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A Berryman inquiry must reopen blame laws

A Berryman inquiry must reopen blame laws

Wednesday, 20 April 2005

Crime & Justice

Even if a fresh select committee inquiry gets proper compensation for the Berryman’s, the committee will not do a proper job if it stops there. ACT Justice spokesperson Stephen Franks said today.

“To fathom why the Prime Minister, Margaret Wilson and Harry Duynhoven have done nothing to expose and end this scandal we need to understand their dilemma,” Mr Franks said. “I don’t believe they are completely callous. They have supported the laws that now drive fear into every New Zealander involved in an accident instead of remorse.

“The select committee will have to open up the nanny state concept of law. For 20 years the legal industry has been bent on making criminals out of people who mean no harm. Labour Ministers have been into that victim culture boots and all.”

Mr Franks said the Buildings Act, the Resource Management Act, parts of the Crimes Act and the Health and Safety in Employment Act, all create criminal liability for people who intend no harm to others.

“Airline Pilots have been fighting this culture for years and warning that the truth won’t get out when accidents are treated as criminal. If OSH had not been set up to “get someone,” after every accident, the Berryman scandal would never have happened,” Mr Franks said.

“ACT MP Owen Jennings ran into a brick wall defending that system when he campaigned for the Berrymans six years ago. When there is the prospect of punishment as a criminal for every accident, anyone who could be blamed goes to ground.

“Every decent human impulse to say “I’m terribly sorry, what can I do to make amends” is frozen by the lawyer’s icy advice to “say nothing in case it is held against you” while you wait for the formal investigation and court case.

“I don’t believe the Army would have been so determined on a cover up if avoiding embarrassment had been the only motive. Like everyone else in New Zealand they run scared. The blame industry can destroy anyone no matter how good their original intentions.

“It’s time the police were allowed to go back to hunting for people who mean harm to others. We have got more than enough of those to keep them busy. The OSH inspectors should be looking for breaches of regulations not trying to find individuals to bankrupt.

“The committee’s terms of reference will have to be wide enough to go past the first villains,” Mr Franks said.

ENDS

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