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


Labour calls for sensible approach to murder laws

2000 web site

After delaying consideration of the degrees of murder bill for over two years because of fundamental divisions within its caucus, National's new Minister of Justice now appears determined to rush headlong into a change about which many people within the justice system have severe reservations, Labour justice spokesperson Phil Goff said today.

"What is needed is not to try and define arbitrarily which of three degrees of seriousness a murder falls within, but rather to have in place a sentencing regime which can set much longer minimum sentences for murder when justified by the circumstances of any particular case.

"After years of Labour pressing for change the Government has finally this year, in the Criminal Justice Amendment Act, allowed judges much more scope to apply minimum periods of imprisonment before parole.

"As a first step we should wait the effectiveness of this change in dealing with the worst murders before making further amendments.

"While some of the silliest aspects of the Degrees of Murder Bill have now been taken out by its sponsor there are still negative albeit unintended consequences which would arise from passing the bill.

"In particular the Ministry of Justice has in the past warned that by increasing the complexity of the jury's task, there will be more hung juries where jurors can't agree, greater inconsistency between jury decisions and more appeals. Great Britain trialled a degrees of murder system from 1957 to 1969 before abandoning it.

"The bill does not in fact provide greater flexibility in sentencing murderers but reduces it. There are not simply three degrees of murder but as the British Royal Commission pointed out, "an infinite variety of offences which shade out by degrees from the most atrocious to the most excusable."

"The Criminal Justice Act now allows judges to look at each case on its merits and set a high minimum period before parole can be considered. In the Joseph Thompson trial (for serial rape rather than murder) a minimum period of 25 years was set.

"What is needed is a properly informed debate on the subject. Yet once the National Party has suppressed the advice given by the Ministry of Justice. The minister has every right to disagree with his ministry. However, he owes it to the public and to Parliament to disclose the arguments his ministry has brought forward to allow a fully informed debate to take place.

"There is a real danger of a serious issue being caught up in National Party electioneering rather than the full and considered approach to revising a key area of the criminal law, that is actually needed," Mr Goff said.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Joseph Cederwall: Building a Community Newsroom

The “Scoop 3.0” Transition Plan
There is good reason to believe that a new path and a better future is possible for Scoop in 2019 as a pioneering independent Media company. A combination of new technology, ideas, institutions and business models and a renewed energy and commitment by the Scoop team, means Scoop aims to be at the forefront of the development of this renaissance that we term ‘News 3.0’.

By opening up Scoop’s structure to community ownership and exploring decentralised technology through the blockchain we can ensure the public has a stake in this enterprise and a say in its development. More>>


MP Reportedly In Mental Health Care: Speaker Of The House Seeks Advice

After unleashing a volley of damaging allegations against his former leader, National's Simon Bridges, and his party, Jami-Lee Ross was reportedly taken into mental health care over the weekend. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Jami-Lee Ross (And The New Hobbit Law)

Clearly, Jami-Lee Ross is not waging a normal form of political warfare, with agreed rules of combat and rational cost/benefit calculations.

This is politics-as-terrorism where everything is being sacrificed by the man in the bomb vest in order to remove Simon Bridges as the leader of the National Party. More>>


Film Industry Working Group:

Three Killed: DOC Supporting Family, Colleagues After Helicopter Crash

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is rallying around family and colleagues of the staff who died in a helicopter crash this morning in Wanaka... The helicopter, with two DOC staff on board, was on its way to undertake tahr control in the Haast area when it crashed. More>>


Political Donations: Greens Call For Tighter Anonymity Rules And Public Funding

“It is clear that those vested interests have a tangible influence on the decision making of political parties. This is a threat to democracy and should change.” More>>


Education Amendment Bill Passes: Urgency Sought For Partnership School Treaty Claim

The claim takes issue with the acts and omissions of the Crown in respect of the closure of Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua. More>>


Salvation Army Paper: Call For Public Housing Investment

To meet these future demands the report suggests the government needs to look beyond the private rental market and begin to invest heavily into home-ownership programmes and more public and social housing. More>>


Cull: Himalayan Tahr Control Operation Proceeding

“The target of controlling 10,000 Himalayan tahr over the next eight months remains. The revised plan provides for a staged control operation with increased reporting to the Tahr Liaison Group...” More>>


Health: Petitions To Fund Breast Cancer Drugs

Women marching to Parliament today, to present two petitions calling for Government funding of vital medicines, have 100% support from a coalition representing than 30 breast cancer organisations. More>>





InfoPages News Channels