Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Reform targets parents of accused

Ex-cop MP's bill aims to stop young people re-offending and to make their guardians take responsibility.

The parents or guardians of young people before the courts could have bail conditions imposed on them as well as their children, such as not drinking alcohol and having to reside at a particular address, under a private members' bill in the name of Northland MP Mike Sabin.

Another bill drafted by Mr Sabin would change laws about the right to silence in cases when the victims are children or the mentally impaired.

They are two of four private members' bills developed by Mr Sabin in the members' ballot.

Parliament's rules allow only one bill per MP, so the other three are in the names of colleagues and should one be drawn, he will take it over.

The former police officer and first-term MP says he drafted the bail bill for parents after feedback from Youth Court judges and police.

"One of the challenges that the judges have is that they can put conditions on the children who are in front of the court but they can't do anything with the parents or guardians who ultimately let them down."

The Children, Young Persons and Their Families (Parent's and Guardian's Responsibility) Amendment Bill would allow the Youth Court to set bail conditions for parents and guardians in a bid to prevent re-offending.

Mr Sabin believed at least half of the responsibility for youth offending was down to adults making sure their children were being properly supervised.

Mr Sabin's bills have been approved by the National Party caucus for support at first reading should any be drawn from the ballot.

"To me being an MP is not sufficient. You've actually got to look at ways in which you can add value and what I have tried to do is identify where there are gaps, and as backbencher I try to develop policy and the legal framework to achieve change in that area."

The Evidence (Inference from Silence) Amendment Bill is in the name of list MP Alfred Ngaro, and would make controversial changes around the right to silence for crimes committed against children aged under 12 or against a mentally impaired person. The Local Government (Freedom of Access) Amendment Bill is in the name of Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, and seeks to address the situation in Occupy protests in 2011 in which protesters set up camps on council land, but which he says were difficult to deal with under the trespass laws.

The fourth bill is in the name of senior whip Louise Upston. The Employment Relations (Safe and Healthy Workplaces) Amendment Bill sets out a legal framework for drug and alcohol testing in workplaces instead of relying on case law.

Members' bills
*Members' bills, also known as private members' bills, are usually debated in Parliament every two weeks unless the House is under urgency.
*Some MPs have no bills in the ballot.
*Mike Sabin's four bills: allowing Youth Court judges to put bail conditions on parents, not just the accused offenders; changing right-to-silence laws in a bid to remove impediments to police investigations, especially into child deaths; making it easier for councils to remove protesters from council parks and property; setting out a legal framework for drugs-testing at work.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 20 Dec 2014 05:35:49 Processing Time: 442ms