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

 

Departure Speech: Governor-General’s State Farewell Luncheon

"...Unfortunately I was unable to get to the Antarctic, the Chatham Islands and the Kermadecs. A dicky heart thwarted our travel to the Antarctic; and even though I volunteered to parachute into the Kermadecs to join the Young Blake expedition, time, commitments and officials frustrated my plans to visit the Kermadecs and Chathams." More>>

ALSO:

New Research: Most Homeless People Working Or Studying

“The cost of housing has been rising without corresponding increases in income, whilst the number of state houses per capita has been in decline. Many low-income people are missing out on housing, whether we recognise them as ‘homeless’ or not. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Traynor: New Offender Info Sharing Plan

“This Bill delivers on that step-change by moving away from name-based records held by individual agencies to a shared, anchor identity based on unalterable information, such as fingerprints and facial recognition. It also gives agencies access to the drivers’ licence photo database and birth, death and marriages information." More>>

  • NZ Law Foundation - New $2M fund for research on information challenges
  • Littoral: New Ship To Deliver Enhanced Naval Capability

    Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Government has approved a Ministry of Defence and New Zealand Defence Force recommendation to request tenders for a new naval ship to support littoral operations. More>>

    July:

    After King's Labour Snub: Māori Party And Kiingitanga To Work Together

    Māori Party Co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox met with Kiingitanga representatives in Wellington yesterday to discuss working together on key issues for the betterment of Māori. More>>

    ALSO:

    Waitangi Claim On Rehabilitation: The 'Justus' System For Māori Not Good Enough

    Closing statements at the Waitangi Tribunal case against Corrections called for immediate steps and a comprehensive review to address the high rate of Māori reoffending. More>>

    ALSO:

    Advice: PM Sets Rules For Ministers' Treatment Of Public Servants

    Prime Minister John Key has laid down the law about the way ministers and public servants should interact, saying ministers may not always like the advice they receive, but they must listen to it carefully, respectfully and professionally. More>>

    Gordon Campbell: On The Funding Changes In Special Needs Education, And Uber

    The plan to strip out the educational support for older “special needs” children in order to meet the existing shortfall in funding for special needs in early childhood education is so miserly and relentlessly stupid as to defy belief… More>>

    SPECIAL EDUCATION (& More):

    Online Learning Plans:

    Get More From Scoop

     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Politics
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news