Criminal Cases Review Commission

A surprise inclusion in the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement was under Law and Order:

Establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission

This is very good news. National had refused to do it, saying it wasn’t necessary – as Justice Minister both Judith Collins and Amy Adams refused to consider a review commission.

That was disappointing and perhaps odd given that Review body ‘could save NZ millions’.

Where did this come from? It’s not something NZ First campaigned on as far as I’m aware, and I can’t find it in their policies. But they had issued a media release on it a year ago, in October 2016:

Criminal Cases Review Commission Needed

New Zealand First will establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission as soon as it is in a position to do so, says Justice Spokesperson Denis O’Rourke.

“In too many cases in recent years the safety of convictions for serious crimes have been called into question, and ad hoc associations of supporters of those convicted have sought to find ways of having those cases reviewed.

“This is very difficult and very expensive, and as a result the success of such associations in achieving a review often depends on how much money they raise and how much fuss they can make. That is not the way these matters should be dealt with in a modern and effective justice system.

“The government’s refusal to put a permanent commission in place to review appropriate cases is regrettable and demonstrates a lack of commitment to ensure a just and effective system for review.

Yes, that has been very disappointing.

“The Bain and Teina Pora cases have been the most prominent in recent years, and in April 2015 Brian Rudman in the NZ Herald called for a Commission of Inquiry into the conviction of Peter Ellis in the notorious Christchurch Creche affair. This was also rejected by the government. Currently there are other cases where a review may be justified.

“New Zealand should establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) along the lines of the UK one set up in their Criminal Appeal Act 1995. The twelfth report to the House of Commons on that Commission for the year 2014-15, concluded that “the CCRC is performing reasonably well, with areas for improvement identified” and “the Commission needs to be given the resources and the powers it requires to do perform its job effectively”.

“The report recorded that the CCRC had achieved a 70% success rate of its referrals and recommended additional powers concerning access to official documents and other material and to information held by private bodies, which could assist in investigations. The report also made a major recommendation “that the CCRC take advantage of its unique position and develop a formal system for feeding back into the criminal justice system on the causes of miscarriages of justice”.

“It is therefore obvious that New Zealand could and should use the UK legislation and experience to inform similar legislation for a Criminal Cases Review Commission here. Such a Commission should have the power to investigate cases on its own initiative, or when referred to it by the Attorney-General or by resolution of parliament in response to a petition.

“The Commission would be empowered to refer cases for reconsideration to the Court of Appeal, the grounds for doing so being the same as in section 13 of the UK Act, where the Commission “considers that there is a real possibility that the conviction, verdict, finding or sentence would not be upheld were the reference to be made”.

I posted about it in June last year: Criminal Cases Review Commission

From the New Zealand Police Conduct Association: Criminal Cases Review Commission

Jacinda Ardern supported one as Labour’s Justice Spokesperson in June 2015: Pora case a case to learn from

Conformation that Teina Pora will receive $2.5million from the Crown for more than 20 years of wrongful imprisonment does not fix the flaws in our system that led to this miscarriage of justice, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

“The result today, and the decision by the Privy Council last year to quash Teina Pora’s convictions, came about only after a legal team volunteered thousands of hours to his case.

“Minister Amy Adams claims the end result proves the system worked. That is incorrect. Justice must be timely.

“This case is further proof that we need an Independent Criminal Case Review Commission – a mechanism to look at cases like this, and refer them back to the Appeal Court.

Back in 2013 before he became leader Andrew Little also called for a review commission: Labour calls for body to investigate miscarriages of justice

The Labour Party is calling for an independent review commission to be set up, as further information comes to light suggesting a possible miscarriage of justice in the Teina Pora case.

Labour’s justice spokesperson Andrew Little says information revealed in a TV3 investigation shows police officers had doubts about Pora’s responsibility for the crime.

He says in such cases further investigations need to be carried out by an impartial body.

Mr Little says this country needs a standing commission independent of the police, judiciary or Ministry of Justice to look at instances of miscarriage of justice, along the lines of the United Kingdom’s criminal cases review commision.

He says work looking into setting up a such a body by the previous Labour-led government needs to be continued to ensure public confidence in the justice system.

So the last Labour Government had done preliminary work on setting one up.

It’s curious how this ended up in the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement given that it isn’t listed as an NZ First policy and I can not remember and can find no sign of Winston Peters or NZ First or Labour campaigning on it, but regardless of how it got there it is a welcome inclusion.

 

Climate debate

ndrew BaileyWWF has organised an election climate debate, starting tonight at 7 pm.

We know it’s 100% possible to unlock a safe climate future for all New Zealanders. Climate action is bigger than politics – but it’s election season right now. Will political parties come together to set a course for a 100% renewable energy, zero carbon future? Or will climate action remain a political football?

WWF-New Zealand’s Climate Debate is your chance to find out.

  • What: This election’s big climate debate.
  • When7pm on 19 September

Brought to you in partnership with Oxfam New Zealand and Fossil Free University of Auckland, the Debate is your chance to learn about the parties’ climate policies – and ask your political representatives the questions that matter to you. We already have an exciting mixture of speakers from almost all of New Zealand’s key political parties coming along, just days before the election.

Business journalist Rod Oram will be your MC on the night,asking all the candidates the questions that matter for Aotearoa’s climate future.

Taking part:

  • Megan Woods (Labour),
  • James Shaw (Greens),
  • Carrie Stoddart-Smith (Māori Party),
  • Denis O’Rourke (NZ First),
  • Damien Light (United Future),
  • Teresa Moore (TOP)
  • Andrew Bailey (National)

Youtube was hopeless, but Facebook is working.

NZ First party list announced

Yesterday most media attention was on the leak of Winston Peters’ superannuation overpayment, but they also released their full party list.

The top 20:

  1. Rt Hon Winston Peters
  2. Ron Mark
  3. Tracey Martin
  4. Fletcher Tabuteau
  5. Darroch Ball
  6. Clayton Mitchell
  7. Mark Patterson
  8. Shane Jones
  9. Jenny Marcroft
  10. Mahesh Bindra
  11. Pita Paraone
  12. Ria Bond
  13. Denis O’Rourke
  14. David Wilson
  15. Richard Prosser
  16. Jon Reeves
  17. Stu Husband
  18. Andy Foster
  19. Melanie Mark-Shadbolt
  20. Helen Peterson

NZ First currently have 12 MPs. They got 8.66% party vote in the 2014 election.

Key points:

  • 3 newcomers placed ahead of sitting MPs
  • Shane Jones at 8 (requires NZ First vote of about about 6%)
  • Pita Paraone drops 3 places after stepping aside for Jones in Whangarei
  • Richard Prosser drops from 3 to 15
  • Denis O’Rourke drops from 7 to 13
  • 1 female in the top 8, 3 in the top 15

Barbara Stewart, currently NZ First Whip, is not standing again.

Full NZ First list

Details: Our People (does not include non-MP candidates)

Dictatorial ‘Bilge Rat’ politics

Winston peters has accused John Key of being dictatorial and involved in ‘bilge rat politics’:

PM Stoops To ‘Bilge Rat’ Politics On Auckland Housing

Auckland Council is a victim of the ‘bilge rat’ politics of Prime Minister John Key, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“Mr Key is bullying the council. Fix housing or we put in commissioners. That’s dictatorial. It’s arrogant.

Typically colourful language to attract attention, as Peters is adept at. And Key does appear to be at least a little dictatorial on housing in Auckland.

But is Peters’ accusation a bit pot/kettle? He has been seen as and accused of being dictatorial within the NZ First party.

Little seems to be seen or heard of the other eleven NZ First MPs.

With the party’s rise in prominence in polls and raised chances of NZ First holding a pivotal role in the make up of the next government more exposure of the whole line up of MPs is important. I presume Peters won’t demand all the plum positions in Cabinet for himself and leave all his colleagues out in the cold.

Peters dominates the NZ First presence in Question Time in Parliament.

The most recent questions asked by NZ First MPs:

Peters seems to often ask both NZ First questions when they have two allocated.

I think Peters was not at Parliament in the first two weeks of May so duties were shared around, but with deputy leader Ron Mark ask more questions (four) than the other three combined.

But unless there is an ejection or walkout from the chamber the NZ First MPs other than Peters seem to get little media attention.

So is the media the problem? Are they guilty of focussing too much on headline makers like Peters and ignoring much of what goes on with the other MPs?

A search in Google news for the last week for “Ron Mark” gets two hits but they are press releases at Scoop.

In comparison Labour deputy Annette King features in 12 articles.

Going back a month, excluding press releases, there are a smattering of stories featuring Mark:

Again King has significantly more, about three times as many.

Looking at News releases on the NZ First website it is apparent that a number of NZ First MPs are busy churning out statements.

30/05/16

27/05/16

So seven MPs other than Peters put out press releases non budget day, but that was into a very crowded media market.

26/05/16

25/05/16

24/05/16

23/05/16

22/05/16

21/05/16

20/05/16

Obvious prominence of Peters but quite a few contributions from other NZ First MPs there.

They just don’t make headlines, and seem virtually invisible in the news.

Is this a problem? Or just how things work with list MPs who are not in leading positions?

If this low profile for most NZ First MPs continues the public may not know much about them until they are thrust into a coalition spotlight should they get that opportunity after next year’s election.

I don’t know if Peters is dictatorial in the NZ First caucus or not, but his MP colleagues are working on getting their messages out.

Is the media too dictatorial in what gets put in front of the public?

Are significant media resources pored/poured into trying to find smidgens of connections in a myriad of Panama papers a more worthwhile service to the New Zealand public than informing us about those who may well end up playing a part in running the country in eighteen months?

NZ First versus Parliament again

Parliament resumed today with Question Time and it didn’t take long for New Zealand First MPs to get offside with the Speaker and get thrown out, with Denis O’Rourke being ejected early during Question 8.

Denis O’Rourke: In addition to the four options in the KiwiRail commercial review for 2014—the trimmed network, the separate islands network, the upper North Island network, and exit—will he request consideration of an expansion and improvement option for the whole country; if not, why not?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES: The member may not like the fact, but we have invested nearly $4 billion. That is comparable to what we have invested in the roads of national significance, which he and his mates next to him—the Greens—love to hate so much. We are investing, and we continue to do so with projects that stack up.

Denis O’Rourke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I specifically asked whether the Minister would—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question was so long, it would be very easy for the member to address any part of it. If the member asks a short, sharp question, I can help him get a straight answer. Supplementary question?

Denis O’Rourke: The question was not long—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat immediately. I have ruled. I am giving the member a chance to complete his questioning; if he does not want to, we can easily move to the next one.

Denis O’Rourke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: If it is a fresh point of order, I will hear it. If it is any attempt to relitigate where I have just got to, I will be asking the member to leave.

Denis O’Rourke: I am simply asking: if that question was too long—

Mr SPEAKER: I have dealt with that matter. I am asking Denis O’Rourke to—[Interruption] Denis O’Rourke will leave the Chamber. I gave him an absolute, clear warning. [Interruption] Order! The member will leave.

Denis O’Rourke withdrew from the Chamber.

Whether O’Rourke was hard done by or not by the initial ruling he ignored the Speaker’s ruling and subsequent warning fairly blatantly.

Then followed  leader Winston Peters.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My colleague asked the question: if it was too long, then how would you have phrased it yourself? Now, can I just finish my point of order. I have barely spoken a few words—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member can raise a point of order in line with the Standing Orders and I will hear it, but he had better do it succinctly.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: That is precisely what I am doing. My colleague asked the question—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order—[Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat immediately. This is a point of order, and I want to hear it without any interjection from my right-hand side.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: My colleague asked: if the question was too long, then how would you have phrased it? I think that he was seeking some clarity, because if the question was too long, you would have ruled it out at the very start when he finished asking the question. That is why my colleague was a bit—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I have been relatively lenient in light of the way the—[Interruption] Order! The member is very likely to be leaving the Chamber and joining his colleague. I have been relatively lenient with questions coming from New Zealand First today, but when those members ask a—[Interruption] Order! If the member interjects again while I am on my feet, he will be asked to leave. I have been relatively lenient, but when a question is as long as that, it is very difficult for me to actually decipher the specifics of the question, and, therefore, I ruled that the Minister had addressed the question. Mr O’Rourke took exception to that. I warned him that if he continued to relitigate a decision I had made, then he would be asked to leave the Chamber. He did then immediately relitigate the ruling I made.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: If it is a fresh point of order—[Interruption] Order! No, the member will also resume his seat. I have ruled on that matter. The member is going to raise a fresh point of order, but if I consider in any way that it is an attempt to relitigate the decision I have just made, which the member does not have to like but must accept, I will not hesitate to ask the member also to leave the Chamber.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: First of all, it is a fresh point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: What is it?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: That is why I am raising it. It arises from your comment that you have been lenient on New Zealand First in question time today. As a matter of clarification, could you point out on what occasions and at what time have you been lenient on us?

Mr SPEAKER: That is, effectively, an allegation of bias, and that is a contempt of this House. The Rt Hon Winston Peters will also leave the Chamber. [Interruption] The Rt Hon Winston Peters will immediately leave this Chamber. [Interruption] Order!

Rt Hon Winston Peters withdrew from the Chamber.

David Carter is really struggling to maintain order in the House, and NZ First MPs seem to be intent on making it as hard as possible for him.

Both Speaker and NZ First should work out a way of dealing with this and moving on – if either wants to sort things out.

COntinued aggravation and increasingly open defiance may be seeking attention deliberately but the attention it gives the dysfunctionality of the House provides quite a sad view of Parliament.

Carter is not the strongest of speakers but winding him up and ignoring his warnings is hardly going to achieve much that’s any good for our democratic process.

c

NZ First Nastyism

NZ First have opposed everything about the flag change consideration process. They oppose flag change so they oppose the flag referendums – despite this being contrary to their policy on democratic process.

In the Red Peak debate yesterday NZ First MP Denis O’Rourke took opposition to flag consideration to a new low – a very low low.

O’Rourke likened the Red Peak flag to Nazism. This is gross Nastyism.

First he showed various photos of German sentry boxes from World War 2:

ORourkePillbox

It’s a major stretch claiming that looks like Red Peak.

But it got worse. O’Rourke then showed a concocted symbol from multiple Red Peak flags arranged at various angles. He took this off Twitter where it had been circulated.

ORourkeNastyismThis is disgraceful from a Member of Parliament. O’Rourke is a disgrace displaying current New Zealand flags prominently alongside this sort of despicable contrived symbolism.

Draft transcript of O’Rourke’s speech:

So let us look at this peculiar alternative called the Red Peak. It is angular, gaudy, and in no way representative of New Zealand or our culture. It is suitable as a road danger sign, and it looks very much like a commercial logo. It is virtually the same as that of a commercial Canadian log-hauling company.

More worrying is the similarity with the design of Nazi sentry boxes during World War II . Look at this photograph: this is actually a photograph taken from the Atlantic Wall Open Air Museum in Oostende, Belgium, and in it, that is a Nazi sentry box.

Look at it. Look at the design on the side of it. Look at the fact that it begins with a red peak, with a white peak on top of that which is also identical to the Red Peak flag. Then there is a black peak on top of that, also identical to the Red Peak flag. Only that little bit of blue, in one corner, is missing.

There is an uncanny resemblance, and the sad fact is that the Nazi colours were red, white, and black, as the Red Peak flag is, and those are the colours that dominate the Red Peak flag. Those who doubt, have a look at this photograph, because there is that same sentry box in full colour.

The similarity is absolutely stunning—absolutely stunning. Let us look at that design that I have just shown you, and the Red Peak, side by side. Look at the similarity. Could it be much closer? It could not—it could not be much closer. That is how close the Red Peak design is to a Nazi sentry box design from World War II.

I would like Gareth Hughes to have a good look at it, but he does not want to because he does not want to know the truth.

But people will make mischief of it. This design was obtained tonight from the internet. It was not by New Zealand First—not encouraged by New Zealand First—but by somebody already going on to the internet to say that.

O’Rourke and by association NZ First has not just encouraged this, he has promoted and displayed the nonsense in Parliament.

With simple shapes like red peak it’s possible to juggle bits around and make up all sorts of unrelated images.

That is what people will do with that design because it is absolutely nothing to do with New Zealand’s culture or New Zealand’s people.

We will be ridiculed overseas in exactly this sort of way if New Zealand was to adopt that kind of awful monstrosity of a design for the New Zealand flag. Imagine what the Aussies will say, not to mention the Yanks. What about the British tabloids—they will have absolute field day if we were to adopt a flag like that. I would not blame them.

The national flag of New Zealand must engender respect for our country, not provide a means of ridicule.

Such a nasty Godwin attack on an alternative design while flying the current flag does the opposite of engender respect for O’Rourke and NZ First.

Denis O’Rourke and New Zealand First – this is shameful disgraceful nasty politics.

Full video of his speech:

NZ First Super bill voted down

In a close vote a NZ First bill that would have reduced Superannuation paid to older immigrants – and New Zealanders who had lived overseas – was defeated at it’s first reading in Parliament yesterday.

New Zealand First , Labour, Greens and the Maori Party voted for the bill but National, ACT and UnitedFuture had just enough votes to defeat it.

Grant Robertson (Labour):

These solutions being proposed in here by Denis O’Rourke may not be perfect, and we do have some concerns that we want to air at select committee about whether or not we have got the definition right. We do have concerns that the concept of universality is being called into question by this bill for the first time through the pro rata system. That is a very serious step to take and one that the New Zealand Labour Party is not confident that this bill will achieve in a way that we would want to vote for at the end of the road, but we want to see the issue debated.

Jan Logie (Greens):

The Green Party does not support this bill as it is written. We have some very deep problems with it, but we will support it to going to the select committee to enable a discussion and parliamentary consideration, particularly of section 70 of the Social Security Act .

So while Labour and Greens voted for the bill they has major reservations about aspects of it.

David Seymour (ACT)

You will find that even though it is a lovely idea to at least go forward to select committee and debate section 70 the reason it is so fraught is that there are so many pension schemes that it is simply very, very hard to reconcile the many schemes that there are around the world. With that in mind, this is a bill that is insincere in its commitment. It will not have the effects that we hope for, and for that reason it would not be a good use of the select committee or the House’s time to continue debating this bill through any further stages.

NZ Herald reports: Superannuation bill voted down

A New Zealand First bill that would have reduced the entitlement of older immigrants to a New Zealand pension and would have let superannuitants to receive overseas pensions without penalty was voted down in Parliament tonight after a fiery debate.

The bill, in the name of Denis O’Rourke, proposed a pro rata entitlement based on the length of time a person had lived in New Zealand between the ages of 20 and 65 years.

The bill would have allowed a full pension only to those who had spent less than five years living outside New Zealand between 20 and 65.

The bill would also have allowed superannuitants to collect an overseas pension as well by abolishing section 70 of the Social Security Act, which reduces superannuation by the amount of any overseas pension.

To qualify currently for Government superannuation, a New Zealand resident must have lived in the country for at least 10 years after the age of 20 and at least five years after the age of 50.

The current age of entitlement is 65. It is universal and not-means-tested.

Denis O’Rourke’s opening speech in the debate:

National’s David Bennett’s contentious response where he called the bill and NZ First a disgrace:

All InTheHouse videos of the debate: New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income (Pro Rata Entitlement) Amendment

NZ First’s immigration nightmare

NZ First’s Denis O’Rourke wants us to Turn off the ‘immigration tap’.

An Opposition party is calling for a complete halt to immigration, saying it’s the only way to solve Auckland’s housing shortage.
“There aren’t enough houses for Kiwis in Auckland, let alone for immigrants,” said NZ First MP Denis O’Rourke.
“The Government must boldly bring immigration to a halt or Kiwis will continue to suffer.”

And that would halt economic growth.

“The National Government’s open-door immigration policy is responsible,” said Mr O’Rourke.

It’s irresponsible and patent nonsense claiming we have an ‘open-door immigration policy’. Immigrants must meet strict criteria or fit within limited quotas.

“The Government must turn off the tap on immigration if there’s going to be any hope of rescuing Kiwis from this housing nightmare.”

We could squash immigration and economic prosperity. Or we could sort out availability of land to allow housing growth alongside population growth.

It would be a nightmare if NZ First dictated immigration policy.

Winston Peters et al

Winston Peters is currently in full attack mode. He is trying to destroy the political career of Peter Dunne, and he is trying to demolish the United Future party.

And Peters is also trying to bring down our current government.

WinstonPeters

Peters uses any dirty tactics he can get away with, including lying and making accusations that he has no evidence to prove – and he repeatedly makes accusations and assertions he must know are false.

Decency and democracy don’t matter to Peters. Much of his political ambition has been to destroy.

Peter Dunne is on a downer of his own making.

But Peters is a political vulture, an opportunistic vulture. He is trying to put in the boot, scratch out eyes and pour his acidic tongue over it all. He wants victims with incurring maximum damage.

Peters is playing the dirtiest kind of politics, the sort of nasty undemocratic politics that most of the public despise.

It should be recognised that Peters is not doing this on his own.

Some of the media actively assist Peters (although notably John Campbell has started to hold him to account and demand answers – but Peters is very practised in the art of avoiding questions, of avoiding providing any substance to his bluster.

And Peters is on this current rampage with the apparent support of compliant colleagues.

Six other NZ First MPs walked out of Parliament with Peters last week when he put on an attention seeking tantrum.

Six other MPs sit behind Peters in Parliament, supporting his actions. Those MPs are:

  • Barbara Stewart
  • Tracey Martin
  • Andrew Williams
  • Richard Prosser
  • Denis O’Rourke
  • Asenati Lole-Taylor

You can see photos of them all here: http://nzfirst.org.nz/our-mps

How do they justify their support of politics at it’s dirtiest and most destructive? Is this how they want to be seen as MPs?

About a year ago I asked all MPs:

Do you support “gotcha” politics where attacks and accusations are made to try and damage parties and to discredit and potentially end the careers of fellow MPs? Yes/No?

Tracey Martin replied No.

Richard Prosser replied in more detail:

No I don’t support it.

Whilst there are, by definition and indeed of necessity, always going to be
differences of opinion and philosophy in politics, it behoves us as Parliamentarians
to play the ball and not the man (or woman), and to address such differences, and
attempt to influence policy, through reasoned debate and by keeping an open mind,
and above all by having regard to the wishes of the voting public and the best
interests of the nation.

While we may not agree with the views or positions of any particular Member or
Party, it has to be remembered that most MPs enter Parliament with genuinely held
beliefs and with honourable intentions, and we owe it to the future of our
Parliamentary democracy to respect that fact.

Beyond holding Members and Parties to account as regards their current and intended
actions, and their present and past indications of character, we have a duty to be
fair in our dealings, and to conduct our affairs in the dignified manner which the
public has a right to expect.

Best regards

Richard Prosser

Prosser and Martin and the other NZ First MPs are supporting the opposite of this.

Peters has spent a career playing highly questionable politics. Are all the NZ First MPs happy following suit?