Other new laws….

The RTA has had a field day/month/year expanding it’s enormous power-base and revving up new laws.

Among the other specials introduced since 1 November, 2012:

– Visual display units (like IPads) can no longer be used while driving a car for GPS unless it is secured in a fixed mounting. 

– If you cross the road as a pedestrian while the light is red, you can be fined $66.

– If the light turns red as you are crossing the road as a pedestrian, and you don’t finish the crossing without delay, you can be fined $66.

– If a pedestrian is crossing the street that you are turning into, you must give way to the pedestrian. Fine: $298.

– You can’t take your animal on your motor bike anymore – at least not between yourself and the handlebars (apparently this has been happening a lot) – $397 fine.

– When entering a roundabout you must give sufficient warning to other drivers by signalling before entering the roundabout. Previously you only had to indicate when leaving the roundabout. – Fine: $165.

In our view, using a roundabout should be a crime.


New laws (again) about mobile phones. Now in effect:

We won’t summarize it, we’ll just show the law to you:

Road Rule 300 (there’s a lot more where this one comes from) says:

Use of mobile phones by drivers (except holders of learner or provisional P1 licences)

(1) The driver of a vehicle must not use a mobile phone while the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked, unless:

    (a) the phone is being used to make or receive a phone call (other than a text message, video message, email or similar communication) or to perform an audio playing function and the body of the phone: 

         (i) is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle while being so used, or

         (ii) is not secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle and is not being held by the driver, and the use of the phone does not require the driver, at any time while using it, to press any thing on the body of the phone or to otherwise manipulate any part of the body of the phone,


    (b) the phone is functioning as a visual display unit that is being used as a driver’s aid and the phone is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle,


    (c) the vehicle is an emergency vehicle or a police vehicle,


    (d) the driver is exempt from this rule under another law of this jurisdiction.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.

A penalty unit is about $110 (they will probably change that soon too).


Anyone with a P1 Provisional License must not use a mobile phone by any means whatsoever while the vehicle is in motion or stationary but not parked. 

This means not even hands-free is available.

In the language of that generation – 😦


Or should that say “merged” or “consolidated”.

Anyhow, the NSW Attorney General is amalgamating tribunals all over the place. So many in fact that his clean sweep has swept up some tribunals that even we hadn’t heard about:

“Mr Smith said 23 of the state’s tribunals will be integrated into a new overarching tribunal that will provide a simple, quick and effective process for resolving disputes, supervising occupations and reviewing executive action.”

This new Frankenstein’s Monster shall be called, “The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).”

Apparently it will be a “one-stop shop” for all your state tribunal needs ranging from (wait for it…) the Chinese Medecine Tribunal through to ones that people might recorgnise like the Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal.

Alarmingly, the Industrial Relations Commission won’t be consolidated “at this time”. Apparently the word “Commission” means something special (must be that word, couldn’t be the sacred cow word “Industrial”).

Apparently all this merging will be about “Enabling tribunals to exist as a network, rather than in isolation [and] will improve the quality, consistency and transparency of services.” No doubt there will be some totally unconnected side benefits such as the reduction of administrative staff and running expenses.

There will be five divisions called:
1. Consumer
2. Administrative
3. Equal Opportunity, 
4. Occupational and Regulatory,
5. Guardianship,
6. Victims  

Wait, that’s six isn’t it?

Anyhow, NCAT will include the following tribunals and bodies exercising tribunal-like functions:

– Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Tribunal
– Aboriginal Land Councils Pecuniary Interest and Disciplinary Tribunal
– Administrative Decisions Tribunal
– Charity Referees
– Chinese Medicine Tribunal
– Chiropractors Tribunal Consumer,
– Trader and Tenancy Tribunal
– Dental Tribunal
– Guardianship Tribunal
– Local Government Pecuniary Interest and Disciplinary Tribunal
– Local Land Boards Medical Radiation Practice Tribunal
– Medical Tribunal Nursing and Midwifery Tribunal
– Occupational Therapy Tribunal
– Optometry Tribunal
– Osteopathy Tribunal
– Pharmacy Tribunal
– Physiotherapy Tribunal
– Podiatry Tribunal
– Psychology Tribunal
– Vocational Training Appeal Panel
– Victims Compensation Tribunal

A Supreme Court judge will be appointed President of NCAT to ensure its independence and Deputy Presidents with relevant experience will head the five divisions.

All that is left to be said is, “there’s a Podiatry Tribunal?”

Society is Represented by Juries, Not Facebook?

According to a press release from the NSW Attorney General, a working group will look at the impact of social media and how it might compromise jury trials. 

Perhaps this is following the completely out of control mad rash of jurors taking up texting midway through trials (not). The whole thing sounds rather like someone has suggested that beer should be bottled in small, easily transported containers and then complaining when people start using it. Perhaps it’s a case of trying to put the cork in the bottle after it’s been poured?

“After a lively discussion on recent issues in social media including cyberbullying or trolling and the impact social media comments have on the right to a fair trial the Attorneys agreed to seek a coordinated national approach to the issue.”

Apparently there is a need to develop protocols with overseas based social media organisations to ensure they comply with the state’s suppression order laws. The companies also needed to accept service of take-down orders in a prompt manner so that potential damage from publication on social media can be contained.

The group will make recommendations on: model guidelines and warnings for users about prejudicial material protocols with social media organisations for the removal of prejudicial material procedures for law enforcement and courts to use social media to issue orders against users of social media and issue warnings to them model jury directions on this issue which might be adopted by all states and territories laws dealing with offences by jurors the need for further research on the impact of social media on the actions of jurors. The Attorneys also noted “the potential for social media to jeopardise the right to a fair trial and in particular to compromise a jury trial”.

Happy Censorversary

About a year ago this appeared on the Delimiter Website:

“NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith has unexpectedly called for the popular Grand Theft Auto video game series and other violent games to be banned — not just classified R18+ as suitable for adult use. “I think they should be banned,” the Liberal MP said in a Seven News broadcast aired last night and available online (see above). Smith pointed out one of the GTA games “invoves a prostitute giving sexual favours for money to a man in a car, and then when she gets out, he comes out with a semi-automatic rifle, and shoots her dead. Now what good does that do anybody?” Smith asked.”

Goodness. More here.


A failed prosecution report has come in from Sydney. This one involves the Crown relying upon a witness who may have been material involved in the commission of the offense. A reminder of what can go wrong when the prosecution tries this approach…

“Four men charged with 34 serious crimes, including the robbery of six armoured vans that netted $6.3 million, have all been found not guilty of each offence, in a blow to NSW police investigators.

The trial of the four accused ran for 98 days but in the end it appears the jury did not believe the pivotal Crown witness – a big heroin and cocaine dealer.

He had ”rolled over” and given police a version of events that came under serious challenge during the trial.

Of the more than $6 million that was stolen during the brazen robberies around Sydney, during which shots were fired from an AK47 and other weapons, only about $500,000 has been recovered.

The lack of a result is all the more embarrassing because it appears the Crown witness relied upon by the police may have been a principal in the robberies, rather than the relatively minor role he said he had.

The witness told the NSW District Court that at the beginning of 2009 when the robberies started, he had cash assets of about $60,000.

But under cross examination by the defence barrister Julie Hickleton, for one of the four defendants, Nathan Stuart, the witness admitted he had spent $55,000 on a boat, $17,000 on a BMW, $55,000 on a customised Harley Davidson motorcycle, $15,000 on a unit for his mistress and $6500 on jewellery for his wife.

In addition, he had lost $200,000 at the Sydney casino and had put a deposit of either $42,000 or $100,000 on a Bentley. There was another $250,000 invested in a Sydney restaurant “and then he spent $12,000 on his personal trainer and prostitutes”.

All up, Ms Hickleton told the jury in her closing address, he had spent $824,900 in just seven months.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want to be flippant, but this man has better cash flow than the state of Tasmania,” she said.

She said the jury should ask itself how he was “flash with the cash” and one explanation was that he had lied to the police and minimised his involvement in the crimes when he was heavily involved.

Sources familiar with the trial said it raised serious questions about putting forward big criminals as Crown witnesses.”

The main witness had been given an indemnity for his role in the robberies. Yet he admitted dealing kilograms of heroin and cocaine as well as buying guns and providing stolen cars.

Full story here.

Passing Great

In a profession that has little time for it’s young achievers, tributes are flowing for Wellington barrister Greg King, who passed away Saturday. 

“King, 43, was a theatrical criminal lawyer, most recently seen successfully defending Ewen Macdonald against the charge of murdering Scott Guy. 

“Greg was well known and respected among police staff, and I know his death will be keenly felt by many people, including those in the wider legal community.” 

New Zealand Law Society president Jonathan Temm said the legal profession was ”tremendously saddened” by the news. 

Temm said Greg King had a national reputation and was a very well known member of the profession.

“Throughout his career he represented clients who were often unpopular and he did that with real ability and determination.”

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson said King was a very nice guy and a fine advocate.

“Although young in years, Greg King had already achieved a huge amount in his career.

‘‘He was a lawyer in the finest traditions of the criminal bar, of the same stature as the likes of Mike Bungay, Kevin Ryan and Roy Stacey.”

Finlayson said King’s early death was very sad and expressed his deepest sympathies to King’s family.

Labour leader David Shearer also expressed his sadness at news of King’s death.

“Greg had one of this country’s finest legal brains. There wouldn’t be many New Zealanders who hadn’t heard of him.

“He has also made a huge contribution to raising the profile of the legal profession.

“Greg King’s death at such a young age is a tragedy. It will leave a huge gap.’’

King ran a practice with his wife, Catherine, out of Lower Hutt, and became a household name in July when he successfully defended Macdonald. 

Legal experts hailed his work, which famously included wild-eyed closing arguments.

 King was also involved in the defences of Scott Watson, John Barlow and Clayton Weatherston. “

Full story here.