National proposal could allow unconvicted ‘extremists’ to own guns

This seems like a contradiction on the National Party stance on firearms – they are talking tough on gangs with guns, but want to make it easier for people with “violent and extremist tendencies” to own guns?

Newsroom: Extremists able to own guns under National’s proposals

The National Party wants to water down a proposal to restrict extremists from obtaining a firearms license.

In a Supplementary Order Paper submitted on the Government’s Arms Legislation Bill, National’s Police spokesperson Brett Hudson proposes that a test for violent and extremist tendencies should only be applied to people who have been “convicted of an offence under the Human Rights Act 1993 or the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 relating to violent, hateful, or extremist speech or behaviour”.

However, Gun Control NZ’s Nik Green says this would allow many extremists to obtain a firearms license, pointing to the fact that no one in New Zealand has been convicted of such an offense under the Human Rights Act.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said Hudson’s SOP was “very concerning. I do not know why the Nats are not supporting this because it takes guns off gangs and it’s much tougher penalties for gun crime.”

Actually in practice (in my experience two years ago) a test for “violent and extremist tendencies” was already being used in firearm license renewal interviews.

So this SOP would looks like it could weaken that.

Greens pushing to end oil and gas exploration

Gareth Hughes has had a low profile as a Green MP for some time, but he is upping his efforts to end oil and gas exploration.

Newsroom:  Greens want Labour to toughen gas ban

A supplementary order paper from Green MP Gareth Hughes threatens to rip the scab off the Government’s contentious ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration.

The Government announced an end to the issuing of exploration permits for offshore oil and gas exploration in April.

The ban did not affect existing permit holders, who were free to continue extracting oil and gas.

But as backlash mounted against the ban, the Government granted a significant concession to exploration companies.

Hughes has used a supplementary order paper (SOP) to try to overturn Woods’ decision. An SOP allows MPs to amend legislation that is currently before the House.

But the proposal has come at an awkward time for the Government.

A perfect storm of catastrophes has exposed just how reliant New Zealand is on gas. Unseasonably cold weather and low water levels at the South Island’s hydro-lakes has meant electricity generators have had to use gas and coal.

Unfortunately, two outages at the Pohokura gas field and essential maintenance on the Maui pipeline has meant New Zealand’s gas resources haven’t been ready to pick up the slack left by depleted hydro-lakes.

This has sent wholesale electricity prices soaring .The average wholesale price for most of October was $300 per MWh. Last October the average was just $102 per MWh.

I use Flick for power. They are usually quite reasonable, but my last two power bills have jumped up, with one over double the previous week ($100 for a week).

Hughes says the loophole means offshore drilling could continue indefinitely, defeating the purpose of the ban. He has called on Labour and New Zealand First to back him.

“The whole point of ending future offshore permits was to ensure a smooth transition away from fossil fuels. To extend existing permits defeats the purpose,” he said.

But due to us being far from reducing our dependence on fossil fuels a reduction in gas recovery risks forcing us to use less clean energy, and forcing us to import more fossil fuels.


Dunne on the TICS Bill

Juha Saarinen (@juhasaarinen) asked on Twitter today:

What is @PeterDunneMP‘s position on the TICS bill, out of curiosity?

That refers to the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill which is associated with the GCSB Bill and is trailing that bill through Parliament. Stuff explains:

The TICS Bill is a companion measure to the Government Communications Security Bureau Bill which would give the GCSB the right to carry out surveillance on New Zealanders.

More technical in nature, the TICS Bill would compel telecommunications firms to provide assistance to the GCSB in intercepting and decrypting customer communications and would force them to follow the spy agency’s instructions on network security.

I put the question to Peter Dunne and he has responded:

The TICs bill is still before a select committee. I have not committed any support beyond its current stage so far, and will not make any decision about its future until it is a little further through the select committee process and I can assess the state it is likely to emerge in.

Details and progress so far:

Dunne’s SOP on GCSB Bill amendments

Peter Dunne’s Supplementary Order Paper is now online detailing his amendments to the GCSB Bill. They put into legalese what has already been announced.

Explanatory note

This Supplementary Order Paper amends the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

The amendments are as follows:

Part 1—Amendments to Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

• clause 6: new section 8C : in new subsection (1) , paragraph (d) is deleted.

Under new section 8C , the Bureau can co – operate with, and provide advice and assistance to, specified agencies and any agency subsequentlyspecified by Order in Council. The paragraph that provides authority tospecify agencies subsequently by Order in Council is deleted. Specifyingany additional agency would therefore need to be done by way of a subsequent amendment to the Act:

• clause 9 : this clause amends the provisions relating to the Bureau’ s annualreport. The amendments require the annual report to contain the following additional information:

• the number of interception warrants and access authorisations issued during the year that the annual report relates to:

• whether advice and assistance has been provided to other agenciesduring the year to which the annual report relates and, if so, the number of instances:

• clause 18: new section 19 : this section specifies the information that is tobe entered in the new register of interception warrants and access authorisations. A new subsection (4) is inserted to require the Director to notifythe Inspector – General of Intelligence and Security if information enteredin the register relates to a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand:

Part 3—Amendments to Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996

• clause 38 : this clause amends section 6, which specifies the functions ofthe Committee. The amendment inserts an additional function of conducting an annual financial review of the performance of an intelligenceand security agency after the responsible Minister has submitted a copy of the agency’ s annual report to the Committee:

• new clause 39AA : this clause amends section 12, subsection (2) of whichprovides that proceedings of the Committee must be held in private unlessthe Committee unanimously resolves otherwise. The amendment insertsnew subsection (2A) , which provides that subsection (2) does not applywhen the Committee is considering an intelligence and security agency’s annual report:

• new clause 41 : this clause inserts new sections 21 to 27 . These newsections provide for a review of the intelligence and security agencies,the legislation governing them, and their oversight legislation. The firstreview must be commenced before 30 June 2015 and, afterwards, reviewsmust be held at intervals not shorter than 5 years and not longer than 7 years.

The Attorney – General is to appoint the reviewers (being 2 persons) andspecify the terms of reference, any procedural matters, and the report – back date.

After completing a review , the reviewers’ report is to be provided to theCommittee, which, after it has considered the report, must present the report to the House of Representatives.

SOP No 308 or Download PDF (160KB)

All related GSCB bill legislation

GCSB bill – what Labour want

Labour have submitted Supplementary Order Paper 305 seeking changes to the three related bills being amended.

3A. The amendment to the Government Communications Security Bureau Act to expire 12 months after it receives the Royal assent

25A. An independent inquiry to report back within 6 months of commencement of the bill.

27A The amendment to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act to expire 12 months after it receives the Royal assent.

37A The amendment to the Intelligence and Security Committee Act to expire 12 months after it receives the Royal assent.

So basically they want an inquiry within 6 months and chuck out all the amendments in 12 months, presumably anticipating recommendations of the inquiry to be enacted by then.

Original Bill: Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill 109-1

Committee Amendments: Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill 109-2

A Supplementary Order Paper detailing Peter Dunne’s amendments is not yet on the Parliament website.


Maori Party on the Alcohol Reform Bill

Te Ururoa Flavell (MP for Waiariki) and the Maori Party are proposing significant amendments to the Alcohol Reform Bill to address alcohol related harm.

Alcohol harm drives Maori Party to propose significant changes to Bill

The Māori Party is proposing significant amendments to address alcohol related harm by making changes to the Alcohol Reform Bill including the restrictions around proximity of liquor stores to schools and tightening up the criteria around trading hours.

“Alcohol is killing up to a thousand New Zealanders each year, and in one third of all crimes the offender had consumed alcohol prior to the offence,” said Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki.

“If these statistics were not enough, then one only needs to look at our young people to know we must do all we can to save lives and keep our families from further harm. Nearly one-fifth of all deaths for males and one-tenth of all deaths for females aged between 20 and 24 are attributable to alcohol misuse,” he adds.

“No matter how you look at it, alcohol harm is a huge issue and it is sapping our communities of their greatest potential.”

“The Māori Party has been speaking out about the ongoing concerns relating to easy access to alcohol. We supported the efforts of the local community in opposing the application of a Cannons Creek  liquor outlet for a licence to sell liquor directly opposite school gates  and have been concerned that in Whanganui alone there have been four stores open up in just over a year.”

“The Maori Party believes that more can be done to prevent the harm which is associated with alcohol misuse and abuse in too many of our homes”.

“Our changes will ensure that alcohol cannot be bought anywhere between the hours of 3am – 10am and includes a ‘lockdown period’ from 1am – 3am for on-licence retailers”

“Our amendments also include provision for the Minister of Health to set a minimum price per unit of alcohol.”

“Our bill will limit the visibility of alcohol advertising and sponsorship in an effort to de-normalise alcohol. This includes grocery stores, where alcohol will need to be kept out of public view.”

“To address the high number of liquor outlets, we will have a sinking lid policy within territorial authorities so that over time we will gradually lessen the number of outlets. To ensure that smaller towns are not left without an outlet, the sinking lid only applies if there is another liquor store within 5km.”

“Finally, we need to give more community input into tackling alcohol harm. We have seen some heroic action taken by local communities right throughout the country, in trying to put in place protections around the sale and purchase of alcohol.  Our bill will make the proximity to a school a criteria for determining liquor licences and ensure Maori representation is included in the membership of the local committees who determine liquor licences.”

Maori Party SOP details:

  • Make the proximity to a school a criteria for determining liquor licenses
  • Local committees to expand by one to accommodate a mana whenua representative
  • Limit the visibility of advertising/product in grocery stores and grocery shops (so they are not visible in the store, but they are able to be sold)
  • Eliminate advertising and sponsorship of alcohol except inside on-licence premises
  • Sinking lid policy on off-licence retailers (liquor stores) within territorial authorities (replacement of existing stores is the only exception and only if there is not another liquor store within 5km)
  • Trading hours: Changed to 10am – 10pm for off-site, 10am – 3am for on-licence premises with a one-way door restriction period from 1am – 3am
  • Minimum price per unit of alcohol sold (which will be set by Minister of Health) – this follows the model proposed in Scotland

Supplementary Order Paper No 81:

Alcohol Reform Bill
Proposed amendments
Te Ururoa Flavell, in Committee, to move the following amendments:

New heading and new clause 43A
After clause 43 (line 20 on page 51), insert:
Minimum price of alcohol

43A Minimum price of alcohol
(1) Alcohol must not be sold or supplied at a price below its minimum
price on any licensed premises.

(2) Where alcohol is supplied together with other products or services
for a single price, subparagraph (1) applies as if the
alcohol were supplied on its own for that price.

(3) The minimum price of alcohol is to be calculated according to
the following formula:
MPU x S x V x 100
MPU is the minimum price per unit (expressed as a decimal)
S is the strength of the alcohol (expressed as a decimal)
V is the volume of alcohol in litres (expressed as a decimal)

(4) The Governor-General may from time to time, on the recommendation
of the Minister, specify by Order in Council the
minimum price per unit for the purposes of subparagraph (3).

(5) For the purposes of subparagraph (3), where—
(a) the alcohol is contained in a bottle or other container;
(b) the bottle of other container is marked or labelled in
accordance with the relevant labelling provisions, the
strength is taken to be the alcoholic strength by volume
as indicated by the mark or label.

(6) The Governor-General may specify by Order in Council, on
the recommendation of the Minister, the enactments which are
relevant labelling provisions for the purposes of subparagraph (5).

The Green Party say “We support all the measures in Te Ururoa’s SOP but haven’t yet looked at what Labour proposes.” (Kevin Hague as spokesperson).

Labour’s loose SOP on minimum prices

Charles Chauvel clarified things a bit on Labour’s SOP on the Alcohol reform Bill but confirmed the open ended ability of ‘the Minister’ to set an unrestricted mimimum price.

A minimum pricing regime could simply target that product, say by providing for a ceiling or cap of say $12 per bottle of wine so that other beverages were not affected. That would still double the price of the cheapest existing wine which can be bought at the moment for $6. Or it could be more complex.

So ‘it could be double’.

Obviously it would need not to create unintended incentives to purchase other products in lieu of cheap wine on which to preload, or to penalize responsible drinkers.

I don’t know how doubling the price of bottles of cheaper wine would not create all sorts of ‘unintended’ incentives and disincentives.

And any increase would penalise responsible drinkers. This sounds like trying to reassure responsible drinkers to their faces – while whacking them in the back pocket.

All this SOP would do is allow price to go into the mix.

With wide ministerial powers, no limitations, and unknown intentions.

Alcohol abuse is a complex and difficult problem to address, but much more effort needs to aim at the problems rather than catching everyone in the crossfire.