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 The Inadequate Response To Sexual Violence Prevention

On combatting sexual violence, the government has finally begun to undo some of the problems that were of its own making. Early in March, ACC launched the Integrated Services for Sensitive Claims scheme – a package aimed at improving the attitudes of ACC staff towards sexual violence victims, and offering them more substantive support.

Hopefully, this will help to reverse the damage done with the insensitive, punitive ACC policy put in place by the incoming Key government in 2009, which in some parts of New Zealand, saw 90 per cent of sexual violence victims being turned away by ACC. More>>

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

"To Help Families Get Ahead": April 1 Changes Kick In

Prime Minister John Key says Paid Parental Leave, the parental tax credit, the minimum wage and Superannuation will increase, while average ACC levies will fall, and more people will be helped in to home ownership... More>>

ALSO:

Climate: Ministers Exclude Emissions From ‘Environment Reporting'

The National Party Government has today revealed that the national environmental report topics for this year will, incredibly, exclude New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, the Green Party said today. More>>

ALSO:

No Retrial: Freedom At Last For Teina Pora

The Māori Party is relieved that the Privy Council has cleared the final legal hurdle for Teina Pora who was wrongfully convicted of murder and sent to prison for 22 years. More>>

ALSO:

Germanwings Crash: Privacy Act Supports Aviation Safeguards In New Zealand

Reports that German privacy laws may have contributed to the Germanwings air crash have prompted New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner to reassure the public that the Privacy Act is no impediment to medical practitioners notifying appropriate authorities to a pilot’s health concerns. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty: Taranaki Iwi Ngāruahine Settles Treaty Claims For $67.5mln

The settlement includes a $13.5 million payment the government made in June 2013, as well as land in the Taranaki region. The settlement also includes four culturally significant sites, the Waipakari Reserve, Te Kohinga Reserve, Te Ngutu o te Manu and Te Poho o Taranaki. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Funeral In Asia, The Northland By-Election, And News Priorities

Supposedly, New Zealand’s destiny lies in Asia, and that was one of Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s rationales for his bungled reforms at MFAT. OK. So, if that’s the case why didn’t Prime Minister John Key attend the state funeral on Sunday of Singapore’s founding leader Lee Kuan Yew? More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf Satire: Not Flag-Waving; Flag-Drowning

The panel choosing the flag options has no visual artists at all. Now, I’ve kerned the odd ligature in my time and I know my recto from my French curve so I thought I’d offer a few suggestions before they get past their depth. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA Reports: Significant Problems In Police Custody

In releasing two reports today, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has highlighted a number of significant problems with the way in which Police deal with people who are detained in Police cells. More>>

ALSO:

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security: Inquiry Into GCSB Pacific Allegations

The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data. More>>

ALSO:

TPPA Investment Leak: "NZ Surrender To US" On Corporates Suing Governments

Professor Jane Kelsey: ‘As anticipated, the deal gives foreign investors from the TPPA countries special rights, and the power to sue the government in private offshore tribunals for massive damages if new laws, or even court decisions, significantly affected their bottom line’. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news