Prisoners rights to vote and the dark path to eroding our civil liberties as promised by National

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When National passed this nasty spiteful piece of legislation to rob prisoners of the right to vote in 2010, there were few voices who cried out in opposition.

I was one then and still am now.

Watching how the debate has built to a far larger coalition of voices over those 9 years shows real progress on this issue because this always deserved to have been debated far wider than it was when National passed it.

Prisoners like Arthur Taylor who fought the State when no one else would are the real heroes here and it wasn’t until the Court ruled in his favour that the system has been forced to change, so let’s not pretend for one second this is a Labour Government going ‘soft’ on crime, the Government was forced to make this change because when National passed this in 2010, they didn’t do it with a super majority.

As quaint as it sounds, there are laws relating to our human rights, like voting, that demand a super majority of Parliament to change, and removing prisoners rights to vote needed a super majority, National didn’t have a super majority, so the law to remove prisoner rights to vote was illegal.

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This is why the Government has to change it. Simon Bridges comments on this fiasco are so disingenuous it’s difficult to appreciate how he can say them with a  straight face…

…NO! NO! NO! Parliament are not ‘entitled’ to strip prisoners of the right to vote, you need a super majority to do that! For Simon to be arguing that a bare 51% majority has the power to strip the rights off the other 49% is a dangerous precedent to be attempting to seek here.

I get that Simon has to be a bit of a dick as leader of the opposition to get media oxygen, but add his desire to send in the Police to forcibly remove protestors from Ihumatao, his desire to breach the human rights of beneficiaries and gang members, his desire to impose forced labour on prisoners and his desire here to remove super majority human rights from Parliament all combine to suggest that National are utterly set to lead NZ down a significantly less human rights society.

National are boasting about creating second class citizens who have lesser rights than the rest of us, how the hell have they managed to get the narrative this far down such a road without getting called out on it?

If we are to believe the glint in the rhetoric they are spinning, National aren’t dog whistling for a Government that actively strips civil rights, they are promising it.

This isn’t just election day get tough muscle flexing, National has every intention of pushing NZ closer towards a Police State.

This mentality that you lose fundamentally indivisible human rights to the State is a dark and extremely dangerous direction to take and it seems National wish to have a long walk down that rout if given the chance to get elected next year.

We should call them on it and reframe the entire line of questioning so that it reminds voters what’s at stake.

23 COMMENTS

  1. The good thing is the sun is still shining here. A bit of a surprise really. Given some of the reaction after the announcement of prisoners being allowed to vote I was pretty sure the world was going to end.

    Simon does have to be a bit of a dick to get attention. I admire how he takes that so seriously he goes Trump, with ‘bit’ turning into huge. Then again given all the richards he appeals to he knows to fit in only huge and consistent will do.

  2. Don’t forget the American and other foreign millionaires who can buy citizenship and vote yet never live here or do fuck all for our country

  3. National’s M.O is to ensure anyone who is disadvantaged (beneficiary) or who’s made blunders and bad choices in life (Prisoner) is cast into an offal pit and stays there. It’s quintessential National. Incredibly divisive and short sighted. Do we not have enough hatred in NZ? Do we not have enough violence? Do we not have enough crime? Do we not have enough suicide?

    Only good will come from giving Prisoners the vote. It values them as a human being. Many of them will have felt totally devalued most of their life. It encourages them to think about the sort of world they want to live in and allows them to have a say in that. Voting encourages Prisoners to feel a part of the wider community when many will have likely never felt that previously.

    Deny them the vote and encourage their previous destructive mindset to continue. A ticking time bomb just waiting to be released and unleashed. The very last thing our beautiful country needs are vile pieces of dog turd like Bwidges being in power. He does way more than enough damage just being the leader of the Me Me Me Latrine Rodent Party.

    If the slime ball had half a brain he would never have refused to meet the President of the Waikato Mongrel Mob Kingdom Chapter Sonny Fatupaito and attend their Mana Whānau event. Sonny is exactly the sort of person Bwidges should break bread with. An articulate man who has made blunders and bad choices on his life journey when he had little hope and direction. Now, he’s made positive change and wants to encourage more like him to do the same. This is exactly how to help people evolve and in doing so, help us all. Instead, that human excrement of a man Bwidges, decided to climb his Ivory Tower and throw shit at Sonny and anyone else who made similar bad choices to him in the past. Just fuck off Bwidges. NZ needs you like it needs stage 4 Lymphoma. Take that smell dog Pullya Benefit with you.

    • Jacindafan – ” National’s M.O is to ensure anyone who is disadvantaged (beneficiary) or who’s made blunders and bad choices in life (Prisoner) is cast into an offal pit and stays there.”

      This is obstructing the rehabilitation of offenders to score political brownie points; as such it is unacceptable.

      Bridges cannot complain about others being soft on crime, if he himself puts impediments in the way of prisoners becoming useful participant members of society- it’s quite insidious – especially when it’s in breach of the Bill of Rights.

      Most of the good brains in the Nats were in Chris Finlayson’s head, and if he couldn’t get his own party to abide by the law, then expecting a little plonker like Bridges to think straight, is unrealistic.

      The numbers affected aren’t huge, and it could be seen as an anti-Maori move – but appealing to rednecks with sun-frazzled brains; pitting them against prisoners is deliberate shit-stirring for a very small dividend, and Bridges is looking more and more like a vile little desperado clutching at straws – plastic straws.

      He mustn’t ever get to turn the clock back on this, and Labour needs to be unequivocal about it, loudly, not whispering away behind doors.

  4. Agree 100% with this post. Why did COL not change the prisoner voting rights straight away is the other question?????

    I really hate hypocrisy and allowing foreigners rights to vote here like Peter Thiel and adding hundreds of thousands of new residents to vote here too under their watch, while pretending to want to improve Maori rights while diminishing their voting power with the above while at the same time, not straight away repealing the Natz voting for prisoners (and I for one believe we have a justice system that is totally biased against Maori) which are over represented Maori??? .

  5. Precisely Snow white which is why so many of our Maori whanau can’t stand the prick he Maori bashes whenever he gets the chance and he kicks people who are already down. If he was the PM he would have sent our NZ police to Ihumatao to hit us all with batons women and children included this is what this guy is prepared to do for power he will leave no stone un-turned.

    • michelle – I think Bridge’s is going totally off his rocker – I’ve thought that for the past week or so. He is now proposing setting the court systems in competition with each other to speed up the justice system, to help get rid of back logs etc.

      From One News online tonight:

      “Sunlight is a remarkable disinfectant, if we are able to see city by city or region by region what the timeframes for court cases is, I believe that spurs a competitive impulse that does get movement happening within the system,” he said.

      The National Party leader thinks “something akin to a league table” would help facilitate this competitive drive within the court system. ” Bollocks.

      As a lawyer, Bridges should be aware of the need for care and circumspection in addressing all legal issues, but he’s reducing serious matters to the level of school sports three-legged races. I’m appalled.

      Wanting a “competitive drive” between the courts must come from his Pakeha genes, the Maori way was, or used to be concensus and co-operation, and individualistic competition a very European approach, which doesn’t necessarily get the best outcome – and it is ditzy here.

      His ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant’ is the sort of twitty metaphor which his little teams of elves are paid to come up with, and it is totally inappropriate. It suggests that the court processes are in need of cleansing, or disinfecting, but he’s probably to thick to realise that. He sounds it. And the rest of that sentence is fairly meaningless waffle too – “movement happening within the system” is chronic constipation talk, but maybe lavatory level is where they’re all at now.

      There are far too many people spending too long in prison on remand, far too many, and that is because it is yet another area systemically underfunded by the National govt, which the coalition is having to fix.Many of the people on remand will have families majorly impacted on by their absence, and they are the people that National has never cared a flying fox about, as we all know.

      But if Bridges thinks that a judge in Timaru will be speeding up his hearings because Masterton is ahead, and Hokitika could be winning, then this is comic book justice.

      It may be good enough for Simon Bridges but it is not good enough for New Zealanders, esp for those with bother going on.

      Is Bridges trying to further degrade the justice system ? It looks like it.

  6. To be sentenced to prison the bar is quite high and to be sent away for 3 years plus it would have to be bad. This government have done little for Maori and benefituries so far so why is this move so high a priority. Little has spent a fortune on the coast and is nowhere near getting any information at Pike River the Treaty claim are no close to being resolved the gun buy back is a joke and Winston has left him with egg on his face twice. He is still angry Andy

    • OK Boomer. Going into Pike River mine is all about decency, the right thing to do. This is a concept you Rednecks cant comprehend. Those miners deserve the best effort from us and I sincerely hope they can nail the owners with all the incompetence and wilful endangerment etc etc. This will not doubt set all you National Rats into another rage which is great news by me. What about John Keys Flag referendum?

      • GreenBus It would be good, and greatly appreciated, if we could dump the identity politics, like, “Boomer”, and maybe then the sticky- labellers up in Parliament might do so too.

        Trevor Sennitt may appear to be a wanker and a moron and a clueless git with a lonely wee brain cell, but calling him a boomer, lumps all the older generation together, and we’re not all like him. It’s a horrid judgmental word, and Pike River in particular is too enormous an issue to be defined by small mindedness like his.

        Outside the damaging self-serving pincers of the truly despicable Key-led Nats, there are, I suggest a huge number of ordinary everyday Kiwis, relieved that we are now doing the right thing by the men entombed in the Pike River mine, and deeply shamed that this wasn’t done sooner. Ta.

    • Trevor “… the Treaty claim are no close to being resolved ”

      What does this grammatical groan even mean ? What on earth are you talking about Trevor ?

      There are those who holler in rage and envy when sound Treaty settlements are reached – and there have been some historical beauties. And then there’s Trevor – so clueless that you wouldn’t even qualify for membership of Hobson’s Pledge. There’s no excuse for ignorance like yours.

      Pike River, as Green Bus says, is about doing the right thing. Doing right is not something which can, or should, be measured in dollar terms.

      This may be a challenge for money grubbers to understand, but no matter the cost, and regardless of the outcome, history will judge, and history will show that this govt has behaved in a good and honourable way
      towards Pike River, a terrible tragedy which was caused by the negligence of it’s predecessors. You’ve got a nerve even complaining about it – and do the dead a great disrespect when you do so.

    • Trevor – It’s as plain as a pikestaff that you have never read the Treaty of Waitangi. Why don’t you ?
      Any version will do. I doubt you even know, or understand what it is.

      I won’t suggest that you read any of the Treaty settlements.

  7. With the National Party it is never an eye for an eye. Its always an eye plus extras. The amount of people jailed for non-violent crimes is rediculouse. Its profiteering at its worst.

  8. Summing up Simon Bridges day job, its hate everything, see the Apocalypse in everything, be angry at everything. He is your consummate elderly ZB talkback caller from small town NZ. Every day, look in the mirror and be miserable. Far out, what a sad sad bastard he is!

    The whole disenfranchisement thing was utter bullshit and he knows it. Most of these prisoners would probably never vote anyway. All it was was pure vitriol but what this spite did so well was pretend in the fakest manner that National hate criminals, all the while slashing the police and justice budgets and actually making life as a criminal so much more relaxing.

    The irony of the National Party knows no bounds

  9. You’re right.
    Simon doesn’t HAVE to be a dick..
    But he chooses to be a dick because he thinks it makes him look cool to the rednecks.
    But it isn’t, its just reactive.
    Pity that Simon doesn’t know the difference.

    • Mike the Lefty – If Simon Bridges had half a brain, and if he were genuinely concerned about Maori incarceration rates, and if he were a decent man, and if he were a man of vision, he would be asking himself whether prison is the best way to be dealing with all offenders.

      If I were Simon Bridges I’d be asking myself if there were a better way. I’d have a chat with Moana Jackson and ask him if there were a better way, or a more appropriate way, or a more effective way of doing things.

      But if Bridge’s priority is to be cool to the red necks rather than to effect change for his own people – and for everybody – then I would hesitate to call him any sort of man at all.

  10. I was imprisoned by the colonial regime for refusing to serve in its military forces. Under the current law, I would not only have “lost my freedom” but would also have been denied the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
    Because I do not recognise the colonial government that is not a right which I choose to exercise, but it does amuse me that Simon Bridges can make out that those of us who have taken a stand against the colonial state are in some way morally inferior to the corrupt politicians, murdering military, dissembling journalists and conniving bureaucrats who make up the rotten regime which he serves.

  11. This issue highlights a fundamental distinction between the social policy of the colonial regime and te rangatiratanga. In the colonial system political engagement is a privilege denied to the very young and to those who have sinned in the eyes of the law.
    Tellingly, the only point of difference between Martyn’s Labour-Green coalition government and Simon’s National Party opposition is how grievous the sin or how young the person must be before one is cast out of, or denied entry to, the body politic.
    In contrast, a fundamental principle of te rangatiratanga is that all have sinned and no one is to be cast out. The object and the imperative is always to include the tamariki, to hold the taitamariki, and to bring those who have strayed back to te rangatiratanga. Neither wealth nor age nor virtue determine or preclude one’s right to share in the blessing of rangatiratanga, including the right to choose one’s own leader (a privilege actually denied by the colonial regime) and be chosen by a leader (an essential element of te rangatiratanga which is completely absent from the colonial system)
    Colonialism encourages the narrow minded and mean spirited, the proud and the self-righteous. It is contrary to good sense and socially destructive. The controversy over voting rights for prisoners is just one example of how it limits and distorts the perceptions of all those who subscribe to its fundamental tenets.

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