Goff Waters Down Clean Slate Bill
Green MP Nandor Tanczos has welcomed the long-awaited introduction of Phil Goff's Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Bill last night, saying it would allow progress to finally be made on his original Clean Slate Bill.
"I am frustrated that the Government held up submissions on my bill for nine months while we waited for them to draft their own version," said Nandor. "Finally the public will get to have a say on this widely supported idea".
Nandor called on the public to actively support his Clean Slate Bill after the Government's version watered down some of its provisions.
Nandor's bill allowed minor criminal convictions that received less that six months in prison or a fine of less than $2000 to be wiped after seven years of no re-offending. Labour's effort excludes all custodial sentences, regardless of length.
Nandor said there were a number of custodial sentences that should be covered by Clean Slate legislation and he was disappointed that Phil Goff, who originally suggested the legislation should cover custodial sentences of up to three months, no longer appeared to share that view.
For example, a person can be sentenced to one year in jail for stealing an item worth between $10 and $40, or up to three months for stealing an item worth up to $10. In 1998, 294 people received jail sentences of less than six months for theft.
In 1998 1,533 people were convicted of trespass for which the maximum sentence is three months in jail.
Nandor said that, while most people would not go to jail for such minor crimes, people should still be able to put minor convictions behind them if they did, and then went clean for the required period of time.
Nandor acknowledged that some positive changes had been included in the Minister's Bill, such as allowing certain people to apply to a court if they were not covered by the Bill, and in removing limits on fines.
"However I am disappointed in the process used. Rather than simply writing a new bill, my bill could have been significantly amended in the select committee process. But ultimately the issue is not whose name is on this bill, but what the bill does.
"I urge the public to take the opportunity to support the intent of my original bill by writing submissions supporting it," said Nandor.
Nandor's Clean Slate Bill can be viewed at http://www.greens.org.nz/docs/bills/cleanslate_bill.htm/