More law less trust


The ODT”s Weekend Mix  had a profile of Otago University law Professor, Mark Henaghan. It’s not online but concluded with this:

The law tends to reflect society’s values, Prof Henaghan replies.

“There’s a wonderful saying by an American philosopher, ‘In hell there will be nothing but law, and due process will be duly enforced.’

“Because in a way the more law you have the less you have to trust people.

The less you trust people, the more distrustful they become and so the more law you need in order to trust them. “

A good society would not have too much law, because people would do the right thing he says.

But in New Zealand we have a lot of law.

More law less trust, less trust more law, more law, less trust  . . .

Sad but true and even more so if read with this morning’s quote of the day from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice.

When people don’t recognise the voice of their own conscience they don’t recognise the voice of justice and we have less trust and we need more law and then we get less trust. . .






Quote of the day


. . . our Nation is founded on the principle that observance of the law is the eternal safeguard of liberty and defiance of the law is the surest road to tyranny. The law which we obey includes the final rulings of the courts, as well as the enactments of our legislative bodies. Even among law-abiding men few laws are universally loved, but they are uniformly respected and not resisted. Americans are free, in short, to disagree with the law but not to disobey it. For in a government of laws and not of men, no man, however prominent or powerful, and no mob however unruly or boisterous, is entitled to defy a court of law. If this country should ever reach the point where any man or group of men by force or threat of force could long defy the commands of our court and our Constitution, then no law would stand free from doubt, no judge would be sure of his writ, and no citizen would be safe from his neighbors. . . John F. Kennedy.

What do others at school think?


A Hastings school which lost a High Court battle over suspending a student for refusing to cut his hair has been ordered to pay more than $24,000 in costs.

Last month Justice David Collins ruled in favour of 16-year-old St John’s College student Lucan Battison, who successfully fought to keep his locks after being suspended.. .

The Battisons’ lawyer, Jol Bates, said costs of $24,159 had been awarded, which were a contribution towards the family’s legal expenses – about two-thirds of actual costs. . . .

I wonder what the other pupils, their parents, the school board and staff think of that?

Accessory to a crime?


Yesterday I popped into two New Worlds.

One was in Queenstown which the law permits to open.

The other wasn’t in Queenstown but isn’t far away and the law says it shouldn’t have been open.

Does that make me, and all the other people who took advantage of shops anywhere except Queenstown and Taupo, accessories to the crime of opening a shop on Easter Sunday?

Old rules don’t fit new media


The mainstream media is being very careful to not divulge the contents of the so-called teapot tapes.

But it wouldn’t take anyone who knows their way around the internet long to find the YouTube clip of the conversation recorded between John Key and John Banks.

The MSM is constrained by police advice it is an offence to disclose private communication unlawfully intercepted.

That could apply to websites based here but lots aren’t. It’s all over Twitter and some blogs also have links to the clip or enough information to help people looking for it.

And people are looking:

Yesterday evening the top search terms for this blog were:

Search Views
teapot tape transcript 49
teapot tapes transcript 21
blair mayne 7
mona blades 7
youtube teapot tape 7
you tube teapot tape 5
key banks tea tape transcript 4
teapot tapes transcript 26 january 4
teapot tape download 4

Whether or not the old rules apply to new media might be debatable but the coverage the tapes are getting on the internet show that there is enough uncertainty to leave old media at a disadvantage.

However, without divulging the contents almost everyone agrees there was nothing of great moment on the recording.

That has led political opportunists to say that proves John Key was wrong to make an issue of it.

On the contrary it shows he was motivated not by a desire to hide something but by principle.

All of us, whether or not we are public figures, ought to be able to have a conversation without the risk it might be recorded and made public without our knowledge or permission.

If to charge, who to charge?


Police are considering whether or not to lay charges against Labour for breaching the Electoral Act.

If they decide there’s a case to answer, they can’t charge the party it has to be an individual.

Who will that be?

The breach was made by not including an authorisation statement which is usually attributed to the party manager or secretary.

But it would be most unfair to charge a party employee for an omission which was almost certainly the fault, and responsibility, of the communications/campaign team.

Whoever was in charge, of the stop assets sales campaign ought to be the one to face charges should any be laid.



Who cares about the rules?


This was put in an Oamaru mail box yesterday:

The other side had a couple of baskets of groceries and quoted Campbell Live to show the price rise between them.

You might not be able to see the parliamentary crest which means you and I paid for it but it is there.

What isn’t there is a promoroter’s statement which the Electoral Commission says is required:

The Electoral Commission reminds all candidates, party secretaries and third party promoters that:

  1. An election advertisement, irrespective of when it is published, must contain a promoter statement.
  2. A promoter statement must state the name and address of the promoter of the election advertisement.

     5.     The promoter statement must be clearly displayed in the advertisement if published in a visual form and no      less audible than the other content of the advertisement if published in an audible form.

A person who wilfully publishes, or causes or permits to be published, an election advertisement in contravention of these requirements commits an offence.  Such matters will be referred to the Police unless the Commission considers that the offence is so inconsequential there is no public interest in reporting the facts to the Police.  Each instance will be considered on its merits.

All promoters of election advertisements should take reasonable steps to ensure that:

  1. Election advertisements are published in a manner that ensures the promoter statement is clearly displayed to the public viewing the advertisement.
  2. All persons entrusted with the task of erecting, posting, displaying, or otherwise publishing election advertisements are aware of the requirement to clearly display the promoter statement and that the statement should not be obscured, cropped, or in any other manner prevented from being clearly displayed to the public viewing the advertisement.

Whaleoil found a similar flyer and quoted the guidelines for MPs which say:

 . . .  an advertisement in any medium that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging voters to vote or not vote

  • for a candidate or party
  • or type of party or candidate by reference to views or positions that are or are not held . . .

 By that definition the flyer is an advertisement and therefore requires a promoter statement.

Ignorance is no defence and anyway it would be difficult for Labour to claim they were ignorant of the requirement. They voted for the law which made the promoter’s statement a requirement and Whaleoil’s post was published on Thursday. Someone in the party with authority would have seen it yet these flyers were still being distributed – illegally – yesterday.

Who care’s about the law? Labour doesn’t appear to in this case.

Labour signs down but party unrepentant


The Labour Party has had to take down its look-alike signs from a Hutt Valley street but is unrepentant:

A number of Labour Party campaign signs have been removed from a Hutt Valley street after being found to be in breach of road requirements.

The signs, which emulate road stop signs in shape and colour, but contain the message “Stop asset sales vote Labour”, had been erected along the median strip of a road in Petone.

The story credits David Farrar with breaking the story.

General secretary of the Labour Party Chris Flatt said the party had not been formally told of any rules the signs had breached.

“We were told they were taken down within an hour,” Mr Flatt told NZPA.

“Any reasonable person would see that the nature of the writing and the ‘vote Labour’ on there indicates they’re not traffic control devices.”

Mr Flatt said the party would continue to use the signs and had told members to be cautious near roads.

“We’re aware of these things but we think this is a little bit of a campaign by National Party bloggers and right-wing groups to take the issue away from the actual campaign.”

Oh dear – they’ve broken the law, which is quite explicit, and it’s all the fault of National party bloggers and right-wing groups.

There’s no mention about whether or not the signs had a promoter’s statement as required by electoral regulations.

The signs might also have fallen foul of local body regulations – individuals and groups putting up signs require consent.

I wouldn’t put any money on Labour having applied for it.

Labour doesn’t care about breaking law – again


If the three strikes law applied to breaking the law on campaigning then Labour would be well and truly out by now.

You’d think after the condemnation from across the political spectrum for previous breaches (pledge card anyone?) they’d be especially careful about sticking to the law this time.

But no, they’re using stop-sign look-alikes which are on or visible from the road.

Kiwiblog, Keeping  Stock , Whaleoil   and Roarprawn all posted on how this contravenes Land Transport Rules and Andrew Geddis pointed out it also contravenes the Electoral Act because there’s no promotor’s statement on them.

Whaleoil has also found Facebook entries which shows they’re going to carry on breaking the law with car stickers.

It’s bad enough that a party which is supposed to be one of the major ones doesn’t know the law as it applies to campaigning. Worse still is Phil Goff’s reaction:

Labour leader Phil Goff, who launched the campaign last week, said he didn’t know who within his party had put the signs up, “but if the council has a problem of course they can talk to whoever might have put them out”.

While the signs were modelled on stop signs “nobody’s going to mistake it as a stop sign, that’s just silly”. . .

. . .”We’ll keep using those signs. If the council’s got a problem we’ll listen to them of course, but nobody thinks they’re going to be a traffic hazard, that’s just nonsense.”

The leader of the second biggest party in parliament thinks law is silly and Labour is going to keep on ignoring it – that’s not a responsible stance for anyone let alone a party which is supposed to be a government in waiting.

Cactus Kate says Labour should stop the bad social media campaigns. The party should also stop thinking the law doesn’t apply to them.

A party which doesn’t know the law with a leader that doesn’t care about it can’t be trusted back into government where it can make the law.



The open secret is no longer secret:

The ‘celebrity’ charged with disorderly behaviour after an incident in central Auckland in December can now be named after name suppression was lifted at a court hearing this morning.

Sports broadcaster Martin Devlin, 46, was arrested on the morning of December 29 after sitting on the bonnet of his and his wife’s car on Quay Street.

He issued a statement:

I have no problem in admitting that I behaved like a right plum that morning on Quay Street. . .

I sought name suppression in an effort to try and protect my children from being identified and embarrassed by my behaviour.

Obviously the only effective way to prevent that was not to do it in the first place.


And had he not sought name suppression the whole thing would have been done and dusted the day it happened.

What he did is between him and his family, the attempt at suppression made it news.

Would you vote for someone who doesn’t follow the rules?


Credo Quia Absurdum Est found most of those for peoplestanding for councils and the health board in Southland are unauthorised.

He says it’s small beer in the scheme of things but every candidate gets a little book covering election rules. It clearly states that every advertisement needs an authorisation statement.

Now, I’m not into wasting police time.  They’re busy enough.  But are you really going to vote for people who:

  • pay no attention to detail
  • and/or ignore the law
  • don’t fix things when they are brought to their attention?

. . . So it’s not necessarily that these potential Councillors and ILT members and Health Board wannabes are breaking the law (they are), it’s that if they can’t even be bothered to read the fine print, how the hell are they going to get on with an Annual Plan or an LTCCP?

Local government needs accountability and transparency, and people who are going to read and question the fine print.  Not lawbreakers.  Some people may say it’s petty, but it is still the law.

I’ve seen only three hoardings in North Otago and was driving past at 100 kph so didn’t notice whether or not they were authorised.

But CQAE makes a very good point about attention to detail.

Councillors and health board members have to follow legislation, make decisions and decide on policy all of which require them to pay attention to and understand a lot of detail.

If they don’t bother to read and follow the rules on electioneering how can we trust them to read the fine print in the often complex documents they’d have to deal with round the council or board table?

Bad wills bring ill will


One of the sessions at Rabobank’s Executive Development Programme for Primary Producers deals with succession planning.

If it’s done properly there’s no surprises over wills when parents die. They’ve discussed their intentions with their families and the wills reflect them.

It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have and  whether or not you have a spouse or partner and children, you ought to have a will and it ought to be updated regularly.

If you care about your family, it’s one of the most important things to get right so that there’s no ill between them after you’re dead.

Unfortunately a lot of people either don’t have wills, don’t update them and/or don’t have good advice when they make them.

If there’s no will it means inconvenience and delay while the estate is settled.

If it’s an old will it might not matter if there are no doubts the will reflects the wishes of the person who’s died,  and the survivors have no problems with it.

But sometimes, especially with a will that’s never been updated, there are questions over whether or not it’s what what the person who died would have really wanted.

That appears to be the case with the estate of Don Wilkinson, the undercover policeman who was shot but only he would have known if the old will still reflected his intentions.

Most of us don’t want to think about our own mortality and making a will forces us to do that. But this case is a sad reminder of why we should not only make a will but update it regularly.

You’re in the wrong place


To the unusually large number of people who’ve landed here after searching with a phrase including the word wasp, you’ve come to the wrong place.

In spite of a penchant for cryptic clues, it means nothing to me and even if it did I wouldn’t be saying anything.

Our name suppression laws appear to be inconsistent and sometimes unfair (see Keeping Stock on The Prominent Palmerstonian suspended , for example).

But breaking the law isn’t the best way to change it.

What does “in the presence of” mean?


Towards the end of each year registered marriage celebrants get a letter from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, inviting them to apply to continue in the role.

Appointments are made the following March and in recent years the letters informing us we’ve been reappointed have included warnings about sharing duties with non-registered celebrants.

Anyone can officiate at a funeral, but if a couple wish to be legally married (or civilly unioned) they need a registered celebrant to officiate. The letter from the Registrar says that means more than just being there and signing the paper work while someone else does takes the service.

Now a court case in Christchurch has raised a question over exactly what the Marriage Act requires:

The wording of the Marriage Act will be put to the test in an unusual trial that started today in Christchurch District Court, where a marriage celebrant and his trainee deny performing an unlawful wedding.

Defence counsel James Rapley told the court legal discussion would be needed later about the Act’s requirement for a marriage to be “solemnised in the presence” of a marriage celebrant.

Being a celebrant used to be regarded as a community service but many now treat it as a career and that’s mostly why the problem over non-registered celebrants has arisen.

I do only a handful of services a year and don’t charge but have no problem with others who do. Agreeing to officiate usually requires making a commitment to a date months in advance and good celebrants put a lot of time and effort into their preparation. Although a civil service doesn’t take long, a celebrant has to arrive well before it starts and can easily tie up a couple of hours or more on the day. There’s nothing wrong with asking to be paid for all that.

However, not everyone who wants to be a celebrant is able to. The number of celebrants is restricted and not everyone who applies to be registered is accepted. Some people have set up business anyway, done the preparation, taken the service and had a registered celebrant on hand to do the paper work.

The registrar has been telling us that’s not acceptable. I’ve never been asked to share officiating duties with anyone else but it was discussed at a celebrants’ conference and wasn’t unusual in cities.

 If the case before the court confirms that “in the presence of” means more than just being there and signing the register a whole lot of people who thought they were married may find they’re not.

Whatever the outcome of the case it’s also an opportunity to discuss whether there should be a change so that anyone who meets the requirements to be a celebrant ought to be able to be one.

There are good reasons for needing to safeguard the quality of celebrants but I’m not convinced there’s any need to restrict the quantity.

You won’t find breaches of court orders here


A large number of people have landed here while searching for a name. It has been linked to a news item about a court case in which the judge has suppressed any information which will identify the people involved

Anyone wanting to find out news or views on the person or issue won’t find anything here.

I won’t pretend to be a media – or any other – law expert but I do understand and respect suppression. If a judge makes an order I’m not going to breach it directly or indirectly with cryptic links, innuendo or by joining dots between stories.

Comments on blogs about a recent court case while it was under way led to suggestions a test case might be made because bloggers were unaware, or careless of, the fact they are subject to the same laws as other media. Several posts on other blogs about a current case show some either don’t know, or don’t care, about the risk they are taking in breaching a suppression order.

I do which is why I won’t be writing anything at all about the case or the people involved in it.

Law must be in our own hands – Franks


Stephen Franks has a very sensible view on taking the law into our own hands in the wake of the story of a store owner who was charged after doing that.

He writes:

It is long past time for the police to bury that stupid phrase – ‘taking the law into your own hands’. In our own hands is where the law always was, and must be. It must be something all of us are willing to uphold. In this stretched out land there will never be enough police to protect the weak from the strong if the police are the only ones trying. The law can only prevail when those tempted to prey on the weak know that the weak have behind them not just the police, but an entire community.

You can read the rest of his post here.

Concern over unchecked powers


The ODT is uneasy about the Search and Surveillance Powers Bill.

On the one hand, the police must be able to act quickly and effectively to combat crime in this electronic age.

But they must also work within defined parameters.

Freedoms acquired over centuries can be jettisoned in a trice if great care is not taken in the devising and drafting of new legislation.

The nature and extent of the parameters in the proposed Bill – and how they would work in practice – are as yet unclear.

This is cause for some uneasiness.

Enabling police to act more quickly in urgent situations is a good thing, but there is a need for caution if the checks on their powers which exist under current legislation will be lost.

Under cover cops on campus not new


Posters showing undercover police officers at the University of Otago have been posted on the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Nomrl) website.

Police are making no apologies for using undercover officers on the University of Otago campus and say they will continue doing so.

Posters with pictures of plain-clothed officers working on campus and labelled “Narks in our Class?” and “Narkiology 101. How to spot a nark” appeared around the university on Monday.

One poster shows plain-clothed officers involved in the recent arrest of three people at a National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml) stand at a Otago University Students Association market day.

The other shows plain-clothed officers at a regular protest “smoke-up” on campus.

… Norml leader Abe Gray said he was not sure who had put the posters together and posted them on the Norml website, from where they could be downloaded, but he believed the images were taken from video footage recently posted by Norml members on YouTube.

He said the posters had probably been put together because students felt uncomfortable being under surveillance on campus.

From information police had divulged during various interactions with them, it was believed they were also working undercover in lectures, Mr Gray said.

Dunedin area police commander Inspector Dave Campbell said he was disappointed, but not surprised, photographs of police officers were posted on the Norml website.

Police were running an operation to stop offences against the Misuse of Drugs Act on the university campus and, to date, as a result, had issued nine trespass notices to non-students and three to people enrolled at the university.

Those trespassers included known drug dealers, gang members or associates and one secondary school pupil.

Insp Campbell said trespass notices were issued by police acting as an agent of the university.

There’s nothing new about undercover cops on campus – a friend flatted with one when I was a student more than 30 years ago. He was doing a fulltime course and made no secret of the fact he was being paid while doing it and so was still a policeman.

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