Those aged over 65 will be able to permanently opt out of jury service if they wish as the result of debate in Parliament tonight.
MPs debated the committee stage of the Juries (Jury Service and Protection of Particulars of Jury List Information) Amendment Bill, which is mainly intended to clarify who can serve on juries and seeks to bring in greater protection of information relating to jurors.
It was sparked after a defendant in a trial who was defending himself used information to stalk a juror.
The bill also allows those over 65 years of age to be excused permanently from jury duty if they so wish. A number of MPs questioned this and said it smacked of “ageism’’.
New Zealand First MP Dennis O’Rourke put up amendments to remove the proposal from the bill.
Justice Minister Judith Collins said the current regime allowed someone over 65 to be excused if they so wished every time they were summonsed to jury duty. It was unfair for them to have to do it on each occasion and it was fairer that they could remove themselves from the call up list permanently or for a period of time.
During the debate the continuing nastiness between Collins and Labour MP Trevor Mallard also raised its head.
In the end the bill was reported with amendment by xx to xx and O’Rourke’s amendment was ruled out of order as it was overtaken by the minister’s amendments to the bill.
Earlier in the day MPs considered the Commerce Commission (International Co-operation, and Fees) Bill. This is intended to facilitate co-operation between the Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Commerce Minister Craig Foss said the bill had been waiting around for some time (The Australians passed their equivalent legislation in 2007) and the one upside to this was that now telecommunications were now also covered.
The bill was reported with amendment on a voice vote
Earlier the Biosecurity Law Reform Bill completed its committee stage with procedural votes in favour by 98 to 23 with the Greens, NZ First and Mana opposed.
It was reported with amendment.
After the juries bill, MPs began the committee stage debate on the Sentencing (Aggravating Factors) Amendment Bill
The purpose of this bill is to include an offence against a Police or prison officer, acting in the course of his or her duty, as an aggravating factor at sentencing. Though amendments agreed to by political parties will extend its coverage to medical staff and others involved in emergencies.
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