Andrew Little |
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 – 10:45
The corporate world must know the public expects to call to account unjustified actions or omissions that end up killing people, Labour’s Justice spokesperson and author of a Bill on corporate manslaughter, Andrew Little, says.
Speaking at an aviation conference in Dunedin this morning (read here) Mr Little said a corporate manslaughter law, as opposed to ordinary manslaughter as it is presently provided for under the Crimes Act, deals with collective failures of governance and management.
“It deals with systems failures. And it deals with poor culture at all levels.
“It is difficult under the Crimes Act for the collective failures of a number of responsible people – any of whom may be regarded as culpable – to be called to account.
Referring to the Pike River mine tragedy Mr Little said it wasn’t just the directors and management of the company who failed in that case: “The other system that failed was our health and safety regulations, including the inspectorate.
“Put another way, it shouldn’t only be Peter Whittall in the dock when that case goes to trial.
“The call for a specific law on corporate manslaughter reflects on-going concern, if not despair, at our persistently high workplace fatality rate.”
On the issue of accident investigations in the aviation sector Mr Little acknowledged the purpose of the limitations on the use of cockpit voice recorders in criminal and other proceedings.
“It is in the public interest that aviation accidents, because of the impact that an unsafe aviation industry could have, are able to proceed without obstruction from those who would otherwise seek to withhold evidence as a matter of avoiding self-incrimination.
“Where gross negligence can be established in relation to systems and culture, a prosecution for corporate manslaughter can proceed on the basis of evidence other than cockpit voice recorders and similar sources.”