Well done Edge

January 21st, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

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I read David Farrar’s post on the secrecy with which the New Zealand Teachers Council Disciplinary Tribunal conducts its hearings, and, like David, was disturbed with what I read in Kathryn Powley’s Herald on Sunday article. The Teachers Council Disciplinary Tribunal doesn’t just claim a power to suppress sensitive information, but rather has rules which automatically suppress all information, instead allowing people to seek official permission before publishing particular information.

David observed that “…the rule should be repealed or amended. If the Council won’t do so, then the enabling legislation should be amended.”

My first thought was to comment in agreement with his general observation: secrecy should not be the default position. My second, to point out that his proposed solution of amending the enabling legislation was excessive, when you could just ask to vote to disallow, or amend the rule – it’s the rule, not the primary legislation, that is the problem.

For some reason I thought the power of regulations review was about regulations made by Cabinet or core Government departments. But it seems not. So Graeme has taken action:

So instead of just writing a blog post, what follows below is a complaint I sent to Parliament’s Regulations Review Committee yesterday evening.

Any member of Parliament can move a motion to amend, or disallow a regulation, but the Regulations Review Committee is empowered to inquire into subordinate legislation, and a successful complaint to that Committee is a good way to get the rest of Parliament to take notice of your concerns. It operates on a more consensual basis than ordinary select committees, but the individual members of the Committee (currently three National and two Labour), have a special power that other members of Parliament don’t have. If one of them moves a motion of disallowance, the House has to vote on it, or the motion succeeds.

So if one or more members of that committee move to disallow the regulation, then it will be automatically disallowed unless the House schedules time to debate the motion.

It will be very interesting to see what happens. Will the Teachers Council amend their rule before the Regulations Review Committee considers the rule?

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19 Responses to “Well done Edge”

  1. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    For some reason I thought the power of regulations review was about regulations made by Cabinet or core Government departments. But it seems not.

    It mostly is. As a general rule, it only covers regulations, which don’t include rules made by organisations like the Teachers Council. However, it does cover those sorts of minor rules and notices if the laws that allow those rules to be made explicitly say they are covered, and it just happens that the Education Act says that in this case, they are.

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  2. nasska (11,473 comments) says:

    Excellent outcome…..thank you Graeme.

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  3. tvb (4,416 comments) says:

    The committee is chaired by an opposition MP. In this case I assume labour. This will be fudged. The teachers unions will simply not allow it.

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  4. annie (539 comments) says:

    Charles Chauvel is the chairman. But there are 3 National members to 2 Labour, so it might be actioned.

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  5. Weihana (4,537 comments) says:

    So a 17 year old can be confident that if he/she divulges the existence of a relationship with a teacher, the details of that relationship will be front page news?

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  6. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    Read the last lines again. If a single member of the committee makes a motion, the entire house (not committee) must then vote on it to uphold the regulation. If Charles Chauvel were opposed (and I don’t see why he should be), then there’s little he could do to stop the regulation going to the house for a vote.

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  7. nasska (11,473 comments) says:

    Weihana

    The way I read yesterday’s post & today’s follow up, under the present statute no issue addressed by the Disciplinary Council can be reported on…..nothing, zilch!

    If the Regulations Review Committee agree with Graeme & DPF then the Council will have to decide on a case by case basis if a ban on publication is needed. Probably, since they are undoubtedly a bunch of failed teachers & academics who want everything shoved under the mat, little will change.

    But at least we’ll all know that it was their decision & they will not be able to hide behind an unnecessary law.

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  8. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    It’s Chuck and Louisa and three Nats. Gonna be interesting.

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  9. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    Once again, the committee will not decide. Only one member has to make a motion against the rule. The committee does not vote on the motion. Instead the motion goes before the whole house for a vote.

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  10. nasska (11,473 comments) says:

    metcalph

    It may be splitting hairs but is the way I read it, that if one committee member proposes to drop the rule & the other four do not object then the rule is dead without any reference to the House correct?

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  11. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    Nasska, there is no reference at all to the other four objecting or approving. All that is said is that if one committee member makes a motion, it goes before the house. The motion does not have to be approved by the committee.

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  12. Weihana (4,537 comments) says:

    nasska (5,531) Says:
    January 21st, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Weihana

    The way I read yesterday’s post & today’s follow up, under the present statute no issue addressed by the Disciplinary Council can be reported on…..nothing, zilch!

    Unless an application is made for publication and approved.

    But at least we’ll all know that it was their decision & they will not be able to hide behind an unnecessary law.

    Yet we know the same if an application is made and rejected. What’s the difference? The only difference I see is that the assumption and emphasis is public exposure rather than remaining confidential which would discourage witnesses such as a 17 year old in a relationship with a teacher.

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  13. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    @Metcalph – yes and there will be more obfuscating if their is a greater number of union friendly committee members. There is not so there is a good chance the motion will go through to the house.

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  14. Nick K (1,243 comments) says:

    http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Legislation/Bills/e/c/2/00DBHOH_BILL7439_1-Regulatory-Responsibility-Bill.htm

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  15. marcw (247 comments) says:

    So Weihana, are you in fact alleging in a public forum that a Teacher’s Council hearing has recently heard a case “such as a 17 year old in a relationship with a teacher”? If you stand by this, then you Sir/Madam have just broken the law, and should present yourself with your lawyer to the nearest cop shop to surrender.

    Perhaps there is a case for the regulations to be changed, maybe.

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  16. Weihana (4,537 comments) says:

    marcw,

    No, it’s a hypothetical. :)

    Given the right to free expression as provided for under the Bill of Rights Act I don’t think it would be quite an open and shut case. But I take your point nonetheless.

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  17. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    If you stand by this, then you Sir/Madam have just broken the law, and should present yourself with your lawyer to the nearest cop shop to surrender.

    The offence is fine only, so no arrest is permitted.

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  18. nasska (11,473 comments) says:

    …..”The offence is fine only, so no arrest is permitted.”…..

    That was a close one Weihana….you can unpack your toothbrush now. :)

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  19. itstricky (1,830 comments) says:

    nasska,

    Probably, since they are undoubtedly a bunch of failed teachers & academics who want everything shoved under the mat, little will change.

    You say that with such conviction again. Are you sure you’re not an insider? Or are you just bitter and twisted about the organisation for some, yet to be disclosed, reason?

    And I still don’t know what the unions have got to do with this all.

    Why is this about failed teachers and union reps. who want to sweep everything under the mat, rather than a simple law to protect the kids and encourage them to come forward?

    And, if it is changed isn’t this just prompting public exposure that will discourage kids from coming forward as per comments above?

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