Small joins slamming of lost property bill

The scathing of Nuk Korako’s Airport Authorities (Publicising Lost Property Sales) Amendment Bill continues, this time by Vernon Small

Korako’s inconsequential lost property bill reveals dark side of Govt tactic

None of the derision dumped on Nuk Korako’s Airport Authorities (Publicising Lost Property Sales) Amendment Bill does it full justice.

It is not just a trivial piece of legislative whimsy, it is vanishingly inconsequential.

It’s not often you get to reproduce in full the business-end of a “bill”, but here goes:

In section 9(1)(ff) replace “the insertion of suitable advertisements in a newspaper circulating in the district where the airport is situated” with “publicising the sale in what the authority considers to be a fair and reasonable manner”.

That’s it. 

So let’s bust a few developing myths about the “bill” – and both law professor Andrew Geddis and legal frequenter of social media Graeme Edgeler have made similar points elsewhere.

What it deals with is the fate of stuff people leave in airports; the odd umbrella, a bag of mints, a jacket maybe. Perhaps an iPhone.

But it doesn’t help in any meaningful way to return even those goods to their rightful owners.

What that single limpid clause does is allow airport authorities NOT to advertise in a local newspaper when they decide to auction off the lost property accumulated in their back offices. That’s all.

It doesn’t remove a rule that restricts advertisements only to newspaper, as some have suggested. They can advertise as widely as they like now.

Nor does it require them to advertise the auction in an itemised way – so you could check if your umbrella, emblazoned with elephants, is included in the sale.

In short, it does nothing for travellers, nothing to help reunite people and possessions, nothing to bulwark us against an international tsunami of lost baggage.

What it does is make it easier for airport authorities, when they decide to sell lost property and pocket the proceeds. 

In the House on Tuesday, Korako, a National list MP, gave an amusing defence of the “bill”. Given the material he had to hand, it was valiant but it was also misleading, implying many of the bogus arguments rebutted above.

If Korako doesn’t want his parliamentary career defined by this nonsense he should be banging on the National whips’ door, begging them to can it before it arrives on the floor of the House.

Nobody would want to be in the Government’s, or Korako’s, shoes when the law change lands in the House, nor suffer the the media spray that will follow.

If it has any shame – or sense of self-preservation – it will dump the “bill” altogether and slip the change into the next available Statutes Amendment Bill, where such arcane trivia belongs.

So it looks like this bill is destined for an ongoing hammering if it continues to proceed in some way through Parliament.

See also Gerry Brownlee versus Andrew Geddis.

I don’t think I have seen any defending of this bill, except for Brownlee’s attack on Geddis.

 

Arrest over student loan debt

The Herald ‘understands’ that a woman has been arrested at Auckland airport trying to fly to Australia over a student loan debt.

Woman arrested at airport over student loan debt

The woman was arrested at Auckland Airport as she tried to board a flight to Australia on Tuesday, the Herald understands.

She appeared in Manukau District Court on Wednesday.

An Inland Revenue spokesman confirmed an arrest warrant was executed by police this week.

Taxpayer secrecy prevented the release of more details.

Some say this is draconian butIRD says they only use arrest as a last resort.

“Our powers to arrest at the border are used as a very last resort, and would only follow strenuous efforts to contact the borrower to make repayment arrangements – these would typically involve making phone calls, sending correspondence via mail and email to the borrower, and attempting to contact them via any third parties such as nominated persons and/or any known employer.”

It’s tough, but as much as anyone wants to argue about paying for tertiary education and the student loans system all those who take on a student loan should be aware of their responsibilities of keeping in touch with IRD and in in repaying the loan as and when required.

It is the harshest in a range of measures to recoup student debt from overseas Kiwis. Last year those based overseas made up 15 per cent of all borrowers, but 74 per cent of borrowers with overdue payments, and had 90 per cent of the amount overdue.

Those in default and living in Australia will come under more scrutiny from next month, when a transtasman information-sharing agreement begins. It will cover contact details of student loan borrowers living in Australia.

That could see thousands more borrowers receive warning notices. Accurate contact information is crucial, as a district court judge can issue an arrest warrant only if satisfied a person is knowingly avoiding repayment obligations.

The majority of overseas-based student-loan borrowers live in Australia. Legislation allowing the information-sharing passed last month.

There are about 112,000 overseas-based student-loan borrowers, and roughly 70 per are in default.

Tougher measures seem to be affective.

In January, Cook Islands man Ngatokotoru Puna, 40, was arrested as he tried to leave New Zealand.

Over the first two months of this year there was a 31 per cent increase in repayments by overseas-based borrowers, compared to the same period last year, with $7 million more received.

Emails to IRD were up 62 per cent, and phone calls increased by 55 per cent.

Inland Revenue believe that the publicity around the first arrest at the border contributed to the increased activity.

Some will find this additional information sharing and chasing up of loans tough but being in touch with IRD is the best way to deal with it.

Authorities say those in default should make contact with Inland Revenue, to arrange a repayment agreement or discuss hardship plans if in financial difficulty. Applying for an arrest warrant is a “last resort”, the IRD says.

Closing an airport

Try closing an airport as a protest and see how long it takes for something to be done about it.

Stuff reports: Kaitaia Airport protesters trespassed, five arrested

Ngati Kahu’s two-day occupation of Kaitaia Airport has ended with five protesters being arrested.

Northland police served trespass orders to the activists about 2pm on Wednesday.

About 15 demonstrators were on airport grounds at that time and many of them chose to leave, police said.

Five of the protesters, one woman and four men, remained behind and were arrested for trespass. They will appear in the Kaitaia District Court on Wednesday, September 17.

Far North Area Commander Inspector Wendy Robilliard said the time had come for police to take action. Police had earlier tried to negotiate with the occupiers to resolve the situation.

Robilliard said everyone had the lawful right to protest, but this group had chosen to act unlawfully, which meant police needed to step in.

The arrests happened the day after the closure of the airport.

One organiser John Popata told TV3 News the group was “pissed off” at Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson for not visiting them for discussions. “We will fight for ever and ever.”

I think there may be quite a few people quite pissed off at the disruption caused by Mr Popata and hios fellow protesters.

I can imagine quite a few people being quite annoyed that their travel plans were disrupted. Medical specialists were also prevented from landing at Kaitaia.