Against pre-crime – Control Order Bill oral submission

We made the folllowing oral submission to the Select Committee overseeing the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill. (See our earlier article.)

My name is Thomas Beagle. I'm the Chair of the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties.

Our submission is going to be rather short.

Firstly, we're opposed to the Bill because its approach to justice is fundamentally flawed.

The Bill is based on the idea that some New Zealanders are so wicked that we must extensively control everything they do because otherwise they will do bad things. The effect is to punish people for crimes that they *might* commit.

Even worse, the Government wants to make this decision when the people involved have done nothing provably wrong under New Zealand law.

Simply put, this is unacceptable in a rights-based society. We have developed a justice system that, while imperfect, tries to ensure that anyone accused of a crime is entitled to a fair trial and that sanctions can only be imposed after being fairly convicted.

This Bill throws all that aside. It tries to prevent future crime. It lowers the standard of evidence required. It continues the spread of the use of secret evidence, which one NZ judge recently described as "anathema to the fundamental concepts of fairness".

Secondly, we're opposed to the Bill because the sanctions it can apply are so extreme. They can control freedom of movement, of expression, of association, of a myriad of other things that are part of normal daily life. 

It seems as if someone has gone through the Bill of Rights, ticking them off as they go. 

These go far beyond the controls we put on anyone else – even prisoners and children have more rights than this, and yet the justification for the extreme nature of these controls is just not made.

Thirdly we're opposed to the Bill because of the unseemly haste with which it's being rushed through. There is no obvious requirement for the Bill. There is no obvious requirement for this haste. It seems very much to us that the intention is to shove the Bill through Parliament before opposition to it can get mobilised. This is an insult to consultation, the Select Committee process, and our democracy.

In conclusion, at the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties we support the NZ Bill of Rights and therefore we oppose this Bill.

We don't believe it can be fixed and therefore we will not be recommending improvements. 

Rather we demand that the Select Committee reject the Bill and recommend its withdrawal. I have nothing further to say and won't be taking questions.