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NZ POLITICS DAILY: Injustice in the justice system?

The justice and policing system has come under tough scrutiny this week, with questions about its fairness, especially in terms of racial bias. 

Thu, 15 Sep 2016

Allegations of racism continue to characterise political debate at the moment. The main race-based story this week has been the conviction and sentencing of the son of the multi-millionaire Delegat wine company family. The scrutiny he faced indicated the extent of the heightened awareness of race and class inequalities in society. The media ran a huge number of stories reflecting the public’s scepticism about whether the sentence handed out to Nikolas Delegat was influenced by his background.

 

Richlister justice – rich white privilege?

 

Possibly the strongest coverage was TV3’s four-minute Story item by Dale Owens – watch: Did Nikolas Delegat's punishment fit his crime? See also Owen’s story, Why was Delegat's sentence so much lighter than Maikuku's?

 

What’s been interesting about the accusations of privilege, is that they’ve come from some surprising sources. After all, it was Police Association president Greg O'Connor who really kicked off the debate, when he went public with his concerns: "Had we been talking about a young Polynesian man from south Dunedin, then I'm sure we would have been talking whether it was 12 months or six months, or maybe even longer” – see Dan Satherley’s Delegat's light sentence down to wealth and skin colour - Police Association. O’Connor alleges that “big city lawyers" bullied the judge to keep Delegat out of jail. 

 

Rightwing blogger David Farrar has commented: “I’m not exactly a social justice warrior but if Delegat was say a young Pacific Islander in South Aucklander who had punched a cop unconscious and then kept punching her, I’d say he’d probably be serving a significant jail term” – see: Would he have got community service if he was a South Aucklander?

 

Similarly, Waikato University’s Leonie Pihama said it was about power: "You have a combination here of race and class. So you have a wealth privilege that enables an ability to have a particular kind of defence, enables an ability to advocate that this is a one-off and this is really a good person” – see RNZ’s Delegat's sentence about 'race and class’.

 

But was the judge’s sentence really out of line with what others receive? No, according to various lawyers. For example, Queens Counsel lawyer John Billington says “What you are talking about here is somebody who has no previous record… It doesn’t matter what socio-economic group they come from. You get a first offender on that charge, with a clear record, then the outcome is going to be very similar… The court was bound to impose the least restrictive sentence and it’s certainly not going to send someone to prison in those circumstances on that charge” – see Campbell Gibson’s Nikolas Delegat sentencing fair, QC says

 

Similarly, Dunedin criminal barrister Anne Stevens said the allegations of injustice were “'outrageous'', and that in her 29-years of experience the sentence was ''entirely consistent'' – see Shawn McAvinue’s Claim Delegat got rich person's justice disputed. She is quoted as saying “'It's nothing to do with his parents' wealth, it's nothing to do with the colour of his skin; it's to do with his culpability and his character.'' 

 

See also the Herald’s Rich-lister's son got a fair sentence, Law Society says. In this, Steve Bonnar QC of the Law Society says the sentence for Delegat appears fair, but criticisms of it are not: "Criticism of Judge [Kevin] Phillips is not fair. His decision on whether to discharge Mr Delegat without conviction is freely available online and it shows all the factors which the Judge considered: the gravity of the charges, the viewpoints of the victims, the impact of a conviction, and the guidelines laid down by our appellate courts which must be followed. These were then reflected in the sentences.”

 

As to whether Delegat indeed got off lightly, some point to the massive amounts of negative publicity he has received, which wouldn’t have occurred if he wasn’t from a rich background. According to Newshub’s Chris Holden, the public debate had “handed him a life sentence, which means he will never be able to hide from his actions. Now, when he goes to apply for a job, employers will search his name in Google and discover his horrendous actions” – see: Money didn't buy Nikolas Delegat freedom - it earned him an inescapable life sentence.

 

The Herald newspaper says the public scrutiny has been useful, but ultimately justice appears to have been served, and the judicial system shown to be working – see: Delegat case - system must resist rush to judgment.

 

Racism in the legal system and police?

 

There is no doubt that questions about racial and economic inequality in the justice system will linger. After all, nearly 70 percent of the country's prison population is made up of Maori and Pacific people.  The statistics for reoffending rates are also worst for Maori, leading some to question whether the Corrections Department has adequate rehabilitation strategies for Maori – see the Herald’s Tribunal case holds hope on critical issue

 

And last year Police Commissioner Mike Bush admitted that there is an unconscious bias within the police. Hence the police are going to great lengths to show how culturally sensitive they are – see RNZ’s NZ police work to bridge cultural divides. See also the news report that police are able to wear “articles of faith” such as turbans – see Chloe Winter’s Police and banks considering adding hijab to official uniform

 

But doubts remain about how fairly police deal with different ethnicities, with a report out yesterday from the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) which shows that warnings are more likely to be given to non-Maori offenders – see Newswire’s Police give Māori fewer pre-charge warnings – IPCA

 

Police Commissioner Mike Bush went on the Paul Henry Show this morning to explain the situation – see the five-minute interview: Non-Maori more likely to avoid charges, but police 'absolutely not' racist. His rationale was, “A big part of the discrepancy that still exists is that Māori offenders are more likely to have previous convictions, making it harder for police to make the call not to press charges.”

 

There are other signs this week of major discrepancies in the system – see Jordan Bond’s Maori imprisoned at twice rate of Europeans for same crime. According to Labour’s Kelvin Davis, this shows that there's an unconscious bias "right throughout the judicial system". Of particular interest in the article, sociologist Greg Newbold is quoted saying that "I don't think the courts are racially biased, I think they've got a strong class bias."  He explains that more work needs to be done to investigate the data, but that ethnicity is not likely to be factor once the research controls for “a number of factors, including prior criminal history, likelihood of reoffending, gang or organised crime connections and employment status”.

 

Finally, the Richlister justice issue raises lots of serious questions about race, class and power, and Raybon Kan rises to the challenge today – see: Lawyer takes the prize for Delegat misdeed

 

 

Today’s content

 

All items are contained in the attached PDF. Below are the links to the items online.

 

Racism and race issues

Aaron Smale (RNZ): Call for institutional racism investigation

Dan Satherley (Newshub): Non-Māori more likely to avoid charges, but police 'absolutely not' racist

Newswire: Police give Māori fewer pre-charge warnings - IPCA

Newstalk ZB: Mike Bush: Police responding to IPCA report showing racism

Jordan Bond (Herald): Maori imprisoned at twice rate of Europeans for same crime

Willie Jackson (Waatea News): Partnership with Radio New Zealand

Mohamed Hassan (RNZ): Pākehā let off by police twice as often as Māori

Stuff: People from some ethnic groups, provinces avoid police charges more often

No Right Turn: Our racist police

Chloe Winter (Stuff): Police and banks considering adding hijab to official uniform

Roger Moroney (Hawke’s Bay Today): Fight to change right-to-silence laws after Moko's killing

John-Michael Swannix (Te Waha nui): Bastion Point-type protest under consideration

 

Rich-lister justice

Herald: Rich-lister's son got a fair sentence, Law Society says

Campbell Gibson (NBR): Nikolas Delegat sentencing fair, QC says (paywalled)

Dale Owens (Newshub): Why was Delegat's sentence so much lighter than Maikuku's?

Dale Owens (Newshub): Did Nikolas Delegat's punishment fit his crime?

Chris Holden (Newshub): Money didn't buy Nikolas Delegat freedom - it earned him an inescapable life sentence

Jo Moir (Stuff): Judith Collins spoken out about attack on police woman previously but silent on latest assault

Eleanor Ainge Roy (UK Guardian):New Zealand police hit out at sentence given to tycoon’s son for assault

Herald Editorial: Delegat case - system must resist rush to judgment

Raybon Kan (Herald): Lawyer takes the prize for Delegat misdeed

Pete George (Your NZ): Delegat case and rushing to judgment

 

Kermadec marine sanctuary

Chris Bramwell (RNZ): Māori Party puts govt on notice over Kermadec row

Katie Bradford (TVNZ): Kermadec dispute: Maori Party cites 'examples where indigenous groups have fishing rights inside sanctuary areas'

Jane Patterson (RNZ): National and Māori Party's relationship under pressure over Kermadecs

Isaac Davison (Herald): Maori Party won't rule out walking away from National over Kermadec sanctuary

Newshub: Iwi pulls out of Kermadec trip

Simon Wong, Jenna Lynch, Maiki Sherman (Newshub): Māori, Govt still at odds over Kermadec sanctuary

Mihingarangi Forbes (RNZ): Govt to delay Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill

Sam Sachdeva (Stuff): Kermadec sanctuary legislation to be delayed after failed negotiations over Maori rights

Chris Trotter (Daily Blog): “So Long – And Thanks For All The Fish.” National Abandons Green For Brown

Barry Soper (Herald): Governments slow to learn when it comes to Maori issues

No Right Turn: National's arrogance bites it in the arse

 

Environment

Geoff Simmons (Morgan Foundation): Has Horizons Council been hijacked by dairy farmers?

Malborough Express Editorial: Sustainability more than just a buzzword

Josh Freeman (Herald): Trade rules allow fossil fuel industry to block the path to a healthy climate

Hawke’s Bay Today: Greenpeace avoids police charges

 

Parliament

Claire Trevett (Herald): Speaker: solution to MPs' email problems 'complex'

RNZ: Speaker suggests solutions for MPs' email issues

Newshub: MPs' emails not monitored, Speaker says

Jo Moir (Stuff): MPs' emails continue to be monitored by Parliamentary Service until issue resolved

Jane Patterson (RNZ): MP email screening would breach privilege – Dunne

Jane Patterson (RNZ):‘They have no right to be screening emails' – Hipkins

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Hipkins is hysterical – but right!

Herald: Winston Peters' decluttering solution: Cut number of MPs to 100

Jenna Lynch (Newshub): Do we have enough MPs?

Newshub: Winston Peters kicked out – again

Jenna Lynch (Newshub): Parliament's Speaker is a bully - Winston Peters

Lloyd Burr (Newshub): Parliament expansion on the cards

 

Colin Craig defamation trial

RNZ: In a nutshell: the Colin Craig defamation trial

Yvonne Tahana (TVNZ): Texts claim Colin Craig slept on Rachel MacGregor's lap while she sung him hymns

Anna Leask (Herald): Former councillor Aaron Bhatnagar: Colin Craig 'impugned my reputation'

Nicole Bremner (TVNZ): 'I've put on a huge amount of weight due to stress' - Rachel MacGregor says Colin Craig saga has ruined her life

Stephanie Rodgers (Standard): Beware, creepy men of the right: Rawshark returns (briefly)

Anna Leask (Herald): Colin Craig defamation case: Rachel MacGregor grilled over resignation

Sarah Robson (RNZ): Texts to Craig were not romantic, ex-staffer says

Kelly Dennett (Stuff): Rachel MacGregor's text messages to Colin Craig read to court

Adam Hollingworth (Newshub): 'I couldn't stand him' - MacGregor on Craig

Pete George (Your NZ): Williams v Craig – cross examining MacGregor

The Civilian: Opinion: I think it’s fairly obvious I meant to send those sexy sexts to myself

 

Local government

Alexandra Newlove (Northern Advocate): Election officials: Don't vote for her

Richard Harman (Politik): Goodbye Labour, hello centre, Goff is off

RNZ: Compare the policies of Auckland's mayoral candidates

Matt Stewart (Stuff): Damp flats big issue as Wellington mayoral candidates take on Vic Uni students

Jeffrey Kitt (Stuff): Older demographic key in Marlborough council elections

Anna Loren (Stuff): Auckland mayoral candidate Vic Crone's climate change view 'backward'

Dan Satherley (Newshub): No consensus on climate change amongst voters – Crone

Chris Keall (NBR): Goff leads among National voters, all-comers in latest Auckland Mayoral poll

Simon Wilson (Metro): The man in the middle

Simon Collins (Herald):Private money may fund light rail, say mayoral candidates

Bernard Orsman (Herald): City Rail Link funding breakthrough

Press Editorial: What is Christchurch's resilience pledge actually delivering for the city?

Tom Dillane (North Shore Times): A life in North Shore politics: Dianne Hale retires after 30 years' service

RNZ: Gisborne mayor's $20 koha 'does not translate into an offence'

Gisborne Herald: Police find 'absolutely no wrongdoing' in Gisborne Mayor Foon bribe probe

Stuff: Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon cleared by police of making inappropriate donation

Mava Moayyed (RNZ): What can local body politicians do to convince us to vote?

Deena Coster (Stuff): Leading Maori musician's visit inspired by New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd's stance on race relations

 

Family violence legislation

Dominion Post Editorial: Family violence law changes a step in right direction

Press Editorial: Government's $130 million family violence package is a solid start

Dita de Boni (TVNZ): Causes of domestic violence go deep

 

Welfare

Simon Collins (Herald): Law penalising one-night stands may be wiped

Lisa Owen (Newshub): Women's benefits cut for not identifying fathers

Eva Corlett (RNZ): Beneficiaries 'punished' for not naming child's father

 

Education

Nicholas Jones (Herald): Education overhaul - what it means for students, parents and schools

Nicholas Jones, Catherine Gaffaney (Herald): Education Minister Hekia Parata asks for investigation after reports of 5-year-olds struggling to speak at school

Michael Reddell (Croaking Cassandra): $100000 of coerced child labour

Kate Pereyra Garcia (RNZ): Staff see red over Vic Uni pay dispute

 

Health

Newshub: Māori Party MP Marama Fox wants dairies to need cigarette licenses

Ewan Sargent (Stuff): E-cigarettes could be saving lives as smokers use them to quit - study

Karen Brown (RNZ): Call to consider compulsory sugar labeling

Edwin Mitson (Herald): Southern Cross Health surplus jumps to $35 million

 

Euthanasia

Emma Jolliff (Newshub): Euthanasia debate reignites in Parliament

RNZ: NZ Medical Association warns against euthanasia

 

Women

Newshub: Minister: Lack of respect for women rife

Jo Cribb (Stuff): More than women's work

Melissa Nightingale (Herald): Women's Council conference goes public for 120th birthday

 

Labour Party

Vernon Small (Stuff): Poor polls sensitive issue as Labour MPs brace for gender-balanced list

Rob Hosking (NBR): Labour's weird data obsession and that awkward poll (paywalled)

Steven Cowan (Against the current): Missing the Zeitgeist

 

Transport

Newshub: Govt sets target of 64,000 electric cars

Lloyd Burr (Newshub): Drones will ease traffic congestion – Bridges

Mike Dinsdale (Northern Advocate): MP Winston Peters condemns reduction to Whangarei-Auckland line

 

Other

Rod Vaughan (ADLSI): The quest for a New Zealand Constitution

Jack Vowles: Let’s Talk About Polls

Gerard Hutching (Stuff): Landcorp to sell nine sheep and beef farms spread over 14,000 hectares

RNZ: Shelly Bay sale possible despite opposition

Nevil Gibson (NBR): Why Kiwi writers hate John Key and don't read NZ books (paywalled)

Anusha Bradley (RNZ): KiwiSaver investment laws 'unclear'

Phil Pennington (RNZ): Migrant workers scammed thousands for fake job

Claire Dale (Child Poverty Action Group): Breaking down the 'social investment' approach

Bryan Gould (Herald): Spare us praise for those who get rich on housing speculation

Stacey Kirk (Stuff): Vacant DHB land in Auckland to be used for housing

Katherine Dolan (Stuff): New Zealand is no paradise, it is brutal

Katherine Dolan (Stuff): New Zealand is no paradise: Is it the most sexist place on earth?

Tamsyn Parker (Herald): Young take dim view of the future of NZ super

Dom Post Editorial: Claims of Kiwi war crimes in WWI must be taken seriously

Keith Locke (Daily Blog): Key’s shameful support of Fiji arrests

Newshub: Government funds $209m of new science projects

Rosemary McLeod (Dom Post): Chiefs incident reveals the underside of sport and the underside of all our lives

Michael Daly (Stuff): The sound of the National Party talking to itself

Paul Goldsmith (Herald): Protection vs cost finely balanced

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