More questions for English

Written By: - Date published: 8:20 am, August 9th, 2009 - 77 comments
Categories: bill english, Parliament, parliamentary spending - Tags:

Yesterday, John Armstrong talked about the Auditor-General’s 2001 report into eligibility for a Wellington accommodation allowance:

the then Auditor-General David MacDonald scrutinised allowances after two ministers – Labour’s Marian Hobbs and the Alliance’s Phillida Bunkle – got into serious strife for claiming out-of-Wellington expenses when they had made Wellington their place of residence by virtue of registering to vote in the Wellington Central electorate.

What Armstrong doesn’t mention, is that in the report (online here, see Part 2, Page 61) the Auditor-General sets out a criteria as to whether a Wellington home should be considered an MP’s primary residence or not. This is important, because if Mr English hasn’t met those criteria, then he in no way can qualify for a Wellington accommodation allowance AT ALL.

Here are the criteria:

(a) the extent of the MP’s parliamentary duties, and the amount of non-parliamentary time available to the MP to return ‘home’;

(b) the locations where the MP spends most of that non- parliamentary time;

(c) the locations where the MP’s current spouse or partner and  family live, and where other dependent family members usually live (including where they spend most time, work, or attend school);

(d) the person in whose name (whether the MP, the MP’s spouse or partner, or some other individual or legal entity) each property is owned or rented, and the utilities (e.g., electricity, telephone) are supplied;

(e) the level of the MP’s financial commitment to meeting the financial outgoings on each residence, including property maintenance;

(f) the type of accommodation available to the MP at each residence (e.g., boarding, flatting, or full occupation), and who else lives there (other than the MP’s family);

(g) the availability of each residence for use by the MP at any time (e.g., whether it is rented out in periods of absence);

(h) the nature and extent of the MP’s ties to each local community in which he or she has a residence;

(i) the residence where the MP intends or expects to live should he or she cease to be an MP;

(j) the residence where the MP and members of his or her family are registered for electoral purposes; and

(k) for electorate MPs, the location of the electorate.

Each of these criteria is considered for every individual MP’s case. But if, as I said on Thursday that English signed a declaration that his primary residence is in Dipton, he must prove that he has met the above conditions.

Bill English owes the public a full explanation.

77 comments on “More questions for English ”

  1. ghostwhowalks 1

    Fancy that the Auditor General setting a stricter standard than that followed in parliament.
    Where’s the precedent for making his ‘opinion’ stick…… but wait

    Could be a whole lot of paying back to come if this went any further

    • Sting 1.1

      Talking of opinion ghostly what does “you angry white middle aged male computer geekoids on Kiwiblog” mean?

      Can’t she understand English. Pollies pay back day is judgement day.

  2. Eric C. 2

    English told the Dom Post yesterday that he and his family have lived in Wellington for 10 years. So, this suggests that he could be up to repay all the money he took since 2001.

    Guess it comes back to what he told the speaker.

    • Smokie 2.1

      Shit – you’re right Eric C.

      If English has been living in Wellington for the last 10 years (that would make it pretty clearly his residence), he will be liable for returning every single dollar since 2001.

      No wonder he doesn’t wan to give way on this!

  3. Gooner 3

    Ha ha ha.

    The very same Auditor General the Labour government ignored which then went on and passed retrospective validating legislation!

    You guys add a lot of humour to an otherwise ordinary Sunday morning.

    • Ianmac 3.1

      Changed the legislation AND repaid the money $800,000 wasn’t it?

      • r0b 3.1.1

        No they didn’t change the legislation. Parliament retrospectively validated the spending of a government department (Parliamentary Services, who were in charge of Parties’ spending) which the Auditor General had retrospectively declared inappropriate (for all parties except the Progressives). This form of retrospective validation is the standard way of handling overspends and unforeseen occurrences and it has happened many times under both National and Labour governments, it happened on this occasion on the advice of Treasury to proceed in this way. Although not legally required to, Labour (and other parties) paid back the money judged to have been inappropriately spent.

        On the topic of questions for Bill, there was so much going on, but does anyone know what has happened over the apparently incomplete listing in the register of pecuniary interests, and what the situation is re listing a different address under the companies act? The sleaze was coming so thick and fast I can’t keep track.

        • burt 3.1.1.1

          But rOb

          The housing allowance is confusing and others were doing it too. It’s not fair to just prosecute one MP when there were others doing it. Parliamentary Services will be unsure what is allowable and what is not allowable now so validations will need to be passed under urgency to sort it all out.

          Naturally rOb I expecting you to support all the same reasons if it comes to this as you did last time. Sauce for the goose and all that…

          This is going to get really funny if National are in deep shit….

          • r0b 3.1.1.1.1

            But rOb

            Sorry Burt, I know you’ve been desperate for attention lately, but there’s only so often I can have the same dumb conversation with you.

            The housing allowance is confusing and others were doing it too.

            No. According to The Herald, rules had to be changed to make this special treatment possible. Others weren’t doing what Bill did.

            It’s not fair to just prosecute one MP when there were others doing it.

            No others did what Bill did.

            Parliamentary Services will be unsure what is allowable and what is not allowable

            Actually it seems to be the Speaker who is responsible here.

            now so validations will need to be passed under urgency to sort it all out.

            If that’s what Treasury recommends then fair enough. Don’t think it’s going to happen though.

            Naturally rOb I expecting you to support all the same reasons if it comes to this as you did last time. Sauce for the goose and all that

            Different cases entirely Burt, as above, Naturally I expect you to keep excusing any abuse of this government by claiming (incorrectly) that Labour did it too.

            This is going to get really funny if National are in deep shit .

            It’s already really funny Burt.

            • burt 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Of course it is different when Labour do it Rob.How could I forget that. Lets hope someone takes a case against English because then English can kill the case and you can explain to us why it was the right thing to do when faced with a choice between accountability for breaking the law and the expedient choice for parliament.

            • burt 3.1.1.1.1.2

              You could just admit that Labour were way way in the wrong when they validated themselves for stealing tax payers money and regain some credibility to attack English & National.

    • Eric C. 3.2

      They are all the same, National is just as bad as Labour. Just seems National is corrupting a lot faster!

    • Zetetic 3.3

      Oh right. That $800K that Labour paid back.

      Still good that you think it’s OK as long as you think Labour did it.

      • ghostwhowalks 3.3.1

        Why do you lot all ways forget the $112000 of GST for TV broadcasting money that National stole in 2005.

      • burt 3.3.2

        Zetetic

        It’s not normal in a democracy to call politicians who use the powers of parliament to kill court cases against them “good guys”. But Labour clearly don’t need to be measure against any test other the right party name. Move on…

  4. Lindsey 4

    I think the question is “when did he last live in Dipton”?

    • Eric C. 4.1

      True, and when he is in Dipton doing MP things, how often is his family in Dipton with him?

  5. ghostwhowalks 5

    Trouble is than even when Blinglish is back in his electorate we are paying for him to stay in Queenstown or Gore even though they are only an hours drive from Dipton.

    • Ianmac 5.1

      Good point GWW. He says Dipton is home but does he EVER stay in his Dipton home, or does he stay in rental or other?

      • Tigger 5.1.1

        And why do Clutha-Southland need an electorate MP who claims another city as ‘home’?

        Also who came up with Blinglish? I want to properly salute their genius.

  6. outofbed 6

    If he looses his job and becomes a back bencher how will he keeps his family together
    A Back bencher’s salary is clearly less then a minister and English/Key ‘s rationale for the rort of claiming 1000 per week was to keep the family together.
    So my question is how did English keep his family together when he was not on a misters salary?
    And if he gets demoted does that mean a return to Dipton ? where its cheaper to live then Wellie ?

    • Ianmac 6.1

      I guess $150,000 plus expenses would be pretty hard to live on with 6 kids and all, plus private school tuition. Maybe he could get the DPB and live in luxury. 🙂

  7. outofbed 7

    Conspiracy or cock up
    Who is the winner in “diptongate” ?
    Clearly John Key
    Ok popular leader J Key, everything is going swimmingly ,only problem your deputy hates you and thinks your job is rightfully his,
    You know he will stab you in the back at the earliest opportunity.
    What you going to do ? You have to take him out
    So release parliamentary expenditure just before the national conference and then leak to press Bills ” rort’
    You are squeaky clean ,Bill takes huge hit you muddy the waters with Labour did it too”
    Then to make yourself look good step in announce a review of expenditure ,
    Result, Bill completely taken out no chance of being leader now . You seen as a decisive honest leader blah blah

    Ok its Sunday I’m bored

    • Armchair Critic 7.1

      OOB – You could be right. If it is a conspiracy I don’t think that isn’t a very smart game for JK to be playing, considering the country is facing much more important issues. And if anyone can find a link between JK and Bill’s rorting, for example if JK approved it in some way, the conspiracy won’t work.
      Long term JK seems to be the sort who tries to please everyone, and he will end up pleasing no one. Judging by his performance over the last couple of weeks he has already started the pleasing no one phase of his tenure as PM.

      • Ianmac 7.1.1

        The Speaker authorises the MP’s spending. The PM authorises the Ministers spending. Helen Clark did so with great care and attention to detail. John Key authorised the benefits to his Ministers.It appears in the literature that a change from usual practice was made for Bill by John at the change of Government. Therefore if Bill gets marked by this then so should John. (I only know this from reading Blogs and news on-line.)

      • travellerev 7.1.2

        I think it’s just a little personal backstabbing from John Key.
        Conspiracies involve more than one person and that wasn’t necessary in this case.
        I was wondering why John Key would all of a sudden want to be “tranparent” about the perks. It was like squeezing blood from a stone to get it out in England and National hates giving information about their financial shenanigans. I think OOB makes a good case.

        • Zetetic 7.1.2.1

          nah. key’s seen what happened in england. just wants to nip it in the bud here

          • burt 7.1.2.1.1

            nip it in the bud – what a fool when he can arrogantly carry on and tell us to move on when people start catching him out. Key has a lot to learn about being self serving if he hasn’t realised that he can simply validate himself and his MP’s when the shit hits the fan. Surely he was watching Labour in their last term use parliament as a play thing for their own best interests. What a looser – playing by the rules is just so not how NZ politicians have always done this stuff.

  8. outofbed 8

    Anyway conspiracy or not English is never going to be PM now (unless Key snuffs it eh Bill:-))
    He of course, is arrogant enough not to accept this at the moment but
    slowly when the info seeps in
    He is going sure be one bitter and twisted man.
    Perhaps he should do himself a favour and go and lose himself in Dipton now, rather then later
    I would even feel a bit sorry for him if he wasn’t a bastard

  9. Armchair Critic 9

    What an agreeable thread this is. Where are all the NACT cheerleaders telling us that it’s okay because Labour did it too? Has Farrar not given them new lines yet?

  10. r0b 10

    Q: What’s Bill’s favourite position on the Parliamentary Rugby team?

  11. JD 11

    “This form of retrospective validation is the standard way of handling overspends and unforeseen occurrences”

    It’s also a violation of one of the basic principles of the rule of law.

    • felix 11.1

      Yeah burt used to say that too. Now though, he reckons it’s the amount of money involved that’s important.

      • burt 11.1.1

        felix

        I’ll be creating about National if they use the legislature’s pen to solve this issue. So will rOb I suspect and it will be just great to have someone else who agrees with me on this site that MP’s should not be allowed to put themselves above the law – particularly not laws they have written to counter corruption in their own ranks.

    • burt 11.2

      JD

      rOb likes to be economical with the truth when he says “This form of retrospective validation is the standard way of handling overspends…”

      You see there are ‘normal’ validations for unplanned or unexpected spending and they are passed with the budget. Labour’s validations for spending illegally on election advertising were outside the normal budget cycle, passed under urgency with great protest from the opposition. See the opposition don’t normally create when validations pass during the budget for flood relief in Fiji or Tsunami relief in Thailand etc. But naturally opposition create when validations are passed under urgency and they kill a standing court case.

      But rOb knows all that, he just likes to pretend to himself that Labour did noting out of the ordinary when they validated an unknown amount of money covering 14 years in their own best interests – under urgency!

      • r0b 11.2.1

        You see there are ‘normal’ validations for unplanned or unexpected spending

        Normal retrospective validations burt, don’t forget that part.

        an unknown amount of money covering 14 years in their own best interests

        If you do a little math burt you’ll soon see that 14 years covers both National and Labour governments. Once again, on the advice of Treasury, to cover anomalies created by the AGs retrospective ruling.

        Do you object to the use of urgency burt?

    • r0b 11.3

      It’s also a violation of one of the basic principles of the rule of law.

      Wrong. It is true that retrospective law is usually held to be morally wrong (you can’t create crimes in the past), but there are situations where it does make sense and is standard practice. There’s whole books written on the topic JD – see for example “Retrospectivity and the Rule of Law”:

      Validating Legislation
      Validating legislation is passed where someone, usually the executive arm of government, has acted in reliance on an erroneous view of the law, which action the retrospective statute is intended to validate. Thus, this sub-category include statutes designed to overcome more significant legislative defects than those considered in the routine revision category; often there are complicating factors such as a person’s reliance on the defective scheme. However, provided that no new (that is, unexpected) obligations are imposed on anyone, there is little that can be objected to in the retrospective curing of the defects. Indeed, the reliance on existing state of the law is an argument for retrospectivity, because the executive and others relied on what turned out to be a mistaken interpretation of the law.

      In these instances, it would be perverse not to perfect the law given that people have been led into error by the government. The retrospective legislation is concerned with making the law conform to that which people acting in purported reliance on the law believed to be the case. Failure to cure the defect and validate those actions in the circumstances could diminish respect the law rather than support it.

      Validating legislation is exactly what occurred in this case.

  12. JD 12

    I think RoB should elaborate on which countries and the nature of those regimes that use retrospective legislation to legitimise extra-legal activities, maybe some on the African continent perhaps?

    • r0b 12.1

      I think JD should learn more about the law, see above.

    • Armchair Critic 12.2

      Good idea, JD. Rather than a list of countries that use retrospective legislation, how about a list of countries that don’t or haven’t used it. As I am not a law student I have no idea what the outcome will be.

  13. tsmithfield 13

    I do have some sympathy for MP’s generally over this perks issue.

    It is a ridiculous situation if cabinet ministers who control the departments are getting paid less than the heads of those departments who are their subordinants.
    So I can understand why they would try to find ways to redress the balance. This sort of thing has been going on for quite a while under both National and Labour, which is why Labour is not making too much of a fuss about it at the moment.

    Being an MP is a bit similar to being a professional sports person. Careers tend to be time limited and can end at a fairly short notice. Therefore, what seems a high salary may not be that high when consideration is given to the fact that the MP who has just lost his job has to find a career in the real world again. So, it is fair enough that a good salary is given for the job.

    What I would like to see is that politicians in senior positions get paid a fair salary equivalent to their position so they don’t need to try and compensate by bending the rules. For instance, they should be getting paid more than heads of department under their authority. Then all anicallary perks can be eliminated and everything will be above board.

    • Eric C. 13.1

      Mostly agreed tsmithfield, but English is a different case that goes way beyond most MPs. English has changed trust structures, possibly lied on official documents, hidden behind his family and pretty much stubbornly said I’m right and everyone else is wrong.

      The Dipton Dipper totally rorted the system and deserves no sympathy.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.2

      Therefore, what seems a high salary may not be that high when consideration is given to the fact that the MP who has just lost his job has to find a career in the real world again. So, it is fair enough that a good salary is given for the job.

      Can we get that for builders, and carpenters, and drainlayers – actually, pretty much any job on the market. They ALL operate under the same conditions.

  14. JD 14

    “I think JD should learn more about the law, see above.”

    Thanks for that advice since I’m a 4th year law student I’ll take you recommendation.

    “but there are situations where it does make sense and is standard practice.”

    Yes, it’s all a matter of perspective really, especially if you’re a politician engaged in such behaviour or you’re a partisan supporter with no interest in upholding the rule of law.

    • The Voice of Reason 14.1

      I’m not sure why there’s even an argument here, JD.

      Retrospective legislation is entirely normal as I understand it. Isn’t the entire Treaty process retrospective? How about the pardoning of shell shocked WW1 soldiers who were shot for desertion? How about the proposal to remove cheap flights for life from Philip Feild?

      All of those examples involve the overturning of decisions or laws that were legal at the time, but now look dodgy in hindsight.

    • burt 14.2

      The Voice of Reason

      If you can find an example where retrospective validations have been used to excuse the behaviour of MP’s when a senior govt official has said their behaviour was illegal other than Labour protecting their own best interests after the ’05 election then please provide a link and an explanation.

      Additionally if you can find a comparable example where a court case against an MP has been shut down by retrospective validations (in a western democracy) then please provide a link and an explanation. I suspect some famous dictatorships and tyrants of the past will provide a rich source of comparison for this aspect of Labour’s behaviour where leaders have enjoyed their status of being above the law to protect their position of power.

      However if you are looking for examples where parliament have validated unplanned or unexpected spending (not spending in their own best interests that they were warned would be illegal) then there is plenty of examples and this is a normal feature of our govt and happens in most budgets. (note: In the budget – not out of normal cycle so as to conveniently kill an annoying court case)

      You might also want to read up on the separation of the powers of govt, most legal texts have a section describing this. Once you understand how the legislature are not ‘allowed’ to operate as the judiciary and the vice-a-versa you will be well on your way to understanding the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship. Best of luck with that journey.

      • The Voice of Reason 14.2.1

        Thanks, Burt. I completed that journey many years ago, ta.

        I will do a bit of research and see if I can find some examples as you suggest, but that may be later in the day. I reckon the Muldoon years will probably throw up a few and the pardoning of Nixon springs to mind, but I’ll see what else I can find.

  15. JD 15

    There is nothing normal about these examples and they are exceptional and deserve to be. There must be a moral criteria to justify retrospective legislation and if you see what labour did was justified I would suggest you look closely at you motives which are questionable and self interested.

    • The Voice of Reason 15.1

      JD, as a fourth year law student you should know better than assigning motives and asserting self interest without the facts being before you.

      I commented because I thought it was an interesting debate and Burt had the intelligence to reply thoughtfully to my understanding of the situation. His reply motivated me to want to look further into the matter. Your reply motivates me to suggest that you are probably in your fourth year at law school as a result of failing the first year three times.

  16. DavidW 16

    Would someone like to tell me where it is written (or even how is it logical) that an MP is required to have his family live anywhere specific at all. [Memo to Phil.: What is your address in Mt Roskill Phil?]

    AFAIK, English could have his home in Dipton while his family lived in Auckland – (coneivable if they went for schooling or similar) and he would still need a place in Wellington to live when (as Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister don’tchaknow) he would be required in the office 4~5 days each week and also would have to cover for the PM when he was travelling as Cullen did for Clark so often.

    As usual there appears to be much more heat than light being thrown on this subject which I suppose shows where peoples loyalty lies but does little for rational discourse.

    • Draco T Bastard 16.1

      Point c in the criteria list requires that where is family live be taken into consideration. Children going away for schooling would inevitably go home for the holidays. In Bill’s case where they would go home to is Wellington and NOT Dipton.

      The other point is that Blinglish doesn’t go “home” to Dipton for the weekends – he goes to his Wellington address and that would be true if he was a politician or not. He has, after all, lived in Wellington since ~1987.

      As usual there appears to be much more heat than light being thrown on this subject which I suppose shows where peoples loyalty lies but does little for rational discourse.

      And ALL of the misdirection is coming from the right just like what you just wrote. More misdirection to help save your heroes.

    • lprent 16.2

      I don’t think it is where he lives that is in question. It is that he gets me as a taxpayer to pay for him living in Wellington where he has obviously been long settled.

      I don’t pay for Phil Goff to live out of Mt Roskill with his family. I can see no reason to pay anything for Bill English to live out of his electorate with his family

  17. JD 17

    “JD, as a fourth year law student you should know better than assigning motives and asserting self interest without the facts being before you.”

    It’s pretty clear really to any reasonable observer as to why one would take the position you have. It’s reasonably amusing to see commentators here talk about the law when they have no idea of what the law or its principles actually are.

    ” Your reply motivates me to suggest that you are probably in your fourth year at law school as a result of failing the first year three times.”

    So you are you are guilty of the offence you charge me of? Time to change you handle maybe.

    • The Voice of Reason 17.1

      I was right about your failing 3 times, wasn’t I? Presumably because you can neither read nor spell (3 posts, 3 uses of ‘you’ when the word is “your”). Re-read my first post, JD. I don’t assume any position, other than stating my understanding that retrospective legislation is normal. I provide some examples that seem to back my thinking and I’m not claiming to be right, but asking for alternative viewpoints. Don’t know why as the whole thing is a diversion anyway, but whatever …

      The functional difference between the Standard and the Sewer is that most posters here are capable of putting a case and providing examples or evidence to back themselves. A good number of the righties that post here get that and contribute intelligently because they know if they just put up crap they’ll just get shot down.

      If you have any facts to contribute, go to it. If not, hit the books, JD, you certainly seem to need the extra time in the library. And BTW, there are quite a few contributors here who make their living from interpretation, advocacy and enforcement of the law, me included. Ignorant, we ain’t.

    • BLiP 17.2

      It’s pretty clear really to any reasonable observer

      Code for: everyone that agrees with me must be reasonable and everyone else unreasonable.

  18. JD 18

    ” I don’t assume any position, other than stating my understanding that retrospective legislation is normal.”

    Your understanding is flawed because you lack a legal background and will read into whatever books you refer to what you want to based on political expediency not what the author actually says. Ask any public law specialist regarding retrospective law and they will give you the same answer as mine. Right or left is irrelevent in the issue. It’s a shame you can’t see how much damage this is actually doing.

    • The Voice of Reason 18.1

      Well, you’re starting to get it, JD. I wasn’t putting a left/right position, I was stating that I thought it was common practice. Still waiting for your examples to disprove my thesis. ‘Ask any public law specialist’ doesn’t cut it. I’m asking you.

  19. JD 19

    “Code for: everyone that agrees with me must be reasonable and everyone else unreasonable.”

    No, it’s a reference to the legal term that judges and other authorities use to determine a standard.

    “I was stating that I thought it was common practice. ”

    Rape, assault and other violent crimes appear to be a common practice from a casual survey of the weeks newspapers. Does this mean these acts are right if they are frequently perpetrated? As a future lawyer I believe strongly that there is professional obligation to educate the public so in this spirit I will indulge you. First s 10A for the Crimes Act states:

    “Criminal enactments not to have retrospective effect

    Notwithstanding any other enactment or rule of law to the contrary, no person shall be liable in any criminal proceedings in respect of an act or omission by him if, at the time of the act or omission, the act or omission by him did not constitute an offence.”

    Furthermore S26 of our Bill of Rights Act states

    “(1) No one shall be liable to conviction of any offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute an offence by such person under the law of New Zealand at the time it occurred.”

    Furthermore the courts have upheld these provision in R v King [1995] 3 NZLR 409 and other cases. These statutes illustrate what parliament thinks of retrospective laws and if you still consider them acceptable then feel free to wipe you ass on our bill of rights act if that makes you happy.

    Now obviously given the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy the parliament can override this but the point I’m making which you don’t seem to grasp is the damage this does to our system of govnt and law.

    Let me spell it out for you do you think it is good that the people who break the law have the power to amend the law to make their criminal act legitimate?

    It’s pretty much a yes or no answer which I don’t expect you to give either from lack of knowledge or because you really aren’t interested in giving an answer that disparages your beloved Labour party.

  20. The Voice of Reason 20

    Nice try, JD, but the selections are from the sections of the Act defining the concept of retrospective illegality, the opposite of what this diversion from the actual post is about. Hope the library’s warm, bud.

  21. burt 21

    The Voice of Reason

    How are you getting on comparing the last Labour govt to the Muldoon govt. Have you been able to justify their unconventional behaviour in Muldoon’s actions?

  22. Does anyone know if English’s Dipton house has been kept empty all these past 10 years? or does he rent it out? Would be interesting to know. I find it hard to believe that it sits there empty with the familt attending school, being a doctor, and an MP in Wellington???????

  23. JD 23

    “Nice try, JD, but the selections are from the sections of the Act defining the concept of retrospective illegality, the opposite of what this diversion from the actual post is about. Hope the library’s warm, bud.”

    It interesting how you once again avoid answering a direct question. It infers a lot about how far you are willing stretch morality to cover clearly illegal and unethical acts simply on the basis that those involved have the same political beliefs as your self. Sad really.

    • felix 23.1

      Perhaps if you ask a question pertaining to the issue being discussed you might get a better answer.

      Just a thought.

      Also, that’s not what “infer” means. You’ll need to know that as a lawyer.

      • Sting 23.1.1

        IrishBill: You forgot you’re banned, Dad.

      • burt 23.1.2

        felix

        Let me spell it out for you do you think it is good that the people who break the law have the power to amend the law to make their criminal act legitimate?

        I say NO!. I’ll say no irrespective of which stripe of govt want to position themselves above the law and adjudicate on alleged breaches of the law in their own best interests

        See there is a process called a judicial review to deal with situations where the law is ineffective or unworkable. A court could have easily ruled there was no case to answer because the rules were confusing etc. Had the court made that ruling then the conventions that define our govt as a democracy would not have been stomped all over.

        But all the harsh reality aside, please explain what is so hard to answer about JD’s question? It is indeed a simple yes or no.

        • felix 23.1.2.1

          “(1) No one shall be liable to conviction of any offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute an offence by such person under the law of New Zealand at the time it occurred.’

          That’s what JD quoted. If you think that’s applicable to the situation being discussed then you can answer his questions.

          • burt 23.1.2.1.1

            Sorry felix, I just picked the sentence with a question mark following it to be the question rather than the context (which may or may not have been relevant). Silly old me eh.

            • felix 23.1.2.1.1.1

              Oh sorry burt, I was following his argument rather than just selecting the first part of it which suited my stock response.

              Crazy shit, huh?

  24. JD 24

    “But all the harsh reality aside, please explain what is so hard to answer about JD’s question? It is indeed a simple yes or no.”

    Because Voice of Reason doesn’t believe in principles, like the rule of law, only what is necessary for their particular political party to gain power.

    • r0b 24.1

      I fear for the state of our universities if this is the quality of thought that is coming out of our law schools these days. Once upon a time a 4th year law student would make at least a token attempt to put their political bias aside when studying and interpreting the law. JD you’re going to be the worst kind of lawyer if you can’t learn that skill.

      The question that you’re all fired up about is one Burt has been banging on about here forever:

      Let me spell it out for you do you think it is good that the people who break the law have the power to amend the law to make their criminal act legitimate?

      Let me spell it out for you. In most circumstances no, in some circumstances yes. Like most questions of law its complicated, and that’s why there are books written about it. I’ve already referred you to a relevant book above, but since you are doing your best to ignore its existence I’ll repeat myself, see “Retrospectivity and the Rule of Law’:

      Validating Legislation
      Validating legislation is passed where someone, usually the executive arm of government, has acted in reliance on an erroneous view of the law, which action the retrospective statute is intended to validate. Thus, this sub-category include statutes designed to overcome more significant legislative defects than those considered in the routine revision category; often there are complicating factors such as a person’s reliance on the defective scheme. However, provided that no new (that is, unexpected) obligations are imposed on anyone, there is little that can be objected to in the retrospective curing of the defects. Indeed, the reliance on existing state of the law is an argument for retrospectivity, because the executive and others relied on what turned out to be a mistaken interpretation of the law.

      In these instances, it would be perverse not to perfect the law given that people have been led into error by the government. The retrospective legislation is concerned with making the law conform to that which people acting in purported reliance on the law believed to be the case. Failure to cure the defect and validate those actions in the circumstances could diminish respect the law rather than support it.

      Validating legislation is exactly what occurred in this case. And it wasn’t political parties / MPs that “broke the law”, it was Parliamentary Services, so the validating legislation was not in fact legitimising the actions of MPs at all. And the legislation can’t have been so bad, because National extended its term.

      Other retrospective legislation occurs quite often. National does it and does it again. ACT get in a muddle about it. The Auckland city council does it.

      In short retrospective legislation is not an uncommon practice. Your childishly black and white view of the world seems to be driven by your political hatred, and once again I warn you in all seriousness, that is not going to do you any good as a lawyer.

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  • Speech to Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference
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