Bill to stop sex offenders changing names set to pass first reading

NZ Herald 2 December 2015
A bill which will prevent convicted child sex offenders from changing their names is set to pass its first hurdle tonight.

National, New Zealand First and the Act Party have indicated they will support National MP Jian Yang’s private member’s bill, meaning it has the numbers to pass its first reading.

Dr Yang told Parliament this afternoon that his bill was designed to maintain public safety and assist with the rehabilitation of criminals.

He said it would give parents confidence that people who worked with their children had been properly vetted.

“This will prevent … sex offenders from being able to change their names in an attempt to get closer to innocent children,” he said.

The National MP has cited the case of Henry Te Rito Miki, who was employed at six different schools despite being subject to a supervision order that prevented him from coming into contact with children.

He evaded detection by changing his name.

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Dr Yang indicated the bill could require some redrafting.

When it was introduced, lawyer Graeme Edgeler pointed out that it could capture a broad range of offences including burglary, kidnapping, and discharging a firearm with intent.

Said Dr Yang: “I look forward to the select committee input on this bill to meet the objective of preventing child sex offenders from legally changing their name.”

Labour and the Greens said they would oppose the legislation.

Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe said the purpose of the bill was “admirable”, but his party believed it would be a waste of a select committee’s time because it was poorly drafted.

“It is our assessment that this bill needs to go back to the drafting table to be completely rewritten,” he said.

Mr Rurawhe was also concerned about the Attorney-General’s finding that it unjustifiably breached the Bill of Rights by limiting freedom of expression.
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