Power in the darkness

Seems it’s the week for political gaffes. First we had Labour Leader Phil Goff proposing that the unemployment benefit should, at least temporarily, be exempted from abatement because of the unemployed person’s spouse’s income.

Now, I actually back Goff’s idea – I’d go even further, and suggest that it shouldn’t just be for the recession if we’re genuine about opposing discrimination on the basis of marital status.

But to use Bruce Burgess, whom it was later revealed owned two investment properties, as his poster boy to back his proposal is just plain dumb. It opened him, and what I believe to be a sound policy proposal, up to ridicule which he duly received even from his own backers.

Then, to top off the week, we see National’s Justice Minister Simon Power proposing a major reform to stop the sexual history of rape-case complainants being brought into evidence.

The problem for Simon Power is that it hasn’t been able to be admitted as evidence for over 20 years. Former Auckland District Law Society President and senior barrister Gary Gotlieb responded:

I’m just gobsmacked that we’ve got a lawyer who is Minister of Justice who has got no idea what the law is. How much confidence does that give you in our politicians who are making law and don’t know what the law is.

Power subsequently attempted to defend his speech by stating:

But this relates to sexual history with people other than the accused. Mr Power said currently the previous sexual relationship between the complainant and the accused does not need the judge’s agreement before being brought up in court.

I don’t believe that explanation for a minute. Like Goff, Power was caught out trying to get the big media hit without doing his homework.