A reasonable compromise

October 4th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

Labour has forced the Government to back down over controversial video surveillance laws.

After insisting the legislation go before a select committee before agreeing to support it, Labour has secured changes to more contentious aspects of the proposed law. …

Labour will now lend its support after winning concessions from Attorney-General Chris Finlayson. It is understood ACT is also willing to support the revised legislation. The Green, Maori and Mana parties are all opposed to the legislation.

In pending cases, courts will be left to determine if evidence is admissible. To prevent convictions being overturned, the law that applied at the time of the verdict will stand.

The legislation will only apply for six months – not one year as National hoped.

It means the next government must make the passing of the Search and Surveillance Bill, which will replace it, a priority.

“Over the fence” surveillance – where cameras film property from outside its boundaries – will have to be “reasonable” as set down in the Bill of Rights Act.

And only police and the Security Intelligence Service will be allowed to carry out “trespassory surveillance” – when a warrant is used to place secret cameras on private land in the investigation of serious crimes.

Looks pretty reasonable to me, with an interesting compromise on the retrospectivity. There is still a degree of retrospectivity in that the it states the law at the time of previous verdicts will apply. The restriction on who can do a “trepassory surveillance” also seems a good improvement.

Kudos to Labour for some good changes.

A cut and paste gone wrong

September 28th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Geddis proposed that instead of passing a law to suspend the Supreme Court ruling on Police video surveillance, that Parliament could just instead pass into law the provisions of the Search and Surveillance Bill as reported back by Select Committee.

Labour adopted this idea as their policy and Charles Chauvel drafted a bill which he said did this. He whined that the Government refused to grant leave for it to be introduced. But there was a very good reasons for this. Poor Charles cut and paste from the wrong version of the Search and Surveillance Bill. He used the bill as introduced, not as reported back by select committee. This is an incredibly stupid and basic error to make.

Chris Finlayson pointed out:

β€œCharles Chauvel’s draft SOP for the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill demonstrates the danger of taking parts of draft legislation out of the context in which they were drafted,” Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson says.

β€œMr Chauvel has, apparently inadvertently, drafted his SOP using large sections of the Search and Surveillance Bill as introduced to Parliament, rather than as reported back from Select Committee last year,” Mr Finlayson said. “This has created some serious problems in what he proposes.”

A number of problems are evident in the SOP posted by Mr Chauvel on the Labour Party blogsite:

β€’ Mr Chauvel’s clause 7(1) refers to a period not exceeding 72 hours. But this was in the Search and Surveillance Bill as introduced, not as reported back. The Select Committee altered it to 48 hours, to reduce the period of time a surveillance device is first used without obtaining a surveillance device warrant. This increases surveillance powers, something Mr Chauvel previous expressed concern about.

β€’ Mr Chauvel’s clause 8(3)(a) uses the wording of the Search and Surveillance Bill as introduced, not as reported back. He would require a residual warrant be disclosed, even though the Select Committee ruled this out.

β€’ Mr Chauvel’s clause 11 is completely deficient. He uses clause 50 of the Bill as originally drafted, leaving out important additions made by the Select Committee, particularly section 42AA dealing with restrictions on some trespass surveillance and use of interception devices.

What a fail. But I love his response in the Herald:

Mr Chauvel returned fire, saying the Government could have improved his SOP, rather than spend time scrutinising it and putting out a press release.

“It’s a shame we have a minister who would prefer to take the approach of chipping at the opposition, rather than looking at how we can improve the law.”

Oh yes how dare the Government point out the Opposition cut and pasted the wrong version of a bill, and that Labour were proposing a law change that would be worse than what the select committee had recommended.

Talking of the Bill, it is online here. If you wish to make a submission, you only have until midnight.