Stop the suppression

July 9, 2014

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has launched a Stop the Suppression campaign and is asking New Zealanders to get in behind a campaign to overhaul the name suppression laws in NZ.

“Sadly all too often child sex offenders prey on unsuspecting victims because they have previously been granted name suppression”, says Ruth Money, Campaign Spokesperson. “The current law needs to be revised to ensure these offenders can no longer hide behind suppression that is granted to protect the victims of their crimes, not the offender”.

“We are encouraging media to stop reporting the relationship between the offender and the victim. This would then allow the offender to be named and the public to be aware and therefore more protected. No one needs to know a sex offender assaulted his niece for example, we just need to know his name so we can ensure he doesn’t end up harming our kids in the future” states Money.

“In New Zealand, on average, 30 convicted child sex offenders are granted final name suppression each year. Where these men and women now live or work is a complete mystery – we believe this is a public risk. Would you want them coaching your kids or running a motel for example?” . . .

Outspoken justice campaigner Derryn Hinch is visiting from Australia this week to assist with the campaign launch and will be encouraging kiwis to sign the Stop The Suppression Petition. . .

The petition is here.

The media often they give details of the case and the relationship with the victim which would enable the victim to be identified.

In some cases suppressing those details could allow the accused, or convicted person, to be named without risking the victim’s right to anonymity.

Sometimes victims are willing to be named but suppression orders prevent them from being identified and often as a consequence from telling their stories which could help others.

Victims should not be made to feel there is any reason for them to be ashamed and giving them the choice of whether their names are suppressed or not could empower them.

Another problem of publishing details without identifying the accused is that it can cast aspersions on other innocent people.

A few years ago, for example, a comedian was accused of child abuse and sufficient details were given to spread doubt over several other comedians who were innocent.

Suppression has a place, but there is a case for changing the law so that the guilty can be named without breaching victims’ rights, to decrease the likelihood of further offending and to stop publication of selective details incriminating innocent people.


Word of the day

July 9, 2014
Snickersnee – to engage in cut-and-thrust fighting with knives; a large knife, designed for use as a thrusting and cutting weapon.

Rural round-up

July 9, 2014

Thoughts from the UK – Alan Barber:

While in the UK briefly last week I spent a couple of nights with an old university friend who actually got a First in Agriculture at Cambridge which was the best degree achieved by any of my friends or, not surprisingly, me. He farms near the M4 in Berkshire less than 100 kilometres from London.

As usual when I see him, we were chatting about the state of agriculture in our respective countries. He asked me whether I needed a ‘pommie farmer whinge’ to provide some material for a column, so not unnaturally I told him to go ahead. His first complaint was about the amount of New Zealand lamb competing with British lamb in the supermarkets. I suggested the view back home was the natural seasonal fit of New Zealand product didn’t really cut across, but rather complemented, the seasonal availability of British lamb. . .

Professional Foresters Award Their Achievers:

Leaders in the forestry industry were recognised at the New Zealand Institute of Forestry’s annual awards dinner held in Napier last night.

Forester of the Year was awarded to Paul Nicholls, managing director of Rayonier NZ,for outstanding service to the forestry industry.

The award is one of the highest accolades in the industry, recognising contribution, leadership, excellence and integrity. . . .

 Agrarian socialism’s sticky end? – David Leyonhjelm :

THE sugar industry is notorious for attaching itself to the public teat. Concentrated in several marginal seats along the Queensland coast, it has a long history of extracting taxpayer subsidies when prices are down, coercing governments into mandatory use of ethanol in fuel, and blocking imports of both sugar and ethanol.

Most famously, a decade ago it received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to help it restructure in the face of low prices. Prices bounced back soon after the scheme commenced and, apart from the impact of abolition of the single desk in 2006, not a lot of restructuring occurred. They kept the money though.

A major controversy has now erupted as a result of the decision by the sugar processing company Wilmar to sell all its sugar direct to international customers rather than via the grower-owned marketing organisation, Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL), beginning in 2017. This has prompted another processor, Thai-owned MSF Sugar, to suggest it may follow suit. True to form, there are numerous calls for regulators and governments to intervene. A horde of politicians, including the Queensland Minister for Agriculture, is taking a close interest. . . .

 Environmental support for sheep and beef farmers:

Sheep and beef farmers will have a stronger voice in the regions on environmental issues, through an agreement between Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has added a regional policy capacity to its national and international policy activities directed at sustainability, through a contract with Federated Farmers to use its regional policy network.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Dr Scott Champion said: “Federated Farmers has an excellent regional network. Rather than duplicate that, we’ve reached an agreement to use its resources on regional environmental issues.

“We think this is the most efficient way of using sheep and beef farmers’ money to strengthen our voice in this important area.” . .

Genetics used to combat facial eczema:

Dairy farmers battling the devastating livestock disease facial eczema are getting help from scientists and a cattle breeding company.

Facial eczema is a fungal disease spread from spores in pasture. It can kill livestock and is estimated to cost dairy farmers about $160 million a year in lost milk production.

AgResearch and CRV Ambreed, with the backing of DairyNZ, are taking a genetics approach by breeding dairy cattle that are more resistant to the disease. . .

Clue to late puberty in sheep discovered by AgResearch:

A needle-in-a-haystack search for the genetic cause of delayed puberty in a flock of Romney ewes has paid off for a team of AgResearch scientists.

Understanding what regulates the arrival of puberty is important for livestock breeding as well as human health.

Researchers in AgResearch’s Animal Reproduction team at Invermay had noticed that late puberty was a family trait in their research flock. This caused the late developers to miss out on lambing during what could be their first breeding season. They had previously demonstrated that late developers also produce fewer lambs during their lifespans. . .

Rural talent on display in Lincoln:

Every year New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) members from across the country come together to catch up, cheer on their Grand Finalist at the ANZ Young Farmer Contest, compete in the clay target shooting, fencing and stock judging national finals and attend the Annual General Meeting.

The top scoring competitors from the regional levels represented their regions as they battled it out for top place at the finals in Lincoln University, Friday 4 July.

The winner of the Gun City Clay Target Shooting Final was Waikato/Bay of Plenty’s Jeffrey Benson of the Hamilton City Young Farmers Club followed by Isaac Billington of the South Waikato Club and in third place was Otago/Southland representative, Brendon Clark of the Tokomairiro Club. . .


Fitch tick backs govt programmes

July 9, 2014

The National-led government has received a tick from Fitch for its economic programme:

Credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings’ decision to revise New Zealand’s AA sovereign rating outlook from stable to positive is a vote of confidence in the New Zealand economy and the Government’s programme, Finance Minister Bill English says.

The positive outlook, which was announced overnight, indicates the likely direction of the credit rating over the next year or two, although it is not confirmation that a change will occur.

“As Fitch notes, the Government’s fiscal consolidation and its track to surplus in 2014/15 are strengthening the resilience of New Zealand’s credit profile,” Mr English says.

“Furthermore, it confirms that the Government has a credible plan to increase its fiscal surplus in the years ahead and to reduce net core Crown debt to 20 per cent of GDP by 2020.

“And Fitch comments that New Zealand’s economic policy framework, business environment and standards of governance rank among the world’s strongest from a credit perspective, warranting ‘high grade’ sovereign ratings.”

In its ratings update, Fitch also notes that New Zealand’s main vulnerabilities relate to its high net external debt and dependence on commodity exports.

“The Government remains focused on working with New Zealand households and businesses to lift our economic competitiveness,” Mr English says.

“We have made some good progress in addressing our longstanding vulnerabilities, with both the current account deficit and New Zealand’s net international liabilities substantially lower than they were five years ago.”

Alongside Fitch’s AA rating with a positive outlook, New Zealand is rated Aaa with a stable outlook by Moody’s and AA with a stable outlook by Standard and Poor’s.

This is a vote of confidence in the government’s programme and the direction it is taking New Zealand.

It’s not just academic. The more positive the view of the ratings agencies the lower the risk for lenders and that has an impact on interest rates.

 


Fewer teen births

July 9, 2014

One of National’s initiatives was to take an actuarial approach to welfare.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett sought, and got, figures for the long-term cost of welfare then worked on policies which would help reduce it.

Among the initiatives she introduced were those aimed at reducing teen-births – and they’re working.

Lindsay Mitchell writes:

. . . For years I have agitated about the long-term DPB population being derived from teenage births. The children of these parents form the most at-risk group.

But from 2008 the number of teenage births started dropping. In 2013 there were 29 percent fewer than in 2009.

But even better, at March 2009 there were 4,425 teenage parents on any main benefit. By March 2014 the number had dropped to 2,560. A 42 percent reduction.

The really important news is it’s happening across all ethnicities.The proportions are reasonably stable.

In 2009, 52 percent were Maori; in 2013, 55 percent.

For Pacific Island, the proportion rose slightly from 9 to 11 percent.

NZ European dropped from 29 to 25 percent.

The percentage who are aged 16-17 dropped from slightly from 16.5 to 15%.

The percentage who are male is unchanged 4%.

This means thousands fewer children experiencing poor outcomes – ill-health, disconnect from education,  in and out of fostercare, potentially abused and neglected, having the cards stacked against them from the outset.

Thousands of would-be teen mums will keep their own lives and  potential, and hopefully have children when they are ready to.

It’s a fantastic development.

National deserve at least some credit for it with their new young parent mentoring and benefit management regime. . .

The government can’t claim all the credit, but it has played an important part.

Measures to reduce teen benefit dependency haven’t been punitive nor have they been cheap.

They have involved working with young people to help them turn their lives around for their own sakes and those of their children.

That has both social and financial benefits for them and for the rest of us.

 


Fish out of water

July 9, 2014

One of the strengths that Prime Minister John Key has is that he is comfortable in his own skin.

He knows who he is, what he believes in, what he stands for and has no need to apologise for it.

That gives him the confidence to be comfortable in front of almost any audience.

Claire Robinson writes that this can’t be said for Labour leader David Cunliffe:

Can I begin by suggesting that at a personal level David Cunliffe is not really sorry he’s a man right now. In fact I’m sure that he’s quite pleased to be a husband and a father. It’s not something that he would give up, never, ever. I’m also sure that, like most men, he’s not sorry that he has a penis. In fact I’d wager that he quite enjoys having it, and I doubt he’d want to lose it as remedy for his remorse. Can I also suggest that there’s nothing for him to personally apologise for, at least in terms of domestic violence, because as far as we know he hasn’t done anything to be guilty of in that department.

So if his apology was not personal, was it political? On the surface yes, as a message targeted at female voters; . . .

But no, it wasn’t political in that as a statement it appeared to be more ad-libbed than scripted; loose lipped rather than tactically crafted for best effect. Did David just sense the love in the room and on the spur of the moment decide it was safe to unleash his inner-feminist? Many women and men on social media seem to think so; arguing it was courageous calling out the “bullshit, deep-seated sexism” still prevalent in New Zealand.

But that is quite out of character for David. Feminism isn’t his strong point. Otherwise he would have known that it’s way too simplistic to attribute the cause of sexual/domestic violence to sexism. That David reducts the issue to the ignorance and inability of men to “man up”, suggests a superficial understanding of what is a deeply complex, and insidious reality. Moreover, if David was truly aware of what happens in abusive situations he would not have used the apology in the communication of his message. He would know that victims of repeated domestic violence are also victims to the apology. The apology is what repeat abusers do to hoover their victims back to them; a psychological handcuff to prevent them from breaking free, thereby perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Over time victims of abuse learn to distrust the apology because it means nothing.

Apologies are part of the pattern of abuse and one of the weapons abusers use to manipulate their victims.

What is in character, however, and is the most plausible scenario, is that he walked into that room and immediately recognized he was a fish out of water. His fight or flight brain jumped to the conclusion that he was talking to a group of hostile man-haters (stereotypical assumption when confronted by a bunch of feminists). To reassure that he had come in peace he instinctively dialed up a number of clichés from his study of American political behaviour, and in one fell swoop conflated Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” remark (down-with-the-homies), with the political apology that American politicians frequently use when they have done something wrong and need to appear vulnerably human and remorseful. It wasn’t a genuine apology; it was a cliché’d response to his own personal discomfort. Which is why so many felt that it lacked authenticity and sincerity, and why it came across as insulting. It is yet another example of the yawning gap that exists between the real David and what uncontrollably falls out of his mouth.

One of the criticisms often levelled at Cunliffe is a lack of sincerity. He often looks and sounds like he’s saying what an audience wants to hear not what he really believes.

If David had come in authentically saying, I’m feeling like a fish out of water, forgive me for not being an expert in this area, but we have been consulting with real experts and I hope you will agree that Labour’s new policy is going to go some way towards dealing with sexual and family violence, he would have been credible and convincing. And he would not have potentially offended a lot of the male voters he needs to stave off disaster in the polls. . . 

You can’t fake sincerity and the more Cunliffe tries the harder it is to work out exactly who he is and what he believes in.

If discomfort with his female audience led him to show he was buying into the hard-line feminist all-men-are-rapists line, what would discomfort in front of a group of the working men who were once the foundation of his party lead him to say?

The Prime Minister doesn’t try to be all things to all people and that’s one of the reasons for his popularity.

What you see is what you get.

With Cunliffe different audiences get different messages from a different version of the man and it’s impossible to know which he really believes and who he really is.

 

 


Guilty until proven innocent

July 9, 2014

Labour wants to end the presumption of innocence in rape cases:

The Labour Party’s plan to reform the criminal justice system would mean that the accused in a rape case would have to prove consent to be found innocent — a change it acknowledges as a monumental shift.

But Labour’s justice spokesman Andrew Little said the current system is broken and in need of a major shake-up. The party favours an inquisitorial system, where a judge interviewed the alleged victim after conferring with prosecution and defence lawyers.

The policy would mean that in a rape case, if the Crown proved a sexual encounter and the identity of the defendant, it would be rape unless the defendant could prove it was consensual. 

“The Crown has to prove more than just sex; the issue of consent has to be raised by the Crown, they have to prove the identity of the offender. They would have to bear that burden of proof before a switch to the defence to prove consent,” Mr Little said. . .

He said the issue of proof would only apply where allegations of rape had been raised.

“It is pretty radical thing to say that ‘all sex is rape’ unless you prove consent. The reality is that in 99.9 per cent of cases, no one is being asked to prove consent.” . .

An inquisitorial could be less traumatic for victims than the current adversarial system.

But requiring defendants to prove consent is a reversal of one of the tenets of our justice system – that people are innocent until proven guilty.

It would mean defendants would be regarded as guilty until they could prove their innocence.

Rape is abhorrent.

It is a crime which inflicts physical and mental damage and for which there is no excuse.

But that doesn’t justify reversing the burden of proof to require defendants to prove their innocence.


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