New Zealand Law Society - What are your party’s views on proposed law changes to improve the legislative response to family violence?

What are your party’s views on proposed law changes to improve the legislative response to family violence?

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Conservative Party

We are currently not familiar with these proposed law changes but are seriously concerned about family violence and want to explore ways to see families supported through their struggles so that relational needs which cause such violence are met, relationships are strengthened, and families become more functional.

NZ People’s Party

Family violence is a big problem for New Zealand and we are very supportive of the changes to strengthen the police and courts ability to react. Changes like police being able to take statements at the scene with use of their smartphones to avoid any undue stress for the victim are the type of changes that seem minor but make a big impact. Ultimately, we need to change the culture to stamp out domestic violence, help those at or below the poverty line and those with addictions whose families are most at risk from domestic violence.

National Party

We know that legislation alone cannot solve New Zealand’s horrific rate of family violence, however the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill is a cornerstone element in how we tackle the issue. The bill overhauls the 20-year-old Domestic Violence Act and implements our reforms aimed at breaking the cycle of family violence and reducing the harm. These reforms are the beginning of a new integrated system but even on their own they have the potential to significantly reduce family violence. The new offences and changes to protection orders alone are expected to prevent around 2,300 violent incidents every year.

The Opportunities Party

The high rate of family violence in New Zealand is shameful. We commend the Government for addressing the issue. Many of their proposed law changes appear good, especially those aimed at providing more effective means to help perpetrators change their behaviour and connect them and at-risk families to services. We are concerned, however, that these services may not be properly funded.

The Opportunities Party’s policy is to reinvest money saved from a smaller prison population in developing exactly these kinds of services. We are also concerned that there may not be enough civil legal aid to support the bill’s policy. Moreover, the more punitive aspects of the bill – creating new offences and making ‘safety’ the primary consideration in bail and central to parenting and property orders – appear to us to continue a criminal justice strategy that has so far failed to produce good outcomes.

In addition, we draw attention to The Opportunities Party’s policies on tax and families, which would decrease inequality. International evidence suggests a relationship between violence and economic inequality, so the high rate of family violence in New Zealand may be in part explained by New Zealand’s high levels of economic inequality.

ACT Party

ACT supports current government proposals and initiatives to crack-down on family violence, however, issues such as housing an inequality are directly related to family breakdown. Economically empowering families and facilitating strong development and growth is key to curtailing crime and disorder in our communities.

United Future

Advocate for government agencies and NGOs to engage with the different ethnic communities and provide them with culturally appropriate services to address family violence, work within the legal system to ensure that support is given to victims as a first priority.

Māori Party

We support the need for legislative reform to ensure protection orders provide the level of protection that is intended by them, that police safety orders are enforceable and effective and that victims can obtain support as soon as they require it.

Family violence is all too pervasive throughout society and research has identified that those living with the most harmful levels of family violence are also often experiencing huge levels of disadvantage and discrimination. In that regard, the Māori Party supports measures in the proposed law changes that make access to better support for victims easier.

The prevention of violence within whānau is complex and for many Māori the impacts continue to be destructive and significant.

The Māori Party believes that agencies need to change their response to family violence and any response for whānau Māori must recognise a strengthening of identity, connectedness and belonging to Māori and cultural practices and traditions.

Labour Party

Labour has supported the Government’s Family and Whānau Violence legislation. Labour has been encouraged by the genuine cross-party approach the Minister of Justice took during the early consultation stage. The bill makes some long overdue changes to enhancing the safety of victims of family violence.

We do have some concerns with aspects of the bill, however. In particular, we have concerns about protection orders. We note that the bill will make the process easier for an individual to obtain a protection order, but we worry about whether it will be easier for authorities such as the police to enforce breaches of protection orders. We also have concerns about the financial capability of many people to obtain protection orders, which the legislation does not address.

We also believe that the bill should have addressed Family Court processes when deciding parenting arrangements. Specifically, we believe the court should be required to consider whether a protection order has been made when deciding parenting arrangements.

Labour hopes that the select committee process will be able to fix some of these shortcomings.

Internet Party

We believe that this is long overdue and is a step forward to helping and supporting the victims of family violence. Based on research done it is simply necessary that in the future specific terms could be amended so that perpetrators of family violence don’t try to weasel their way out by using the wording of the law in question to save them. Also, attention could be put towards separating the parties in cases where there are children involved. Perhaps imposing that the child in a family situation should have their own lawyer to represent them so that the child in question does not feel that they have to pick a side in a conflict between two parents as an example. It is ultimately in how the definitions and phases are spelt, “coercive control” for instance needs to be defined very carefully in the act to prevent loopholes from appearing later on.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

Ending prohibition of cannabis will help destress society, reducing crime and saving money. This tax saving of hundreds of millions every year will then be available for improving housing, health, increase welfare payments and in general reducing poverty and violence. Our policy for a lucrative and environmentally safe cannabis industry including medicinal, recreational and industrial, will boost the economy by billions of dollars, creating jobs and tax revenue. Poverty and alcohol are the two major driving forces for violence. Hemp products such as biodegradable plastic bags, paper, building materials, textiles, biofuel and food. Hemp seed, being one of the most perfectly balanced foods for humans, is the way to go for a happier sustainable future.

NZ Outdoors Party

In response to every question we would say we have no experience in these areas and would look to organisations like yours for expert advice should it be needed. We just don’t want to have policy for policy sake not really knowing what the issues are. We do believe in the rule of law and have been most disappointed by the Government’s suggestions of legislating to negate the Ruataniwha Dam High Court decision. The Outdoors Party will be standing a number of candidates and contesting the party vote emphasising our experience and knowledge of the environment.

Democrats for Social Credit

We view the rise in family violence as a reaction to a society under stress, especially financial stress. Our economic policy seeks to address some of those problems. Legislation to improve the way family violence issues are dealt with in the justice system is imperative.

We recognise the Law Society’s concerns regarding the overlap between the family violence information sharing scheme and the vulnerable children information sharing scheme in the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Legislation and support the Society’s submission that the approach taken in the family violence bill, with some amendments, is preferable.

We also support the Society’s submission that the Sentencing Act 2002 be amended to include a principle that victim safety, including the safety of any child, is a mandatory and primary consideration when the court is determining the appropriate sentence in family violence cases.

Green Party

Our family violence laws have been long overdue for an overhaul. The Green Party is supportive of the proposed bill on balance, but would have wanted it to go further. The Green Party is calling for the reinstatement of the Bristol clause, which would refuse abusive former partners’ access to their children until the children’s safety was assured.

It would have been preferable for the Government’s overhaul to recognise the dynamic between intimate partner violence, and domestic and other forms of family violence. Police do not record the victim’s relationship to the offenders in the majority of physical and sexual assaults against women. Research showed the vast majority of assaults on women were carried out by partners, ex-partners, family members and others known to them. Knowing this information would enable a more targeted response.

The inclusion of animal abuse in the new definition is good because we know that threats of harm to pets are a frequent control tactic utilised by perpetrators. A key oversight in the bill is how these changes will lead to increased demand for services. This will put further pressure on already stretched agencies such as Women’s Refuge.

NZ First