Nick the prick

This is really just appallingly outrageous from ACC Minister Nick Smith.

“If my doctor told me that I was terminally ill and I had 30 days to live, with the ACC rules the way they are, I’d be finding myself a train to throw myself under on the 29th day because my family would be treated so much more generously,” he said.

Smith has subsequently (under orders from John Key, presumably) offered an apology. But this is a Minister out of control.

How can John Key have confidence for Smith to hold the ACC portfolio when Smith says that, if terminally ill, he would throw himself under a train to get his family ACC entitlements? This is Cabinet Minsiter admitting that he would himself rip off ACC.

The reality is that National is proposing to disallow any entitlement to the families of suicide victims – even though their mental state was so deranged that they had no rational perception of what was happening in reality when their lives ended.

That stinks, and is discriminatory in terms of the Bill of Rights Act (i.e discrimination on the grounds of disability).

If Smith’s vile Bill can eventually get the numbers to be introduced to Parliament (and frogblog and The Standard suggest there is a problem there), then I would hope Attorney-General Chris Finlayson will report, as is statutory duty, that it is in breach of the Bill of Rights Act.

But, given that he is a senior National Party Minister, who knows whether he will follow the path of integrity, or Nick Smith’s path of lies, obfuscation, and duplicity.

A challenge for Chris Finlayson, who is one of the few National MPs I still have much respect for.

I would hate to be Chris Finlayson

Attorney General Chris Finlayson is one of the National Party Ministers whom I think is generally a nice guy. He’s not a nasty far right ideologue, and he deals with issues pragmatically and fairly on the basis of his considerable experience as a senior barrister.

So he must have been squirming yesterday, when National rammed a Bill through Parliament that, in his capacity as Attorney General, he opposed.

Finlayson’s report to Parliament as Attorney General on the Parole (Extended Supervision Orders) Amendment Bill is extraordianarily condemnatory of a Bill promoted by his own Party. He states:

… I conclude the new power to impose residential restrictions after 12 months also raises apparent inconsistencies with s 22 Bill of Rights Act as authorising arbitrary detention.

It is not settled whether justification under s 5 is available for either s 22 or s 26. However, it is not necessary to determine that point here, because the apparent objectives of this Bll could be determined in a rights consistent manner.

It would appear to be possible for the imposition of restrictions amounting to long term detention to be achieved in a rights consistent way through the use of the preventive detention regime or through amendment to the Sentencing Act 2003 to allow courts to impose an extended parole period as part of the sentence following conviction for specific offending. This is broadly the scheme that was adopted in Canada.

That this Bill’s objectives could be achieved without contravening the right against arbitrary detention or double jeopardy does not provide justification for these inconsistencies. The state should not detain offenders solely on the basis of preventing future offending, nor should it punish offenders twice for the same offence.

But, despite their own Attorney General’s concerns, the Government rushed this Bill through under urgency and did not even disclose those concerns to other political parties. Keith Locke was rightly concerned.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I believe serious sex offenders should be locked up until the Parole Board is convinced they are not longer a threat.

But I do not think introducing arbitrary detention and double jeopardy into our legal system is the way to go about it in a fair and democratic society, and nor does a senior Cabinet Minister Chris Finlayson.

But he was over-ridden, and the Bill pushed through all stages in an hour under urgency, with no opportunity for Select Committe submissions and hearings. Finlayson must be spewing!

I wonder how long someone with the integrity of Chris Finlayson will be able to tolerate being a senior Minister in this Government. Another Bill will be coming back to the House soon – ACT MP David Garrett’s Three Strikes Bill. Finalyson has already reported that this too is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act (on the basis of disproportionately severe sentencting). It will be interesting to see what he does if the Government endorse it against his opinion.

There have always been scumbags in Parliament who will sacrifice principle to personal aggrandisement, but I don’t count Finlayson among them. For a start, he could earn a lot more outside Government or Parliament than in it, and I also believe he is someone who stands by his principles and has the well-being of all humanity at heart.

So how long will he tolerate being over-ridden by those in the National Party with a desire to appease David Garrett and his redneck bigoted constituency?

Dissent in the Government ranks

Subtitle: Well, who’s an oik then?

ACT Party resident bigot David Garrett has been in the news recently, defending his Three Strikes Bill against Attorney General Chris Finlayson’s report that it is inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act in that it provides for disproportionately severe punishment.

Garrett came up with this little gem a couple of days ago.

“So what?”

“Alter the Bill of Rights Act. We’ve got too hung up on people’s rights.”

Mr Garrett, a former legal adviser to the Sensible Sentencing Trust, said the concerns were not Mr Finlayson’s personally but those of “some oik in Crown Law”.

Chris Finlayson, interviewed in this morning’s New Zealand Herald on his NZ Bill of Rights assessment, says:

Mr Finlayson, a leading lawyer before becoming an MP, said he was prepared to dissent from the advice he received.

“I don’t take the view that I’m some kind of automaton and just sign off on what is given to me. I will examine the matter carefully.”

Oops, big splatters of rotten egg all over Garrett then – the Attorney General in his own Government is an oik!

David GarrettBy the way, has anyone else noticed the resemblence, physical and otherwise, between David Garrett and the late Enoch Powell?Enoch Powell

Hat tip: The Standard