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Simon Bridges, the three strikes law and the Bill of Rights

Written By: - Date published: 8:04 am, June 2nd, 2018 - 17 comments
Categories: crime, national, prisons, same old national, Simon Bridges, uncategorized - Tags:

Shouty SImon Bridges

National obviously desperately want to divert attention away from the Housing Corp methamphetamine fiasco. After five days of continuous bad news who can blame them. There is no upside for them. Either they were incompetent because they did not know what was happening, incompetent because they did know but did not stop it, or malevolent because they used it for political advantage.

Or all three.  Like I said there is no upside for them.

And the Northcote by election is on and amazingly Labour has a chance. If National lose the seat Simon Bridges is in trouble.

So what does a right wing party do at a time it urgently needs to divert attention? That’s right, start bashing the law and order drum.

And what better way to attract attention than for a former lawyer to start using language to suggest he is willing to breach the Bill of Rights in order to deal with bad people.

From Isaac Davidson at the Herald:

National leader Simon Bridges says he will not only reinstate a three strikes regime if he gets into power but he will make sure old strike offences still count.

Responding to the Government’s proposed criminal justice reforms, Bridges also said he would build more prisons before he “softened” bail or sentencing laws.

Bridges, a former Crown prosecutor who has made law and order central to his leadership, said a National-led Government would reverse any law change.

“We would repeal it. And what we would also do is legislate so that strikes under this legislation that they repeal count under our future ones,” he told the Herald.

“So criminals with first and second strikes are not let off the hook.”

That means the clock will not be reset for serious offenders if the law is reintroduced under a National Government.

It was initially thought that Bridges wanted strike offences which occurred even after the law was repealed to also count once National reinstated three strikes.

But a spokeswoman clarified today that only offences committed up until repeal would be considered strike offences and would therefore not be discounted once three strikes was up and running again.

Bridges admitted he had not received advice on the proposed change, which could potentially breach human rights protections.

“Not all retrospective legislation is bad,” he said.

“And in this case it would be a situation where the criminal in question knows they’ve received a strike and would be on notice about the consequence of that.”

No advice … for a lawyer to knowingly go to the edge of the constitution and not seek advice is appalling.

I thought I would have a quick look at the issue.

Section 25 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 says this in relation to minimum standards of criminal procedure:

Everyone who is charged with an offence has, in relation to the determination of the charge, the following minimum rights:

(g) the right, if convicted of an offence in respect of which the penalty has been varied between the commission of the offence and sentencing, to the benefit of the lesser penalty …”

Let us run a scenario.  Offender A has two qualifying offences under the current legislation.  Labour repeals the law and Offender A then commits a third qualifying offence.  He will be subject to sentencing under the conventional rules.  No doubt the Judge will see that he has previous convictions and adjust upwards accordingly.  But the Judge will be able to take into account all relevant circumstances and not have to sentence him to 25 years for pinching a piece of pizza or 7 years for pinning a prison officer’s buttocks.

But imagine that after Offender A commits the third offence National is re-elected and Simon Bridges reinstates the three strikes law.  And the reinstated law says that the former two strike offences are to be taken into account and he is therefore on his third strike.

This would be constitutionally objectionable and a clear break of section 25(g).

So I can see why Bridges walked back on the language suggesting that this would be the result although by using the word “retrospective” he must have known that he was courting controversy.

But the proposal still makes a mockery of the concept of judicial independence.  Requiring the judiciary to act in a certain way makes a mockery of the notion of judicial independence.

The proposal is cleverly calibrated.  It walks to the edge of constitutional impropriety and no doubt is intended to create controversy.

National clearly is hoping that Labour will come out and oppose and they can then mock them.

And that peoples attention to the horrendous stuff up it made of the Housing Corporation meth policy is relegated from peoples attention.


17 comments on “Simon Bridges, the three strikes law and the Bill of Rights ”

  1. JanM 1

    That weird look on Paula Bennett’s face makes you wonder what she’s ingesting!

    • Kat 1.1

      National are going nowhere with those two, they just don’t have the nous or the appeal necessary to be anything other than snipers. At some time down the track they will both be replaced with a new duo, later this year or next. Their replacement will all be poll driven of course.

    • Ffloyd 1.2

      Spanx and botox. Can’t move facial muscles , can’t breathe due to tightness of said Spanx. Probably got a fart trapped in there

    • Barfly 1.3

      Paula is probably daydreaming an alternate reality – where she is dictator for life

  2. AB 2

    Constitutional niceties are nothing compared to the Kiwi appetite for vindictiveness. And Simon and Paula know it.

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    When are the National Party’s human rights abuses and malfeasance going to be prosecuted? Time to get tough on Graham Capill worshippers.

    Edit: here’s an idea: charge them, then leave the fuckers on remand for eighteen months.

  4. Muttonbird 4

    So what does a right wing party do at a time it urgently needs to divert attention? That’s right, start bashing the law and order drum.

    Farrar now has a daily piece on second strikers written I expect by Garth McVicar and friends. He refuses to name who has written them though. He’s been reminded of his duty to do so.

    Farrar certainly knows the Nats are in trouble on the meth-testing debacle, M. Bovis, and possibly in Northcote too, so as you say he has wound up the Law and Order hysteria to level 10 hoping the media will pick it up and run the same sort of campaign.

    He’s also upset that the now both policies from ACT which made it into law, charter schools and 3 strikes, are now being erased. That must hurt.

    • NZJester 4.1

      But National is the party who are tough on crime. You know by underfunding the police and forcing some of them to cook the books to look like crime was going down when in fact they just simply refused to investigate a lot of it or filed it under less serious crimes.

    • Kat 4.2

      The best thing about Farrar is National will most likely take note of the abysmal poor performance of Bridges and Bennett and armed with all that “internal” polling put a leadership change in place sooner than later. The only thing that could delay a change of leadership is the timing when the new leader will arrive in the Nat helicopter. Collins may make another tilt for the top job although I think she would make a better deputy to the incoming.

    • Gabby 4.3

      I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before the media ask Bidet what he thinks of retrospective legislation.

  5. patricia bremner 5

    This whole debacle does not show National in a good light.
    Dirty rivers???
    Underpaid workers???
    Shifty Education providers???
    Growing homelessness???
    Mico plasma bovis???
    Meth Testers???
    Meth Cleaners???

    Whatever next???? Farrar needs magic!! A wand perhaps??? IMO.

    • Kat 5.1

      With all the rugby going on this weekend it would seem not out of line to say that Farrar needs kicking into touch…….or rucked hard out of the way ( I hear my son say).

    • Observer Tokoroa 5.2

      Patricia Bremner

      Your list is terrifying ! The Capitalists have taken their most intimate clothes off to show how lewd completely rude, and disgusting they are. Greed Greed Greed and cruelty is their aim and game.

      I had a nasty dream recently Patricia. Miss Paula sat on David Farrar. All through question time. She wriggled on him. Naked she Sat on his little face. She has done worse to hundred and thousands of ordinary people.

  6. eco maori 6

    national trying to play with old peoples emotions again they don’t care whose lives they
    they stuff up just as long as there poll rates go up.
    bridges was trying to play I’m a maori card when he got the leadership job of national
    YEA RIGHT we all know his true colour him and bennet have and that other guy with the balled head but he has not figured that fact out yet have been getting regular spray tans muppets any real Maori Cultured person knows that the justice system have been unfair to MAORI ana to kai.
    P.S Some civil servants had the Waiapu coming out there EYES when Te Labour lead coalition government was announces no more gravy. ka kite ano

  7. DB 7

    Who cares what Simon says. Why give him the column inches concentrate on the real news not the fake generated opinions of Simon no Bridges.

  8. JustMe 8

    I am sure many NZers noticed over the 9 years of the past National government was the pure arrogance of its MPs. An arrogance that still remains to this day.
    I noticed the National MPs believed they held the monopoly on intelligence. They refused, denied and then rejected to listen to anyone else but themselves. And when they were caught in a corner of their OWN making they did what is still by nature of them to do i.e blame everyone else but themselves.
    Out of all their antics to date I wouldn’t trust any of its MPs even if I came across one on a dark night.
    The past National government has completely failed NZers especially those on low incomes. They have to live with their actions however and perhaps deservedly so the NZ National Party days are nearing an end.
    And when this happens we must thank John Key for ruining even the one political party he is a member of. Well done John Key. You have done an excellent job at destroying the NZ National Party.

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