Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Will Goff Ever Admit Non-Parole Law Blunder?


Will Goff Ever Admit Non-Parole Law Blunder?

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today called on Justice Minister Phil Goff to accept ACT's amendments to the Sentencing ACT, after the Appeal Court described the Act's restrictions on Judges' power to set minimum non-parole periods as `inept drafting' and `something like the Hampton Court maze'.

"The same day the Court condemned his contorted and obscure section 86, I received a letter from him saying `Section 86 provides a very clear mechanism by which the sentencing judge can communicate sentencing principles, such as denunciation and deterrence'. It is fun to see a Minister exposed as incompetent, but the consequences are serious," Mr Franks said.

"Judges must watch nine-year sentences made into three-year nonsenses by parole. They cannot set minimum non-parole periods if the crimes are `not out of the ordinary' for their kind. Uncertainties discredit the law and contribute to criminals' view that there are hundreds of technicalities awaiting their lawyers use to get them out early. Hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted in legal aid and appeals would be better-used catching criminals or keeping them locked up.

"All because a Minister is too proud to accept what ACT and the courts have been telling him since his Sentencing Act went through, or too determined to ensure that the courts can not circumvent his scheme to look tough by increasing a few headline sentences, while opening the prison back door to nearly every criminal at one third of the sentence.

"Last September I tried to make it easy for Mr Goff - by doing the drafting for him, and undertaking to support him in a rapid repair. I circulated a fix-up Bill to every party. It was prompted by Justice Salmon's initial view that he could not give Haden Brown a non-parole period for bashing his mother into permanent care.

"Mr Goff did not accept. I concluded it was because the obscurity is deliberate. He had deliberately tried to remove judges' power to fix non-parole so they could not upset his scheme to let prisoners apply for parole at one third of the sentence. It was only after an uproar at a Sensible Sentencing Trust meeting when crime victims castigated Labour's Rick Barker, that the Minister consented to an amendment to allow judges to fix a non-parole period. But it was half-hearted. They can require only up to two thirds of the sentence, or 10 years - whichever is less - and only where the crime is `out of the ordinary'.

"I even offered my Bill to United Future and NZ First for members who might be looking for a useful `law and order' Bill to put in the members' ballot. I hoped they would help fix this bungle immediately. I feared then Mr Goff would rather let the courts struggle than admit his law was bad. It is sickening that he still will not allow judges to fix non-parole periods that do justice, and the Appeal Court must describe his law as `inept'," Mr Franks said.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Oprah as a Presidential Hopeful

Oprah for President…That was one of those summer silly season stories, right ? Maybe not.

On the morning after the Golden Globes Awards ceremony where she delivered That Speech (“I want all the girls watching here now to know that a new day is on the horizon!”) a lot of people seem to have woken up in the cold light of day with a vision of President Winfrey still dancing in their heads.

Oprah’s presidential run may have legs…More


 

Gordon Campbell: On Jim Anderton
For anyone born after 1975, it is hard to grasp just how important a figure Jim Anderton was, for an entire generation.
During the mid to late 1980s, Anderton was the only significant public figure of resistance to the Labour government’s headlong embrace of Thatcherism...More>>

ALSO:


Gong Time: New Year's Honours List

Jacinda Ardern today congratulated the 179 New Zealanders named on the 2018 New Year’s Honours List.

“Although this list was compiled and completed by the last government, it is a pleasure to welcome in the New Year by recognising exceptional New Zealanders,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“As an Aunty, I love reading books to my nieces, so it’s lovely to congratulate Joy Cowley, who is made a member of the Order of New Zealand today....More
Full list


Roads: National launches bid to save highway projects

The National Party has launched a series of petitions aimed at saving regional highway projects at risk because of the Government’s obsession with Auckland trams…More>>

ALSO:


Medical Cannabis: Bill Introduced to “ease suffering”

Health Minister Dr David Clark says making medicinal cannabis more readily available will help relieve the suffering of people who are dying in pain More>>

ALSO:

Campbell: On The Quest For Zero Net Carbon Emissions
Some would querulously ask, zero net carbon emissions by 2050 – while others would say, why not?
More>>

ALSO:

CPAG Report: The Further Fraying Of The Welfare Safety Net

New Zealand’s welfare system has undergone a major transformation during the past three decades. This process has seriously thwarted the original intent of the system, which was to provide a decent standard of living for all New Zealanders in times of need... More>>

ALSO:


 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages