Smart legal thinking with regard to Teachers’ Council secrecy

Graeme Edgeler has applied some smart thinking to overturning the Teacher’s Council secrecy that protects dodgy teachers…and god knows there are a lot of them.

He has laid a complaint with Parliament’s Regulations Review Committee:

Any member of Parliament can move a motion to amend, or disallow a regulation, but the Regulations Review Committee is empowered to inquire into subordinate legislation, and a successful complaint to that Committee is a good way to get the rest of Parliament to take notice of your concerns. It operates on a more consensual basis than ordinary select committees, but the individual members of the Committee (currently three National and two Labour), have a special power that other members of Parliament don’t have. If one of them moves a motion of disallowance, the House has to vote on it, or the motion succeeds.

Top stuff…the details of his complaint are as follows: 

My complaint is principally concerned with rule 32 of the New Zealand Teachers Council (Conduct) Rules 2004, but also touches upon rules 31 and 33. These rules concern the secrecy of proceedings of the Disciplinary Tribunal of the New Zealand Teachers Council, and in effect, impose blanket suppression on teachers’ disciplinary matters, following the holding of secret hearings. Rule 32(1) provides that

32 Publication of proceedings

(1) Except as provided in subclause (2) or as ordered under rule 33(1)(b), (c), or (d),—

(a) no person may publish any report or account of a hearing; and

(b) no person may publish any part of any document, record, or other information produced at a hearing; and

(c) no person may publish the name, or any particulars of the affairs, of any party or witness at a hearing.

I consider that the rule 32:

  • Involves an unusual or unexpected use of regulation making powers;
  • Contains matters more appropriate for Parliamentary enactment; and
  • Unduly trespasses on freedom of expression.

I recommend that the Committee Investigate the New Zealand Teachers Council (Conduct) Rules 2004, and consider recommending to the House that it either disallow rule 32 under s 5 of the Regulations (Disallowance) Act, or that amend any or all of rules 31-33 under s 5 of the Regulations (Disallowance) Act to better provide for freedom of expression. The Committee may also wish to invite the Teachers Council to adopt its own amendments to avoid the necessity for a more formal response.

Let’s hope the Teacher’s Council and Parliament get this sorted quick smart…otherwise a campaign may have to be mounted.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.