Meth house victims being compensated, unfathomable response from Collins, Bridges

People who were unnecessarily evicted from state houses due to extreme testing for methamphetamine contamination will be apologised to and compensated.

Housing NZ to right meth testing wrong

A report by Housing NZ into its response to methamphetamine contamination shows the organisation accepts its approach was wrong and had far reaching consequences for hundreds of people, Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said.

“Housing NZ acknowledges that around 800 tenants suffered by either losing their tenancies, losing their possessions, being suspended from the public housing waiting list, negative effects on their credit ratings or, in the worst cases, being made homeless.

“Housing NZ is committed to redressing the hardship these tenants faced. This will be done on a case by case basis and the organisation will look to reimburse costs tenants incurred, and make discretionary grants to cover expenses such as moving costs and furniture replacement.

“They will also receive a formal apology from Housing NZ.

“This is what government accountability looks like. Housing NZ are fronting up, acknowledging they were wrong and putting it right.

“The approach to methamphetamine from 2013 by the government of the day was a moral and fiscal failure. Housing NZ had been instructed by then ministers to operate like a private sector landlord. This led to the wellbeing of tenants being ignored.

“Even as evidence grew that the meth standard was too low, and ministers acknowledged it wasn’t ‘fit for purpose’, the former government continued to demonise its tenants. At any time they could have called for independent advice. Our Government is choosing to do the right thing.

“Under the helm of chief executive Andrew McKenzie, Housing NZ is a very different organisation. It has a new focus on sustaining tenancies, being a compassionate landlord and treating drug addiction as a health issue. This whole sorry saga would not occur under the Housing NZ of today.

“The meth debacle was a systemic failure of government that hurt a lot of people. Our Government is committed to putting this right,” Phil Twyford said.

It was a debacle, and good to see genuine efforts to compensate in part at least.

It is difficult to fathom the National response. Judith Collins:

In Parliament today:

2. Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National—Papakura) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: Is it acceptable for Housing New Zealand tenants to smoke methamphetamine in Housing New Zealand houses?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): Methamphetamine is, of course, illegal and is doing immense damage to communities across New Zealand. Our Government does not condone the smoking of methamphetamine anywhere; however, the member needs to understand the counterfactual: it is not acceptable for the Government—for any Government—to throw tenants and their children on to the street and make them homeless. We recognise that making people homeless does not solve a tenant’s problems or help people overcome addiction; it just moves the problem to somewhere else and makes it worse for the person involved, their family, their children, the community, and the taxpayer.

Hon Judith Collins: Where meth testing showed residues exceeding previous standards, can this meth have gotten into Housing New Zealand houses any way other than smoking or baking meth?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No, but there was no consistent baseline testing done by Housing New Zealand over those years. There is no way of knowing whether the hundreds of people who were made homeless under this policy had any personal responsibility for the contamination of those houses. Frankly, I’m shocked that the member, who used to be a lawyer, would think that that is OK. Is this the modern, compassionate face of the National Party?

Hon Judith Collins: When he said that “800 tenants suffered by … losing their tenancies,” is he saying that these 800 tenants were all wrongfully evicted from Housing New Zealand houses?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: It depends what you mean by “wrongfully evicted”. Clearly, some of the 800 people—and I believe many of those people—had their tenancies terminated and were evicted without natural justice, without proper evidence of the case, on the basis of a bogus scientific standard. All of those people—all of the people who were evicted, bar some for whom the standard of contamination was more than the 15 micrograms per 100 centimetres that Sir Peter Gluckman recommended as a sensible standard—were convicted on the basis of a scientific standard that the previous Government allowed to persist for years on the basis of no scientific evidence that exposure to third-hand contamination posed any kind of health risk to anybody

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: There are many contradictory reports swirling around on this issue, but one that I’ve seen that makes a lot of sense is where, and I quote, “people were unfairly removed. If that’s the case, they should be compensated, and Housing New Zealand management should answer for it.” That’s exactly what today’s report does, and that quote is from Judith Collins.

Hon Judith Collins: Will people who smoked meth in Housing New Zealand houses now be given $2,000 to $3,000 compensation?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The point of the compensation is to compensate people who wrongly had their tenancies terminated and their possessions destroyed and who, in some cases, were made homeless. Those are the people who will receive a payment under the assistance programme.

Hon Judith Collins: Will people who sold meth in Housing New Zealand houses now be given $2,000 to $3,000 compensation?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No.

I have no idea who Collins is trying to appeal to by highlighting a problem that happened under the National-led government.

Simon Bridges joined in as he barked at a number of passing cars today.

Alleging “compensation for meth crooks” is a fairly crooked attack.

Compensation increase for Teina Pora confirmed

The previous government kept resisting approving full compensation for Teina Pora after he was wrongly jailed for 17 years.

One thing the new Government is putting right is approving appropriate compensation.

Newshub: Andrew Little confirms Teina Pora will get extra compensation

“Teina Pora will receive an extra $988,099 as an inflation adjustment, bringing the total compensation package to $3,509,048.42. Additionally, Mr Pora will receive $45,000 in costs from his successful judicial review of the last National Government’s refusal to inflation adjust”.

“Teina Pora was the victim of one of New Zealand’s worst miscarriages of justice. He was robbed of more than two decades of his life, languishing in prison for crimes he did not commit. These were years when Mr Pora could have been working to build his future and his family.”

A fair outcome, after a long period of injustice.

Debate over Pora compensation

The Government has offered Teina Pora $2.5 million compensation for wrongful arrest, conviction and more than twenty years in prison.

Compensation is clearly justified and I certainly don’t think the amount offered is too much. How Pora might use compensation is irrelevant.

Most argument is that it is manifestly inadequate, especially taking inflation into account, while the Government is defending the offer.

Stuff: Teina Pora may challenge $2.5 million compensation offer from Government

Speaking to media in Auckland, Key said it was likely the guidelines would be reviewed in future, but the Government wanted to be “both consistent and fair” to people who had received non-adjusted compensation in the past.

“Lots of things in Parliament aren’t inflation adjusted so if we’re going to make a policy change around inflation adjustment…we may well do that, but if we do we’ll want to do a proper review of the guidelines.”

Key believed Pora’s lawyers could seek a judicial review of the decision, and said Pora “absolutely deserves compensation”.

“I think the whole thing has been a very tragic set of circumstances and no amount of money can compensate Teina Pora for spending the better part of 20 years in prison.”

But…

Teina Pora’s legal team may challenge a $2.5 million compensation offer from the Government after he spent 21 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

A statement from Pora’s team said their client had been asked to accept or decline the Government’s offer in full.

“We think that is unfair…Mr Pora is under immense pressure of finances and emotion…the decision whether to challenge this aspect is complex and will take time to reach.”

The statement said the team had written to Justice Minister Amy Adams asking her to change the terms of the compensation offer, so Pora could accept it while still challenging the inflation decision.

The Government may consider this.

In a statement, Adams said she was “more than happy” to consider the request, and had asked for advice on the issue.

“It is important to note that the compensation offer is not in any way time bound,” she said.

One obvious problem with all this is that the already extensive time and money spent on securing Pora’s release and proving his innocence beyond reasonable doubt and getting a compensation offer will continue at a much higher rate of inflation than will be applied to the compensation offer.

Teina Pora payout

It is being widely reported that an announcement is due today of a $2 million payout to Teina Pora after he spent 21 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of rape and murder..

Stuff: Teina Pora to receive $2 million compensation payout

Teina Pora will receive a record $2 million compensation payout, which was approved by Cabinet this week.

Pora was convicted in 1994 of the 1992 rape and murder of Susan Burdett.

New evidence presented to the Privy Council showed Pora suffered from foetal alcohol syndrome that made his confession, which was key to his original conviction, unsafe. No retrial was ordered.

A spokesman for Justice Minister Amy Adams said an announcement regarding Pora’s compensation was due tomorrow.

Adams announced in June last year that Pora’s compensation claim would be reviewed by retired High Court judge Rodney Hansen.

Cabinet guidelines set a base figure of about $100,000 compensation per year of wrongful incarceration.

Two million dollars sounds a lot but 21 years is also a lot.

It’s understood the mood in Cabinet was that the compensation was well deserved.

Pora was in prison from when he was 17 to when he was 38. That’s a major chunk of his life behind bars.

I wouldn’t call it ‘deserved’, it wasn’t something Pora earned, he will get it as compensation for wrong done to him.

Justice Minister reignites de Bain debate

Minister of Justice has announced that Cabinet will start from scratch in investigating whether David Bain will be compensated for being imprisoned or not.

This will please all those who relish an excuse to debate the merits of the case.

Press release:

CABINET TO TAKE FRESH LOOK AT BAIN CASE

The Government has agreed to set aside all previous advice relating to David Bain’s compensation claim and conduct a fresh inquiry, Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced.

In November 2011, former Canadian Supreme Court judge Justice Ian Binnie was appointed to provide advice on the claim. He completed his report in August 2012.

After being made aware of concerns raised about Justice Binnie’s report and receiving advice from the Solicitor-General, the then Justice Minister Judith Collins decided to seek a peer review by former High Court judge Dr Robert Fisher. Dr Fisher found that Justice Binnie’s report contained a number of errors and was, therefore, unsafe to rely on.

“Given these events, it’s my view that Cabinet doesn’t have the information in front of it on which it could reasonably reach a decision,” says Ms Adams.

“For that reason, the advice of both Justice Binnie and Dr Fisher will be set aside and I will appoint a new inquirer to conduct a fresh inquiry into Mr Bain’s claim.”

Ms Adams says it’s important that the final decision on Mr Bain’s claim is durable and withstands the close scrutiny the case attracts.

“The New Zealand public rightly expects the Government to make a decision with the full set of facts and reliable advice in front of them. A fresh look will safeguard the integrity of the process and reassure the public that Cabinet will act on the best advice available,” says Ms Adams.

“Despite the further delay, conducting a fresh inquiry is the best approach in the circumstances and enables Mr Bain’s claim to be progressed on a proper and robust basis.”

Mr Bain’s claim for compensation falls outside existing Cabinet guidelines because when his conviction was quashed, a retrial was ordered. However, Cabinet has also reserved a residual discretion to consider claims outside the guidelines in “extraordinary circumstances … where this is in the interests of justice”. To satisfy the test for the payment of compensation that applies in his case, Mr Bain will need to prove his innocence on the balance of probabilities and be able to satisfy Cabinet that the circumstances are sufficiently extraordinary that it would be in the interests of justice for compensation to be paid.

“I have notified Mr Bain’s representatives of Cabinet’s decision and I understand they are comfortable with the process. All parties have agreed to draw a line under what’s happened and move forward in a constructive manner,” says Ms Adams.

Ms Adams will now seek advice on an appropriate inquirer and develop their terms of reference. There will be a further announcement in due course.

Related Documents

Bain given new hope for compensation

David Bain has been given some hope of getting his compensation claim considered. He had previously hit a l;egal brick wall in Judith Collins but the new Justice Minister Amy Adams seems prepared to deal with it,

Stuff: Bain has a fresh chance for compensation

David Bain has been given fresh hope in his fight for compensation after court wranglings came to an end.

The Government and Bain’s lawyers have agreed to end judicial review proceedings over a report that suggested he was innocent of the murder of his family.

It means the decision to award him compensation for wrongful conviction and for the 13 years he spent behind bars will go back before Cabinet ministers.

Justice Minister Amy Adams announced the move this afternoon.

“This discontinuance does not resolve Mr Bain’s underlying compensation claim, just the separate judicial review process,” she said.

“I plan to discuss next steps with my Cabinet colleagues over the coming weeks. 

“While the details of the agreement are confidential, I can confirm that there was no contribution made towards Mr Bain’s compensation claim as part of this discontinuance.”

Bain’s bid for redress stalled in early 2013 after a row over a report commissioned by then justice minister Judith Collins.

Written by retired Canadian judge Justice Ian Binnie, it found that Bain was innocent of the murder of his parents, brother and two sisters “on the balance of probabilities”.

Collins publicly questioned the findings and ordered a review by High Court judge Robert Fisher. Fisher pointed to errors in Binnie’s findings.

Bain’s legal team took the matter to the High Court and asked for a judicial review.

And they now seem to be making some progress.

I don’t have an opinion on whether Bain deserves compensation.

I’m not neutral on the Bain murders, but I’m uncertain. There doesn’t seem to be compeling evidence either way. And from what I’ve seen some evidence points one way and other evidence points another.

The fact is that legally Bain has been acquitted. And he’s trying to get financial redress.

If he is innocent (and that’s a distinct possibility) then he has a crap twenty years, having had the rest of his family killed or topped, copping all the blame and being locked away for years.

If he killed his family (and that’s also still a possibility) he has either got a massive cheel seeking compensation.

Or he’s been swept up in the Karam campaign and doesn’t know how to tell them to leave it now he’s at least out of prison.

I’m sure others will have views on this, many feel strongly one way or the other.

Cunliffe “mind-bending commercial ignorance”

Lawyer Alex Masterly comments on David Cunliffe’s promise to get corporates to pay compensation to Pike River families.

Mr Cunliffe’s comments are astonishing. They display mind-bending commercial ignorance. He really needs to read a case called Fitzgerald v Muldoon which talks about the powers of Prime Ministers.

Statements like these which attack the essential basis for commerce in this country will make foreign investment avoid New Zealand.

How he proposes to get shareholders to meet a moral obligation is beyond me. I didn’t know owning shares imposed a moral obligation on an owner.

Assuming the worst comes to the worst and Mr Cunliffe becomes PM, how will he have dinner with the shareholders which range from small retail investors to entities like the NZ Superfund, ACC NZOG and offshore investment companies. Is he going to pick and choose or will he simply book out the cake tin for dinner for all.

If a Cunliffe Government thought it had a moral obligation to pay Pike River compensation would they also apply this moral standard to the Panmure RSA victims? The Christchurch Earthquake victims? Any victims killed at work?

Cunliffe on Pike River compensation

David Cunliffe raised hopes and eyebrows with his offer to pay compensation to Pike River survivors and families, some of whom applauded him but others were not impressed with him politicising a day of remembrance and grieving.

3 News – Political mileage in Pike River promise:

While the Pike River families grieved today, there was a political promise from Labour leader David Cunliffe.

Mr Cunliffe said he would make sure they received compensation if his party won the general election next year.

National said it was a legal issue, and doesn’t want to set a precedent for compensation payouts in other cases.

But Mr Cunliffe said once a Labour Government paid up, it would put the pressure on NZ Oil and Gas to get it back, despite 99 percent of shareholders voting against paying the compensation.

Duncan Garner interviewed Cunliffe on RadioLive.

Garner: David Cunliffe is the Labour leader who has today promised to pay the 3.4 million dollars of compensation that NZ Oil and Gas refused to do and of course the Government has turned down the families as well. Is this a cynical election bribe from David Cunliffe on this very important day for the families, is it a hijacking of this very important day, is it poor taste? David Cunliffe, why of all days did you choose to announce this today?

Cunliffe: Because it’s the right thing to do, because we’ve been in dialogue with the families and their representatives of Pike River miners and because they are in urgent need of assistance, and we can’t believe frankly that the Government is dodging what we believe is a clear moral and ethical duty to see them right.

Garner: Is it the Government’s job to be paying this compensation, or is it the job of the investor companies that were involved in Pike River Coal?

Cunliffe: It’s both. It’s both because the Commission found the Department of Labour was co-culpable, it was guilty of not closing the mine down when it was clearly in breach of the most basic safety standards. So the regulator failed in it’s duty of care. So the Government is partly responsible.

Secondly, three crown entities, ACC, the NZ Superannuation Fund and Solid Energy all either are currently own the mine or own shares in NZ Oil and Gas which is the parent of Pike River Coal, and they voted against Oil and Gas paying the compensation that the families were owed, that the court ordered.

The Commission ordered Pike River Coal to pay compensation, they didn’t ask the Government or Crown entities to pay.

Cunliffe: Whether you go the corporate route or whether you go the Government route the Government has a role to play, and of course having underwritten the 3.4 million, we will recover it, from the corporates who received tens of millions of dollars of insurance money, and gave none of it to the families.

Garner: So you’ll take them to court, you’ll take them to court to track down the money?

Cunliffe: Honestly Duncan I don’t think, I don’t think if the Prime Minister calls and says we’d really like you to think about this, I don’t think it’s going to end up in a court case, cause if they look in the Prime Minister’s eyes and see that he’s serious, it wouldn’t be smart for them to go down that route.

Garner: So you would ring them up and threaten them as Prime Minister?

Cunliffe: …we’re talking about a trivial amounts of money, trivial amounts of money in the scheme of things and I would say to them “Hey fellas, there’s two ways we can do this, the easy way or the hard way. Which would you prefer?”

Garner: So you would ring up as Prime Minister of the day, and say if you don’t it we’ll take you to court? That’s a threat, that’s a blackmail isn’t it?

Cunliffe: No it’s not. It’s standing up for the rights of hardworking New Zealand families who’ve sadly and tragically lost their breadwinners, and I am frankly revolted by the fact the corporate New Zealand has, ah, walked away from these families.

Now to be fair NZ Oil & Gas have made contributions in other ways, they have underwritten closing part of the mine, and ACC has made some small payouts to families, I’m trying to be fair about that, but there is a huge gap and it’s just not appropriate.

So look, we will pay the Government’s share…

Garner: Is it appropriate for the Prime Minister, is it appropriate for the Prime Minister of the day, and you’ve been very critical of the current Prime Minister for the way he dealed with Sky City behind closed doors, is it appropriate for the Prime Minister of the day, let’s say it’s you, to make phone calls to these corporates and say “If you don’t pay up we’ll see you in court”. Because that’s what you’re saying.

Cunliffe: I’m not necessarily saying “see you in court”, but I’m happy to be perfectly open about it, there’s nothing behind closed doors. And besides which, the big difference between John Key and me, is I’m going in to bat for the little guy, he goes to bat for the big end of town, his deals are sweet deals for the big corporates.

My deals are to get fair compensation for the fatherless children of Pike River. I think the public can tell the difference.

Garner: Corporate manslaughter, would you bring that on to the statute, would you bring that onto the books to hold some of these people to account and send them to jail if found guilty of gross negligence, would you do it or not?

Cunliffe: Yes we would. Andrew Little has a Member’s Bill which is looking at bringing in corporate manslaughter, I’m not the legal beagle who knows all the details on this…

He’s also not the legal beagle that knows the details about having the Prime Minister involved in trying to get compensation paid with a threat of court action.

…but it is our intention to make sure that the most egregious cases of corporate responsibility and resulting in death are brought into the legal net in some way shape or form.

Garner: Because it’s interesting isn’t it, when you say if you look at the engineer who faked the certificate around the CCT building, 115 people died in that building, he’s not ikn jail, should that person be in jail?

Cunliffe: Well I hate to comment on individual cases when I don’t know all the facts of the case, I’m not a judge…

But he would intervene on Pike River compensation to try and avoid the court dealing with it on Pike River.

…but if somebody is guilty of extreme negligence and it results in death, particularly the death of a large number of people as in that case, if there is clear culpability, I cannot see why there should not be a criminal sanction of that nature.

If you get drunk and rive your car over the wrong side of the line and you kill someone by running into them you are guilty of a criminal offence. If you are asleep at the wheel driving a building that falls on a whole lot of people and kills them and you are grossly negligent and you’ve contributed markedly to their death, I think a criminal sanction should be in scope.

So yeah, perhaps, if. It is potentially a very difficult thing to draw legal lines on.

Garner: David, I appreciate your time, David Cunliffe, Labour Leader. Wow, he makes quite a difference doesn’t he to the former leader David Shearer. He is writing out some big cheques that I hope for the sake of the families his body can cash.

Big promises, promises, promises, every week come from David Cunliffe. You do have a real choice though after the next election, you have the choice of a government, this current government who says no to compensation to the Pike River families.

And David Cunliffe who has today politicised, I think we can fairly say politicised, the three year commemoration, the anniversary of the deaths with an announcement today that Labour will pay 3.4 million dollars in compensation.

And the Prime Minister of the day, that being David Cunliffe, would ring up the companies and say “Pay up”. He’d threaten them as Prime Minister.

This may raise some legal and political eyebrows, but it’s easy to see why it would be applauded by some of the potential recipients.

And many on the left will also applaud, those who think that if a cause sounds worthy enough then any means is justified.