Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: If we only had time

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    P.S. John Armstrong points out that the National Government in 1999, setting the date for the "law and order referendum", took a week to decide that it should be at the same time as the election (i.e. at the first cabinet meeting following the presentation of the petition). There seems little reason why you'd take the whole month.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Personally I hope its about three month after the election, so that it occurs when one is interested in voting and the result will have no impact on the new parliament. That would be keeping with the spirit that the anti-section 59 campaign has been waged and give it the importance it deserves.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Big fan of democracy there, Tom? Also, I thought the anti-section 59 crowd was headed by Sue Bradford - she did introduce a bill to repeal section 59 after all.

    For me, it was that anti-section 59 that got my goat up. I've some sympathy for the proposition, but you don't endear yourself to me by saying you're not making smacking a criminal offence (they were, and it's now illegal, when it wasn't before), or by saying all of your opponents support child-beating. But lets not get into this now.

    Why is spending $10m on a referendum that could easily be run for a few hundred thousand a good idea (other than you disagree with the position of those asking for it)?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Graeme are you telling me the lies that Family Fist and co used to beat up this piece of disgraceful hysteria showed a great deal of respect for informed democracy? I've confronted these idiots collecting signatures (at the BEACH, FFS) and been hissed at for my troubles.

    This whole exercise has been a deeply cynical Trojan horse exercise by reactionary fundamentalists, and I think returning the favour by pushing out the referendum date to a meaningless date is the least we can do.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I OEed in California for 20 years - there getting a particular initiative on the vote that would get your supporters out to vote is a time honoured strategy (esp. by the Republicans)

    I think that not having parliamentary elections and referendums on the same ballot is a healthy thing - it avoids the sort of abuse seen elsewhere

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2620 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Big fan of democracy there, Tom?

    Be fair there, Graeme. At least Tom is being upfront that his argument is all about electoral expedience and there's no actual legal or practical barriers involved. In a way, this is on a par with nobody buying Clark's justification for calling a snap election in 2002. She might have been perfectly entitled to do so, but the fig leaf thrown over the campaign realpolitik was just insulting to everyone's intelligence.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Graeme are you telling me the lies that Family Fist and co used to beat up this piece of disgraceful hysteria showed a great deal of respect for informed democracy?

    Mr Pot, let me introduce you to Mr. Kettle - you have so much in common. (And I'm saying that as someone who thought the more vocal elements on both sides of that debate could have done with going on a sugar-and-caffeine free diet.)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Lewis Holden,

    "getting a particular initiative on the vote that would get your supporters out to vote"

    That explains why California has one of the highest rates of voter turn-outs at state-level elections.

    I fail to see how this is a bad thing. If it encourages an otherwise apathetic voting public to become politically engaged, that has to be a good thing. So what if it's used for partisan advantage - surely if the centre-left thought about it they'd do the same - how about getting the Unions to put forward a petition the Employment Relations Act?

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Lewis Holden,

    Sorry, missing "on" in "petition on the Employment Relations Act"

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I OEed in California for 20 years - there getting a particular initiative on the vote that would get your supporters out to vote is a time honoured strategy (esp. by the Republicans)

    Paul: I'm no expert on the byzantine innards of the California State Constitution regarding ballot propositions, but unless I'm very much mistaken citizen-initiated referenda here aren't binding on the Government let alone a mechanism to force changes in the state constitution or statute. So, I'm not really sure what your point is.

    And pardon me if I'm not really shocked at the idea that all political parties are going to be trying to 'get out' their supporters by any, and every means, possible.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Why is spending $10m on a referendum that could easily be run for a few hundred thousand a good idea (other than you disagree with the position of those asking for it)?

    I'm not super fussed by where it sits but my answer to your question would be to maintain political "cleanliness" of the general election.

    I do feel a little uneasy having an election which is about selecting local representatives and national parties based on a widespread general view of their policy platform mixed up with a very very specific policy issue on the ballot, particularly when such a policy issue has been partly tainted with partisanship (perhaps not from Parliament where the passing of the law was fairly bipartisan, but from the initiators of the referendum itself)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Graeme are you telling me the lies that Family Fist and co used to beat up this piece of disgraceful hysteria showed a great deal of respect for informed democracy?

    Yeah - that a little over the top. Sorry Tom. I'm interested in whether the lies you mention were as big as those told by the pro-repeal crowd, e.g.:

    * smacking will not be a criminal offence
    * smacking is already a criminal offence
    * it's not a big change, we're just removing a defence
    * those who oppose this want to be able to beat their children
    * we never called it the anti-smacking bill

    I've confronted these idiots collecting signatures (at the BEACH, FFS) and been hissed at for my troubles.

    And they were assaulted for theirs. You got off pretty lightly.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    voter turnout in CA elections is crap, especially for off year ones (makes it even easier to play this game)

    Elections should be fought on ideas - not with voter suppression tricks

    While we're at it how about banning people running push-polls on the public purse - another evil american thing we don't really need

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2620 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    I am with Gareth there. I suspect that behind the petition is a group who are using the issue to embarrass the Government. Therefore keep the ballot and the referendum as separate issues.

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    What I am saying is this issue has descended into a dark political farce of the fundamentalists own making. With Churchillian certainty McCroskie and co set out to ensure that truth and informing the public were the first - and deliberate - casualties in this political war.

    Family Fist and their off-siders have played a particular game that is all about cynical wedge politics, and have insisted on using the rulebook written by Karl Rove. So they can hardly complain if Helen Clark can also read a rulebook.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

    Even if that was binding, which it won't be, what does that mean in terms of the mutated section 59 we now have? That parental correction will be added to the list of exceptions?

    I remember the 1999 referendum on law and order had two statements that contradicted themselves to me. I voted against it on principle.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I am with Gareth there. I suspect that behind the petition is a group who are using the issue to embarrass the Government.

    *blink* First, perhaps there are always multiple issues on which the Government of the day (whatever colour rosette its wearing) should be embarrassed over. Every frigging day, and twice on Sundays,statutory public holidays and high holy days.

    Second, I don't think we really want to go down the road of saying the primary consideration here is sparing the blushes of the incumbents on the treasury benches. I'd also respectfully suggest that if that's your concern, perhaps we should gag the unions who I'm pretty sure are going to be arguing that National has an extremist secret agenda regarding industrial relations. Quite possibly utter crap, but if you're going to muzzle everyone talking shit in an election year we're not going to have much of a democracy, albeit a very quiet one.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    saying you're not making smacking a criminal offence (they were, and it's now illegal, when it wasn't before)

    Well, to be truly pedantic, it was illegal before, of the nature of assault. There just happened to be a defence, which has now been removed.

    And as Tom says, FF et al used disgraceful levels of bullshit. They danced prettily around some of the awful abuses that were exonerated courtesy of s59. I know quite a few people who think that the repeal is excessive meddling, but they're almost universally stunned when I point out that people got away with using riding crops, and fence palings, and lengths of bamboo to discipline their kids. Many say that assault was always illegal, and then I explain just what juries have let people get away with. The usual reaction is stunned silence, followed by some sort of stammered rebuttal about bad juries, etc. People just don't want to accept that s59 let people get away with blatant assaults on their kids.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Isn't this proposed question, in its wording, just a touch biased? If people are to be offered a choice of response (which is the essence of democracy?). then it should be worded:

    "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

    or

    Should a smack as part of bad parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Geoff: yeah I was thinking about that 'good' too - on a jury I doubt I'd be able to decide that 'good parental correction' could include include smacking and therefore the issue wouldn't come up

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2620 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    People just don't want to accept that s59 let people get away with blatant assaults on their kids.

    Matthew: And there were plenty of us out there who believed S. 59 of the Crimes Act needed to go, but had concerns about the Bradford Bill. I'm also one of those people who ultimately tuned out of the whole debate, because I was sick of the dishonest, poisonously self-righteous and downright hysterical rhetoric coming from all sides. The signal to noise ratio ultimately became unacceptably low.

    And I think Mr. Semmens is living proof that you don't have to have any regard for Family First to wonder if much of their opposition are much better.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Isn't this proposed question, in its wording, just a touch biased?

    It's the same question, just or instead of yes/no. People should be smart enough to figure out where they stand on the question, voting in the referendum isn't rocket science.

    I have more of a problem with smacking being considered part of 'good parental correction'. If we were to conclude that smacking is not part of 'good parental correction' in the normal course of events, then the question becomes illogical to me.

    And I really doubt the referendum is going to make any difference in the world anyway, it'll just give more ammunition to the argument that I doubt is going to change much in reality.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I suspect that behind the petition is a group who are using the issue to embarrass the Government.

    Really? That might be a nice side-effect, but I'm pretty confident they just really really disagree with the Government and want the law changed.

    Well, to be truly pedantic, it was illegal before, of the nature of assault. There just happened to be a defence, which has now been removed.

    Which was the argument I had a problem with. Because there was a defence (or justification, in technical parlance) there was no illegality - from the Crimes Act:

    **Justified**, in relation to any person, means not guilty of an offence and not liable to any civil proceeding

    This argument is analogous to saying that people who act in self-defence - or police officers who properly arrest people - are breaking the law. They're not.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Hey Craig, just out of curiosity when confronted IRL does the bluster go away and all we are left with is an unattractive whining gay guy with a big mouth?

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    And there were plenty of us out there who believed S. 59 of the Crimes Act needed to go, but had concerns about the Bradford Bill.

    The bill in its original form (just removing section 59) was legally quite clear, not matter how you felt about it. It got turned into a right mess by the Law Commission, who you would have hoped would have had some concern for the usefulness and clarity of the laws they help write.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

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