Law

Why the Waitangi Tribunal's report on the status and effect of the Treaty changes nothing - and potentially everything.

The Waitangi Tribunal's just released report He Whakaputanga me te Tiriti: The Declaration and the Treaty, representing its findings

I think we've found the way to make electoral law interesting to people. Get some sports stars to break it.

News that the Electoral Commission has reported some of NZ's sports royalty to the police for sending out election day tweets encouraging their followers to support John Key's reelection has gripped

The Environmental Protection Agency hearing into seabed mining for phosphate on the Chatham Rise is exposing questions about uncertainty - many big unknowns, including whether the applicant has done its job. If environment groups win this battle, what does it mean for the wider war?

Out on the Chatham Rise, the ridge jutting into the waters off Christchurch and extending out beyond the Chathams, Chatham Rock Phosphate has a mining permit and is now seeking EPA approval for its project to mine phosphate for fertiliser, at depths untried anywhere else in the world.

Greg O'Connor thinks the shootings in Ottawa, and the way this was ended, demonstrates the need to routinely arm New Zealand's Police. He's completely wrong about that.

What happened at Canada's war memorial and parliamentary buildings is a pretty Bad Thing. It should, however, be kept in some sort of perspective. 

We're already stopping people from using NZ passports to go and fight in the Middle East. So why do we now urgently need to change the law to do this?

Back in February, I wrote this about the legal basis for refusing to grant passports to/revoking passports from those individuals who felt the call to take up armed struggle in groups using terrorist tactics in places like Syria and now Iraq.

Some muted thoughts on the legal issues involved in the search of Nicky Hager's house, with only limited added outrage. That may come later.

First of all, the Police are investigating a real crime here. Even certain bloggers whom we do not name have a right to keep others out of their computer systems, and this right is protected by criminal sanction.

Hone Harawira is seeking judicial recount of votes that he doesn't think will change the result in Te Tai Tokerau, and which won't be able to look at the problems he claims existed with voting in that seat. This seems ... misguided.

There's one thing that even Hone Harawira agrees will not change following his sought after judicial recount of the vote in Te Tai Tokerau - the outcome of the election in that seat.

In which your author admits to (at least) two big mistakes about the 2014 election, and then proceeds to risk making another one.

I got one thing right about this election. I managed not to do anything as misguided as publicly state a prediction that National would get anything like as low a vote total as 44% ... as for instance, did Bryce Edwards. Yep, I'd imagine he woke up this morning feeling pretty silly.

And other assorted closing thoughts on this most unusual of election campaigns.

So, apparently there will be an election tomorrow. If you haven't yet voted, you should do so by 7pm tomorrow. Otherwise one of the Electoral Commission's kill squads will hunt you down and leave your body lying in the street for the vultures to feast on. This is an aspect of their role that does not get publicised nearly as much as it should.

Should people with intellectual disabilities be allowed to vote? What about those with dementia?

The Waikato Times has carried a couple of interesting stories in recent days about the issue of people with intellectual disabilities being entitled to vote.

Or, rather, some speculative ruminations on what will happen if Winston Peters holds the balance of power and won't commit to supporting either bloc in the House. 

Imagine, if you will, a scenario on September 21 where the provisional election results deliver a Parliament where National cannot form a majority even with ACT/United Future/Maori Party support, Labour cannot form a majority with Green/Mana-Internet Party support and Colin Craig's Conservatives fall short of the threshold.

Was The Moment of Truth an election advertisement?

I gave the ODT my thoughts on "The Moment of Truth" event last night - the tl;dr of which is that there are some important questions about the issue of data collection and surveillance to be addressed, but that the involvement of Dotcom (in particular) in it was regrettable.

With two Dirty Politics inspired inquiries on the go, where are they taking us? And will they make everything better?

So far, the Dirty Politics book has generated two inquiries. The first is into the release  of information from the SIS to a certain blogger whom we don't name. The second is into Judith Collins' alleged involvement with an alleged plot to allegedly have the head of the Serious Fraud Office allegedly removed from his office. Allegedly.

Some thoughts on both of these.

The University of Otago is going to debate Dirty Politics. We'd love for you to join in it.

Love it or loathe it, Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics and its aftermath has lit a fire under our perception of "politics as usual" in New Zealand. Exactly how all that plays out come September 20th is an as yet unknown cipher.

Beyond its effect on the upcoming election, however, the book raises a number of important questions across a range of different areas.

If a political party doesn't want you, can you get a court to tell it that it has to have you?

So Andrew Williams has decided to do a Winston Peters and go off to Court to try and stop "his" party from excluding him as a candidate.

If the NZ Herald wants its editorials to be taken seriously, it should stop using them to mislead its readers.

While I'm waiting on my copy of Nicky Hager's Dirty Tricks to arrive so that I can join the interweb's great topic de jour, a quick cut-and-paste response to today's NZ Herald's editorial.

The Electoral Commission is right to say the Planet Key song can't be played on the radio. That's because we have a stupid and outdated law in place.

By now I'm sure you've all been online and had a look at the very well put together song and accompanying video, "Planet Key". If you haven't, you really should ... it's quite clever (even David Farrar says so!).

Can TV3 keep Colin Craig out of its debates? Maybe, or maybe not.

From TV3's website:

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is threatening legal action against TV3 after he was left out of a minor party leaders debate on the channel’s public affairs programme The Nation.

How far may the Police go in tricking someone to "confess" to murder? Well, I can talk about what happens in Canada ... .

 In the early 1990s, Police in British Columbia came up with a pretty novel way of trying to get information out of suspects who had refused to tell them the "truth" in formal interviews. It's since become known over there as the "Mr Big" technique. The CBC's website describes it as follows:

Here's how Mr Big works:

Jock Anderson still just can't get over the fact that "leftie protestors" are allowed to burn flags as a form of protest. And it's all because of those meddling judges ... .

Having arrived back in the country, I note there's been a fair bit going on while I was away that I could profitably comment on. Campaign funding matters seem to have become unnaturally prominent. MFAT officials are letting criminals flee back home without their Minister knowing anything about it.

Donghua Liu's alleged donations to Labour need more scrutiny. But the Police won't be the ones to do it.

The Herald on Sunday's "big reveal" about Donghua Liu's claimed $100,000 purchase back in 2007 of a bottle of wine signed by Helen Clark is forcing me to interrupt a very pleasant stay in Newcastle to make some comments.

Having slept on the Banks decision, here's some slightly more ordered thoughts on the matter.

Before I run to catch a plane, I thought I'd post a few more reactions to Banks' trial and the outcome. Boy, did I pick a bad time to decide to fly!

David Farrar thinks that Labour is bad for not doing what National has not done as a result of the Electoral Commission's report into MMP, and Labour should not do what David thinks National should have done as a result of their election victory in 2008.

Over on Kiwiblog, David Farrar is having conniptions about David Cunliffe's promise to repeal the "coat tails" rule in MMP that allows electorate MPs to bring party list members into Parliament, as well as to lower the party vote threshold to 4%.

John Banks' political epitaph lies in the hands of a High Court judge. Will it be "John Banks, retired as MP in September", or "John Banks, kicked out of Parliament in June"?

Now that the evidence has been given and the closing arguments made, John Banks' fate lies in the hand of a High Court judge.

The MANA Movement and the Internet Party have discovered they both have a lot in common. Each very much wants to get as many of its MPs into Parliament as it can.

If at the end of last year you had gone around telling people that Hone Harawira's MANA Movement was going to join forces with a political party founded by Kim Dotcom and devoted to the cause of internet freedoms, you'd have been viewed with a certain degree of scepticism.

In a shameless piece of self-promotion, I'd like to tell you about an event I'm coordinating at the start of next month. Some of you might even like to come along to it ... .

Late last year, to little fanfare and even less notice, the Constitutional Advisory Panel released its report on the "conversation" it had with the public over New Zealand's constitution.

NZ First wants to charge straying MPs $300,000. I say they can't do it. Winston says I'm wrong. Where does the truth lie?

There's a well known saying around Wellington that you haven't really made it until you've been rubbished by Winston Peters on the radio. What, you haven't heard this saying? Well, you have now ... so it's on its way to becoming well known.

New Zealanders who stay overseas for too long don't get a vote. Is that right?

When should a member of the New Zealand community lose the right to take part in deciding how that community will live together? Or, to put it more prosaically, at what point do we remove the vote from New Zealanders?

Judith Collins wants to go to war with the media. That probably is ... not wise.

When Bill English warned National's northern region conference that the upcoming election would be "close", he meant it as a caution against complacency. Judith Collins, however, appears to have misinterpreted it as something of a personal dare.

A peripheral group of political zealots want to introduce the UK's approach to punishing burglary into NZ. Except they don't really want to do that at all.

It seems a bit odd to be devoting a post to a policy proposal coming from a party with just 0.5% support in the opinion polls - a bit like taking seriously United Future's crowing over the victory it has just won by way of the Game Sustainability Council. ("The what?"

John Banks will have a full trial on the charge that he knowingly filed a false donation declaration after his 2010 Auckland mayoral election defeat. That's not that surprising.

So John Banks is going to have to face his day in court (actually, more likely his week or more in court, given the number of witnesses that will be heard).

His attempt to have the charge against him - that he knowingly filed a false return of donations following the 2010 Auckland mayoral election - thrown out by the judge has failed. In and of itself, that really isn't so surprising.

Teina Pora is out of jail at last. Just how is it that he's spent more than half his life in there?

Being Pundit readers, there's no real need for me to tell you that the title of this post comes from Franz Kafka's The Trial. I thought it an apt source for a discussion of the unease which Teina Pora's case causes me as a "lawyer", because his experiences through the legal system are the sort of thing that the overused term "Kafkaesque" for once actually fits.

The Internet Party's candidate selection rules very well might breach the Electoral Act. This probably doesn't matter.

I had another post I wanted to write on Teina Pora's case and the gap I think it has revealed in our "Justice" system, but it'll have to wait for the moment.

Canada's Conservative Government is in the middle of trying to change its election rules to benefit itself - while its PM Stephen Harper has become the thing he once most hated.

New Zealand's political landscape has been pretty weird of late, what with Judith Collins up to her fiercesome (sic) eyebrows in milk, the Maori Nationalist/neo-Marxist Mana Party playing footsie with a recent immigrant millionaire who lives in one of New Zealand's biggest and most expensive houses, and Hekia Parata doing just whatever it is that she does on a regular basis.

David Cunliffe's Trust and the Dinner at Antoine's were not the same. I wish they were, but they just aren't.

There's been a bit of lefty gloating going on around the traps about Patrick Gower's interview with John Key on The Nation, in which he sought to draw an equivalence between David Cunliffe's use of a trust to receive donations for his Labour leader

Some fruit loop Liberal MP in Australia wants her party to lurch to the left by (gasp) doing something to get more women into Parliament. Doesn't she know that parties on the right don't do that sort of thing?

Remember back in July last year, when Labour proposed considering at its national conference adopting candidate selection rules aimed at ensuring equal gender representation?

The final say on whether Kim Dotcom will stand trial in the US may lie with a politician. Which is just the way the law says it should be.

Following some rather breathless speculation by Patrick Gower over at TV3, Kim Dotcom's fate under a future Labour/Gre

New Zealand is stopping people going to fight in the Syrian civil war. Can we do that?

I was going to post on the Japanese whaling ship Shonan Maru No 2 entering NZ's Exclusive Economic Zone while shadowing the Sea Shepherd boat, the Steve Irwin. The post was going to express my general lack of concern that it chose to do so, and point out that New Zealand's general angsting over the sustainable harvesting of Minke whales is somewhat at odds

DPF is very, very concerned about how Labour is selecting its Invercargill candidate. Where was that concern back in 2008?

I don't really know anything (and I guess I really should stop this post right there) ...

Sometimes being in favour of free speech means having to really grit your teeth and hold your nose.

Given that this is going to be a post on free speech issues, I should begin by saying that on the whole, in the round, all things considered, it is not "a good thing" for a blogger who puts up a deeply offensive, callous and hurtful post to receive death threats as a result.

If the FBI’s case against Kim Dotcom is so strong, then why hasn’t he been extradited yet? Larry Williams and Cam Slater disagreed with me on Newstalk ZB tonight when I said he had to be accused of a crime that is also a crime (carrying a similar sanction) in New Zealand.

Andrew Geddis please advise, but here’s what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says about extradition:  Anyone can be extradited, even if we don’t have an extradition treaty with that country. The extraditing country must meet these criteria:

Would Dotcom's "Party Party" have breached electoral law? Maybe yes, maybe no ... which is (for me) a shame.

Although I think the whole Kim Dotcom "Internet Party" is destined for failure as a political force (which is a topic for a whole other post), it does concern me that simply by saying he plans to set it up, he forgoes his right to hold a large, hedonistic celebration of himself and his "music" (insofar as that EDM nonsense the kids seem to like so much can be given that term ...

Graeme McCready is trying to mount Len Brown's head alongside Trevor Mallard and John Banks' on his trophy wall. I think his shots might miss, this time.

Before anyone gets over-excited at the news that Graeme McCready is filing a private prosecution against Len Brown, let's just have a wee think about what is happening. 

Fighting for your convictions is all well and good. Getting other people to pay for it isn't.

Back in 2010, I posted on the obviously hopeless case brought by the "New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust" - a front organisation I'll come back to - against the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

You can all relax now - it looks like you'll still be able to wear your favoured political party lapel badge next election day. Because I know you were really worried about that.

Back in October, in response to a proposal in the Electoral Amendment Bill to extend the ban on election day advertising to encompass rosettes, ribbons and lapel badges worn by individuals, I issued a ringing

Parliament is planning to pass a law saying how much freedom its members (and others involved in its proceedings) have from legal liability. What's more, it's telling the courts that they've stuffed that issue up.

  

The Government's seemingly never-ending constitutional review has finally delivered its report. Which is a good excuse for me to go back and test how accurate my predictions about its content were.

The Government has just released the results of the "Constitutional Review" it agreed to hold as a part of the National-Maori Party governance agreement. I can't link you to it yet, because it's embargoed until 3pm today.

Tweeting who to vote for at a by-election on the day the poll is being held is silly, but it isn't exactly the worst thing that any politician has ever done. Hell, it may not even be illegal.

So the whole David Cunliffe storm-in-a-Twitter-cup thing needs settled. Here's how I see it.

First of all, he was dumb to send out the tweet. Especially if, as I understand it, the Electoral Commission specifically warned candidates and parties not to tweet on the polling day. Sometimes you just need to put the phone down and walk away.

Three important public law developments fell on the one day. That makes posting a bit of a challenge!

Three pretty interesting public law developments took place today. (I fully recognise that attaching the descriptor "interesting" to the phrase "public law developments" is an open invitation to ridicule, but I stand by the claim!)

Alan Titford's feet of clay have been shown to all the world. But could he have been Northland's mayor?

In an ideal world, the sentencing of Alan Titford to 24 years in jail for multiple charges including rape, violence and arson would cause a number of people some embarrassment.

David Farrar is very angry that a political party is unilaterally trying to game electoral law for its own benefit. It's good to see him being so critical of National's behaviour with respect to the reform of MMP.

Labour's Ian Lees-Galloway has had his Electoral (Adjustment of Thresholds Amendment Bill) drawn from the ballot.

Should John Tamihere and Willy Jackson get forced off the air? An anguished liberal wrings his hands.

The whole Auckland rape ring (or, just perhaps (but I doubt it), fantasist Auckland rape ring) issue is like some giant chaos theory simulation, where a hurricane in the lives of some predated upon women in one place produces a butterfly's wing beat in the Radio Live broadcast studi

Apparently multiple complainants about sexual offending by men who then brag about it on the internet isn't enough to get before the courts. But there'll be no hesitation in prosecution if you dare to make a pretend poster criticising the Police's attitude towards such crimes!

There's been enough blogosphere coverage of the ongoing investigation of a group of young repeat rapists in Auckland that I haven't felt the particular need to vent on it. Lots of other people are better at discussing the issues, and I didn't have much extra to add to them.

What defines a man's life? Is it the titles he holds, the wealth he accumulates or some other symbol of status that his contemporaries hold in high esteem? And how do we decide if those symbols of status are still deserved?

John Key has announced that Sir Douglas Graham will retain his Knighthood, despite his conviction for making false statements in a company prospectus becoming final. This is, on balance and considering all aspects of the issue, a good thing.

Does the right to free speech extend to shouting at a woman to take off her burqa in a supermarket? If not, why not?

We (where "we" are nice liberal folks who share in the positive values of tolerance and respect for others) like to think New Zealand has become a more diverse society, in which people have become much more accepting of difference and display greater willingness to live with the life choices of others.

Multiculturalism. Same sex marriage. Legalisation of prostitution. And so on.

It's a shame the "Tui Billboard" meme has well and truly jumped the shark (as, indeed, has that latter meme itself), because John Banks' "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" line is a prime contender.

John Banks has a message that he wants the New Zealand public to hear. It's a message he repeats every time a microphone enters his immediate vicinity. I suspect that if you were to sneak into his bedroom as he lay sleeping and dangle a dictaphone over his face, you'd hear him automatically muttering the words in a purely Pavlovian response.

A certain blogger whose name need not be mentioned in polite company may have wounded Auckland's mayor. But "retired accountant" (amongst other things) Graham McCready has sunk a pretty big harpoon into the side of John Banks. Now, can he wriggle off it?

So, John Banks is going to a full trial on a charge that he knowingly filed a false return of his donations for the 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign by claiming as "anonymous" donations he full well knew the source of.

Thousands of New Zealanders voted this week that the police were losing their trust. Could it be because the police behave as if they're the pope? (And not in the 'without sin' sense)

I've gotta say I was a bit surprised. On The Vote this week, 56 percent of our voting viewers said the police were losing our trust, with 44 percent siding against the moot. I'd expected those numbers to be round the other way and I'd suggest it tells those at police national HQ – once memorably called "bullshit castle" – that they've got some work to do to earn back that trust.

Did you know MPs are considering making it an offence, punishable by a fine of up to $20,000, to wear a green ribbon in your hair on election day? If you think this is silly, you'd better tell them so ... soon.

I've posted on the issue of the Government's proposed further tightening of controls on election day campaigning a couple of times already. It's a slightly niche topic, so I promise this will be the last time I raise it.

Starting with wearing the niqab in court, moving to messing up prisoner disenfranchisement, passing through justifying yet more limits on election day activity, and finishing with a new theme song for Apple.

Jane already has posted on Quebec's proposed law to regulate religious symbols worn by public servants, so I'll simply add this link to a CBC article in which a Canadian attempts to explain th

Proposed planning reforms have been heavily contested by environmental, community, legal and professional organisations around the country

Environment Minister Amy Adams recently released the Government’s proposed changes to the principle planning legislation in NZ (the Resource Management Act 1991).

No, this isn't a post on Labour's leadership election (zing!) But it is about elections - more specifically, who can't take part in them.

A couple of electoral-law-related issues poked their heads above the ground in the last few days - one slightly ridiculous, the other somewhat more important.

The way the police have approached the GCSB's covert recording of Kim Dotcom is markedly different to how they approached Bradley Ambrose's recording of John Key. Why is that?

The police have announced that, following an in-depth inquiry into Russel Norman's complaint that the GCSB acted in a criminal fashion by intercepting Kim Dotcom's private communications,

I thought I'd written the last word on New Zealand electoral law. Then bloody Judith Collins tells the world she's going to make a whole lot more.

So yesterday was a good day. My daughter turned five, thus celebrated her last day at her (exceptionally good and highly recommended) preschool, Koputai Childcare Center with cupcakes and a gym-themed day of events.

John Key is claiming that the party with the most seats after the next election has a "moral mandate" to govern. Well, you would expect him to think that, wouldn't you?

It seems like I haven't been the only one to take the by-election result in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti as an open invite to speculate wildly on the possible outcome of a general election to be held in some 18 months.

Sue Kedgley worries that there is nothing to stop our MPs selling themselves to the highest bidder. There is - so they'll have to do it quietly.

Sue Kedgley has an opinion piece in the Herald today asking whether the various "cash-for-services" scandals roiling the UK Parliament could happen in New Zealand, and suggesting that a lack of regulation of MPs behaviour here means the answer is "maybe".

Apparently UnitedFuture is no longer a party recognised for parliamentary purposes because doing so would cause too much trouble.

Let's begin with a confession. Last week I wrote a post in which I confidently stated:

The NZRFU's code of conduct requires that players "never argue with the referee.  Control your temper at all times." Peter Dunne could learn from it.

The saga of UnitedFuture's status as a party rolls on, with the most recent development being that the Electoral Commission has rejected its application to register.

The court with “the potential to affect New Zealanders’ day-to-day quality of life more than any other court in the judicial system” is on the ropes. The RMLA speaks out

Yesterday, thanks to footwork from the Resource Management Law Association, the rumour of recent weeks was confirmed.

Cabinet papers did exist, it appeared, confirming that Ministerial consideration was being given to doing away with the Environment Court.

Act One of Peter Dunne's departure has come to an end. What does Act Two hold in store?

Now that Peter Dunne has turned into the political equivalent of a bleeding seal swimming amidst a feeding frenzy of hungry sharks, what happens next?

Well, there's three ways that his involvement in any past leaks will get scrutinised in the next little while. 

David Carter's decision on Peter Dunne's status was just as wrong (and as right) as Jonathan Hunt's decision on Harry Duynhoven's.

What is all this fuss about Peter Dunne, Trevor Mallard, Winston Peters and David Carter, I hear you asking?

Oh, you weren't? Well, tough. I'm telling you anyway.

I think the National Government broke the Constitution. John Key thinks it didn't. We both may be right.

My last post on the Public Health and Disability Amendment Act 2013 appeared to strike something of a chord. Certainly, it's been the most viewed piece that I've written here. 

The 2007 law change prohibiting parents from hitting their children is being quoted as an example of frustration of the popular will by Parliament. But was it?

I see it said quite often nowadays that the law forbidding parents from hitting their children was passed against the popular will. The latest  is from a commenter on Monday’s post on Pundit from Dame Anne Salmond. I don’t see it that way.

Increasingly, our Government is behaving like a playground bully. If Ministers will not restrain themselves from abuses of power, others need to stand up and speak out

In its editorial today, the New Zealand Herald joins Andrew Geddis in castigating the Government for a constitutional outrage – denying the family carers of people with disabilities the right to appeal against unlawful discrimination to the Human Rights Commission or the courts.

Government's gathering pace, in a way that ought to give us all serious pause - because it rips apart more than our constitutional fabric.

“New Zealand is a remorselessly democratic country.” -- Geoffrey Palmer

In 1977, 341,159 New Zealanders joined the petition of Gwenny Davis to Parliament.

Our constitutional arrangements work on an implicit bargain - the principle of comity - that the Courts and Parliament don't mess with each other's turf. I think that bargain just got broken.

I really don't want to be "that guy" who leaps up at monotonously regular intervals to proclaim that a latest constitutional outrage marks some sort of nadir in governmental practice.

The National Government isn't going to bother even thinking about the Electoral Commission's recommendations to reform MMP. I wish that they'd told us this was the plan before we spent our time and effort engaging with the issue.

So it looks like the Electoral Commission's review of MMP, complete with recommended changes to fix those parts that haven't been working that well,

The Crown won't be able to change Sky City's gambling concessions without paying for it. But it isn't the Crown that would do so.

I have but three words to say to those who think that the announced agreement between Sky City Casino and the National Government, complete with regulatory concessions that will permit the casino to make a lot more money from punters over the next 35 years, really is "legally binding" on the Crown.

They that live by the law, die by the internet

Just a quick note, because it's late and I've just written an 1100 words post on electoral reform.

Last year, over 6000 of us took the time and effort to engage in debating the future of our MMP system. Would it be too much trouble for the Government to let us know whether there was any point to us doing so?

Following the majority decision to keep MMP at the 2011 referendum, the Electoral Commission last year reviewed the MMP voting system in a process that involved a couple of rounds of public consultation.

The Herald is telling its readers that the "[Same sex] marriage bill leaves a few inequalities to sort out". But you Pundit readers knew that already

At the risk of being accused of commiting an act of shameless self-promotion ... oh, OK then, in a transparently obvious display of shameless self-promotion ... can I just point out that if you read this NZ Herald article about how

Why is it much, much worse for protesters to interfere with oil exploration at sea than on the land?

A couple of years ago I wrote this post about the attempts to stop Petrobras surveying for oil in the seas off East Cape.

Following the legalisation of same sex marriage, same sex couples will be able to jointly adopt their children. But which same sex couples?

One of the flow-on consequences of the same sex marriage bill shortly to become our law is that it will permit same sex couples to jointly adopt children. Some people think this is a bad thing. I strongly disagree. 

If you try to say something offensive to Parliament, it doesn't have to listen to you. But why not?

We're now unstoppably on the road to same sex marriage (and, through related amendments to other bits of legislation, same sex joint adoption). This is a good thing. I am very happy.

Will all marriage celebrants be immunized?

The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Bill will soon, it seems, be passed. The Second Reading went through comfortably by 77 votes to 44 in Parliament last night.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority appears to confuse its role in overseeing the rebuild of central Christchurch with owning it entirely. Here's a reminder - it doesn't.

By the way of the ever-vigilant No Right Turn comes a quite outrageous Radio NZ report on the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) pulling the plug

Two big legal issues in the one day! Lucky I'm on top of my game ...

It seems Pundit topics are a bit like buses.

Jury trials are slow, expensive and don't necessarily produce the 'right' verdict -- so why do we still use them?

Our legal system – note I do not call it our justice system – deserves to come in for criticism. Not everything is bad, but there are elements that need to be reformed.

Basic things don’t look right to me – for starters, it costs way too much and is way too slow. But there is more.

First they came for the partners of beneficiary fraudsters, and I was silent. Then they came for the professional advisors of corporate entities, and I thought "hang on - this is completely ridiculous!"

Minister of Revenue, Peter Dunne, has today announced new measures to prevent, detect and catch corporate tax evasion.

If you can't insure something, are you still responsible for the risk of owning it? And how sorry for you should we feel if that risk turns bad?

Back in 2011, I wrote this post about the Government’s offer to purchase the residential properties of Christchurch’s “Red Zone” inhabitants. In it I noted that behind the Government’s “offer” lay the power to compulsorily acquire property under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011, meaning that:

Look deeper into RMA reforms and you might find it's more exciting than you think: an Environment Minister taking her axe to urban trees, and the latest in a series of “democracy deficits” - this time affecting Auckland

Wake up, New Zealand. Yo, Auckland!

I want you - the 87 percent of you who live in a city or town in New Zealand - to have a think about trees. What do trees mean to you?

This is not a post about David Bain. It just looks that way.

So late last year I posted an inexcusably long, meandering (and, let's be brutally honest, criminally self-indulgent) meditation on Ian Binnie's report on David Bain's "innocence" and Robert Fisher's criticisms of that report.

Garth McVicar thinks that same sex marriage is just another part of a breakdown in moral values that causes crime. Silly Garth - everyone knows it's not wearing hats that causes crime.

So by now everyone who is anyone has taken their potshot at Garth McVicar and his "gay marriage causes crime" submission to the select committee considering Louisa Wall's same sex marriage bill.

My last post of 2012 said some mean things about Judith Collins. Let me make amends by starting 2013 with some nice words.

A couple of years ago, I had a grumpy prod at Simon Power for introducing a revamped Prisoners and Victims Claims regime into Parliament before he took off to enjoy a real life working for Westpac.

2012 in review: text of my piece for the Resource Management Journal on the changing legal landscape, and writing loudly on the political wall 

All over the country, on land and at sea, the legal landscape is changing. In pursuit of balance, the National government is rewriting laws that have sustained and built our environment.

The results are good - in parts. Other parts so deeply undermine the precarious balance so far achieved, that they compromise the whole.

This is the last word on the David Bain case. There will never be, nor need to be, another thing written about it ever again. Do you believe me much?

In my first ever Pundit post on the David Bain saga, I expressed a fear that touching it might lead me to suffer the same fate as Br’er Rabbit when he foolishly chose to engage with Br’er Fox’s Tar Baby.

Want to say something about the Binnie Report on David Bain's innocence? Or Robert Fisher's review of that report? Or Judith Collins' handling of the whole matter? Here's your chance.

So, at 3 o'clock Judith Collins will release Ian Binnie's report on David Bain's innocence (because we all know now that this is what it says) along with Robert Fisher's "peer review" of that report.

I have no idea how the David Bain compensation bid is now going to turn out. But I don't see why that should stop me telling you about it

So, it appears my preparedness to reverse my earlier doubts about David Bai

I didn't think Susan Couch would win her battle in court. I'm very glad she hasn't had to.

The first and most obvious thing to say about the Department of Corrections' decision to pay Susan Couch $300,000 in settlement of her claim against it for the shameful way it handled William Bell's release from prison is "hooray!" Whatever the legal ins and outs (and I'll get

We shouldn't use Brendan Horan's political execution as a reason to reintroduce bad law.

Following Brendan Horan's rather summary casting out from the New Zealand First caucus - or, at least, so Winston Peters has told the House ... and the assumption is that if Peters says something will happen within New Zealand First, then it will happen - there's been some mutterings about the need to revisit the now lapsed party/waka-hopping law.

David Bain's claim for compensation is starting to look more and more like Charlie Brown's attempt to kick the football.

According to the stuff.co.nz website, John Key said the following about Judith Collin's decision to seek further legal advice (actually, a review of the review) on David Bain's claim for compensation:

The House of Representatives' Privileges Committee is considering whether or not public servants should be given free reign to defame completely innocent individuals to their Ministers. Well, that's an exaggeration ... but read on anyway.

Upon my return to New Zealand (did I tell you I've been away? To America!?), I found a very nice letter waiting for me from the Hon Chris Finlayson.

The Law Society appears to think that Catholic priests are legally required to solemnise the remarriage of divorced people. And that Baptist pastors must preside over the union of athiests. Or has it got something very wrong?

To my shame, I didn't put in a submission on Louisa Wall's Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. In my defence, I was busy with other stuff when the submission date rolled around and I assumed (and still assume) that support for this legislative measure is so deep and broad (both in Parliament and in society as a whole) that it is going to become law without my help.

Steven Franks thinks Justice Simon France thinks like a terrorist. And not just any terrorist, but an Islamic terrorist ... because we all know that Islamic terrorists are just the worst sort of terrorist to be.

You are the Police. You think that a newly formed group of motorcycle enthusiasts in Nelson (oh, alright ... a gang) called the Red Devils is really a front for a much nastier organisation, the Hells Angels. And you want to stomp on them before they can get involved in any really serious, harmful criminal wrongdoing.

Did the person who told Labour that John Key (allegedly) mentioned Kim Dotcom's name at the GCSB really break the law?

Barry Soper at Newstalk ZB has broken a story about the source of Labour's information that John Key (allegedly) talked about Kim Dotcom to staff at the Government Communication Security Bureau back in February of this year - well before he claims to have first become aware

Has the Attorney General (gasp!) made up his own mind about what the NZBORA means?

In a recent post on National's Public Safety (Public Protection Orders) Bill (aka, the "we know you are going to do bad things" law), I noted that:

John Key says nobody owns the water. One hundred and sixteen years ago Richard Seddon told Ngati Kahungungu despite gifting Wairarapa lakes to the Crown, they still owned the water and the fish. Two prime ministers, which one is right?

Do property rights fade like fabric in the sun?

Or do they remain as strong as a man's word?

Middle Earth, as my colleague quipped: it’s like that’s what we’re aiming for, one massive hole in the ground. Our legal landscape is changing, with mining in view. It’s not just the EEZ, or the RMA, or the Crown Minerals Act - it’s all of them. The ground is shifting under resource management.

Piece by piece, the National government is rewriting laws that have built our environment. The Crown Minerals Bill completes another piece of the picture - it shows why promises made were false - but that Bill is only an example of the government’s wider work.

National's "we know you are going to do bad things" law is now before the House. Can the people of Whanganui now sleep safe in their beds?

So the Government's proposed "Public Protection Orders" legislation has finally been rolled out. In a nutshell, it will permit prison authorities to go to the High Court and seek an order that because "there is a very high risk of imminent serious sexual or violent offending by the respondent", an individual should be detained indefinately in accommodation on prison grounds.

John Banks knows who gave money to his mayoral campaign. We know John Banks knows who gave money to his mayoral campaign. So why don't we know who gave money to John Banks' mayoral campaign?

It's good to see that the Herald [Update: and stuff.co.nz, too] has decided not to consign the issue of John Banks' fundraising practices for his failed Auckland mayoral campaign to the memory hole.

Even more significant than the government's former ideas about mining our national parks, a long-awaited government advisory group report would spell disaster for the Resource Management Act if it were implemented

Proposals are afoot to change the way things are managed all over the country, where New Zealanders live every day. That means changes to planning and decision-making about everything that is built, or not, as the case may be. The changes proposed are big, and they’re being dressed up and glossed over like a pig in a bit of lipstick.

It looks like a lot of people owe David Bain an apology - as well as an awful lot of cash. Here's my contribution (to the apologies, anyway).

The beauty of this blogging lark is that it is very easy to quickly develop an opinion on whatever happens to be prominent in the news on a given day, pad it out into a few hundred words with a couple of links, throw it up onto the web ... then move on to next week's installment.

Who says sport, politics and literature can't mix?

Back in my undergraduate days at Otago, I took a political studies degree. One of my lecturers then was Anthony (Tony) Wood; a true legend of the field.

Yes ... Stewart Murray Wilson is a "Beast". But that doesn't mean you can treat him howsoever you want.

So Stewart Murray Wilson is "free", and the representatives of the people of Whanganui appear none to happy about that. According to the Herald:

Last night, the [Wanganui District] councillors approved five action points:

It's the day after the Electoral Commission's preliminary report on reforming MMP. Let's see what the nation's true power brokers and political junkies think of it.

Now that the Electoral Commission's proposed recommendations on MMP are on the table, the political jockeying over them can begin.

What the Ministerial amendments proposed to the EEZ Bill tell us about RMA reform plans - or, how a few lines on a page could change New Zealand's natural world

In the world blissfully inhabited by Phil Heatley, as described to an appreciative Straterra audience (including me) last week, some people always say “no”: “no” to that mine or this road, irrigation here, the subdivision over there.

The Electoral Commission's proposed changes to MMP are on the table. Whether or not you like them, you still should tell the Commission what you think.

Given that the Electoral Commission's preliminary report on its review of MMP pretty much says what I thought it should, it shouldn't be much surprise that I agree with

There's no reason why a candidate wanting to represent Auckland voters in Parliament should have to follow different rules to a candidate wanting to represent Auckland voters as mayor.

In the wake of John Banks escaping legal liability for his mayoral campaign fundraising lapses due to a technicality in the legislation - incidentally, where was the outraged press release from the Sensible Sentencing Trust about how our liberal justice system has once again failed to hold a criminal to account? - there seems to be an emerging consensus that

Turns out King Gerry is not an absolute monarch. This is a good thing.

When Parliament passed emergency legislation that gave Ministers broad lawmaking powers in the wake of the first Canterbury earthquake back in September 2010, I said this

Clayton Cosgrove is in trouble for this. What do you think - should he be?

The nineteenth century US Senator and Republican Party manager, Mark Hanna, purportedly once claimed "There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money and I can't remember the second."

The point at which Pundit gets all meta, with a post commenting on another post ... or, my thoughts on Tim's initial thoughts on the Ewen Macdonald trial verdict.

I was going to write a post of my own on the Macdonald/Guy trial verdict (interesting question - should murder trials be known by the name of the victim or the accused?) But then that busy little beaver Tim Watkin beat me to it.

The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill, currently passing through its remaining stages in Parliament, helps Big Oil less than you might think

The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill, known as the EEZ Bill, is among the most important pieces of legislation being progressed by John Key’s government. Forest & Bird, and everyone who cares about our marine environment, wants to support it.

I don't know if the New Zealand Herald editor exercises any oversight over the columns his "opinionators" send to him each week. But I thought I'd do an after-the-fact job on John Roughan's effort on gay adoption that appeared in last Saturday's paper.

Dear John - thanks for this submission for the opinion pages. I've penciled in a few comments on it for you to think about and make the necessary amendments before we could even consider publishing it.

Gay adoption has always seemed to me to be a step too far.

So the Urewera Four are serving time, yet no-one can confidently say what they were really up to and the police allegations are all over the place

Has ever so much time and money been spent on gaining so little clarity? Even with Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara now behind bars, no-one seems to be able to say what was going on at the Urewera training camps and who was at risk.

Kim Dotcom and John Banks have quite different stories about their relationship. It might matter an awful lot who is telling the truth.

Politics costs money. Anyone who has had anything to do with any sort of campaign - be it to pressure the Council to fix the potholes in your street, or to get the leader of a political party elected as Prime Minister of New Zealand - knows this. 

When National revealed its "law and order" policy before the last election, I wrote this post on it. Now that Judith Collins reportedly is preparing to introduce legislation to deliver that policy, here are some more thoughts. 

Prior to the 2011 election, Judith Collins announced that National planned to legislate to permit the ongoing "civil detention" of offenders deemed at high risk of future sexual or violent offending even after their jail sentences were complete.

I've made my submission to the Electoral Commission's MMP Review. Can you say the same?

One of these cases is not like the other, one of these cases is not quite the same. Can you tell why?

So the police investigate a complaint by the Prime Minister against a member of the media, where it is alleged that a "private communication" was intentionally intercepted using a covert recording device.

Judith Collins is threatening defamation action against those who accuse her of leaking. But I thought you could say anything you wanted about MPs?

Just a very quick note on the announcement by Judith Collins that she will sue Trevor Mallard, Andrew Little and Radio NZ for defamation ... mainly because I've yet to see any commentary by those who ought to be talking about it ... and yes, Steven Price and Graeme Edgeler, I am looking at you.

The police decision not to prosecute Bradley Ambrose means we'll never really know what happened at Newmarket's Urban Cafe. And that suits everyone just fine.

The term "a Solomonic judgment" is often misused. The point of King Solomon's "they-get-half-a-baby-each" decision, after all, was not actually that cleaving the infant in twain would best serve the needs of justice, but rather that proposing this outcome enabled him to see who was the child's real mother.

This post from the Law Commission looks at the Review of Regulatory Gaps and the New Media issues paper.  Please feel free to join the discussion

Why is it that New Zealand's Supreme Court thinks that foreign law helps us know what our law should be?

Pretend you are a judge ... one who has worked your way up to sitting on New Zealand's highest court. And you have a case in front of you. It is a dispute between (at least) two parties, who want you to say what you think is the correct legal resolution to their conflict.

The Electoral Commission has to review six aspects of MMP (plus whatever else the public puts before it). Here's my thoughts on the first issue: the thresholds for representation in Parliament.

Of the issues that the Electoral Commission has to look at in its review of MMP, I predict the question of what threshold a party should have to attain before getting proportional representation in Parliament will be the most fraught.

Now that the rather pointless referendum on keeping MMP is over and done with, the real work starts. You have to play your part, too.

We all know that Pundit readers are the best, most informed, wisest and subscribe to the highest possible standards of personal hygiene in the entire blogosphere.

(Yeah, Kiwipolitico ... I'm looking at you and asking when you last cleaned under your fingernails?)

Putting the Prime Minister on the radio for an hour to show listeners what a nice guy he is "appears to encourage or persuade voters to vote for a political party or the election of any person at an election". Who'd a thunk it?

Just a very quick note on the Electoral Commission's decision to refer the "Prime Minister's Hour" on Radio Live to the Police as a potential breach of the Broadcasting Act.

Is John Key being advised by Auckland law graduates?

I suspect the sudden threat by the Maori Party to "reconsider its relationship with National" if partialy-privatised (sorry ...

In which the author seeks to have the New Zealand legal community do his job for him. 

I've been asked by a colleague at an overseas law school to contribute to a special issue of their journal. The topic for the issue is: "The worst decision by a nation's top court of the last 25 years."

NZ on Air wants to stop people thinking they are biased in a partisan way. So why are they being accused of acting in a way that shows partisan bias?

Over on Scoop, Tom Frewen has done a commendable bit of digging into NZ on Air's response to TV3's decision to screen the documentary "Inside Child Poverty" – a NZ on Air funded documentary highly critical of successive governments' policy on the issue – 4 d

In which the government invites anyone who can pay enough into our offshore marine environment. The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill does not "protect and preserve" the environment. It states its price

TAG Oil is very excited. It wants to turn the East Coast of the North Island – “literally leaking oil and gas”!! – into the “Texas of the south”, hosting thousands of oil wells.

The election may be ancient history by now, but the controversy over the recorded conversation between John Key and John Banks is still brewing away. See what I did there?

Given that the misnamed "tea tapes" (I guess "tea digitally recorded conversation" is a bit much of a mouthful) was one of the two most important things to ha

How New Zealand is protecting its next generation clearly isn't working. Norm Hewitt, former All Black-turned-children's champion, is urging all New Zealanders to "say something" on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children, and change the end of the story for 160,000 at-risk Kiwi kids

It’s almost New Year, and so 2011 is over. It’s been a tough year for our children, our tamariki, with several appalling cases of child abuse in the headlines.

The Occupy Dunedin camp has folded. Now a judge has told Auckland's version to do the same. So it goes.

The "Occupy Aotearoa" movement (if it ever really deserved such a grand title) looks to be dwindling away to nothing. Yesterday, the last few tents were taken down in Dunedin's Octagon, as the protest members decided to vacate the area to allow for unimpeded Christmas and New Years celebrations.

The court has decided not to decide whether Bradley Ambrose's taping was legal - and that's all it has done.

So Bradley Ambrose has failed to get his declaration in the High Court that the "cup of tea" conversation between John Key and John Banks was not a "private communication".

The tea tape is making even sensible people like David Farrar say some pretty silly things. Lucky I'm here to put him back on course.

Despite the various calls to "move on" from Teapot-not-quite-gate, it's still bubbling away (see what I did there?) And it's producing some strange reactions in people who normally you can rely on to be sane and sensible in a crisis.

The police "seizing" material from the news media isn't that big a deal. [Update: except for the bit that is ...]

Just a very quick post on what I think the Police are up to in serving search warrants on news organisations for material relating to "Teapotgate" (there you go, Steven Price).

Here's my suggestion to politicians. If you want to plot the takeover of the world without people finding out about it, don't do it in a Newmarket Cafe.

For what was meant to be a short photo-op designed to remind the good folk of Epsom of their duty to Party and Nation, the cup of tea between John Key and John Banks has all turned a bit Alice in Wonderland.

Dunedin's police will not be moving to evict the Occupy Dunedin protest. Good on Dunedin's police.

I don't often get things right. I thought the All Blacks would put 20 points or more on the French in the Rugby World Cup 2011 (TM) final. I predicted Alpha Plan would be the next U2 - and if you don't know who I mean, you weren't there, man.

If you know someone very well might do a bad thing in the future, then why wait until they do it before punishing them?

Here's one of those moral-dilemma situations that get put to philosophy 101 students to illustrate the variety of forms of moral reasoning. You've got a group of (say) five people who have almost served their jail sentences for a crime.

The Dunedin City Council has tired of the Occupy Dunedin protest and wants it gone. So why is it still there?

The Occupy [Insert Place Name Here] protest movement has sparked a whole lot of head scratching "but what does it all mean?" analysis, without yet reaching any widely accepted conclusions.

If torturing a prisoner will lead to more money for victims of crime, then isn't that a good thing to have happen?

The other week, Justice Minister Simon Power gave a fantastic valedictory speech to the House. It capped off a lot of good things that he has done - in particular, I admire how he has handled the issue of changes to electoral finance rules and setting up the referendum on MMP.

"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form." Discuss.

A couple of "free speech" issues have arisen in the last week - one a bit ho-hum, the other somewhat more serious.

The Justice and Electoral Committee has done a good job on the issue of covert video surveillance. Mostly.

So the Justice and Electoral Committee has reported back on the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill.

I realise repeated posts on the issue of hidden video cameras is not a sure-fire way to increase traffic to this blog, but here we go again ...

Please forgive yet another post on the topic of the Government's "fix" for the problem of hidden video camera surveillance, but I have been invited to give evidence t

My prospects as a freelance fixer of public policy problems look distinctly unpromising .

I got a letter emailed to me today from Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.

My name is being dropped as the author of a potential way to fix the "problem" of covert video surveillance following the Supreme Court's intervention in the Urewera trials. What are the issues at stake?

Given that there's now real debate about the best way to deal with the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision in Hamed v R - the case that calls into question the Police's power to use covert video surveillance to gather evidence - here's some more thoughts on that issue.

We are told the Supreme Court's ruling on the use of covert video surveillance has caused a major headache for the Police. Let me fix that for you.

My last post set out the Supreme Court's decision on the use of secretly filmed evidence against those accused of participating in the Urewera "training camps"/"terror group"/"consciousness raising sessions" (or whatever you wish to term them).

Smile! You may be on Police camera ... and may be again.

Back in 2006, some information found its way to the ears of the NZ Police. Apparently a bunch of Maori activists, environmentalists, social justice campaigners and the like were gathering in the Urewera back-blocks and talking revolution. What is more, they were doing so while playing with guns and other nasty stuff.

MPs who say things in Parliament are absolutely protected from any legal consequences. The officials who tell them what to say aren't. Who'd be a public servant?

Erin Leigh's ongoing journey through the New Zealand legal process has taken another step towards some sort of resolution.

Erin who? Her what? My my, how soon our memories fade!

Twelve months in prison for clubbing to death 23 seals, injuring others, leaves nobody with anything to celebrate.

Yesterday, a Marlborough teenager was sentenced to two years in prison, for battering 23 seals and pups to death with a steel pole.

Simon Power needs Act's support to pass the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill. Will he tell Act to stuff Heather Roy's Voluntary Student Union Bill where the sun doesn't shine, unless they hold their noses, and support grossly illiberal legislation which does away with the right to silence?

When Chris Kahui was acquitted of murdering his twin sons in 2008, law commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer mused that perhaps it was about time we did away with the right to silence for those accused of criminal offences.

He was quoted in the New Zealand Herald: "It is not a change that would happen quickly, but talking about it is not [typo edited] wrong."

By all means let's debate the pros and cons of MMP. But it ain't going anywhere in November.

Those wanting to keep MMP in place at the upcoming referendum have been active for a while now - I've had a few leaflets thrust into my hand at the Saturday farmer's market (where Dunedin's elite meet to greet, eat and buy organic meat!) and appear under my door at work.

Residents of Christchurch's Red Zone now have two offers they can choose from. But they really do have to choose one or the other.

The Government's response to the Christchurch Earthquake is out, introducing Christchurch to the new reality of Red/Orange/Green/White Zones.

Philip Field is trying to clear his name by arguing that while he acted corruptly, being a corrupt MP isn't against the law.

Phillip Field has had his day before the Supreme Court, arguing that his 11 convictions for "Corruption and bribery of member of Parliament" were wrongly entered.

Labour has happened across a pretty nifty little parliamentary trick. But it's time to put it away, I think.

Over at Kiwiblog, David Farrar has hit high dudgeon mode over Labour's ongoing filibuster of Heather Roy's Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill (or, "the VSM Bill", as it is better known).

Who would have thought that Ryan Giggs' sexual peccadillos would cause a minor constitutional crisis in the UK?

Of late, the UK press has worked itself into something of a frenzy over the issue of (the rather scarily named) "super-injunctions".

Prisons are not the Tardis - when they fill up, then what do we do? We have to start letting people go.

Back in 2009, the Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias, gave a speech on criminal justice matters that caused a brief flurry of excitment and earned her a slap-down from the Minister of Justice, Simon Power. (I posted on it at the time here.)

The bit that got the most attention was this paragraph:

Moa brewery will give you beer to break the law. Buy more Moa beer!

David Farrar over at Kiwiblog has posted on an apparently genuine ad from the Moa brewery promising 15 crates of beer to anyone who knocks down the proposed "Wellywood" sign intended for the hill above the airport.

Why do our Supreme Court judges hate our glorious war dead so much?

Well, they don't, of course. But as this is going to be a fairly dense post on the minutiae of the law relating to freedom of expression and protest, I needed some sort of hook to get you reading it. If you feel you've been cheated ... well, sue me.

Is Hone Harawira's decision to force a by election a cynical abuse of public money or a noble commitment to accountability? Yes.

There appear to be two lines of thought on Hone Harawira's decision to resign as an MP and thus force a by-election in his Te Tai Tokerau electorate.

I look to the forward and not to the back!

Look to the future, be finished with all that!

The sound of the New Man: A tragicomedy in four acts

Dramatis Personae

Has Labour managed to stuff up even a pretty good idea? [Turns out no - not as much as I prematurely thought.]

It's becoming so fashionable to knock the Labour Party's efforts to connect with a voting populace that just seems determined to ignore it that the contrarian in me feels like jumping the other way and hailing John Pagani as a genius.

The Minister of Justice moved swiftly to change the rules on legal aid eligibility following Dame Margaret Bazley's report, but quick-as-a-flash, nothing's been done on her recommendation that creches be set up for kiddies in courts

For the past 17 months I've spent too many days hanging around district courts in Auckland and Lower Hutt as a defendant waiting for the square wheels of justice to slowly turn over.

There is a dispute out in the sea. The police must be able to arrest someone ... musn't they?

Here is what I understand to be happening at present on the seas far off the East Cape. A seismic testing vessel, the Orient Explorer, is under contract to Brazilian petrol giant Petrobras to conduct a survey of the Raukūmara Basin seabed.

NAWAC’s proposed new minimum standard, for ‘enriched’ cages for battery hens, still denies the hens the daily things that bring most joy to their clucking hearts: freedom, and humanity

Joan Chooken the matriarch, Peggy and Ruth, Poppy and Rose Buff-Orpington have stepped through the ‘meadow’ in my back yard; under the plum trees, some of them are dust-bathing now, eternally.

There'll be a lot of silliness before National's foreshore and seabed law gets passed. Here's my contribution.

I've largely been absent from the blogosphere for a couple of weeks - go on, did you notice? - due to a combination of actually having to do some work and moving house (with concomitant, albeit temporary, loss of broadband access).

But something has happened that so enrages me that I cannot allow it to pass by in silence. So I'm back.

The Police have more than enough laws to fight crime, it's just that they're not using them effectively. The two old parties - National and Labour - can just stop giving them more legislation. When did you ever hear the Rozzers say, "Thank you very much, we have enough power now."?

Justice Clifford's judgment in favour of Hells Angel member Philip Schubert, who sought judicial review overturning Wanganui City Council's bylaw banning gang insignia in public places, is a small blow for freedom of association and expression.

A Pundit debate about media ethics winds up on telly... So is my argument "spurious"? Has the media overstepped in reporting the Christchurch quake? Some new thoughts...

I got too busy to post about this yesterday, but the debate that barrister and journalist Steven Price and I began here on Pundit last week got an airing on TVNZ7's Court Report. You can watch last night's episode here. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Why the Government’s proposed Regulatory Responsibility Bill is ill- founded, constitutionally radical, and likely to hurt democracy.

John Key yesterday announced in his speech from the throne that the Government “will introduce a Regulatory Responsibilty Bill and send it to a Select Committee for submissions and debate".

"Day after day, day after day, we stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean." Could this be Hone Harawira's parliamentary fate?

So the Maori Party leadership have made their move against Hone Harawira.

We're going to have a constitutional review, with these results. But here's some other thoughts on the matter ...

Last week I was interviewed by the Otago Daily Times for an article on the upcoming constitutional review. It is now on-line here.

Species ranked ‘nationally critical’ are dying in our fisheries. Legislative fixes have twice been voted down by the National party

Peeing off marine science and conservation was the lesser evil, it seems.

The Electoral Finance Act is dead. Long live the Electoral Finance Act.

Cast your mind back, if you will, to late 2007/early 2008.

The Government has announced its review of New Zealand's Constitution. I'm announcing what it will recommend - except about the thing that really, really matters.

The Government (finally!) has announced the bones of its review of constitutional issues, a key component of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the Maori Party and National Party.

If you find yourself calling people "clowns" or "paranoids" in the course of your day job, it's a good sign that you need to join the blogosphere.

At the risk of generalising, and without wishing to offend my fellow Punditeers, I think those of us who participate in this blogging malarky share a number of characteristics. One is a (possibly overinflated) sense of self-worth and confidence in the import of what we write.

The Regulations Review Committee thinks the Government is using the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act appropriately. This is good news.

Following the Canterbury Earthquake, Parliament unanimously enacted a piece of legislation called the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010 (Or CERRA, for short).

Even though more important things are happening on the Mainland, Parliament is displaying its worst and best qualities this week.

Although the dreadful vigil at Pike River overshadows everything else, Auden reminds us that even tragedy cannot stop the world from turning;

I have written about now-plain-old Bill Wilson's story here, here, here, and (sort of) here. Time to put it to rest.

In economic jargon, a Pareto optimal outcome is one in which you cannot improve any individual's position without thereby making another individual worse off. There's probably already a term in existence for the mirror opposite situation - one where every person loses out, and any other outcome would make someone else happier.

That old adage about lovers of sausages and the law? It's true.

I've just finished watching Parliament move a step closer to disenfranchising all sentenced prisoners whilst they are serving their terms of imprisonment. It was not an edifying spectacle.

The new law on the foreshore and seabed is not just about legal rules. Its a symbol, and that's what everyone is fighting about.

I see Tim has put in his 5 cents worth - see, he knows the true current value of his thoughts! - on this topic, but as I'd already typed a chunk of this post before his went up I'll carry on irregardless.

Te Papa took a beating for suggesting Maori cultural values are a reason to treat genders differently. So what happens when Parliament legislates that Maori must be treated differently?

Seeing as the topic de jour is the invidiousness of discriminatory treatment based on characteristics such as gender or race, I assume we have universal condemnation of a law change solely designed to prevent Maori doing something non-Maori are entitled to do?

New Zealand's great voting fraud story looks to have died - for now, anyway.

For a while there it looked like the Auckland Supercity election could end up getting decided by a judge, as the unfolding claims of fraudulent voter registrations merged with claims that the early flood of votes from South Auckland were being matched by later turnout in assumedly "pro-Banks" parts of the city.

Twenty-seven academic experts in constitutional law have a warning about the legislative response to Canterbury's earthquake.

In my last post, I indicated that there is widespread concern amongst legal academics with an expertise in constitutional law about the precedent set by the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010. Today a press release has been issued, setting out the reasons for that concern.

Apparently the Canterbury earthquake emergency legislation is completely consistent with our fundamental rights and freedoms. Or ... is it?

One of the (many) things that surprised me about the passage of the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010 (CERRA) through Parliament was the absence of a notice from the Attorney-General flagging an inconsistency with th

In which the author tries to show why he is right ... so nyah, nyah, nyah.

Apparently the way to get noticed in our present political discourse is to loudly use the terms "dumb" and "stupid". Not sure whether to be saddened about this fact about our society, or to feel an element of shame in stooping to meet those standards.

The National and Act Party members of the Law and Order select committee not only have no regard for basic individual rights, but they want to give William Bell, Graeme Burton and Clayton Weatherston the vote. They are not only moral pygmies, but they are really, really dumb.

I have long been a big fan of New Zealand's commitment to parliamentary sovereignty, whereby we as a society leave the last word on our laws to the elected representatives of the people. Students in my Public Law class roll their eyes with the frequency and enthusiasm with which I refer to this basic principle of our constitution.

In order to rebuild Canterbury after the earthquake, Parliament has given the government legal powers far wider than it would have if ravening undead hoards were to spread through our land.

My recent post on the (now) Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010 (CERRA) seemed to strike a chord with fellow blogosphere denizens - or perhaps Judge Harvey's decision that Cameron Slater was guilty of breaching name suppression laws has just frighten

To fix up the aftermath of Canterbury's earthquake, Parliament is going to give the Government almost complete control over our laws. That's maybe not such a good idea.

At the risk of voicing a commonplace sentiment, Canterbury's earthquake and its aftermath was A Bad Thing to have happen. Furthermore, the response to date of government both local and central has been admirable. The damage to both physical infrastructure and people's lives demands the best efforts of our leaders and bureaucratic agencies.

Either Cameron Slater deserves our pity, or he deserves our contempt as the Peter Bethune of the right.

Is it wrong to break an unjust law? That's a question that has bedeviled serious moral and political thinkers for centuries - at least since Socrates chose to drink the Hemlock prescribed by the Athenian court rather than accept his friends' offer of escape.

Plato recounts his reasoning in Crito:

Don't be fooled - the "court challenge" to NIWA's temperature records is very little to do with the law and a lot to do with getting your attention.

It's no secret that I harbour a deep skepticism about the claims, motivations and tactics of those who would deny that anthropocentric global warming/man-made climate change is taking place. See, for instance, the (somewhat heated) comments thread to this Pundit post.

The latest episode in the unfolding story of Justice Bill Wilson sees our intrepid hero, Sir Edmund (Ted) Thomas, radically reduce the number of Christmas cards he will have to answer this year.

I think it is safe to say that the public availability of some 30-odd pages of email correspondence in which a recently retired judge and top lawyer variously debate how best to encourage a Supreme Court judge to resign from office, suggest a preparedness to overlook judicial misconduct if n

A new Bill proposes that incumbents shouldn't be able to use public funding to pay for their election ads. Surely that's cause for celebration?

Over at No Right Turn, Idiot Savant castigates National for its hypocrisy in introducing a Bill to limit what MPs and political parties can use their publicly funded parliamentary entitlements fo

Gerry Brownlee, in his haste to scrape the bottom of the oil barrel, is showing some disregard for Maori that is not mana-enhancing

“Our prime purpose is with regard to petroleum. I think some people are interested,” said Rt Hon Keith Holyoake, in 1965, introducing the Continental Shelf Act.

The government's decision to change the patent law regarding software has got techies and lawyers up in arms. It's out of kilter internationally and raises questions about the select committee process

It's been a quiet controversy, but last week's decision by Commerce Minister Simon Power that software should not be patented - at least not unless it's "embedded" (ie, software built into a device) - was

On Wednesday I argued that New Zealand should fix the general election date in law. Here's how it could be done.


New Zealand should fix its election date in law. Otherwise, John Key needs to tell us when the 2011 election will be held ... and soon.

On Monday I had the pleasure (and I'm not being sarcastic here - it genuinely was a pleasant experience) of talking to Parliament's Electoral Legislation Committee for the best part of an hour about the bills to set up the 2011 referendum on MMP

Banning smoking in prison stops crime. The Daily Telegraph says so. It must be true.

The news (update: confirmed here) that the Government intends to ban smoking in prisons by 2011 isn't entirely surprising.

The High Court has just said that straight de facto couples jointly can adopt a child. Great - now what about the rest of the community?

Two posts in a day on matters legal may stretch the patience, but given this previous post of mine on adoption matters I feel the need to comment on the High Court's just released decision in the delightfully named case Re: A.M.M. and K.J.O.

Would electing a serving police officer be a valuable addition to a local authority, or a threat to our very constitution? Whatever your view, you 're too late ...

My friend and fellow constitutional law nit-picker, Dean Knight, has drawn my attention to yet another questionable use of parliamentary procedure by the present Government.

There's what the law says. Then there's the law that gets applied. Why do we view the former so differently to the latter?

So - quick pop quiz. What is the maximum speed you can travel on New Zealand's open road without incurring legal sanction?

Australia’s ICJ proceedings look like the latest high stakes manoeuvre in a diplomatic poker game with Japanese whalers

Where there are lawyers, there will be argument.

"Curiouser and curiouser!" cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English) ... . That little phrase might make an apt replacement for our Supreme Court's current moto, "Tuitui tangata, tuitui korowai".

Presently she began again. "I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth! How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downward! The Antipathies, I think--" (she was rather glad there was no one listening, this time, as it didn't sound at all the right word) "-- but I shall have to ask them what the name of the country is, you know.

One of the great things about replacing the Privy Council with our own Supreme Court is that we get a lot more interesting decisions issued. This week alone has seen three.

It's time to turn attention back to our Supreme Court for the right reasons - the decisions it is releasing.

Justice Bill Wilson's case is set to break new ground in front of a Judicial Conduct Panel. Let's all just wait for it to do its job.

The Judicial Conduct Commissioner, Sir David Gascoigne, has made his recommendation to the Attorney-General as to what he thinks should be done about the allegations leve

The Judicial Conduct Commissioner is still conducting a preliminary inquiry into Justice Bill Wilson. The important judgment may get delivered in the court of public opinion

This is my third post on the contretemps involving Supreme Court Justice Bill Wilson (my first two posts on it are here and