Dim-Post on retrospective legislation

September 22nd, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Heh, another excellent piece of satire by Danyl:

Prime Minister John Key has called for other political parties to throw their support behind another controversial change to the legal system. The National Party will introduce a new bill this week that will update section 171 of the the Crimes Act. As with the changes to the laws around covert police video surveillance, the Prime Minister insists that the bill be passed under urgency and apply retrospectively.

The bill updates the manslaughter section of the Crimes Act of 1961, in which the current definition of ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ will be redefined to exempt senior public servants who accidentally asphyxiate sex-workers at departmental parties. …

The law will be retrospectively applied back to December 17th 2010, the date of last years Crown Law Office Christmas function. ‘The Solicitor-General has specified this date as the key target for maintaining the integrity and dignity of the New Zealand justice system,’ Key explained, adding, ‘Go the All Blacks!’ …

The ACT Party has agreed to support the bill to the first stage of select committee, on the understanding that the exemption be further widened. Under the draft ACT bill it will be legal to accidentally run over a teenage baby-sitter fleeing in terror from a private property, so long as that property has a rateable value in excess of one million dollars. …

Labour leader Phil Goff has yet to form a position on the legislation, but explained that he also supported the All Blacks, a comment that has drawn intense criticism from political commentators and raised fresh doubts about Goff’s ability to lead Labour into the election.

I laughed seeing today a press release announcing the Greens were against the law change. I don’t think anyone ever thought they would be in favour of it, even if not under urgency!

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6 Responses to “Dim-Post on retrospective legislation”

  1. Mick Mac (1,091 comments) says:

    That NZ Police and the government knew of this situation for a year gets no sympathy from me.
    All the ongoing investigations should be restarted from the law change, not retrospectively.
    As a principle and practice I don’t think laws should be retrospective.

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  2. toad (3,654 comments) says:

    I laughed seeing today a press release announcing the Greens were against the law change.

    Yep, I had a chuckle too DPF, but political positions do need to be put on public record, even though those of us who are engaged politically know exactly what they will be, for the information of those who are not.

    From a Green perspective, retrospectively validating unlawful acts deliberately undertaken by a State agency in the full knowledge they were unlawful is as bad as it gets in the descent towards totalitarianism. If the Greens put out another 20 media releases on this before the election, it will still be worth it if it opens a few more people’s eyes to National’s contempt for the rule of law.

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  3. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    Toad – the further frustration I have is that I don’t think the proposed changes (certainly the retrospecitivity) is actually necessary. Up to the SC decision the police can still run the gambit of the s30 exception to unlawfully obtained evidence which will be decided on the facts of each case (my view is that prospective surveillance will almost certainly get the boot as the SC was so clear that it was unlawful). In other words the 40 serious cases will not necessarily fall over – they will rise and fall on their own merits under s30.

    Parliament can pass legislation allowing warrants to be obtained for video surveillance, thus providing judicial oversight to breaches under the NZBORA. It should not have to be rushed through as this issue has been around for 14 years but given the situation the Police and Parliament find themselves in I would be a lot more comfortable with a law under urgency allowing warrants to be obtained (perhaps with a sunset clause so that the Search and Surveillance Bill can be properly debated and passed) than some sort of pretend fix that sets aside the SC and returns to a rather wobbly CA decision.

    I still have some hope as Finlayson seems to be carrying this one and he has both integrity and brains (and he promised to talk to Geddis who seems to have some pretty sensible thoughts on the matter).

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  4. aitkenmike (94 comments) says:

    GPT1:
    I agree – that seems the best solution to me.

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  5. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    Also agree..
    But could this be the beginning of a right wing split…
    Whaleoil has mentioned DPF’s short comings on posting this thread…

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  6. Alan Wilkinson (1,798 comments) says:

    It should not be retrospective. Previous illegal actions by the police should be tested against the S30 exception as GPT1 says and the Urewera cases were. Any law change should apply a similar test for seriousness of offense rather than be a wholesale right to spy.

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