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News Worthy - 1 December 2006

News Worthy
1 December 2006 - No. 95

The stadium and the Rugby World Cup – Part 3

The junking of the waterfront site and the apparent commitment of the Government to the Eden Park upgrade represents a retreat from a high-risk proposal.

Design and construction considerations aside, the operational impact on port company activities have driven the decision.

But there is a curiosity. Why is it that a waterfront stadium with a planned capacity of 60,000 seats is a “national” stadium yet the Eden Park upgrade to the same capacity is a “regional” stadium?

Churlishness and pique one suspects from the two Government spokesmen when their preferred proposal was not accepted.

It is all highly reminiscent of the exchange between Humpty Dumpy and Alice, when Humpty Dumpty said:

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”

The Eden Park upgrade will not require special legislation to cut through the strictures of the Resource Management Act but it will likely require amendment to the private statute – The Eden Park Trust Act 1955. In that regard, the Trustees have apparently signaled support for a new trust with eight trustees, six of whom would be Government appointees.

Bakers resist Folic Acid plan for good reason

The sweep of politics is broad.

Currently, in New Zealand, there is no mandatory fortification of foods. Folic acid, and many other vitamins, minerals, etc. are allowed to be added to foods in specified amounts set out in the Food Standards Code.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has recently completed an examination into the possibility of mandatory fortification of breads with folic acid. On 4 October 2006, it released the final assessment report with the decision that bakers and bread manufacturers will be required to fortify bread with folic acid.

The main argument for folic acid fortification is that most people do not get enough folate through food alone (the amount of folate in food varies widely depending on the geographic area where the food was produced).

Pregnant women, and women intending to get pregnant, need a higher amount of folate in their diets that other people, which is important for the growth and development of the foetus. By fortifying common foods with folic acid, the likelihood increases that more people will get the correct amount without having to take an additional dietary supplement.

The epidemiology proves that folate supplementation prevents spinal bifida, the most common type of neural tube defect which affects 70-75 babies born in New Zealand each year.

Interestingly the iodisation of table and cooking salt is not mandatory practice but was a decision made by the manufacturers which was introduced in 1924 as a result of widespread goitre.

The issue is really one about mass medication of food and the desirability of consumer choice.

Miscarriages of justice

The law is changed by Government legislation and more rarely by Bills submitted from Members of Parliament drawn on a regular basis from a ballot.

Recently I lodged in the ballot a Bill to set up a Tribunal to investigate claims of miscarriage of justice and in appropriate cases, award compensation.

In December 2005 the Legal Research Foundation published a study on miscarriages of justice. Miscarriages of justice occur because of a combination of systemic conditions many of which exist in New Zealand. The frequency of miscarriages of justice in New Zealand had been under-estimated.

Direct causes of miscarriages of justice are:

- Mis-identification which internationally is believed to be the most common source of conviction error

- Jailhouse “confession” evidence from prison informants

- Hair and fibre comparisons which have later been shown by DNA testing to have reached incorrect conclusions

The report recommended that the task of identifying miscarriages and putting them forward for reconsideration by the courts should be given to a fully independent and appropriately staffed and resourced authority. The authority should also have responsibility for assessing compensation for wrongful convictions.

So the Bill implements those recommendations.

Political Quote of the Week

“If politicians lived on praise and thanks they’d be forced into some other line of business" – Edward Health – British Prime Minister 1973

Dr Richard Worth

National Party MP


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