Pike River access tunnel footage

Newshub has obtained video footage taken by a robot that went one and a half kilometres into the access tunnel at Pike River mine several months after the explosion.

This had not been revealed by the police, not even to the Royal Commission which is a shame, it should have been made available.

But I don’t know what it would have changed. It goes as far as an obstruction, a loader, and far from guarantees it would be safe going further into the mine.

True to form Patrick Gower is making it sound very dramatic and game changing but I’m not sure what it will change apart from giving him a headline or two.

All it does now is revive all the claims and counter claims and demands and uncertainties.

Guilty until proven innocent?

Suggesting the burden of proof be reversed to guilty unless proven innocent is getting into very dangerous legal territory.

RNZ: Call to shift burden of proof to rape-accused

Labour’s sexual violence spokesperson, Mrs Williams has called for radical reform of the sexual justice system which would see rape accusers believed by police as a starting point.

Every accuser should be given the benefit of doubt and believed when investigating an alleged crime of any sort, unless there is good reason to disbelieve them.

But taking that approach in court is a much riskier approach.

This would place the burden of proof on the accused – directly contradicting the philosophy of “innocent until proven guilty”.

Ms Williams said many victims of rape do not report it because they have little faith in the justice system.

She said the country needed to have a discussion about how to address that power imbalance.

Seeking better ways of conducting investigations and prosecutions would be the best way to deal with it.

Now, I know that runs up against ‘innocent until proven guilty’, and that would be one of the issues that we’d really have to consider long and hard, but I’m of the view that we have to make some changes.”

Poto Williams said she didn’t yet know how the policy would be implemented.

“I don’t pretend to have the legal nous in which to do this, but I’m comfortable that there is a way that we can work our way through this.

So Williams is posing the possibility. It doesn’t look lioke being anywhere near Labour policy.

“But at the end of the day we cannot, in all good conscience, say to victims of rape and sexual abuse, ‘your case will be ignored.’

“One thing we have to do is find out the numbers of false allegations that have been made, because that will be one of the things people will be really concerned about – that someone who’s falsely accused of sexual abuse will be put through a process that is completely unfair.”

It’s also long established that it’s unfair to presume guilt unless proven innocent.

A Hawke’s Bay barrister, Jonathan Krebs, said contradicting the principle of innocent until proven guilty in New Zealand’s justice system would be unthinkable.

“The rule about the prosecution having to prove offending and allegations beyond reasonable doubt is zealously held,” he said.

“Any proposal that a complainant of any sort of offending should be deemed to be telling the truth and an accused person must prove their innocence would be such a radical departure that I don’t think that would gain very much support at all.”

It’s hard to guess why Williams is raising this. It’s unlikely to go anywhere. Surely Labour won’t consider it seriously as policy.

The political young guns

Audrey Young refers to the ‘relatively young’ Bill English and Steven Joyce as ‘extended seniority’ so doesn’t consider then as part of the young club of politicians – English was named in the National ‘young guns’ late last century.

She doesn’t refer to Andrew Little at all in The rise of National’s young guns an added advantage for the Government.

Instead she names the young guns of the Opposition (all Labour):

It was Labour’s biggest advantage. That advantage has been reduced, if not neutralised, and National, first under John Key and now Bill English, has accomplished a rejuvenation that Helen Clark found difficult in Government.

The Greens are making a feature of their young recruits this election.

Labour has finally managed it in Opposition with

  • Grant Robertson (46)
  • Jacinda Ardern (36)
  • Phil Twyford (54)
  • Chris Hipkins (38)

as their new young hopes.

And currently for the Government and possibly the next Opposition:

  • Amy Adams (42)
  • Simon Bridges (40)
  • Nikki Kaye (37)
  • Jonathan Coleman (50)

This is the future of Government and Opposition beyond the current leadership of National and Labour. Whoever loses out of English and Little are unlikely to continue for long.

NZ First’s younger guns seem to be suppressed and kept out of sight by the old cannon, and Shane Jones (if confirmed) is a re-bore.

The Greens who most likely to figure if they get into Government are:

  • Metiria Turei (47)
  • James Shaw (43)
  • Julie Anne Genter (37)

 

The 100 day obsession

The 100 days of trump obsession continues world wide, and also on Q+A this morning:

100 days of President Donald Trump – what has he achieved? Our US correspondent Rebecca Wright reports from President Donald Trump’s 100 day celebration rally in Harrisburg, PA.

Trump is celebrating but the US is largely waiting to see what he might end up doing, and the world waits with concerns about his undiplomatic approach to very risky regions.

Trump has succeeded bigly on one thing – this is likely to be the most talked about first 100 days ever, around the world. He wanted attention, he seems obsessed with attention, and he got it.

But it’s nearly four years still for him to prove himself with what really matters – and that’s more than media or pundit ratings.

Q&A today

A not very riveting line up on Q+A today.

This could be a bit interesting and is no doubt contentious in the Coast:

A West Coast council is looking at whether to offer up cutting rights for native trees on public land.

The West Coast council and ‘sustainable’ timber business wants to pluck logs out of native forest and they can provide revenue and jobs..

Russel Norman says that the largely ancient forest ecosystems should be left alone and I think it’s hard to argue against that.

Looking back on Murray McCully’s political history (the most interesting bits will probably remain secret):

Foreign Minister Murray McCully is finishing up his 30 year political career. He sits down with Jessica Mutch to discuss the highs and lows.

I was never a fan of McCully, but he seems to have risen to the task of being Foreign Minister, with a few significant question marks.

McCully says he doesn’t feel uncomfortable with any major decisions he’s been involved in. He acknowledges a couple of ‘blemishes’ but won’t give details.

Russel Norman concedes some positives but laments what he sees is the biggest negative – a lack of progress on climate change.

ANZAC Day protests

Alison Mau write about: Anzac Day – a time for protest or quiet reflection?

Free speech versus the right to a peaceful commemoration of our sacred day. Which one to choose?

The video of 12-year-old James Broome-Isa’s tirade against the protesters at the Wellington Cenotaph on Anzac Day was hard to watch. Visceral, even.

I don’t like critiquing people’s parenting, and I won’t in this case. I know I would have looked with patience and perhaps with pride on a child of mine who’d offered their considered opinion in that situation; after a minute though, I would have called a halt to the shouting and ushered the child away. That’s just me.

And I get where James was coming from. I’m amazed and warmed by the way Kiwis have embraced Anzac Day in the past couple of decades.

Here, we see young people marching with the veterans in solemn pride, wearing the medals of their grandfathers and great grandfathers.

The amazement part is because it wasn’t a

New Zealand RSA President BJ Clark told me it’s been much the same for a couple of generations of Kiwis; no-one was taught the history of New Zealanders at war for a long stretch (it’s worth noting that the New Zealand Wars still don’t figure on the curriculum).

Now the young people are leading the way, he says; the swelling crowds at 268 Anzac Day ceremonies around the country are a direct result of educating young Kiwis about the sacrifices made by their ancestors.

Should we be condoning protest on Anzac Day, then? Perhaps unsurprisingly, Clark says no. Politics has no place on that day, he says, or at that place.

“Our place,” is how he repeatedly referred to the Cenotaph. Our day. A day to remember those killed in wars across the world.

The protest in Wellington was silent and mild, for sure, but more particularly, he says, this is a day for returned service people to remember those they served alongside. Those people do not need the distraction of a protest on their day of remembrance.

Clark admits though, that protest and the right to speak our minds is exactly what generations of Kiwis have gone to war to protect. He mentions this several times, and understands that, well, there’s the rub.

Yep, there’s the rub.

When I initially saw the young guy admonishing the protesters for it being inappropriate on ANZAC Day I agreed.

But when I thought more about it I found that I also agreed with the right of the protesters to peacefully make their point, whether I agreed with it or not.

ANZAC Day has changed a lot over my lifetime. My father was one of the younger returned servicemen when I used to go on marches and sit through speeches at the town hall, then went home not to see my Dad for the rest of the day. But he’s been dead for 17 years, and there are very few of his fellows from the RSA still alive.

Those who have served later have been allowed to participate. Vietnam vets were contentious but were eventually deemed to be deserving of recognition too.

Why not also commemorate the civilian victims of wars? Often many more of them die and suffer than soldiers, and they are largely innocent victims.

Peace protests and conscientious objections have also been important aspects of wars.

Whether I agree with their message or not peaceful and respectful protest should be an acceptable part of ANZAC Day events. There is no set definition of what should be said or done, and nor should there be.

Williams appealing defamation decision

Jordan Williams has announced he is going to appeal the judgment to set aside the jury decision in the defamation case Williams v Craig, saying he doesn’t want witnesses to have to go through a new trial and an appeal is “the best way forward”. His other option was to walk away with nothing but a huge legal bill.

In general for the public I think this is a good path to take, as the Court of Appeal will help clarify issues of defamation and of appropriate awards.

In September 2016 a jury awarded Williams a total of $1.27 million having found that he was defamed on two counts by Colin Craig.

On count one, the jury ordered $400,000 be paid in compensation caused for the injury to Williams’ reputation and feelings and $90,000 in punitive damages for Craig’s “flagrant disregard” of Jordan’s rights.

On count two, they ruled Craig pay $650,000 in compensation and $130,000 in punitive damages.

At the time Nick R (a lawyer) commented at Kiwiblog:

Court of Appeal can reduce any award of damages it considers to be manifestly excessive. It has done so before for jury awards in defamation cases. The CA has previously indicated that damages in defamation cases in NZ should be modest in the absence of evidence of actual pecuniary loss. That’s why I expect them to reduce this award, potentially by quite a lot.

Immediately following the verdicts Craig’s counsel requested that Judge Katz defer entering judgment as they intended applying to have the jury’s verdict set aside, so the judge deferred entering judgment.

Craig’s counsel subsequently applied to have the verdict set aside, and six months later, on 12 April 2017, Judge Katz delivered a judgment ruling that the damages awards were so high that they constituted a miscarriage of justice.

[109] …I am satisfied that the damages award is well outside the range that could reasonably have been justified in all the circumstances of the case. The consequence is that a miscarriage of justice has occurred. The jury’s verdicts must therefore be set aside and a retrial ordered, unless both parties are willing to consent to my substituting a new damages award in place of the jury’s award.

Result

[112] The parties are to file memoranda by 3.00 pm on Wednesday 26 April 2017 advising whether they consent to the Court substituting its own award of damages for the jury’s award, pursuant to s 33 of the Act. If confirmation is not received by that date that both parties consent to such a course, then I order that the jury’s verdicts be set aside and the proceedings be set down for a re-trial on the first available date that is convenient to senior counsel.

Craig immediately indicated he would not consent to the Court substituting it’s own award of damages, and it has now been confirmed that he has advised the court that he wouldn’t consent, and Williams put out a press release saying he didn’t want another trial, but would instead appeal Judge Katz’s judgment.

Statement from Jordan Williams

Lawyers for Jordan Williams are appealing the judgment setting aside last year’s jury verdict in the Williams v Craig defamation proceedings.

Mr Williams says, “Colin Craig argued that the jury’s damages award was too high. The judge agreed but the High Court is only able to reset the damages if both parties agree.”

“Last week Colin Craig’s lawyers told Justice Katz that Colin Craig was not willing to have her determine the damages; they want a full retrial.”

“I don’t want Rachel MacGregor or my mother or any other of my witnesses to have to go through it all again. The jury made clear findings. At every stage Mr Craig has wanted to stretch things out. We have no assurance he would not appeal after a new trial. So an appeal now could get to the key issues directly. It is the best way forward.”

It probably is the best way forward for Williams, but it has risks.

A new trial would presumably mean that there was no way that Williams could recover any costs from the first trial, and a new award would likely be significantly lower given Judge Katz’s judgment. Williams’ counsel would have had to seriously consider claiming significantly lower damages to avoid a repeat of the first trial.

NZ Herald have reported a response from Craig in: Jordan Williams appeals to try to avoid retrial in Colin Craig defamation case

Craig said Williams had every right to appeal, but he believed a retrial was the right way forward.

He said Justice Katz’s decision said a miscarriage of justice had occurred so he was not willing to accept the jury’s decision he had defamed Williams.

But Judge Katz said that the miscarriage of justice was due to the damages award being “well outside the range that could reasonably have been justified in all the circumstances of the case”, the Judge did not reject the jury’s decision that Craig had defamed Williams.

[110] In relation to Mr Craig’s second ground of challenge to the jury’s verdicts, I reject the submission that there was no evidence, or insufficient evidence, to support the jury’s finding that he had lost his qualified privilege…As a result, there is no basis for entering judgment in favour of Mr Craig (as opposed to ordering a retrial).

So on to an appeal. The Court of Appeal is limited on what it can rule on, I think just on points of law in the judgment. So presumably Williams will ask for the setting aside to be overruled. I don’t know if the amount of damages can be changed on appeal, or if it’s an all or nothing situation.

Judge Katz took months before delivering her Judgment, and is likely to have anticipated a likely appeal, so is likely to have taken a lot of care in her Judgment. That doesn’t rule out having made a mistake in law, but it may narrow the grounds for appeal.

In the meantime there is one other matter from her judgment that I don’t know if it is still relevant or not, costs.

[113] This outcome is likely to raise some difficult costs issues. Leave is accordingly reserved to file costs memoranda in relation to both the trial and the present application, if costs cannot be agreed. Any memorandum on behalf of Mr Williams is to be filed by 5 May 2017. Any memorandum on behalf of Mr Craig is to be filed by 19 May 2017. Counsel are to indicate in their memoranda whether a hearing is sought in respect of costs.

I have no idea what can or may happen with this, given the verdict has been set aside. Perhaps we will find out next month. Or perhaps it will have to wait for the outcome of the appeal.

The Judge Katz decision: http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/cases/williams-v-craig/@@images/fileDecision

Media watch – Sunday

30 April 2017

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.

As usual avoid anything that could cause any legal issues such as potential defamation or breaching suppression orders. Also remember that keeping things civil, legal and factual is more credible and effective.

Open Forum – Sunday

30 April 2015

Facebook: NZ politics/media+

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts.

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

World watch

Saturday GMT

WorldWatch

There’s a lot of things happening of interest around the world, from the Brexit split between the United Kingdom and the European Union to Donald Trump’s young presidency in the United States, from the civil war in Syria and the associated surrounding Middle East mess, to growing tensions around North Korea and China.