Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Changes needed to make Alcohol Reform Bill more consistent

MEDIA RELEASE – For immediate use, 4 March 2011

Changes needed to make Alcohol Reform Bill more consistent with human rights
Achieving the objectives of the Alcohol Reform Bill in a manner more consistent with human rights and the rule of law is possible by making some amendments to the Bill, the New Zealand Law Society said today.

The Law Society’s concerns include the powers to arrest for an infringement offence and to demand information from individuals in an alcohol ban area. The Bill’s reverse onus provisions – which require people to prove their innocence if charged with a number of alcohol-related offences – are also a concern.

The Law Society submission on the Bill was presented to the Justice and Electoral select committee by the convenor of the Society’s Human Rights and Privacy Committee, Dr Andrew Butler.

Dr Butler said the Bill as currently drafted raised issues about its consistency with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. The Law Society did not comment on the policy issues the Alcohol Reform Bill sought to address, and focused on matters which would improve the certainty, effectiveness and workability of the Bill.

Dr Butler noted that the rights and freedoms protected by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act can be infringed by reasonable limits justified in a free and democratic society. However, he urged the select committee in its report on the Bill to comment on the reasonableness of the Bill’s proposed restrictions on human rights. This would highlight the human rights issues at stake and would improve the quality of the policy analysis.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Dr Butler said the Bill proposed to make the breach of an alcohol ban an infringement offence with the power of arrest. This would make it the first infringement offence to carry a power of arrest. The Law Society believes that setting such a precedent deserves full consideration.

Having an infringement offence that carries a power of arrest means that a person can be arrested for an offence for which they will never receive a term of imprisonment, meaning that the power of arrest is arbitrary.

“The power of arrest should not lightly be used to detain people whose behaviour merely has the potential to escalate,” he said. The Law Society agreed with the Law Commission’s conclusion that there were already ample powers of arrest where behaviour is objectionable.

Giving police officers the power to demand the name and address of people in an alcohol ban area also appeared to be inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act rights to silence, to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and also of freedom of expression.

“The Law Society believes that a less rights-infringing approach would be to require that a constable also reasonably suspects other people to be involved in the offence before they ask for personal information about another person,” Dr Butler said.

Dr Butler said the Law Society also objected to provisions that did not appear to be compatible with the presumption of innocence protected by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. Both provisions required the accused to prove that an element of the alleged offence did not exist. The Law Society recommended that these provisions be removed from the Bill.


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Government's Assault On Maori

This isn’t news, but the National-led coalition is mounting a sustained assault on Treaty rights and obligations. Audrey Young in the NZ Herald has compiled a useful list of the many ways Christopher Luxon plans to roll back the progress made in race relations over the past forty years. He has described yesterday’s nationwide protests by Maori as “pretty unfair.” Poor thing. More

Public Housing Futures: Christmas Comes Early For Landlords

New CTU analysis of the National & ACT coalition agreement has shown the cost of returning interest deductibility to landlords is an extra $900M on top of National’s original proposal. This is because it is going to be implemented earlier and faster, including retrospective rebates from April 2023. More

Green Party: Petition To Save Oil & Gas Ban

“The new Government’s plan to expand oil and gas exploration is as dangerous as it is unscientific. Whatever you think about the new government, there is simply no mandate to trash the climate. We need to come together to stop them,” says James Shaw. More

PSA: MFAT Must Reverse Decision To Remove Te Reo

MFAT's decision to remove te reo from correspondence before new Ministers are sworn in risks undermining the important progress the public sector has made in honouring te Tiriti. "We are very disappointed in what is a backward decision - it simply seems to be a Ministry bowing to the racist rhetoric we heard on the election campaign trail," says Marcia Puru. More




InfoPages News Channels


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.