terminally ill patients but that this prohibition also is consistent with our New Zealand Bill of Rig
In 2012, the Government promised Auckland Maori that they would have first dibs on any new housing developments on its land. So why aren't they involved at all in Nick Smith's 500 hectare vision?
Further to my previous post on the Government's housing plans for Auckland and the problem that iwi and hapū rights under the Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Act 2014 may cause, my attention has been drawn to the following matters.
The Government's plans to use the Crown's land for houses for Aucklanders face a bit of a problem - it may not be able to sell them the land on which those houses sit.
It may be a reflection of just how quickly the Government's recently announced plans to free up some 500 acres of land for housing in and around Auckland were developed, but it looks like no-one stopped to ask themselves "can we actually do this?" before
We say that it should be the voters and the voters alone that determine who is and who is not a member of Parliament. At least, up until we say that pure chance should decide that matter.
The provincial election in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island finally came to an end a couple of days ago when its last MLA was declared elected following a judicial recount.
(What - you didn't know that Prince Edward Island has just had an election? What are you, prejudiced against Anne of Green Gables or something?)
John Banks' win at the Court of Appeal hopefully sheds some much needed light on the sorry state of costs in criminal cases.
Earlier today, the National Business Review reported that (paywall): “A legal expert says Crown Law should pay for the “stuff up” which misled the court in the John Banks’ trial.” It turns out that the “legal expert” in question is my colleague and Punditeer, Professor Andr
John Banks should have been declared innocent by the Court of Appeal in November last year. But that doesn't mean he should not have been before the courts at all.
Let me start out by saying that I'm not surprised that John Banks has (eventually) been declared innocent of knowingly filing a false return of election donations.
The saga of family carers for the severely disabled is still being written, despite Parliament's attempts to put a full stop on it. It makes for a really interesting constitutional tale.
The story of the struggle of family carers of severely disabled individuals to get paid for the work that they do and the various court decisions, governmental policies and legislative enactments that it has inspired makes for a truly fascinating case study in how New Zealand's constitutional processes work.
It isn't just the service men and women of New Zealand whose sacrifice we need to remember at this year's ANZAC Day. Our involvement in World War One came at the cost of some pretty important freedoms as well.
The good folk at Otago's Law Library - the Sir Robert Stout Law Library, to give it its full name - do a great job.
Arthur Taylor's tilt at the windmills of Hellensville predictably has resulted in a shattered lance. Now we wait for the outcome of his really interesting court challenge.
Repeat after me: the public service is not a political party's election policy research unit, the public service is not a political party's election policy research unit, the public service is not a political party's election policy research unit.
National's "ten bridges for your votes!" gambit at the Northland by-election is shaping up as one of the worst election policy offerings that a political party has made in recent times. I mean that in a couple of ways.
The Planet Key song and video can be watched, played on the radio and shown on TV without any restrictions at all. It's great that a judge has been able to make the law say what it should do.
Turns out that, contrary to what you may have read in some dark corners of the interweb, you can slate Key on the radio.
The Privy Council says that Teina Pora should not face another trial. Now we can get on with trying to make some reparation for the wrong we did to him.
According to Radio NZ, the Privy Council has recommended that Teina Pora should not face a retrial for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett. This is great news.
What happens when (or if) Winston quits Parliament before he is declared the member for Northland? Nothing very much at all.
In typically-Winston Peters fashion, we've now been told that he will resign as a list MP and thus allow an additional NZ First MP to enter into Parliament.
Parliament seems about to drop New Zealand's commitment to the rule of law from the Act underpinning the judicial branch. Retiring Supreme Court judge (and former Solicitor-General) John McGrath thinks that's worrying. He's right. There's still time to lobby the Minister of Justice.
One of the first legislative measures of the young colony, back in 1841, was the creation of what we now know as the High Court. That legislation has been updated over the years, significantly in the 1880s before consolidation in the 1908 Judicature Act.
Choosing to end your life on your own terms in order to avoid an inevitable lingering death is not suicide. So giving someone the means to do so should not be a crime.
A few weeks ago I wrote this post about a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada regarding the issue of end of life choice. I asked readers to imagine this scenario:
Jami-Lee Ross appears to be a quite exceptional candidate for the National Party. He does things in relation to money given to him that none of his colleagues do - albeit only in relation to one particular donation.
Further to my previous post about Jami-Lee Ross' curious candidate return, I've been doing a little bit more digging through the Electoral Commission's files.
The National Party's treatment of Donghua Liu's donation is strikingly at odds with with how it treated all the other donations it received. That's not only wrong, but it may even be illegal.
The release of individual candidate donation returns following the 2014 election has revealed something interesting about the National Party's financial practices.
Despite what the "three strikes" law seemed to say, another murderer has avoided a sentence of full-life-without-parole. And that's partly David Garrett's fault.
Queensland voters didn't go quite as far as this cartoon recommended. But they did create quite a thorny thicket for their politicians to play in.
While most of the New Zealand media's attention has been directed at the omnishambles that is Tony Abbott's (questioned) reign as Australian Prime Minister, there's been something quite interesting happening in Queensland.
If Parliament's rules say you aren't even allowed to refer to the existence of a particular court case, then how can the Speaker enforce those rules without letting everyone knows that the court case exists?
The following interchange with the Speaker took place today in the middle of Andrew Little's reply to the Prime Minister's statement to the House.
Canada's Supreme Court just announced that Canadians do not have a duty to live. Why do New Zealanders?
Let's say you are living in Canada. You are suffering from some nasty incurable disease that may or may not kill you, but certainly will give you a future of pain, indignity and despair. What are your options?
John Key thinks our colonial flag is an outdated symbol that needs replacing. So why is our relationship with the Monarchy any different?
While John Key has obviously decided that a change to the New Zealand flag is worth burning political capital on, he's not interested in altering anything more fundamental. Here's what the Herald reports Key as saying:
Handing someone a "Vote United Future" pamphlet on election day is an offence that can get you fined $20,000. Why is that, and should it be so?
A couple of weeks ago I posted the first of my thoughts on what changes we (or, rather, Parliament's Justice and Electoral Committee) might think about making to our electoral laws in the wake of the 2014 election campaign.
Could John Key's place in Parliament be under threat from Arthur Taylor's electoral petition? No ... no it couldn't.
I see, via Stuff, that Arthur Taylor's electoral petition seeking to overturn John Key's return from the Helensville electorate has commenced in the High Court. Let me go on record as saying that it has zero chance of success. I say that for (at least) three reasons.
Rules that stop you using your property as you see fit are bad. Rules that stop other people using their property ... are less so.
There's no particular reason to assume that the Resource Management Act is perfect or cannot be improved upon. It's some twenty-five years old now. It's been tinkered around with quite a bit in the interim. That's a bit of a recipe for ending up with poor legislation.
A letter written by the Chief Ombudsman reveals disturbing questions about its relationship with the Corrections Department
The death of Jai Davis in 2011 has highlighted critical deficiencies in the management and nursing culture at the Otago prison. Now there’s an even wider concern. Documentation has come to light showing the Ombudsman allowed Corrections, albeit unintentionally, to cover up the circumstances surrounding his death which implicate management and nurses at the prison.
The Justice and Electoral Committee will soon be reviewing the 2014 general election. Here's the first of my thoughts on what it might profitably look at.
After every general election, Parliament's Justice and Electoral Committee holds an inquiry into how things went during it. This is A Good Thing, as it provides an opportunity for looking at (and sometimes even fixing) little anomalies in our electoral processes - a kind of continuous improvement exercise, if you will.
Can legislation intended to stop people fighting for ISIL/ISIS/IS/Daesh instead stop people fighting against ISIL/ISIS/IS/Daesh?
The whole question of when the State should be able to step in to stop people going overseas to act on their moral principles - in particular, by fighting for them - is a quite fraught one. As I wrote here;
Parliament has passed public protection orders. But will they really be a last resort to contain the most dangerous? Or a means to pursue a more vindictive agenda?
There’s no point moaning about it now. The Public Safety (Public Protection Orders) Bill has passed its final reading, with a resounding majority of 107:14.
In which a little spy agency finds that sometimes you can always get what you want, even if its not what you need.
[A note to readers - the following account is a purely subjective reimagination of history.
Or, rather, he hasn't (yet) been found not-guilty of filing a false election return. That probably will happen later.
The news that the Court of Appeal has overturned the guilty verdict against John Banks' for knowingly filing a false election return in relation to his failed 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign is not surprising. To understand why, you need to remember the basis on which he was found guilty.
I think we've found the way to make electoral law interesting to people. Get some sports stars to break it.
News that the Electoral Commission has reported some of NZ's sports royalty to the police for sending out election day tweets encouraging their followers to support John Key's reelection has gripped
The Environmental Protection Agency hearing into seabed mining for phosphate on the Chatham Rise is exposing questions about uncertainty - many big unknowns, including whether the applicant has done its job. If environment groups win this battle, what does it mean for the wider war?
Out on the Chatham Rise, the ridge jutting into the waters off Christchurch and extending out beyond the Chathams, Chatham Rock Phosphate has a mining permit and is now seeking EPA approval for its project to mine phosphate for fertiliser, at depths untried anywhere else in the world.
Greg O'Connor thinks the shootings in Ottawa, and the way this was ended, demonstrates the need to routinely arm New Zealand's Police. He's completely wrong about that.
What happened at Canada's war memorial and parliamentary buildings is a pretty Bad Thing. It should, however, be kept in some sort of perspective.
We're already stopping people from using NZ passports to go and fight in the Middle East. So why do we now urgently need to change the law to do this?
Back in February, I wrote this about the legal basis for refusing to grant passports to/revoking passports from those individuals who felt the call to take up armed struggle in groups using terrorist tactics in places like Syria and now Iraq.
Some muted thoughts on the legal issues involved in the search of Nicky Hager's house, with only limited added outrage. That may come later.
First of all, the Police are investigating a real crime here. Even certain bloggers whom we do not name have a right to keep others out of their computer systems, and this right is protected by criminal sanction.
Hone Harawira is seeking judicial recount of votes that he doesn't think will change the result in Te Tai Tokerau, and which won't be able to look at the problems he claims existed with voting in that seat. This seems ... misguided.
There's one thing that even Hone Harawira agrees will not change following his sought after judicial recount of the vote in Te Tai Tokerau - the outcome of the election in that seat.
In which your author admits to (at least) two big mistakes about the 2014 election, and then proceeds to risk making another one.
I got one thing right about this election. I managed not to do anything as misguided as publicly state a prediction that National would get anything like as low a vote total as 44% ... as for instance, did Bryce Edwards. Yep, I'd imagine he woke up this morning feeling pretty silly.
And other assorted closing thoughts on this most unusual of election campaigns.
So, apparently there will be an election tomorrow. If you haven't yet voted, you should do so by 7pm tomorrow. Otherwise one of the Electoral Commission's kill squads will hunt you down and leave your body lying in the street for the vultures to feast on. This is an aspect of their role that does not get publicised nearly as much as it should.
If the NZ Herald wants its editorials to be taken seriously, it should stop using them to mislead its readers.
While I'm waiting on my copy of Nicky Hager's Dirty Tricks to arrive so that I can join the interweb's great topic de jour, a quick cut-and-paste response to today's NZ Herald's editorial.
How far may the Police go in tricking someone to "confess" to murder? Well, I can talk about what happens in Canada ... .
In the early 1990s, Police in British Columbia came up with a pretty novel way of trying to get information out of suspects who had refused to tell them the "truth" in formal interviews. It's since become known over there as the "Mr Big" technique. The CBC's website describes it as follows:
Here's how Mr Big works:
Jock Anderson still just can't get over the fact that "leftie protestors" are allowed to burn flags as a form of protest. And it's all because of those meddling judges ... .
Having arrived back in the country, I note there's been a fair bit going on while I was away that I could profitably comment on. Campaign funding matters seem to have become unnaturally prominent. MFAT officials are letting criminals flee back home without their Minister knowing anything about it.
Donghua Liu's alleged donations to Labour need more scrutiny. But the Police won't be the ones to do it.
The Herald on Sunday's "big reveal" about Donghua Liu's claimed $100,000 purchase back in 2007 of a bottle of wine signed by Helen Clark is forcing me to interrupt a very pleasant stay in Newcastle to make some comments.
Having slept on the Banks decision, here's some slightly more ordered thoughts on the matter.
Before I run to catch a plane, I thought I'd post a few more reactions to Banks' trial and the outcome. Boy, did I pick a bad time to decide to fly!
David Farrar thinks that Labour is bad for not doing what National has not done as a result of the Electoral Commission's report into MMP, and Labour should not do what David thinks National should have done as a result of their election victory in 2008.
Over on Kiwiblog, David Farrar is having conniptions about David Cunliffe's promise to repeal the "coat tails" rule in MMP that allows electorate MPs to bring party list members into Parliament, as well as to lower the party vote threshold to 4%.
John Banks' political epitaph lies in the hands of a High Court judge. Will it be "John Banks, retired as MP in September", or "John Banks, kicked out of Parliament in June"?
Now that the evidence has been given and the closing arguments made, John Banks' fate lies in the hand of a High Court judge.
The MANA Movement and the Internet Party have discovered they both have a lot in common. Each very much wants to get as many of its MPs into Parliament as it can.
If at the end of last year you had gone around telling people that Hone Harawira's MANA Movement was going to join forces with a political party founded by Kim Dotcom and devoted to the cause of internet freedoms, you'd have been viewed with a certain degree of scepticism.
In a shameless piece of self-promotion, I'd like to tell you about an event I'm coordinating at the start of next month. Some of you might even like to come along to it ... .
Late last year, to little fanfare and even less notice, the Constitutional Advisory Panel released its report on the "conversation" it had with the public over New Zealand's constitution.
NZ First wants to charge straying MPs $300,000. I say they can't do it. Winston says I'm wrong. Where does the truth lie?
There's a well known saying around Wellington that you haven't really made it until you've been rubbished by Winston Peters on the radio. What, you haven't heard this saying? Well, you have now ... so it's on its way to becoming well known.
New Zealanders who stay overseas for too long don't get a vote. Is that right?
When should a member of the New Zealand community lose the right to take part in deciding how that community will live together? Or, to put it more prosaically, at what point do we remove the vote from New Zealanders?
Judith Collins wants to go to war with the media. That probably is ... not wise.
When Bill English warned National's northern region conference that the upcoming election would be "close", he meant it as a caution against complacency. Judith Collins, however, appears to have misinterpreted it as something of a personal dare.
A peripheral group of political zealots want to introduce the UK's approach to punishing burglary into NZ. Except they don't really want to do that at all.
It seems a bit odd to be devoting a post to a policy proposal coming from a party with just 0.5% support in the opinion polls - a bit like taking seriously United Future's crowing over the victory it has just won by way of the Game Sustainability Council. ("The what?"
John Banks will have a full trial on the charge that he knowingly filed a false donation declaration after his 2010 Auckland mayoral election defeat. That's not that surprising.
So John Banks is going to have to face his day in court (actually, more likely his week or more in court, given the number of witnesses that will be heard).
His attempt to have the charge against him - that he knowingly filed a false return of donations following the 2010 Auckland mayoral election - thrown out by the judge has failed. In and of itself, that really isn't so surprising.
Teina Pora is out of jail at last. Just how is it that he's spent more than half his life in there?
Being Pundit readers, there's no real need for me to tell you that the title of this post comes from Franz Kafka's The Trial. I thought it an apt source for a discussion of the unease which Teina Pora's case causes me as a "lawyer", because his experiences through the legal system are the sort of thing that the overused term "Kafkaesque" for once actually fits.
The Internet Party's candidate selection rules very well might breach the Electoral Act. This probably doesn't matter.
I had another post I wanted to write on Teina Pora's case and the gap I think it has revealed in our "Justice" system, but it'll have to wait for the moment.
Canada's Conservative Government is in the middle of trying to change its election rules to benefit itself - while its PM Stephen Harper has become the thing he once most hated.
New Zealand's political landscape has been pretty weird of late, what with Judith Collins up to her fiercesome (sic) eyebrows in milk, the Maori Nationalist/neo-Marxist Mana Party playing footsie with a recent immigrant millionaire who lives in one of New Zealand's biggest and most expensive houses, and Hekia Parata doing just whatever it is that she does on a regular basis.
David Cunliffe's Trust and the Dinner at Antoine's were not the same. I wish they were, but they just aren't.
There's been a bit of lefty gloating going on around the traps about Patrick Gower's interview with John Key on The Nation, in which he sought to draw an equivalence between David Cunliffe's use of a trust to receive donations for his Labour leader
Some fruit loop Liberal MP in Australia wants her party to lurch to the left by (gasp) doing something to get more women into Parliament. Doesn't she know that parties on the right don't do that sort of thing?
Remember back in July last year, when Labour proposed considering at its national conference adopting candidate selection rules aimed at ensuring equal gender representation?
New Zealand is stopping people going to fight in the Syrian civil war. Can we do that?
I was going to post on the Japanese whaling ship Shonan Maru No 2 entering NZ's Exclusive Economic Zone while shadowing the Sea Shepherd boat, the Steve Irwin. The post was going to express my general lack of concern that it chose to do so, and point out that New Zealand's general angsting over the sustainable harvesting of Minke whales is somewhat at odds
DPF is very, very concerned about how Labour is selecting its Invercargill candidate. Where was that concern back in 2008?
I don't really know anything (and I guess I really should stop this post right there) ...
Sometimes being in favour of free speech means having to really grit your teeth and hold your nose.
Given that this is going to be a post on free speech issues, I should begin by saying that on the whole, in the round, all things considered, it is not "a good thing" for a blogger who puts up a deeply offensive, callous and hurtful post to receive death threats as a result.
If the FBI’s case against Kim Dotcom is so strong, then why hasn’t he been extradited yet? Larry Williams and Cam Slater disagreed with me on Newstalk ZB tonight when I said he had to be accused of a crime that is also a crime (carrying a similar sanction) in New Zealand.
Andrew Geddis please advise, but here’s what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says about extradition: Anyone can be extradited, even if we don’t have an extradition treaty with that country. The extraditing country must meet these criteria:
Would Dotcom's "Party Party" have breached electoral law? Maybe yes, maybe no ... which is (for me) a shame.
Although I think the whole Kim Dotcom "Internet Party" is destined for failure as a political force (which is a topic for a whole other post), it does concern me that simply by saying he plans to set it up, he forgoes his right to hold a large, hedonistic celebration of himself and his "music" (insofar as that EDM nonsense the kids seem to like so much can be given that term ...
Graeme McCready is trying to mount Len Brown's head alongside Trevor Mallard and John Banks' on his trophy wall. I think his shots might miss, this time.
Before anyone gets over-excited at the news that Graeme McCready is filing a private prosecution against Len Brown, let's just have a wee think about what is happening.
Fighting for your convictions is all well and good. Getting other people to pay for it isn't.
Back in 2010, I posted on the obviously hopeless case brought by the "New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust" - a front organisation I'll come back to - against the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.
You can all relax now - it looks like you'll still be able to wear your favoured political party lapel badge next election day. Because I know you were really worried about that.
Back in October, in response to a proposal in the Electoral Amendment Bill to extend the ban on election day advertising to encompass rosettes, ribbons and lapel badges worn by individuals, I issued a ringing
Parliament is planning to pass a law saying how much freedom its members (and others involved in its proceedings) have from legal liability. What's more, it's telling the courts that they've stuffed that issue up.
The Government's seemingly never-ending constitutional review has finally delivered its report. Which is a good excuse for me to go back and test how accurate my predictions about its content were.
The Government has just released the results of the "Constitutional Review" it agreed to hold as a part of the National-Maori Party governance agreement. I can't link you to it yet, because it's embargoed until 3pm today.
Tweeting who to vote for at a by-election on the day the poll is being held is silly, but it isn't exactly the worst thing that any politician has ever done. Hell, it may not even be illegal.
So the whole David Cunliffe storm-in-a-Twitter-cup thing needs settled. Here's how I see it.
First of all, he was dumb to send out the tweet. Especially if, as I understand it, the Electoral Commission specifically warned candidates and parties not to tweet on the polling day. Sometimes you just need to put the phone down and walk away.
Three important public law developments fell on the one day. That makes posting a bit of a challenge!
Three pretty interesting public law developments took place today. (I fully recognise that attaching the descriptor "interesting" to the phrase "public law developments" is an open invitation to ridicule, but I stand by the claim!)
David Farrar is very angry that a political party is unilaterally trying to game electoral law for its own benefit. It's good to see him being so critical of National's behaviour with respect to the reform of MMP.
Labour's Ian Lees-Galloway has had his Electoral (Adjustment of Thresholds Amendment Bill) drawn from the ballot.
Should John Tamihere and Willy Jackson get forced off the air? An anguished liberal wrings his hands.
The whole Auckland rape ring (or, just perhaps (but I doubt it), fantasist Auckland rape ring) issue is like some giant chaos theory simulation, where a hurricane in the lives of some predated upon women in one place produces a butterfly's wing beat in the Radio Live broadcast studi
Apparently multiple complainants about sexual offending by men who then brag about it on the internet isn't enough to get before the courts. But there'll be no hesitation in prosecution if you dare to make a pretend poster criticising the Police's attitude towards such crimes!
There's been enough blogosphere coverage of the ongoing investigation of a group of young repeat rapists in Auckland that I haven't felt the particular need to vent on it. Lots of other people are better at discussing the issues, and I didn't have much extra to add to them.
What defines a man's life? Is it the titles he holds, the wealth he accumulates or some other symbol of status that his contemporaries hold in high esteem? And how do we decide if those symbols of status are still deserved?
John Key has announced that Sir Douglas Graham will retain his Knighthood, despite his conviction for making false statements in a company prospectus becoming final. This is, on balance and considering all aspects of the issue, a good thing.
Does the right to free speech extend to shouting at a woman to take off her burqa in a supermarket? If not, why not?
We (where "we" are nice liberal folks who share in the positive values of tolerance and respect for others) like to think New Zealand has become a more diverse society, in which people have become much more accepting of difference and display greater willingness to live with the life choices of others.
Multiculturalism. Same sex marriage. Legalisation of prostitution. And so on.
It's a shame the "Tui Billboard" meme has well and truly jumped the shark (as, indeed, has that latter meme itself), because John Banks' "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" line is a prime contender.
John Banks has a message that he wants the New Zealand public to hear. It's a message he repeats every time a microphone enters his immediate vicinity. I suspect that if you were to sneak into his bedroom as he lay sleeping and dangle a dictaphone over his face, you'd hear him automatically muttering the words in a purely Pavlovian response.
A certain blogger whose name need not be mentioned in polite company may have wounded Auckland's mayor. But "retired accountant" (amongst other things) Graham McCready has sunk a pretty big harpoon into the side of John Banks. Now, can he wriggle off it?
So, John Banks is going to a full trial on a charge that he knowingly filed a false return of his donations for the 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign by claiming as "anonymous" donations he full well knew the source of.
Thousands of New Zealanders voted this week that the police were losing their trust. Could it be because the police behave as if they're the pope? (And not in the 'without sin' sense)
I've gotta say I was a bit surprised. On The Vote this week, 56 percent of our voting viewers said the police were losing our trust, with 44 percent siding against the moot. I'd expected those numbers to be round the other way and I'd suggest it tells those at police national HQ – once memorably called "bullshit castle" – that they've got some work to do to earn back that trust.
Did you know MPs are considering making it an offence, punishable by a fine of up to $20,000, to wear a green ribbon in your hair on election day? If you think this is silly, you'd better tell them so ... soon.
I've posted on the issue of the Government's proposed further tightening of controls on election day campaigning a couple of times already. It's a slightly niche topic, so I promise this will be the last time I raise it.
Starting with wearing the niqab in court, moving to messing up prisoner disenfranchisement, passing through justifying yet more limits on election day activity, and finishing with a new theme song for Apple.
Proposed planning reforms have been heavily contested by environmental, community, legal and professional organisations around the country
Environment Minister Amy Adams recently released the Government’s proposed changes to the principle planning legislation in NZ (the Resource Management Act 1991).
No, this isn't a post on Labour's leadership election (zing!) But it is about elections - more specifically, who can't take part in them.
A couple of electoral-law-related issues poked their heads above the ground in the last few days - one slightly ridiculous, the other somewhat more important.
The way the police have approached the GCSB's covert recording of Kim Dotcom is markedly different to how they approached Bradley Ambrose's recording of John Key. Why is that?
The police have announced that, following an in-depth inquiry into Russel Norman's complaint that the GCSB acted in a criminal fashion by intercepting Kim Dotcom's private communications,
I thought I'd written the last word on New Zealand electoral law. Then bloody Judith Collins tells the world she's going to make a whole lot more.
So yesterday was a good day. My daughter turned five, thus celebrated her last day at her (exceptionally good and highly recommended) preschool, Koputai Childcare Center with cupcakes and a gym-themed day of events.
John Key is claiming that the party with the most seats after the next election has a "moral mandate" to govern. Well, you would expect him to think that, wouldn't you?
It seems like I haven't been the only one to take the by-election result in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti as an open invite to speculate wildly on the possible outcome of a general election to be held in some 18 months.
Sue Kedgley worries that there is nothing to stop our MPs selling themselves to the highest bidder. There is - so they'll have to do it quietly.
Sue Kedgley has an opinion piece in the Herald today asking whether the various "cash-for-services" scandals roiling the UK Parliament could happen in New Zealand, and suggesting that a lack of regulation of MPs behaviour here means the answer is "maybe".
The NZRFU's code of conduct requires that players "never argue with the referee. Control your temper at all times." Peter Dunne could learn from it.
The saga of UnitedFuture's status as a party rolls on, with the most recent development being that the Electoral Commission has rejected its application to register.
The court with “the potential to affect New Zealanders’ day-to-day quality of life more than any other court in the judicial system” is on the ropes. The RMLA speaks out
Yesterday, thanks to footwork from the Resource Management Law Association, the rumour of recent weeks was confirmed.
Cabinet papers did exist, it appeared, confirming that Ministerial consideration was being given to doing away with the Environment Court.
Act One of Peter Dunne's departure has come to an end. What does Act Two hold in store?
Now that Peter Dunne has turned into the political equivalent of a bleeding seal swimming amidst a feeding frenzy of hungry sharks, what happens next?
Well, there's three ways that his involvement in any past leaks will get scrutinised in the next little while.
David Carter's decision on Peter Dunne's status was just as wrong (and as right) as Jonathan Hunt's decision on Harry Duynhoven's.
What is all this fuss about Peter Dunne, Trevor Mallard, Winston Peters and David Carter, I hear you asking?
Oh, you weren't? Well, tough. I'm telling you anyway.
I think the National Government broke the Constitution. John Key thinks it didn't. We both may be right.
My last post on the Public Health and Disability Amendment Act 2013 appeared to strike something of a chord. Certainly, it's been the most viewed piece that I've written here.
The 2007 law change prohibiting parents from hitting their children is being quoted as an example of frustration of the popular will by Parliament. But was it?
I see it said quite often nowadays that the law forbidding parents from hitting their children was passed against the popular will. The latest is from a commenter on Monday’s post on Pundit from Dame Anne Salmond. I don’t see it that way.
Increasingly, our Government is behaving like a playground bully. If Ministers will not restrain themselves from abuses of power, others need to stand up and speak out
In its editorial today, the New Zealand Herald joins Andrew Geddis in castigating the Government for a constitutional outrage – denying the family carers of people with disabilities the right to appeal against unlawful discrimination to the Human Rights Commission or the courts.
Government's gathering pace, in a way that ought to give us all serious pause - because it rips apart more than our constitutional fabric.
“New Zealand is a remorselessly democratic country.” -- Geoffrey Palmer
In 1977, 341,159 New Zealanders joined the petition of Gwenny Davis to Parliament.
Our constitutional arrangements work on an implicit bargain - the principle of comity - that the Courts and Parliament don't mess with each other's turf. I think that bargain just got broken.
I really don't want to be "that guy" who leaps up at monotonously regular intervals to proclaim that a latest constitutional outrage marks some sort of nadir in governmental practice.
The National Government isn't going to bother even thinking about the Electoral Commission's recommendations to reform MMP. I wish that they'd told us this was the plan before we spent our time and effort engaging with the issue.
So it looks like the Electoral Commission's review of MMP, complete with recommended changes to fix those parts that haven't been working that well,
The Crown won't be able to change Sky City's gambling concessions without paying for it. But it isn't the Crown that would do so.
I have but three words to say to those who think that the announced agreement between Sky City Casino and the National Government, complete with regulatory concessions that will permit the casino to make a lot more money from punters over the next 35 years, really is "legally binding" on the Crown.
They that live by the law, die by the internet
Just a quick note, because it's late and I've just written an 1100 words post on electoral reform.
Last year, over 6000 of us took the time and effort to engage in debating the future of our MMP system. Would it be too much trouble for the Government to let us know whether there was any point to us doing so?
Following the majority decision to keep MMP at the 2011 referendum, the Electoral Commission last year reviewed the MMP voting system in a process that involved a couple of rounds of public consultation.
The Herald is telling its readers that the "[Same sex] marriage bill leaves a few inequalities to sort out". But you Pundit readers knew that already
At the risk of being accused of commiting an act of shameless self-promotion ... oh, OK then, in a transparently obvious display of shameless self-promotion ... can I just point out that if you read this NZ Herald article about how
Following the legalisation of same sex marriage, same sex couples will be able to jointly adopt their children. But which same sex couples?
One of the flow-on consequences of the same sex marriage bill shortly to become our law is that it will permit same sex couples to jointly adopt children. Some people think this is a bad thing. I strongly disagree.
If you try to say something offensive to Parliament, it doesn't have to listen to you. But why not?
We're now unstoppably on the road to same sex marriage (and, through related amendments to other bits of legislation, same sex joint adoption). This is a good thing. I am very happy.
The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority appears to confuse its role in overseeing the rebuild of central Christchurch with owning it entirely. Here's a reminder - it doesn't.
Two big legal issues in the one day! Lucky I'm on top of my game ...
It seems Pundit topics are a bit like buses.
Jury trials are slow, expensive and don't necessarily produce the 'right' verdict -- so why do we still use them?
Our legal system – note I do not call it our justice system – deserves to come in for criticism. Not everything is bad, but there are elements that need to be reformed.
Basic things don’t look right to me – for starters, it costs way too much and is way too slow. But there is more.
First they came for the partners of beneficiary fraudsters, and I was silent. Then they came for the professional advisors of corporate entities, and I thought "hang on - this is completely ridiculous!"
Minister of Revenue, Peter Dunne, has today announced new measures to prevent, detect and catch corporate tax evasion.
If you can't insure something, are you still responsible for the risk of owning it? And how sorry for you should we feel if that risk turns bad?
Back in 2011, I wrote this post about the Government’s offer to purchase the residential properties of Christchurch’s “Red Zone” inhabitants. In it I noted that behind the Government’s “offer” lay the power to compulsorily acquire property under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011, meaning that:
Look deeper into RMA reforms and you might find it's more exciting than you think: an Environment Minister taking her axe to urban trees, and the latest in a series of “democracy deficits” - this time affecting Auckland
Wake up, New Zealand. Yo, Auckland!
I want you - the 87 percent of you who live in a city or town in New Zealand - to have a think about trees. What do trees mean to you?
Garth McVicar thinks that same sex marriage is just another part of a breakdown in moral values that causes crime. Silly Garth - everyone knows it's not wearing hats that causes crime.
So by now everyone who is anyone has taken their potshot at Garth McVicar and his "gay marriage causes crime" submission to the select committee considering Louisa Wall's same sex marriage bill.
My last post of 2012 said some mean things about Judith Collins. Let me make amends by starting 2013 with some nice words.
A couple of years ago, I had a grumpy prod at Simon Power for introducing a revamped Prisoners and Victims Claims regime into Parliament before he took off to enjoy a real life working for Westpac.
2012 in review: text of my piece for the Resource Management Journal on the changing legal landscape, and writing loudly on the political wall
All over the country, on land and at sea, the legal landscape is changing. In pursuit of balance, the National government is rewriting laws that have sustained and built our environment.
The results are good - in parts. Other parts so deeply undermine the precarious balance so far achieved, that they compromise the whole.
This is the last word on the David Bain case. There will never be, nor need to be, another thing written about it ever again. Do you believe me much?
In my first ever Pundit post on the David Bain saga, I expressed a fear that touching it might lead me to suffer the same fate as Br’er Rabbit when he foolishly chose to engage with Br’er Fox’s Tar Baby.
Want to say something about the Binnie Report on David Bain's innocence? Or Robert Fisher's review of that report? Or Judith Collins' handling of the whole matter? Here's your chance.
So, at 3 o'clock Judith Collins will release Ian Binnie's report on David Bain's innocence (because we all know now that this is what it says) along with Robert Fisher's "peer review" of that report.
I didn't think Susan Couch would win her battle in court. I'm very glad she hasn't had to.
The first and most obvious thing to say about the Department of Corrections' decision to pay Susan Couch $300,000 in settlement of her claim against it for the shameful way it handled William Bell's release from prison is "hooray!" Whatever the legal ins and outs (and I'll get
We shouldn't use Brendan Horan's political execution as a reason to reintroduce bad law.
Following Brendan Horan's rather summary casting out from the New Zealand First caucus - or, at least, so Winston Peters has told the House ... and the assumption is that if Peters says something will happen within New Zealand First, then it will happen - there's been some mutterings about the need to revisit the now lapsed party/waka-hopping law.
David Bain's claim for compensation is starting to look more and more like Charlie Brown's attempt to kick the football.
According to the stuff.co.nz website, John Key said the following about Judith Collin's decision to seek further legal advice (actually, a review of the review) on David Bain's claim for compensation:
The House of Representatives' Privileges Committee is considering whether or not public servants should be given free reign to defame completely innocent individuals to their Ministers. Well, that's an exaggeration ... but read on anyway.
Upon my return to New Zealand (did I tell you I've been away? To America!?), I found a very nice letter waiting for me from the Hon Chris Finlayson.
The Law Society appears to think that Catholic priests are legally required to solemnise the remarriage of divorced people. And that Baptist pastors must preside over the union of athiests. Or has it got something very wrong?
To my shame, I didn't put in a submission on Louisa Wall's Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. In my defence, I was busy with other stuff when the submission date rolled around and I assumed (and still assume) that support for this legislative measure is so deep and broad (both in Parliament and in society as a whole) that it is going to become law without my help.
Steven Franks thinks Justice Simon France thinks like a terrorist. And not just any terrorist, but an Islamic terrorist ... because we all know that Islamic terrorists are just the worst sort of terrorist to be.
You are the Police. You think that a newly formed group of motorcycle enthusiasts in Nelson (oh, alright ... a gang) called the Red Devils is really a front for a much nastier organisation, the Hells Angels. And you want to stomp on them before they can get involved in any really serious, harmful criminal wrongdoing.
Did the person who told Labour that John Key (allegedly) mentioned Kim Dotcom's name at the GCSB really break the law?
Barry Soper at Newstalk ZB has broken a story about the source of Labour's information that John Key (allegedly) talked about Kim Dotcom to staff at the Government Communication Security Bureau back in February of this year - well before he claims to have first become aware
John Key says nobody owns the water. One hundred and sixteen years ago Richard Seddon told Ngati Kahungungu despite gifting Wairarapa lakes to the Crown, they still owned the water and the fish. Two prime ministers, which one is right?
Do property rights fade like fabric in the sun?
Or do they remain as strong as a man's word?
Middle Earth, as my colleague quipped: it’s like that’s what we’re aiming for, one massive hole in the ground. Our legal landscape is changing, with mining in view. It’s not just the EEZ, or the RMA, or the Crown Minerals Act - it’s all of them. The ground is shifting under resource management.
Piece by piece, the National government is rewriting laws that have built our environment. The Crown Minerals Bill completes another piece of the picture - it shows why promises made were false - but that Bill is only an example of the government’s wider work.
National's "we know you are going to do bad things" law is now before the House. Can the people of Whanganui now sleep safe in their beds?
So the Government's proposed "Public Protection Orders" legislation has finally been rolled out. In a nutshell, it will permit prison authorities to go to the High Court and seek an order that because "there is a very high risk of imminent serious sexual or violent offending by the respondent", an individual should be detained indefinately in accommodation on prison grounds.
John Banks knows who gave money to his mayoral campaign. We know John Banks knows who gave money to his mayoral campaign. So why don't we know who gave money to John Banks' mayoral campaign?
It's good to see that the Herald [Update: and stuff.co.nz, too] has decided not to consign the issue of John Banks' fundraising practices for his failed Auckland mayoral campaign to the memory hole.
Even more significant than the government's former ideas about mining our national parks, a long-awaited government advisory group report would spell disaster for the Resource Management Act if it were implemented
Proposals are afoot to change the way things are managed all over the country, where New Zealanders live every day. That means changes to planning and decision-making about everything that is built, or not, as the case may be. The changes proposed are big, and they’re being dressed up and glossed over like a pig in a bit of lipstick.
It looks like a lot of people owe David Bain an apology - as well as an awful lot of cash. Here's my contribution (to the apologies, anyway).
The beauty of this blogging lark is that it is very easy to quickly develop an opinion on whatever happens to be prominent in the news on a given day, pad it out into a few hundred words with a couple of links, throw it up onto the web ... then move on to next week's installment.
Who says sport, politics and literature can't mix?
Back in my undergraduate days at Otago, I took a political studies degree. One of my lecturers then was Anthony (Tony) Wood; a true legend of the field.
Yes ... Stewart Murray Wilson is a "Beast". But that doesn't mean you can treat him howsoever you want.
So Stewart Murray Wilson is "free", and the representatives of the people of Whanganui appear none to happy about that. According to the Herald:
Last night, the [Wanganui District] councillors approved five action points:
It's the day after the Electoral Commission's preliminary report on reforming MMP. Let's see what the nation's true power brokers and political junkies think of it.
Now that the Electoral Commission's proposed recommendations on MMP are on the table, the political jockeying over them can begin.
What the Ministerial amendments proposed to the EEZ Bill tell us about RMA reform plans - or, how a few lines on a page could change New Zealand's natural world
In the world blissfully inhabited by Phil Heatley, as described to an appreciative Straterra audience (including me) last week, some people always say “no”: “no” to that mine or this road, irrigation here, the subdivision over there.
The Electoral Commission's proposed changes to MMP are on the table. Whether or not you like them, you still should tell the Commission what you think.
There's no reason why a candidate wanting to represent Auckland voters in Parliament should have to follow different rules to a candidate wanting to represent Auckland voters as mayor.
In the wake of John Banks escaping legal liability for his mayoral campaign fundraising lapses due to a technicality in the legislation - incidentally, where was the outraged press release from the Sensible Sentencing Trust about how our liberal justice system has once again failed to hold a criminal to account? - there seems to be an emerging consensus that
The point at which Pundit gets all meta, with a post commenting on another post ... or, my thoughts on Tim's initial thoughts on the Ewen Macdonald trial verdict.
I was going to write a post of my own on the Macdonald/Guy trial verdict (interesting question - should murder trials be known by the name of the victim or the accused?) But then that busy little beaver Tim Watkin beat me to it.
The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill, currently passing through its remaining stages in Parliament, helps Big Oil less than you might think
The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill, known as the EEZ Bill, is among the most important pieces of legislation being progressed by John Key’s government. Forest & Bird, and everyone who cares about our marine environment, wants to support it.
I don't know if the New Zealand Herald editor exercises any oversight over the columns his "opinionators" send to him each week. But I thought I'd do an after-the-fact job on John Roughan's effort on gay adoption that appeared in last Saturday's paper.
Dear John - thanks for this submission for the opinion pages. I've penciled in a few comments on it for you to think about and make the necessary amendments before we could even consider publishing it.
Gay adoption has always seemed to me to be a step too far.
So the Urewera Four are serving time, yet no-one can confidently say what they were really up to and the police allegations are all over the place
Has ever so much time and money been spent on gaining so little clarity? Even with Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara now behind bars, no-one seems to be able to say what was going on at the Urewera training camps and who was at risk.
Kim Dotcom and John Banks have quite different stories about their relationship. It might matter an awful lot who is telling the truth.
Politics costs money. Anyone who has had anything to do with any sort of campaign - be it to pressure the Council to fix the potholes in your street, or to get the leader of a political party elected as Prime Minister of New Zealand - knows this.
When National revealed its "law and order" policy before the last election, I wrote this post on it. Now that Judith Collins reportedly is preparing to introduce legislation to deliver that policy, here are some more thoughts.
Prior to the 2011 election, Judith Collins announced that National planned to legislate to permit the ongoing "civil detention" of offenders deemed at high risk of future sexual or violent offending even after their jail sentences were complete.
I've made my submission to the Electoral Commission's MMP Review. Can you say the same?
One of these cases is not like the other, one of these cases is not quite the same. Can you tell why?
So the police investigate a complaint by the Prime Minister against a member of the media, where it is alleged that a "private communication" was intentionally intercepted using a covert recording device.
Judith Collins is threatening defamation action against those who accuse her of leaking. But I thought you could say anything you wanted about MPs?
Just a very quick note on the announcement by Judith Collins that she will sue Trevor Mallard, Andrew Little and Radio NZ for defamation ... mainly because I've yet to see any commentary by those who ought to be talking about it ... and yes, Steven Price and Graeme Edgeler, I am looking at you.
The police decision not to prosecute Bradley Ambrose means we'll never really know what happened at Newmarket's Urban Cafe. And that suits everyone just fine.
The term "a Solomonic judgment" is often misused. The point of King Solomon's "they-get-half-a-baby-each" decision, after all, was not actually that cleaving the infant in twain would best serve the needs of justice, but rather that proposing this outcome enabled him to see who was the child's real mother.
Why is it that New Zealand's Supreme Court thinks that foreign law helps us know what our law should be?
Pretend you are a judge ... one who has worked your way up to sitting on New Zealand's highest court. And you have a case in front of you. It is a dispute between (at least) two parties, who want you to say what you think is the correct legal resolution to their conflict.
The Electoral Commission has to review six aspects of MMP (plus whatever else the public puts before it). Here's my thoughts on the first issue: the thresholds for representation in Parliament.
Of the issues that the Electoral Commission has to look at in its review of MMP, I predict the question of what threshold a party should have to attain before getting proportional representation in Parliament will be the most fraught.
Now that the rather pointless referendum on keeping MMP is over and done with, the real work starts. You have to play your part, too.
We all know that Pundit readers are the best, most informed, wisest and subscribe to the highest possible standards of personal hygiene in the entire blogosphere.
(Yeah, Kiwipolitico ... I'm looking at you and asking when you last cleaned under your fingernails?)
Putting the Prime Minister on the radio for an hour to show listeners what a nice guy he is "appears to encourage or persuade voters to vote for a political party or the election of any person at an election". Who'd a thunk it?
Just a very quick note on the Electoral Commission's decision to refer the "Prime Minister's Hour" on Radio Live to the Police as a potential breach of the Broadcasting Act.
In which the author seeks to have the New Zealand legal community do his job for him.
I've been asked by a colleague at an overseas law school to contribute to a special issue of their journal. The topic for the issue is: "The worst decision by a nation's top court of the last 25 years."
NZ on Air wants to stop people thinking they are biased in a partisan way. So why are they being accused of acting in a way that shows partisan bias?
Over on Scoop, Tom Frewen has done a commendable bit of digging into NZ on Air's response to TV3's decision to screen the documentary "Inside Child Poverty" – a NZ on Air funded documentary highly critical of successive governments' policy on the issue – 4 d
In which the government invites anyone who can pay enough into our offshore marine environment. The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill does not "protect and preserve" the environment. It states its price
TAG Oil is very excited. It wants to turn the East Coast of the North Island – “literally leaking oil and gas”!! – into the “Texas of the south”, hosting thousands of oil wells.
The election may be ancient history by now, but the controversy over the recorded conversation between John Key and John Banks is still brewing away. See what I did there?
Given that the misnamed "tea tapes" (I guess "tea digitally recorded conversation" is a bit much of a mouthful) was one of the two most important things to ha
How New Zealand is protecting its next generation clearly isn't working. Norm Hewitt, former All Black-turned-children's champion, is urging all New Zealanders to "say something" on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children, and change the end of the story for 160,000 at-risk Kiwi kids
It’s almost New Year, and so 2011 is over. It’s been a tough year for our children, our tamariki, with several appalling cases of child abuse in the headlines.
The Occupy Dunedin camp has folded. Now a judge has told Auckland's version to do the same. So it goes.
The "Occupy Aotearoa" movement (if it ever really deserved such a grand title) looks to be dwindling away to nothing. Yesterday, the last few tents were taken down in Dunedin's Octagon, as the protest members decided to vacate the area to allow for unimpeded Christmas and New Years celebrations.
The tea tape is making even sensible people like David Farrar say some pretty silly things. Lucky I'm here to put him back on course.
Despite the various calls to "move on" from Teapot-not-quite-gate, it's still bubbling away (see what I did there?) And it's producing some strange reactions in people who normally you can rely on to be sane and sensible in a crisis.
The police "seizing" material from the news media isn't that big a deal. [Update: except for the bit that is ...]
Just a very quick post on what I think the Police are up to in serving search warrants on news organisations for material relating to "Teapotgate" (there you go, Steven Price).
Here's my suggestion to politicians. If you want to plot the takeover of the world without people finding out about it, don't do it in a Newmarket Cafe.
For what was meant to be a short photo-op designed to remind the good folk of Epsom of their duty to Party and Nation, the cup of tea between John Key and John Banks has all turned a bit Alice in Wonderland.
Dunedin's police will not be moving to evict the Occupy Dunedin protest. Good on Dunedin's police.
I don't often get things right. I thought the All Blacks would put 20 points or more on the French in the Rugby World Cup 2011 (TM) final. I predicted Alpha Plan would be the next U2 - and if you don't know who I mean, you weren't there, man.
If you know someone very well might do a bad thing in the future, then why wait until they do it before punishing them?
Here's one of those moral-dilemma situations that get put to philosophy 101 students to illustrate the variety of forms of moral reasoning. You've got a group of (say) five people who have almost served their jail sentences for a crime.
The Dunedin City Council has tired of the Occupy Dunedin protest and wants it gone. So why is it still there?
The Occupy [Insert Place Name Here] protest movement has sparked a whole lot of head scratching "but what does it all mean?" analysis, without yet reaching any widely accepted conclusions.
If torturing a prisoner will lead to more money for victims of crime, then isn't that a good thing to have happen?
The other week, Justice Minister Simon Power gave a fantastic valedictory speech to the House. It capped off a lot of good things that he has done - in particular, I admire how he has handled the issue of changes to electoral finance rules and setting up the referendum on MMP.
"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form." Discuss.
A couple of "free speech" issues have arisen in the last week - one a bit ho-hum, the other somewhat more serious.
The Justice and Electoral Committee has done a good job on the issue of covert video surveillance. Mostly.
So the Justice and Electoral Committee has reported back on the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill.
I realise repeated posts on the issue of hidden video cameras is not a sure-fire way to increase traffic to this blog, but here we go again ...
Please forgive yet another post on the topic of the Government's "fix" for the problem of hidden video camera surveillance, but I have been invited to give evidence t
My prospects as a freelance fixer of public policy problems look distinctly unpromising .
I got a letter emailed to me today from Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.
My name is being dropped as the author of a potential way to fix the "problem" of covert video surveillance following the Supreme Court's intervention in the Urewera trials. What are the issues at stake?
Given that there's now real debate about the best way to deal with the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision in Hamed v R - the case that calls into question the Police's power to use covert video surveillance to gather evidence - here's some more thoughts on that issue.
We are told the Supreme Court's ruling on the use of covert video surveillance has caused a major headache for the Police. Let me fix that for you.
My last post set out the Supreme Court's decision on the use of secretly filmed evidence against those accused of participating in the Urewera "training camps"/"terror group"/"consciousness raising sessions" (or whatever you wish to term them).
Smile! You may be on Police camera ... and may be again.
Back in 2006, some information found its way to the ears of the NZ Police. Apparently a bunch of Maori activists, environmentalists, social justice campaigners and the like were gathering in the Urewera back-blocks and talking revolution. What is more, they were doing so while playing with guns and other nasty stuff.
MPs who say things in Parliament are absolutely protected from any legal consequences. The officials who tell them what to say aren't. Who'd be a public servant?
Erin Leigh's ongoing journey through the New Zealand legal process has taken another step towards some sort of resolution.
Erin who? Her what? My my, how soon our memories fade!
Twelve months in prison for clubbing to death 23 seals, injuring others, leaves nobody with anything to celebrate.
Yesterday, a Marlborough teenager was sentenced to two years in prison, for battering 23 seals and pups to death with a steel pole.
Simon Power needs Act's support to pass the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill. Will he tell Act to stuff Heather Roy's Voluntary Student Union Bill where the sun doesn't shine, unless they hold their noses, and support grossly illiberal legislation which does away with the right to silence?
When Chris Kahui was acquitted of murdering his twin sons in 2008, law commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer mused that perhaps it was about time we did away with the right to silence for those accused of criminal offences.
He was quoted in the New Zealand Herald: "It is not a change that would happen quickly, but talking about it is not [typo edited] wrong."
By all means let's debate the pros and cons of MMP. But it ain't going anywhere in November.
Those wanting to keep MMP in place at the upcoming referendum have been active for a while now - I've had a few leaflets thrust into my hand at the Saturday farmer's market (where Dunedin's elite meet to greet, eat and buy organic meat!) and appear under my door at work.
Labour has happened across a pretty nifty little parliamentary trick. But it's time to put it away, I think.
Over at Kiwiblog, David Farrar has hit high dudgeon mode over Labour's ongoing filibuster of Heather Roy's Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill (or, "the VSM Bill", as it is better known).
Who would have thought that Ryan Giggs' sexual peccadillos would cause a minor constitutional crisis in the UK?
Of late, the UK press has worked itself into something of a frenzy over the issue of (the rather scarily named) "super-injunctions".
Prisons are not the Tardis - when they fill up, then what do we do? We have to start letting people go.
Back in 2009, the Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias, gave a speech on criminal justice matters that caused a brief flurry of excitment and earned her a slap-down from the Minister of Justice, Simon Power. (I posted on it at the time here.)
The bit that got the most attention was this paragraph:
Why do our Supreme Court judges hate our glorious war dead so much?
Well, they don't, of course. But as this is going to be a fairly dense post on the minutiae of the law relating to freedom of expression and protest, I needed some sort of hook to get you reading it. If you feel you've been cheated ... well, sue me.
I look to the forward and not to the back!
Look to the future, be finished with all that!
The sound of the New Man: A tragicomedy in four acts
Has Labour managed to stuff up even a pretty good idea? [Turns out no - not as much as I prematurely thought.]
It's becoming so fashionable to knock the Labour Party's efforts to connect with a voting populace that just seems determined to ignore it that the contrarian in me feels like jumping the other way and hailing John Pagani as a genius.
The Minister of Justice moved swiftly to change the rules on legal aid eligibility following Dame Margaret Bazley's report, but quick-as-a-flash, nothing's been done on her recommendation that creches be set up for kiddies in courts
For the past 17 months I've spent too many days hanging around district courts in Auckland and Lower Hutt as a defendant waiting for the square wheels of justice to slowly turn over.
There is a dispute out in the sea. The police must be able to arrest someone ... musn't they?
Here is what I understand to be happening at present on the seas far off the East Cape. A seismic testing vessel, the Orient Explorer, is under contract to Brazilian petrol giant Petrobras to conduct a survey of the Raukūmara Basin seabed.
NAWAC’s proposed new minimum standard, for ‘enriched’ cages for battery hens, still denies the hens the daily things that bring most joy to their clucking hearts: freedom, and humanity
Joan Chooken the matriarch, Peggy and Ruth, Poppy and Rose Buff-Orpington have stepped through the ‘meadow’ in my back yard; under the plum trees, some of them are dust-bathing now, eternally.
There'll be a lot of silliness before National's foreshore and seabed law gets passed. Here's my contribution.
I've largely been absent from the blogosphere for a couple of weeks - go on, did you notice? - due to a combination of actually having to do some work and moving house (with concomitant, albeit temporary, loss of broadband access).
But something has happened that so enrages me that I cannot allow it to pass by in silence. So I'm back.
The Police have more than enough laws to fight crime, it's just that they're not using them effectively. The two old parties - National and Labour - can just stop giving them more legislation. When did you ever hear the Rozzers say, "Thank you very much, we have enough power now."?
Justice Clifford's judgment in favour of Hells Angel member Philip Schubert, who sought judicial review overturning Wanganui City Council's bylaw banning gang insignia in public places, is a small blow for freedom of association and expression.
A Pundit debate about media ethics winds up on telly... So is my argument "spurious"? Has the media overstepped in reporting the Christchurch quake? Some new thoughts...
I got too busy to post about this yesterday, but the debate that barrister and journalist Steven Price and I began here on Pundit last week got an airing on TVNZ7's Court Report. You can watch last night's episode here. I'd like to hear your thoughts.
Why the Government’s proposed Regulatory Responsibility Bill is ill- founded, constitutionally radical, and likely to hurt democracy.
John Key yesterday announced in his speech from the throne that the Government “will introduce a Regulatory Responsibilty Bill and send it to a Select Committee for submissions and debate".
Species ranked ‘nationally critical’ are dying in our fisheries. Legislative fixes have twice been voted down by the National party
Peeing off marine science and conservation was the lesser evil, it seems.
The Electoral Finance Act is dead. Long live the Electoral Finance Act.
Cast your mind back, if you will, to late 2007/early 2008.
The Government has announced its review of New Zealand's Constitution. I'm announcing what it will recommend - except about the thing that really, really matters.
The Government (finally!) has announced the bones of its review of constitutional issues, a key component of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the Maori Party and National Party.
If you find yourself calling people "clowns" or "paranoids" in the course of your day job, it's a good sign that you need to join the blogosphere.
At the risk of generalising, and without wishing to offend my fellow Punditeers, I think those of us who participate in this blogging malarky share a number of characteristics. One is a (possibly overinflated) sense of self-worth and confidence in the import of what we write.
The Regulations Review Committee thinks the Government is using the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act appropriately. This is good news.
Following the Canterbury Earthquake, Parliament unanimously enacted a piece of legislation called the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010 (Or CERRA, for short).
In economic jargon, a Pareto optimal outcome is one in which you cannot improve any individual's position without thereby making another individual worse off. There's probably already a term in existence for the mirror opposite situation - one where every person loses out, and any other outcome would make someone else happier.
The new law on the foreshore and seabed is not just about legal rules. Its a symbol, and that's what everyone is fighting about.
I see Tim has put in his 5 cents worth - see, he knows the true current value of his thoughts! - on this topic, but as I'd already typed a chunk of this post before his went up I'll carry on irregardless.
Te Papa took a beating for suggesting Maori cultural values are a reason to treat genders differently. So what happens when Parliament legislates that Maori must be treated differently?
Seeing as the topic de jour is the invidiousness of discriminatory treatment based on characteristics such as gender or race, I assume we have universal condemnation of a law change solely designed to prevent Maori doing something non-Maori are entitled to do?
New Zealand's great voting fraud story looks to have died - for now, anyway.
For a while there it looked like the Auckland Supercity election could end up getting decided by a judge, as the unfolding claims of fraudulent voter registrations merged with claims that the early flood of votes from South Auckland were being matched by later turnout in assumedly "pro-Banks" parts of the city.
Twenty-seven academic experts in constitutional law have a warning about the legislative response to Canterbury's earthquake.
In my last post, I indicated that there is widespread concern amongst legal academics with an expertise in constitutional law about the precedent set by the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010. Today a press release has been issued, setting out the reasons for that concern.
Apparently the Canterbury earthquake emergency legislation is completely consistent with our fundamental rights and freedoms. Or ... is it?
One of the (many) things that surprised me about the passage of the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010 (CERRA) through Parliament was the absence of a notice from the Attorney-General flagging an inconsistency with th
In which the author tries to show why he is right ... so nyah, nyah, nyah.
Apparently the way to get noticed in our present political discourse is to loudly use the terms "dumb" and "stupid". Not sure whether to be saddened about this fact about our society, or to feel an element of shame in stooping to meet those standards.
The National and Act Party members of the Law and Order select committee not only have no regard for basic individual rights, but they want to give William Bell, Graeme Burton and Clayton Weatherston the vote. They are not only moral pygmies, but they are really, really dumb.
I have long been a big fan of New Zealand's commitment to parliamentary sovereignty, whereby we as a society leave the last word on our laws to the elected representatives of the people. Students in my Public Law class roll their eyes with the frequency and enthusiasm with which I refer to this basic principle of our constitution.
In order to rebuild Canterbury after the earthquake, Parliament has given the government legal powers far wider than it would have if ravening undead hoards were to spread through our land.
My recent post on the (now) Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010 (CERRA) seemed to strike a chord with fellow blogosphere denizens - or perhaps Judge Harvey's decision that Cameron Slater was guilty of breaching name suppression laws has just frighten
To fix up the aftermath of Canterbury's earthquake, Parliament is going to give the Government almost complete control over our laws. That's maybe not such a good idea.
At the risk of voicing a commonplace sentiment, Canterbury's earthquake and its aftermath was A Bad Thing to have happen. Furthermore, the response to date of government both local and central has been admirable. The damage to both physical infrastructure and people's lives demands the best efforts of our leaders and bureaucratic agencies.
Either Cameron Slater deserves our pity, or he deserves our contempt as the Peter Bethune of the right.
Is it wrong to break an unjust law? That's a question that has bedeviled serious moral and political thinkers for centuries - at least since Socrates chose to drink the Hemlock prescribed by the Athenian court rather than accept his friends' offer of escape.
Plato recounts his reasoning in Crito:
Don't be fooled - the "court challenge" to NIWA's temperature records is very little to do with the law and a lot to do with getting your attention.
It's no secret that I harbour a deep skepticism about the claims, motivations and tactics of those who would deny that anthropocentric global warming/man-made climate change is taking place. See, for instance, the (somewhat heated) comments thread to this Pundit post.
The latest episode in the unfolding story of Justice Bill Wilson sees our intrepid hero, Sir Edmund (Ted) Thomas, radically reduce the number of Christmas cards he will have to answer this year.
I think it is safe to say that the public availability of some 30-odd pages of email correspondence in which a recently retired judge and top lawyer variously debate how best to encourage a Supreme Court judge to resign from office, suggest a preparedness to overlook judicial misconduct if n
A new Bill proposes that incumbents shouldn't be able to use public funding to pay for their election ads. Surely that's cause for celebration?
Gerry Brownlee, in his haste to scrape the bottom of the oil barrel, is showing some disregard for Maori that is not mana-enhancing
“Our prime purpose is with regard to petroleum. I think some people are interested,” said Rt Hon Keith Holyoake, in 1965, introducing the Continental Shelf Act.
The government's decision to change the patent law regarding software has got techies and lawyers up in arms. It's out of kilter internationally and raises questions about the select committee process
It's been a quiet controversy, but last week's decision by Commerce Minister Simon Power that software should not be patented - at least not unless it's "embedded" (ie, software built into a device) - was
New Zealand should fix its election date in law. Otherwise, John Key needs to tell us when the 2011 election will be held ... and soon.
On Monday I had the pleasure (and I'm not being sarcastic here - it genuinely was a pleasant experience) of talking to Parliament's Electoral Legislation Committee for the best part of an hour about the bills to set up the 2011 referendum on MMP
The High Court has just said that straight de facto couples jointly can adopt a child. Great - now what about the rest of the community?
Two posts in a day on matters legal may stretch the patience, but given this previous post of mine on adoption matters I feel the need to comment on the High Court's just released decision in the delightfully named case Re: A.M.M. and K.J.O.
Would electing a serving police officer be a valuable addition to a local authority, or a threat to our very constitution? Whatever your view, you 're too late ...
There's what the law says. Then there's the law that gets applied. Why do we view the former so differently to the latter?
So - quick pop quiz. What is the maximum speed you can travel on New Zealand's open road without incurring legal sanction?
Australia’s ICJ proceedings look like the latest high stakes manoeuvre in a diplomatic poker game with Japanese whalers
Where there are lawyers, there will be argument.
"Curiouser and curiouser!" cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English) ... . That little phrase might make an apt replacement for our Supreme Court's current moto, "Tuitui tangata, tuitui korowai".
Presently she began again. "I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth! How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downward! The Antipathies, I think--" (she was rather glad there was no one listening, this time, as it didn't sound at all the right word) "-- but I shall have to ask them what the name of the country is, you know.
Justice Bill Wilson's case is set to break new ground in front of a Judicial Conduct Panel. Let's all just wait for it to do its job.
The Judicial Conduct Commissioner is still conducting a preliminary inquiry into Justice Bill Wilson. The important judgment may get delivered in the court of public opinion
This is my third post on the contretemps involving Supreme Court Justice Bill Wilson (my first two posts on it are here and