Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Social Security Amendment Bill measures lack justification

13 November 2013

Proposed new measures in Social Security Amendment Bill lack justification, may breach international human rights obligations

Proposed amendments to the Social Security Act lack justification and may breach international human rights obligations, the New Zealand Law Society says.

In its submission to the Social Services Committee the Law Society raised concerns over aspects of the Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill.

Under the changes, the spouse or partner of a beneficiary who has committed fraud will be liable for the full amount of money so obtained if they benefited, directly or indirectly, from the fraud knowingly, or ought to have known they were benefitting from the fraud. Proposed section 127A will make it a criminal offence for a spouse or partner to knowingly or recklessly benefit from a beneficiary’s fraud.

The Law Society’s Jeremy Finn says while there is no objection to proper accountability in relationship fraud, the amendment imposes a more stringent "ought to have known" standard on partners of fraudulent beneficiaries compared to those partners of other fraudsters.

“The Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 establishes a carefully considered regime for the recovery of benefits derived directly or indirectly from ‘significant criminal activity’. This proposed departure from the Act should be subject to careful scrutiny. No justification is apparent in the Regulatory Impact Statement for the proposed more stringent standard.”

He adds careful scrutiny is also required for proposed section 127A as there are already laws in place to deal with such actions, and the proposal represents a departure from the general principles of criminal law.

“There exist a number of options to penalise positive acts or intentional omissions by a fraudulent beneficiary's spouse or partner to assist that beneficiary to obtain a benefit or level of benefit by fraud or other offending, to conceal that offending or to launder money received.”

The Law Society’s Joss Opie says the Social Security Act currently gives the Ministry of Social Development discretion to whether welfare debt should be recovered. The Bill proposes to replace that discretion with a duty to take all reasonably practicable steps to recover debt. It also proposes that in some circumstances, MSD’s chief executive may disregard "relevant considerations" when recovering debt, including the effect of recovery on living standards.

This may impact on New Zealand’s compliance with its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. These include an obligation to realise the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living including those on social welfare and their children.

“In the Law Society’s view, there would need to be very compelling justification for welfare debt recovery to take precedence over international human rights obligations and other relevant considerations. Such justification is not evident,” says Mr Opie.

The Law Society says it has been constrained in submitting on the human rights implications of the Bill as a consequence of the apparent redaction of the human rights analyses in the relevant Cabinet papers.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On Andrew Little’s Debut, Mockingjay, And Drunk Texting

John Key’s credibility has taken a hammering this week – at least among the 50% of the electorate who have always had doubts about him on that score.

The other substantial story of the week has been about Andrew Little’s debut as Labour leader, which has received top marks, especially among the 25% of the electorate still voting Labour. According to some reports, the Labour caucus has been ‘in seventh heaven’ about Little’s success this week in taking it to the government in the House. More>>

ALSO:

 
 

Parliament Today:

Gordon Campbell: On Government Arrogance

Right now, National is ramming anti-terrorism measures through Parliament. This legislation will grant the SIS the power to carry out 48 hour bouts of surveillance on anyone without a warrant, and will bestow on government the power to unilaterally revoke anyone’s passports and thus deny them the freedom to travel. More>>

ALSO:

Glenn Inquiry: Report Offers Solutions To Family Violence

The People’s Blueprint unveiled today by Sir Owen Glenn’s independent inquiry into child abuse and domestic violence outlines a new, more cohesive and effective system for reducing New Zealand’s alarmingly high family violence rates. More>>

ALSO:

Environment Commissioner: Changing Climate And Rising Seas - Understanding The Science

A rising sea will be with us for a long time to come – one way or another we will have to adapt. But how high and how fast the water rises will be influenced by the speed at which the world – including New Zealand – reduces greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. More>>

ALSO:

Key Texts With Whale Oil Released: PM Can’t Be Trusted Over Dirty Politics Defence - Greens

John Key’s answers to questions about dirty politics can’t be trusted, after he was forced to admit that he had misled journalists and Parliament about contact with attack blogger Cameron Slater, said the Green Party today.. More>>

ALSO:

Temporary Release Crackdown Continues: Corrections Review Of Phillip Smith Case

“The review by Corrections’ Chief Custodial Officer reveals that the plan for Smith’s series of temporary releases was overly ambitious and misinformed. He’s a highly manipulative and deceptive person who although technically eligible, should not have been considered for temporary release." More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news