Government set to remove our right to silence

No Right Turn blogs about the shabby deals that Simon Power has put together to remove our constitutional freedoms and the basic right to silence:

The government is currently trying to ram through its Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill before Parliament rises in October. But there’s a problem: the bill’s “reforms” – which include undermining the right to silence and the presumption of innocence and abolishing jury trials in almost all cases – are so odious that even the tame dogs in the Maori Party and the loons in ACT won’t vote for them. So, National has been forced to compromise on some aspects of the bill. In particular, the proposal to force pretrial disclosure (which effectively forces defendants to give evidence against themselves by admitting any element of a crime they are not contesting) will be replaced:

[The] new clause would allow the Rules Committee, a panel of legal experts chaired by Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias, to decide if a disclosure regime should be enforced, and if so, how.The committee has responsibility for procedural rules in the court system, and relies on advice from judges, lawyers and other interested parties.

On the one hand, this clause is still odious. The right to silence is absolutely fundamental to a fair trial, and our judges should not have the power to abolish it like this. On the other, its also a fairly obvious fudge, allowing Power to back down without having to admit he’s doing it. And on the third, by passing the buck like this, our MP’s are effectively refusing to do their jobs as legislators. And if they’re going to do that, if they’re happy for judges to effectively make the law on fundamental rights, then lets go the whole way, make the BORA superior law, and give them the power to enforce it by striking down inconsistent laws.

Simon Power has yet again done a shabby and dirty back-room deal with un-accountable list MPs in order to remove some fundamental rights.

My understanding is that the ACT Board has become involved but it appears that there is some sort of secret deal between Heather Roy and Hilary Calvert and Simon Power. This means that ACT will not vote as a party but instead as individual MPs in the vote which is predicted to be tomorrow. It raises an interesting issue where we have unelected List MPs going against the expressed wishes of the party that got them into parliament, as represented by the board. Heather Roy is selling our freedoms for the VSM Bill rescue that Simon Power’s office found for her, highly ironic considering that VSM is meant to be about extending freedoms to students.

This is really an MMP first, the shabbiest of all shabby deals. Yet another reason why we need to Vote for Change.


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  • diabolos

    You were so right Cam – when you used the acronym “FIGJAM” for Simon Power. You are so right as with English’s bruv and his rort … in this case.

    I admire your even handedness in not blaming this on Labour (i do believe some of your commenters would – given half a chance and a couple of more snorts of coke…) but more particularly i admire the fact seriously, that you dont spare even your party of choice. And i am being genuine in that observation.

    This Government – with its cavalier use of urgency and special power behaves as though possessed by the worst aspects of Helen Clarks personality.

    They want to restrict and control the great unwashed – including the unwitting Right Wing utopian day dreamers

    • Alex

      “I admire your even hand­ed­ness in not blam­ing this on Labour (i do believe some of your com­menters would – given half a chance and a cou­ple of more snorts of coke…) but more par­tic­u­larly i admire the fact seri­ously, that you dont spare even your party of choice. And i am being gen­uine in that observation.”

      While I don’t think it’s an entirely correct with every right winger, but one of the key differences between right and left in this country is that the right doesn’t have a problem per se with dissenting voices. Unlike the left who take dissent personally, attack and accuse of disloyalty.

      That said, I wish National would go back to its roots as a broad church and allow more dissent amongst its ranks, like it did with Tom Shand and others (before Winston mucked it up).

  • diabolos

    Cam – I honestly dont think its MMP that causes this – it is the intent of Government. The Key and ACT administration is riddled with hidden agendas. The intent of this right wing Government charade masquerading as Centre/slightly/Right is to disenfranchise – to make life nicer for the corporate world and Johnnieboys rich mates – and other aristocrats as well.

    All the rest of us are in this brave new world – is a new type of serfdom … cleaning toilets and delivering pizzas and flipping burgers for the elite. That may not be true – but inadvertantly thats where it sort of looks to be heading.

    Meantime we blow up a whole heap of fireworks on a Friday night – many millions of dollars. How much benefit could that money have been – if better directed. Just asking?

    If im wrong im wrong – but MMP is not responsible for FIGJAM – and his moves – there is a man called Key that he answers to.

  • Of course, under a majoritarian voting system (FPP, PV, SM most of the time) Simon Power could just pass a law removing fundamental rights, becuase National’s 44.9% of the vote would mean it would have a massive majority in Parliament.

    • Oh that makes it all ok then.

      • No it doesn’t.
        It just means that MMP isn’t at fault.
        Simon Power and the National Government are.

    • Nick K

      Graeme, you know that the dictum of Lord Cooke wouldn’t allow some rights to be removed by parliament, whether the parliament is FPP, PV, SM or Fascist. It doesn’t matter a jot that there are the numbers, some issues are sacrosanct and Power’s name is very apt. He is out of control and the PM needs to intervene.

    • TheBug

      Why do you think that it would result in the law being passed? With every MP answerable to an electorate it is unlikely it would have got to this stage as MPs may be less willing to restrict the rights of their electors if they didn’t have the fallback of unanswerable party list seats.

  • thor42

    This is an *abysmal* move by Power and his cronies.
    This bastard seems to be causing a shitload of mischief lately with his very poorly thought-out legislation.

    • diabolos

      Point is – he cant be doing this in isolation … you cant tell me that Key and the rest of the Politburo dont know what is going on?

  • Dion

    Bloody FIGJAM Power again. The fact that this law will involve the appointment of an “expert panel” shows what side of the house he really belongs on.

    The man is a disgrace – both to his party and to the process that got him into parliament.

    • diabolos

      Which process mate … i understand he is elected – not a product of MMP – the only electoral process im aware of is the process that got NACT into power (no pun intended)

      • Dion

        That wasn’t an anti-MMP rant – I was merely lamenting the fact that the country (arguably) voted for a conservative government and wound up with a liberal, populist wet for a justice minister.

      • diabolos

        Sorry Dion – i realised later i had it wrong. Got so used to the punters here not liking MMP and leaped to the wrong conclusion

  • Libertarianz has always opposed any attempts to remove the right to remain silent:

  • Chris

    This is total fascism on Pooer’s part. No wonder Labour claimed him as being “honest” and having “integrity”. If this is how Labour describe him we know Pooer is an filthy control freak who lacks even the basics on what’s fair in a democratic society. Is Pooer really a lawyer? His behaviour justifies the law school he attended invalidating his LLB. He hasn’t even grasped the basics.

  • Mike Mckee

    This doesn’t bode well for the future as we need Labour in govt like a hole in the head.
    Where do we go if this is/was the intention of National.