Stephen Franks

Organ donor veto review is underway

The government is conducting a review into the law surrounding organ donations and looking at removing the veto of the donor’s family.

This is a sensible review being conducted by Peter Dunne.

The Government is looking at whether families should continue to have the right to overrule the wishes of organ donors.

Currently whilst people can indicate on their drivers licence that they want to be an organ donor, families can overrule the decision.

Organ donor campaigners say the veto is one reason that New Zealand has one of the lowest organ donor rates in the world, although they say it’s very hard to tell just how many deceased organ donations are overruled. There were just 46 deceased organ donations last year.

The Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says he and the Health Minister Jonathan Coleman have launched a review to see if there are ways to lift New Zealand’s poor rate of organ donation.

He says one of the things that will be looked at is the veto rule and whether it is appropriate. He says there are strong arguments for and against it.

He says there is also an argument about the weight that should be placed on the veto, and working out whether it’s the donors wish to donate or the families wish which is paramount in the end.

Read more »

Stephen Franks short but blunt message about our judicial system

I have refrained from entering into the Teina Pora debate until some sensible thoughts emerged.

Stephen Franks is short and blunt, but he is right.

Another embarrassment for our criminal justice system dealt with by  the Privy Council, the world’s best independent  top court.

There will be too much political resistance to admitting a stupid mistake in dumping that inexpensive heritage assurance of judicial objectivity. But the need remains.

We should promptly ask the High Court of Australia to accept our appeals where we need demonstrable assurance that the result will not be influenced by insider defensiveness or local groupthink.

The single worst thing that Helen Clark did, with it appears little actual thinking, was the removal of appeal tot eh Privy Council.   Read more »

Woe betide the Uber City for Wellington, promoted by proven liars

Anyone who thinks the so-called “Uber City” for the Wellington region is going to deliver anything like that which it is hyped to needs a good crack across the bonce with a length of 4×2.

Same goes got he Hawkes Bay.

The name Uber City is a joke too…even if you combined them all they still won’t have the population of South Auckland.

Stephen Franks highlights a problem with the promotors of the Uber City…they are proven liars .

According to Ms Wilde her Council not being allowed to lie in official advertising “could drastically restrict how local bodies operate”. She believes it “poses a real risk to robust political debate”. Putting aside the inconvenient fact that Council advertising should be informative, not political propaganda, it is incredible that there is no media furore over her further defence that seeking the Advertising Standards Authority ruling was “legal nitpicking”.

The DomPost has reported the matter under the heading “Advertising Standards Authority calls GWRC super-city ad ‘misleading’”. Note the implied warnings to ignore – “calls’ instead of “finds” and the word ‘misleading’ in quotes to distance the DomPost from the dreadfully unwelcome judgmentalism implicit in ‘misleading’.

Take a look at the ASA report, ( 15/004) which attaches my firm’s letter setting out the facts. Someone in the GWRC was either too stupid or too reckless to merit staying employed, or set out to deceive. See also the submission on behalf of the GWRC which says essentially that councils should be free from ASA supervision of their advertising, because being constrained to the truth would be problematic.

How do the honest members of the Council feel about this? Will they seek an inquiry into it. Will anyone be held accountable?

Businesses, remember that indifference to honesty, when you next want to shade the truth to GWRC. Its leader thinks that “misleading advertising” which was “not prepared with a due sense of social responsibility” is just robust debate.

In 2008 I blogged on journalistic blind eyes to lies by politicians, compared to their frothing pursuit of easily made mistaken business claims.

“As a commercial lawyer I’m sickened by the left’s sanctimony toward business. Labour love passing laws they could never satisfy in their own conduct. They lie happily, yet business people (properly) face prison or huge fines for faulty prospectus statements.”

I’ve had some journalists and politicians claim that it is because business can lose people so much money. We saw that claim in full lynch mob glory in the media’s repeated whipping of two former Ministers of Justice. They were found by a court to have been honest though mistaken. They’d failed to add enough emphasis to their written warnings of the risks facing Lombard Finance.

The company’s failure (like most mezzanine development finance lenders) had nothing to do with the misleadingly mild warnings. Many commentators wanted them in jail for years, nonetheless.

Read more »

Why business people generally make poor politicians

Stephen Franks has a considered piece about why business people make poor politicians.

Few business people are good at democratic politics. They expect what works in business to work in democracy. They’re frustrated by the messy necessity to maintain a working consensus, by multiple conflicting objectives, and by the unreliability of delegates.

They think that if only the right people were in charge, the best structures and systems would be like those in business, where everyone accepts single prevailing decisions from nominated rulers, and he who pays, rules.

Business people who get embroiled in politics commonly hate it so much they eject before they flame out. Those who survive and learn may be small in number but they are among the best we have, and we owe them a lot for their patience.

Many good business people are equally hopeless in assessing policy. I could not count the number of times I’ve heard the idiocy that the RMA is a good law, with nothing seriously wrong with it except how it is administered by council people who are stupid or wrongly motivated. These business defenders have no idea that they’ve just explained exactly why the RMA is  so badly conceived and written as to besmirch the rule of law.

They’re misled by objectives. In business, if you can get your objectives clear, and set them out for your staff, much of the work is done. But the promoters of all law recite noble objectives, usually purposes we can all agree on.  The key problem in both policy and law-making is the unintended, often the application of law for purposes never thought about.

What distinguishes bad law from good law is simple. Well designed and drafted law works whether or not ‘idiots’ are in charge. It is predictable because it limits what rulers can do. It is very carefully  designed knowing that people of malign intent will try to misuse any law. Frequently they will have power. Good law is drafted by wise sceptics about human nature. It remains predictable in effect despite attempts to distort it.

Read more »

New Zealand’s Silliest Local Government Spending Competition, Ctd

A mare and an ass talk amalgamation

A mare and an ass talk amalgamation

Thanks to a number of eagle eyed readers who have nominated Ray Wallace, Mayor of Lower Hutt, For New Zealand’s Silliest Local Government Spending.

The ratbag mayor of Lower Hutt gets the nomination for the Silliest Local Government Spending Competition.

Ratbag is probably too kind a word to describe him with as he has pissed away $47,000 of ratepayers money trying to stop amalgamation and protect his own job.

Lower Hutt ratepayers have stumped up nearly $47,000 to fund an anti-super-city lobby group fronted by mayor Ray Wallace.   Read more »

Stephen Franks on the lie that is the Religion of Peace

Stephen Franks is a smart man, he has realised that we are in a war and he is now speaking up.

He explores the statements made by defence expert Dr David Kilcullen about the fight against ISIS and what we have to do to combat militant Islam.

Kilcullen highlights the risks from our internal responses (if the West fails to destroy the caliphate’s appeal to its own citizens):

“…if we fail to face the threat where it is today — primarily overseas — we’ll suffer the consequences at home. This isn’t to rehash some Cold War domino theory in which we “fight them there or we’ll fight them here”. It’s just to recognise the reality that a purely isolationist, defensive, policing strategy — protecting ourselves at home rather than seeking to defeat terrorism abroad — ultimately means the end of society as we know it. Mass surveillance, secret police, a national-security state, guards on every gate, a garrison society: that’s what a “defensive” strategy actually entails.”

He seems to be warning against the current mealy-mouthed approach to Islam within our countries, pretending that the conservative Islamic leaders, their schools and their doctrine are part of the solution, instead of recognising that they are fuel for the problem:    Read more »

Stephen Franks lashes a judge for her dodgy 3 strikes ruling

Stephen Franks lambasts a judge over her wonky and dodgy 3 strikes ruling last week.

There has been surprisingly little attention paid to the Court’s decision last Friday not “to order that [a gang murderer] serve a life sentence without parole” despite the judge’s admission that she was “required [by the three strikes law] to order that [he] serve that life sentence without parole” unless it would be manifestly unjust.

She then converted that requirement to find manifest injustice  into the standard pre-three strikes judicial quibbling about disproportionality. With breathtaking ease she slid past a previousmanslaughter to focus on the ‘relatively minor’ nature of the offences that triggered the three strikes law application, managing to take into account also the ’signs that you wish to be more pro-social as noted in the presentence report’ .

She completely turns on its head the law’s intent that offenders get greater certainty about the consequences of offending, noting that the murderer would not have known at the time of the earlier offences of the three strikes certainty.

Judicial naivete at its worst. It is only by applying the law, that offfenders believe that it will be applied. The most clear lesson  from the experience where three strikes certainty was followed by dramatic reductions in offending, was that pitiless certainty finally sent the message to offenders that they could no longer gamble on meeting soft judges and gullible parole boards.

Sensible Sentencing is correct to highlight this judgment in their Judge the Judges website.  But the judge concerned is orthodox.  Judges generally resist punishment as a legitimate and sufficient purpose of sentencing. With Parliamentary sanction they have collectively warped criminal law from doing justice on behalf of victims and the innocent, into a primary role of therapy for the criminological needs of offenders. They do not respect the common sense intuitions of ordinary people. They resent the demand for retributive, incapacitating and deterrent punishment. To them only rehabilitative objectives are truly noble.

Read more »

Something to go to today since the weather is rubbish

image.cover.logo

Could be an interesting meeting this weekend for Aucklanders concerned about the council’s racist Unitary Plan, and trashing of property rights.

Remember when Shane Jones called a stupid digging instrument for corrupt extraction of RMA ransom payments a spade earlier this year.

Of course Labour did not pick up his mere when he left, because it did not fit with the identity politics that was all they had left. Bob Jones seems to have been the next public figure to risk tackling this issue (link). He reminded everyone that thousands of properties were newly vulnerable to iwi discovery of taniwha or other spirits and cultural needs that might need placating with koha.

A group called Democracy Action have called a public meeting in opposition to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

The Plan kowtows to iwi elite and forces the rest of us to pay in cultural impact assessment fees, and lip service to so called spiritual and cultural values (taniwha) just to do things like replacing a window or putting in a pool.  Read more »

Group to take on Len Brown’s taniwha

A group calling themselves Democracy Action has got into gear to take on Len Brown’s requirements for you to go and get a certificate that no Taniwha exist before you make minor alternations to your house (the PC term is “Cultural Impact Assessment”).

Sir Bob Jones wrote about his experience with Cultural Impact Assessments a few weeks back:
Recently, a shop tenancy changed in a modern 17-storey Auckland CBD office building owned by my company. The previous tenant had blocked off some of its window which we now intended putting back to the conventional shop front.

At this stage, sit down with a stiff drink and accept my assurance I’m not making this up.

For we were then informed by a planner my Auckland office uses for council dealings (which can be laborious) that under the new council rules, changes to a building’s appearance require resource consent and we would be subject to penalty if we simply put back the window.

If that’s not outrageously absurd enough, things then became truly Kafkaesque and illustrate why the Government, against ill-considered opposition parties’ objections, wishes to tone down the Resource Management Act.

For we were then told that under the new Draft Unitary Plan, not yet enacted, our building being within 50 metres of a designated Maori heritage site, we needed RMA approval (for a new shop window, for God’s sake), this instantly forthcoming at a cost of $4500 plus the approval of 13 iwi.

The council refused to advise the addresses of these iwi outfits, yet added that without their consent, we can’t put back the window.

According to the DA website: Read more »

Franks on engaging social media

Stephen Franks has written a LONG (but very considered) piece on why not only should lawyers not be afraid from engaging with social media, but arguably they are ethically obliged to, where using effective channels to get a message out there is in the interest of a client.
It’s a bit of a read, but for anyone interested in the media, politics and the law, it is an essential read.

A public voice for clients, and for views of what the law should be, does not shun effective platforms.

We have in the past, do now, and will in the future, write, publish, talk about and promote causes and interests in any medium that seems to us likely to be effective. Of course that includes social media. I have my own blog. I comment on the blog posts of others. Frequently the participation is on issues where I or the firm have a view, and our participation is a pro bono attempt to add expert correction or advice to the public discussion. Sometimes participation promotes the firm. Sometimes it is expressly to advance a client’s cause.

Like most people, we are probably more effective and more energetic on issues where our views coincide with those of the client. With their approval we’ll use as many channels as is practicable to ensure that the client position is communicated to the people who should have the information. We are public advocates. We do not eschew any lawful form of communication.

He then turns to the irony of the NBR reporting asking about using a media resource that calls on accountability and causes some offence.     Read more »