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News Worthy - 13 April 2006

News Worthy

13 April 2006 - No. 69

Suppression Orders - "sunlight is the best disinfectant"

Controversy erupted following the acquittal of three police officers on rape allegations brought by Louise Nicholas. Two of the officers have left the force.

The argument centres around the content of suppression orders made at an early stage of the trial. The internet is awash with allegations as to what was in fact suppressed.

It is quite clear that court orders should not be flaunted; otherwise the integrity of the legal system is undermined. In the present case however, it seems scarcely in the interests of justice that the orders should be maintained. Rumours build on gossip as to what is in fact suppressed.

There is a clear principle that the courts do their business in public. That principle is narrowed by an exception that the court can grant name suppression of accused persons. Although it is said that the discretion is sparingly exercised name suppression has tended to go to the rich and powerful.

I have argued that we should amend the law so that suppression is not available for persons accused of crimes. The argument reflects principles of transparency and openness in the court process. Suppression would be limited to the names of victims.

Clearly difficult issues arise where an accused person has a criminal history. If the law were changed then the fact of that previous conviction could be in the public domain. At the trial an issue might arise as to whether the evidence of that previous conviction could be produced in court. If it were relevant I think it should be. There will be cases where it is not relevant. An illustration might be a person charged with burglary who had a previous drink drive conviction.

My comments have been widely reported - a NewstalkZB link of one of my interviews is:

Capital gains tax on shares unfair

Major tax changes were unveiled by the Government on Tuesday. The Government has hit thousands of New Zealand shareholders with an unfair tax attack through its plans for a capital gains tax on some shares.

Take the case of Guiness Peat Group which has 29,000 New Zealand shareholders. Because GPG is domiciled in the UK, its New Zealand shareholders will be hit by a new 5 per cent capital gains tax even though GPG is listed on the New Zealand sharemarket.

GPG owns substantial assets in many companies in New Zealand, like Tower and Turners & Growers.

Local investors should not be fooled by the 5 per cent cap either. This only applies until they sell the shares and repatriate the money to New Zealand. Then the outstanding capital gains still owing will have to be paid - at the person's marginal tax rate.

It is important that New Zealanders be encouraged to invest and diversify their savings. The Labour Government seems determined on a contrary course.

Penny Whiting - an amazing woman

Penny Whiting is well known to most New Zealanders for her grit and the success of her sailing school based in Auckland. She has taught thousands to sail for many years.

She was an Auckland City Councillor for six years and had a responsibility for the oversight of the zoo operations. She is now chairman of the Zoo Charitable Trust and is determined to establish a centre of conservation medicine.

The centre will provide wildlife health research, laboratory diagnostic services and surgical care of threatened wildlife.

Penny has set about the task of raising of $4.6 million. She has secured all but the last $400,000.

Divided electoral system no way forward - Maori seats should go

The taxpayer is being asked to fund a multi-million dollar campaign by the Electoral Office to get Maori on to the Maori electoral roll.

The crunch question is whether we really want to raise our children in a country that is served by an electoral system that divides, rather than unites us?

It is inexcusable that New Zealanders could be funding a campaign targeted at increasing the Maori roll, rather than targeting increased Maori participation in elections.

Many of the most significant gains made by Maori have been under National Governments. Maori now have unrivalled levels of representation in Parliament.

Political Quote of the Week

"You know, doing what is right is easy. The problem is knowing what is right" - Lyndon B. Johnson - 37th US President

Richard Worth

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