Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Greens Flip-Flop

From my bout of recent postings, one would think that I hate the Greens. I don't. I quite like the Greens when it comes to social issues. I guess one invariably talks of the Greens though when you have a series of slow news days.

So, the Greens have decided to support the Government in its Prisoners and Victims Bill. Their justification for this is because to not support it would mean that Labour would have to fold to United's demands of first of all, all compensation being paid to the victim of the crime, and secondly, a prisoner having to exhausted all other extra-court avenues. In turn they trumpet the bill now since they have got an independent prison inspectorate, and, what surely is the best thing this bill could ever have, a sunset clause. More information here.

I disagree with Idiot/Savant's analysis here, which sees the bill as a success in that it has wrenched it from the more extreme clauses which United wanted. Here's what the Green Spokesman on Justice, Nandor Tanczos, had said on the bill earlier:

Green MP Nandor Tanczos says the Government’s proposals to control prisoner compensation are political crisis management that may have dangerous unintended ramifications for justice in New Zealand.
Perhaps it was put more strongly by Keith Locke, when the Ministry of Justice suggested it would appeal decision by the court awarding compensation:

Green MP Keith Locke says threats by the Justice Minister to appeal compensation awarded to five prisoners for severe illtreatment send the message that prisoners have no human rights and ‘deserve’ whatever brutality they encounter in jail.
I agree with Locke, as I see the most important issue here that prisoners are being abused to the point that they can get compensation awarded by a court - not that compensation is paid to prisoners. If we allowed such treatment of prisoners under law, then they would of course not be awarded compensation. We don't, and we shouldn't.

The Greens have effectively allowed parts if not all of future compensation to be paid to the victim, which raises two issues in my mind. Firstly, why is it that prisoners, who have been kept in solitary confinement described as a 'box', not been allowed out to go to the toilet and been told to use a corner, do not deserve compensation? Secondly, why is it that the victim does? Now, I know that victims of crime may experience trauma and the like. But this is an argument to compensate all victims of crime - not just those who were victimised by people later tortured or punished unusually.

More and more in my opinion do the Greens seem to going against their principles. Yes, NRT is correct saying that it could have been worse. What they should have done though to stick to their principles is criticise and publicise accordingly. A party that is supposedly founded on ideals should not cut and run for 'better deals'. This isn't a way that the Greens act often. They didn't say "Ok, maybe not a moratorium, but why not just 20 plants a year". They didn't and they shouldn't have.

The only reason they are changing now is to try to demonstrate to the government and New Zealand that they have legislative nous and that they will not hold a government to ransom. Dunne has been claiming he is the moderating party and been attacking the Greens. This is now just their way of providing proof that they know realpolitik


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want kept uptodate

10:03 PM  

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