Three strikes: A blot on our judicial landscape
Jun 07, 2010
The passing into law of the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill (the three strikes legislation) last week, was a milestone of a kind – it marked the passing into law of arguably the worst piece of criminal justice legislation in New Zealand history.
While the legislation is a shocker, the way in which it was managed through the legislation process is a case study in political manipulation of the democratic process, lending weight to Lord Acton’s famous words, “All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
....National changed its mind, and thus began a manipulation of the legislative process which was more than cheeky – it stunk of arrogance. Once the original Bill was found to be seriously wanting, it was drastically revised. However, only those who had made submissions on the first Bill were permitted to make submissions on the second, and none of them were permitted to appear personally before the Select Committee. Citizens who decided not to make a submission on the original Bill in the belief that it would not succeed, were denied the opportunity to present a view, once the amended Bill acquired some teeth.
Next dirty trick - the Chairperson of the Select Committee denied dissenting Select Committee members, the opportunity to submit a minority report – a long standing parliamentary convention . Dirty trick number three - given the resistance of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General to the Bill (it breached the Bill of Rights), the Bill was transferred from the Justice and Electoral Select Committee to the Law and Order Select Committee, coming under the patronage of the Minister of Corrections and Police, he Hon Judith Collins.