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News Worthy - 30 June 2006

News Worthy

30 June 2006 - No. 77

Nemo tenetur seipsum accusare

The understandable public anger at the reluctance of the family members of the 3 month old twins killed 18 June 2006 to assist the Police in their inquiries obscures a key element o four justice system. That is the right enshrined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 not to be compelled to confess guilt.

It was not always so.

Peine forte et dure (Law French for "long and forceful punishment") was a method of torture formerly used in the common law legal system, where a defendant who refused to plead ("stood mute") would be subjected to having heavier and heavier stones placed upon his or her chest until a plea was entered, or as the weight of the stones on the chest became too great for the victim to breathe, suffocation would occur.

Auckland Regional Council – a hoarder and a looter

It is no surprise that the politics of the Auckland region are dysfunctional when the Auckland Regional Council engages in game playing which is in no way calculated to advance the interests of the region.

We have seen the Council commit itself to the hoarding of capital rather than releasing funds for critically needed infrastructure works. Now we see a plan to go behind the backs of the territorial local authorities and snatch the asset which is Watercare Services Limited.

That company provides bulk water to the territorial local authorities to supply consumers in the region. So for example, Watercare sells water to Metrowater Limited, a subsidiary of the Auckland City Council.

What has now emerged as a result of disclosure of material under the Official Information Act by the Minister of Local Government is that on 15 March 2006 the Office of the Minister recorded a note:

Ownership of Watercare
The Minister has been approached by the Auckland Regional Council to take over the ownership of Watercare. It wants to use Watercare dividends/surpluses to help pay for regional stormwater diverted to public transport. For this to be effective the statutory limit on prices would need to be amended.

Watercare may or may not be aware of this proposal. It has not been publicly aired by the ARC.

Quite clearly the ARC has a plan to acquire the asset and sharply increase water prices. What should be happening in my view is for Watercare to remain in community ownership in a vertically integrated model to open the way to lower water prices across the region.

It is wrong in principle to make windfall profits from water sales – any profit should be limited to the costs necessary to maintain and develop the infrastructure.

Auckland local government politicians need to confront this issue which may well provide the ground swell for a review of the activities of the Auckland Regional Council and a growing view that the region would be better served by one city.

Political infighting does nothing to advance the interests of Auckland.

Complacency over terrorist threats

New Zealanders should be seriously concerned about the state of our counter-terrorism preparedness. Labour has failed to fully use the provisions of the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, and this may well have contributed to the ability of September 11-linked Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali to enter and remain in New Zealand.

The Australian and Canadian Governments have designated substantial numbers of terrorists under their terrorism suppression legislation, over and above the United Nations list, but New Zealand has not. Labour’s failure to use the legislation points to a level of complacency that we may all live to regret.

Recent personal injury awards in the US

The Stella Awards (named after one Stella Libeck who in 1992 at the age of 79 spilled hot coffee on herself and then successfully sued McDonalds for $2.9million) are awards to mark the most frivolous, ridiculous, but successful lawsuits in the United States. Here was the fifth place recipient.

19 year old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbour ran over his hand with a Honda Accord.

Mr Truman apparently didn’t notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbour’s hubcaps.

Political Quote of the Week
"Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result." - Winston Churchill - British Prime Minister

Richard Worth

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