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April 9, 2018 | by  | in Politics |
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Political Round-Up

Reform to Tertiary Education Bill

The Education (Tertiary Education and Other Matters) Amendment Bill passed its final reading on 27 March 2018.

Introduced in February 2017, the Bill will allow for the Tertiary Education Commission to have more control over provider spending. The amendment implements harsher penalties for crimes punishable under the Education Act 1989, including a $40,000 increase in fines for falsifying student records.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says that the process for establishing a private tertiary provider will be more rigorous and that applicants would be subject to tests to establish suitability.

“As part of this process, [I] will have to consult and consider the national interest.”

Not-for-profit providers and institutions that source income from enrolments will be more easily distinguishable from all other sections of the Tertiary Education Commission.

Unjust Homosexual Convictions repealed

The Labour Government has taken a step toward righting historical injustices with a bill that will quash historical homosexual convictions. The Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill has passed its third reading, and will wipe the homosexual convictions of gay men. Approximately 1,000 men convicted for homosexuality in New Zealand are alive currently.

Sexual relations between men were decriminalised under the Homosexual Reform Act 1986. After the reform, these men still had to keep their criminal record, facing significant amounts of discrimination and difficulty obtaining employment.  

In a media statement, Justice Minister Andrew Little thanked those who shared their stories with the Justice Select Committee.

“This Bill empowers those convicted and their representatives by providing an effective way to right the wrongs of the past.”

There was no indication that compensation will be paid to those who are having their convictions expunged, with the Government maintaining that this is only payable when a person is wrongfully convicted.

The Curran-Hirschfeld Scandal

The Minister for Broadcasting Clare Curran and former Radio New Zealand (RNZ) Producer Carol Hirschfeld have come under fire after a meeting between the two was not declared to bosses at RNZ.

Hirschfeld resigned on the 24 March after SMS threads between Curran and Hirschfeld released under the Official Information Act showed that the meeting was rescheduled a number of times between 3 and 23 November 2017.

The secrecy of the meeting fuelled suspicion that Curran was gathering allies to obtain support to pushback CEO Paul Thomson’s opposition to RNZ’s free to air television model. When Hirschfeld was confronted about the meeting by executives at RNZ, she insisted that the meeting was entirely “coincidental” and was not planned.

Curran apologised to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after RNZ bosses misled a select committee about the nature of the meeting. Curran has denied that this meeting was to influence the state broadcaster, and has said she is sorry that Hirschfeld has had to leave her job because of the incident.

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