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Abomination becomes law

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, December 9th, 2010 - 44 comments
Categories: act, democracy under attack, democratic participation, law and "order", prisons - Tags: ,

Paul Quinn’s appalling Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act passed last night with the support of just two parties – ACT and National. We’ve talked about why this law is so bad in the past. The Attorney-General agreed it is an unjustified breach of our human rights. Why did ACT, the supposed ‘Liberal Party’ vote for it?

Well, don’t look to Hilary ‘we’re all shades of sheep‘ Calvert for answers. In one of the worst Parliamentary speeches I’ve seen (and that’s saying something) Calvert admitted she didn’t like the Bill and then proceeded to vote for it nonetheless.

If only a few ACT MPs had voted on their principles (I’m looking at you, Roger) rather than the way their deranged leader insisted then this travesty of a law would have been voted down.

h/t Grant Robertson on Red Alert

PS. Michael Cullen used to say of Murray McCully that he always looked like he had just come in out of the rain. I don’t know where Calvert looks like she’s just come from but it’s not of this world.

44 comments on “Abomination becomes law”

  1. this bill sucks even bigger balls than english…

  2. felix 2

    “Calvert admitted she didn’t like the Bill and then proceeded to vote for it nonetheless.”

    Funny, I remember her predecessor David Garret doing exactly the same thing over the Whanganui gang patch bill.

    Unlike Hillary Culvert, Garret made a long, thoughtful, and considered speech about why it was such a bad idea – probably the only time I’ve had any respect for him – and then voted for it.

    Something seriously wrong with the Nazi party if they can’t even shut their own MPs up.

    • That’s just the point, felix. They’re better than other parties because they give their MPs freedom to speak their mind, dontcha see!!

      The actual voting bit, well hell, they’ve done their duty haven’t they?! They’ve said it’s a bad thing!! You can’t blame them for doing the expedient thing and going along with their organ grinder’s commands. Sheesh, whaddya want, consistency of principle or something?!

      /sarcasm off

      There’s a lot wrong with MMP (List MPs, for a start…) but even the few potential benefits don’t work. One of the supposed advantages is that a party like Act could support a party like National on confidence and supply – and perhaps even agree beforehand to support significant policy proposals during the term – while voting freely and without rancour between the coalition partners on matters like this – things which don’t actual make any difference other than to a small and already highly marginalised population. Things where the status quo was more than adequate. Things that are just gestural politics at their most ugly and banal.

      But no, it doesn’t work like that. Small parties either compromise, lose what makes them unique, fall to pieces and are eventually subsumed (Act / NZF / possibly the Maori Party if it keeps it up) or remain in the wilderness with far less influence than they ought to have given their support (the Greens).

      And we end up with Hillary Calvert. FGS let’s chuck it when we have the chance!

      • jcuknz 2.1.1

        According to Rodney Hide, ACT has made it on all or most of their ‘Supply and Confidence’ requirements on National for their support.[ I forget his actual words ] But that has little to do with discipline within the party and presumably the majority decided to support the bill and the whip was out …. that is what is good and wrong with the party system depending your opinion of each particular business that is being dealt with. But at least the members can speak against the measure and are not muzzled for fear of division being apparent.
        Don’t you remember Rex when over 20% of the population voted for a party and they got two seats. Sorry, but that convinced me that FPP was no good, I’m ambivalent about MMP or the other proportional systems at the moment.
        How can you have proportionality without list members when electorates don’t follow national trends? That was the problem with FPP and if you didn’t vote for the winner your vote was pointless … a big turn off I’m sure for many..

        • Rex Widerstrom 2.1.1.1

          I should clarify I’m not supporting FPP jcuknz. Of the existing systems I’d opt for STV, perhaps with multi-member electorates.

          But I’d actually prefer we did consider reinventing the wheel, given the unique nature of our situation (Maori seats, huge rural and small urban electorates etc).

          • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1

            Lots of stuff we should consider re-inventing the wheel on, not just our electoral system.

      • Shane Gallagher 2.1.2

        Hi Rex – you are totally wrong about the Greens – and I want to point out something about the Maori Party that I would like some Labour supporters to explain.

        – The Greens have had more influence and had more bills passed than any other small party and have NEVER been in government. They have shifted the agenda again and again and have made NZ a lot greener than it would have been. They are now the third biggest party and have a solid voter base

        – The Labour party have voted with the National Party more times than the Maori Party – so how are the Maori Party sell-outs and not Labour? Hmm?

        • Rex Widerstrom 2.1.2.1

          Hello Shane

          I’m not for one moment denying the gains made by the Greens. But they have had to remain outside government (and, most significantly, Cabinet) to avoid having to abandon their principles. I’m just pointing out that’s not how the system should work. But all credit to them for what they have done which, as you say, is more than any “third” party has managed.

          As for your second point… the fact that National and Labour are Tweedledum and Tweedledummer is irrelevant to an assessment of the Maori Party. They could choose – like the Greens, in fact – to hold true to their principles and the expectations and needs of their supporters regardless of what either “major” party was doing. But they choose to compromise.

          • felix 2.1.2.1.1

            So the Greens have shown (repeatedly) that they can advance their agenda into legislation without being in cabinet and you think that’s a problem?

            MMP may have many flaws but the Green party effectively representing their constituency doesn’t point to any of them.

            • Rex Widerstrom 2.1.2.1.1.1

              LOL okay that is what I appear to be saying… but it’s not what I mean… which is… surely they deserve a seat at the table and a Ministry or two, especially considering that Act have these things? For all that they’ve done, if they weren’t faced with the choice I’ve enunciated above, they could have done more.

              No criticism on the Greens is intended or implied. That they’ve achieved as much of their agenda as they have without selling out is testament to the level headedness of their leadership. But…

              My point – badly made though it is – is that a party (any party) shouldn’t be faced with the choice of rolling over and selling out versus having a place in government (including Cabinet posts) commensurate with their electoral support, assuming that is what it wants. But that is the price that is exacted by the major parties.

  3. Tigger 3

    Her remarks are crazier than her hair.

    • A Nonny Moose 3.1

      No body or image snarking please. Stick to the politics.

      On point: Why is our country not screaming about this? This is a huge abuse of human rights.

      • dilbert 3.1.1

        “Why is our country not screaming about this? This is a huge abuse of human rights.”

        Quite simply because the vast majority of people either agree with it, don’t care about it, or don’t know about it.

      • Lanthanide 3.1.2

        Because it’s only affecting ‘criminals’, obviously. The problem is that it’ll be difficult for this to be repealed, because then you’re ‘helping criminals’.

      • Jim Nald 3.1.3

        In moments like these, a written constitution protecting basic human rights might be useful?
        Bad legislation can be challenged, measured against the constitution, and the legislation struck down?

        • dilbert 3.1.3.1

          Too many people see voting as a privilege vs a human right so I doubt having a constitution would make any difference.

      • Vicky32 3.1.4

        “Why is our country not screaming about this?”
        It’s so sheep may safely graze… The Average Johnno and Lynda have been convinced “prisoner = crum’nal = threat to me”…
        Deb

        • jbanks 3.1.4.1

          People understand that criminals need to be punished as a deterrent to crime. What did you want, a referendum to tell you that people agree with this bill?

          • Colonial Viper 3.1.4.1.1

            Being imprisoned IS the punishment.

            There is no benefit in adding starvation, beatings, solitary confinement, risks of dying in fires, sleep deprivation, psychological abuse etc. to imprisonment in order to punitively add extra ‘punishment’.

            Taking the right to vote away from someone sentenced to 90 days in minimum security or home detention simply undermines our society’s democratic values.

            need to be punished as a deterrent to crime

            If imprisonment was the deterrent you think it is we wouldn’t have the recidivism/reoffending we have today. What you just wrote is garbage.

            • jbanks 3.1.4.1.1.1

              “There is no benefit in adding starvation, beatings, solitary confinement, risks of dying in fires, sleep deprivation, psychological abuse etc. to imprisonment in order to punitively add extra ‘punishment’”

              Nice strawman fucktard. We’re not talking about about the well-being of the criminal here.

              “Taking the right to vote away from someone sentenced to 90 days in minimum security or home detention simply undermines our society’s democratic values”

              In your uninformed minority opinion that is.

              “If imprisonment was the deterrent you think it is we wouldn’t have the recidivism/reoffending we have today. What you just wrote is garbage.”

              If imprisonment wasn’t the deterrent that evidence shows it is – then we wouldn’t have such a low rate of offending. This is basic stuff.. The OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of people DON’T want to go to prison.
              /schooling

  4. roger nome 4

    This trend toward the erosion of human rights and civil liberties is international, and very much so in the Anglo-Saxon countries.

    This trend continues to build momentum – and is cause for much concern. If a disaster in which 3,000 people (less than the number of people who have been killed by peanut allergy in the US since 9/11) can provide sufficient cause for people to trade civil liberties for greater perceived security, what could a far larger disaster achieve for the power hungry elite?

    We really need to stand up to this – our own freedoms are at risk, and what could be more precious than freedom?

    This move makes our country less democratic, and more authoritarian/oligarchical. The National Party continues to turn the tide back on the freedoms gained through so much blood and pain during the 20th century. This law makes a mockery of all the people who have ever died fighting the evil that is authoritarianism. Screw you National.

    To me this is an outrage.

    • roger nome 4.1

      Brings this classic to mind:

      “They came first for the Communists,
      and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

      Then they came for the trade unionists,
      and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

      Then they came for the Jews,
      and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

      Then they came for me
      and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

      • Lats 4.1.1

        Yep, I used the same quote in the thread about proposals to prohibit importation of “drug paraphenalia”. It’s a classic.

    • DJames 4.2

      Because some people believe rather than having rights because you’re human, you earn them with good behaviour.

      I’m not one of those by the way I’m just trying to explain some people’s views on human rights.

      • roger nome 4.2.1

        I agree with the sentiment DJames – but the justice system is not perfect – so National is doing a double-dishonour to a number of innocent people. Then there’s the prisoners of the class war.

        By your logic people who drink alcahol should not be allowed to vote – it’s far more dangerous to the people who consume it, and those they come into contact with – and no the fact that it is legal doesn’t make it any better.

      • Well said, DJames.

        If only a party had enough guts to propose a Constitution and then undertake a major, long-term consultation with the community about what should be in it.

        It’d force people to ask themselves those sorts of fundamental questions… and we might see an opinion shift.

        It happened in Australia, when the Rudd Labor government sent the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission on a nationwide consultation to see if Australians needed their rights codified and protected (as has happened in a couple of individual states).

        They were clearly expecting the mindset you so neatly encapsulate to prevail. But the process of discussion got people thinking, and the HREOC handed up a report that terrified the powers that be. Who promptly shelved it.

  5. Jenny 5

    ACT’s veneer of liberalism is based on the fact that ACT continually advocate for more freedom for all their big business mates, to act unhindered by law or morality. As a consequence this means lobbying for more oppression, injustice and paranoid interference and spying into everyone else’s affairs.

    ACT’s sloganeering for “small government”, and less interference in people’s lives is a lie.

    They only want “small government” for themselves, while on the other hand continually lobbying for a huge increase in the repressive arm of government.

    Despite the expected massive funding their big business backers, always give ACT. Thank god, as looks likely, this marginal, fringe party made up of a rag tag assortment of extreme right wing troglodytes, verging from the plain nutty, to the dangerous and soulless market extremists, will be thrown out of parliament on their ear, come the next elections.

    capcha – “parks” as in business parks

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      We can hope, but I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

      National needs Act, as evidenced by the recent post by Fox. So they’ll probably roll over in Epsom, and he’ll scrape in with 1 or maybe 2 seats if he’s lucky, but that could still be enough for National to clinche victory.

      The question is whether Epsom voters will toe the line or not, but I suspect National will make sure they do.

    • Jenny 5.2

      Sorry everyone but I forgot to include this clarification in my last comment.

      troglodyte

      I wonder, could, after a close hair cut and shave, this image bare any resemblance to a prominent member of the ACT front bench?

      capcha – “mostly”

  6. john 6

    John and Wodney are copying the US here.It’s where they get their garbage Neoliberal privatize ideology from!
    Refer link for more news about this neoliberal disaster zone ACT-nat wish to replicate here.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/america-becoming-wasteland-2010-12

    24 Signs That All Of America Is Turning Into Detroit:

    1. According to a recent study, approximately 21% of children in the United States live below the poverty line in 2010

    2.According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 25 percent of America\’s 600,000 bridges need significant repairs or are burdened with more traffic than they were designed to carry

    3. Clayton County in Georgia eliminated its entire public bus system to save 8 million dollars

    4.n Stockton, California the police union put up a billboard with the following message: “Welcome to the 2nd most dangerous city in California. Stop laying off cops.

    5. Major cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Sacramento have “rolling brownouts” when various city fire stations shut down on a rotating basis

    7.Well we\’re living here in Allentown
    And they\’re closing all the factories down

    Well, the United States has lost over 42,000 factories since 2001 and now all of America is turning into “Allentown”.

    Unfortunately, things are going to get even worse. Thousands more factories and millions more jobs will be sent overseas. The debt loads of our state and local governments will continue to skyrocket. The truth is that city after city after city is going to start looking like something out of a third world country.

    8. A record 42.9 million Americans are now on food stamps and federal authorities fully expect that number to continue to skyrocket

  7. Francisco Hernandez 7

    She looks like a Crazy Cat Lady

  8. BLiP 8

    Hey, rather than seek to rehabilitate criminals, lets marginalise them even further and make sure they cannot contribute positively to society regardless of circumstances.

  9. millsy 9

    With me it is not so much the fact that prisoners are stripped of voting (personally I think they will be most likely to riot over the loss of smoking priviliges than of the loss of the right to vote), but the message it will send.

    To me, this reprsents the thin end of the wedge.

    What is next?

    Stripping voting rights from those with criminal convictions, prison or not? (like the USA – which to be honest, was never meant to be a democracy – the ‘framers’ wanted it to be a consisituational republic)
    Restoring property owning qualifications to the electoral act? (another option whispered by those on the fringe..)
    Barring those who are unemployed and reciving benefits from voting? (another option doing the rounds on talkback and in the Kiwiblogosphere).

    Once you start taking voting rights of people, its very hard to stop…..

    • Vicky32 9.1

      I have seen (I can’t remember where) someone’s detailed plan of how they think it should work – the more income the more vots, basically…
      Deb

  10. jcuknz 10

    I understand that it is compulsory to vote in Australia .. rather than removing people’s privileges we should be making them responsibilities.
    Is it a lifetime ban or as long as they are in prison or on parole?

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Am i correct in thinking that someone serving a 90 day sentence in a minimum security facility (or even home detention) which happens to cross over election day – loses their vote?

      • felix 10.1.1

        Yep. But you could serve thirty months in between elections and not miss voting in either of them.

        Makes sense dunnit?

      • Andrew Geddis 10.1.2

        Not home detention, only actual imprisonment. So, if you have a house (or supportive relations), you can vote. If you don’t, you can’t.

  11. Jenny 11

    How can you pay your debt to ‘society’ when you don’t even known what it is.

    I would have thought that letting prisoners take an interest in society’s affairs beyond their own personal horizon and particular difficulties would be a good way to make the idea of a collective ‘society’ a valuable concept, with people who to wind up in prison presumably have transgressed against the values of ‘society’.

    In fact I think politicians should have to go and campaign to our prisoners, I am sure that they would get many worthy debates.

    It is not like our prison population, even if in the unlikely event they ever combined their vote, could ever change the overall result.

    What are these people in NACT afraid of?

    If you ask me it is democracy itself they are afraid of. They take the vote off prisoners only because they can. It displays the wish as many previous commenters have said, the wish to take the vote of other groups that they dislike but are unable to.

    • jcuknz 11.1

      It is all part of the ‘hit back when you are attacked’ attitude which rarely solves anything. The worst example I can think off is America’s reaction to 9/11 led by GWB, but it is deeply embedded in most people until they use their brains properly.

  12. It is not a coincidence that

    “While maori currently represent around 13% of the general population we make up 51% of the prison population. In 2006 Maori accounted for 43% of all police apprehensions.”

    Click to access Annette_Sykes_Lecture_2010.pdf

    Disgusting bill and the attitudes behind it.

  13. randal 13

    why did act vote for this?
    because they need the votes of the pinhead party at the next election.
    anti-spam: prone.
    yes indeedy if you want to get shafted by this lot.

  14. Pascal's bookie 14

    Not to get all redbaiter on it, but for future governments this might be quite handy.

    Just sayin.

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  • $4.6 million financial relief for professional sports
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  • Critical support for strategic tourism assets
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  • Healthy Homes Standards statement of compliance deadline extended
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  • Criminal Cases Review Commission board appointments announced
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  • Queen’s Birthday Honours highlights Pacific leadership capability in Aotearoa
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  • New fund for women now open
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  • Legislative changes to support the wellbeing of veterans and their families
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  • Deep concern at Hong Kong national security legislation
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  • Cleaning up our rivers and lakes
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  • Record year for diversity on Govt boards
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