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Robson on Politics: Restorative Justice conference


Robson on Politics: Restorative Justice conference

Although the haka was from nine inmates, the voice of the victim in offending is increasingly being heard. Restorative Justice advocates from throughout New Zealand met near Hastings last weekend. The inmates as part of their programmes have been facing up to what they have done to their victims and how they can remedy the wrongs. Restorative justice is bringing great change to the justice system. It is also ensuring that more and more offenders are looking at ways that they can accept responsibility for their offending, take steps to restore their victims, and change their own lives.

Judge Fred McElrea spoke about the new Sentencing Act opening greater avenues for sentencing plans agreed to by victim and offender. Parole Board member Matt Hakiaha outlined how restorative justice principles in the new Parole Act are helping with determining whether offenders have changed and accepted how they have harmed their victims. And Courts and acting Corrections Minister Margaret Wilson stated that the work begun with the Court restorative justice pilots would continue.

I spoke of what had been achieved, and what can be done in prisons and how to connect to as many communities as possible and deal with the deeper social issues that underlie offending. A challenge was presented to me to incorporate restorative justice practices into the new Corrections Bill and to help with the discussion on national standards for restorative justice. Challenge accepted. There is a restorative justice group near you: email mailto:restore@clear.net.nz or visit the website http://www.restorativejustice.org.nz

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Iraq Richard Prebble claims that our stand on Iraq has made us irrelevant. To whom, I ask? Apparently to the self-appointed guardians of this world - the United States of America and Great Britain. According to Mr Prebble in a recent Herald article, "We have gone from being at the world's decision making table to being just one of the 191 nations of the United Nations." I didn't know we had a claim to preference above and beyond other UN countries. Moreover to be onside with the majority of nations in defence of international law, rather than siding with a few rogue states, seems to be a strong case for relevance. However, if like Act you are in the "might is right" camp, then I suppose being a nation that is a tame poodle for the lawbreakers would constitute being relevant. For my money, I'd rather be advocating a plan for disarmament and democracy of the whole Middle East -- including enforcement of UN resolutions on Palestine and Israel. We are relevant because we are defending a United Nations which cannot be bought, bullied or browbeaten. Act can side with those who wield brute force but remember it was David who won over Goliath. See: www.progressive.org.nz/media/speeches/sp20030318-mr-parliament-iraq.htm

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Industry NZ & Trade NZ integration

In 2000 we established Industry NZ as part of Government's partnership with business and the regions. Now the next step is to provide businesses with a one stop shop for those seeking advice and information on how to develop their enterprises. We are assisting businesses make the most of their opportunities. See: www.beehive.govt.nz/ViewDocument.cfm?DocumentID=16258

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Palestinians and Privileges

Graham Kelly is leaving to be ambassador to Canada and I am taking over from him as the chair of the NZ MP's Palestinian Authority Friendship Group. And I am now chair of the Parliament's Privileges Committee.
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World Cup Cricket

I quietly wagered a small sum on Australia winning the cricket, and collected. Unlike one MP who offered on radio 'a fine bottle of West Auckland red' to anyone willing to bet on NZ making the semi-finals or not. I must ask what that cost him. I'd bet on the Warriors too.
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