Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill - Second reading

Sunday, February 15, 2015


STUART SMITH: As my colleague said before, I commend the Justice and Electoral Committee for its work and Amy Adams for bringing this bill before the House, the Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill. I take on board what was said by Mr Faafoi earlier. It is not something that gives anyone any pleasure to speak about, but we are here to do the right job for New Zealanders, and sometimes that means doing the tough things, as we saw earlier in the day today.

I also was taken by Poto Williams’ comments before, and I absolutely agree with what she said. However, it is such a difficult thing to deal with at that end, and we cannot give up on it, but trying to ensure that there is no market for this material would, of course, be the best solution. Unfortunately, we are living in a world where we have this situation now and we have to deal with what is in front of us, but I agree wholeheartedly that we need to look forward and spend some time thinking about how we might make some ground on that.

I know, as a member of the Social Services Committee, which has been dealing with an inquiry into sexual violence, it is not a pleasant subject and it is not an easy one to grapple with. Certainly, the Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill is dealing with the sharp end of that. I

note that this bill is increasing the maximum penalty for possession and import or export of an objectionable publication from 5 years’ to 10 years’ imprisonment. Too often I think we think of imprisonment as punishment, and, indeed, that is partly what it is there for, but it is also there for protection, and protection for innocent people left behind. I think we must not ever forget that. Really, for some people you would think maybe getting out of prison is not an option, particularly in some of these hardened cases, so I applaud that clause in the bill that moves it out from 5 to 10 years. I think that is a very good move.

I also note that increasing the maximum penalty for distributing and making an objectionable publication from 10 years’ to 14 years’ imprisonment likewise is also a good move and something I wholeheartedly support.

It seems to me that at the heart of this bill is really a change in technology. I note that this bill is really looking forward and trying to futureproof the law for the future. It is something that we really must think of in all of our legislation that we put forward, because times change. Although we really think Facebook is in everybody’s lives today, it is not that many years ago that Mark Zuckerberg came up with Facebook. How many years ago was that? Brett? Ten? Fifteen?

Chris Bishop: Four.


Chris Bishop: 2004.

STUART SMITH: 2004. So it is not that long ago—10 or 11 years ago—and yet everybody, I would imagine, in this House today has a Facebook account. I think we now know that some people in their employment, before their employer takes them on they look at their Facebook accounts and see what they can find.

For some young people being caught with indecent publications in social media, it is with them for ever, so it is really important that we get on top of this pretty quickly. I think what we would have thought of as being pornography and indecent publications only a few years ago would have required some sort of hard copy; today it is digital. Who knows what it will be in the future. Holograms are only just around the corner.

I think we really need to ensure that we get good legislation, and this bill is going a long way towards that and I wholeheartedly support it. I am rather disappointed in colleagues in New Zealand First. I really think their attitude on this bill is a triumph of ideology over good sense, and really they should take a bit of a hard look at themselves on this one. I take great pleasure in commending the bill to the House. Thank you.