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Cyber-bullying Bill Progresses

An attempt to send a cyber-bullying bill back to select committee failed tonight and it completed its second reading.

When debate on the second reading of the Harmful Digital Communications Bill began NZ First’s Tracey Martin moved it be sent back to select committee for further consideration. This was defeated 63 by 57 by with National, Maori Party, ACT and United Future opposed

Justice Minister Amy Adams said bullying was not a new problem but the internet had changed its scope, through email, social media and other forms.

Cyber-bullying was pervasive, persistent and Ms Adams highlighted the Roast Busters case where victims were revictimised through social media postings.

She said it was wrong for political parties to rail against such behaviour and now seek to delay legislation which would create law to punish such bullying. The bill’s critics were wrong in saying it would criminalise children as those under 14 would be dealt with as minors

Labour’s Clare Curran said cyber-bullying was a scourge and while Labour supported the intent of the bill to give victims quick redress, but it did not do that and was full of holes. The bill’s passage was hurried through select committee and Opposition MPs were blocked from getting more information on the bill.

The bill was punitive and would criminalise people without educating them first, she said.

Ms Curran said if the bill progressed to committee stage, Labour would work with the Government to make amendments then.

Ms Martin told the House she was concerned about criminalising children but was willing to talk to the Government about this.

The bill completed its second reading by 77 to 43 with National, Greens, Maori, ACT and United Future in favour.

The House then rose just before 10pm by leave.

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