Minister delighted Bail Bill passed

  • Simon Power

Justice Minister Simon Power said he was delighted that a significant majority of the Parliament had passed the Government's changes to the Bail Act which will make it harder to get bail.

The Bail Amendment Bill was the first step in the Government's Action Plan on Violent Crime, which is to be introduced in the first 100 days of government. It reverses the changes to bail that were introduced by the Labour Government in 2007.

Mr Power says Labour's changes ignored public safety by making it easier for people to get bail.

"Public safety was not always at the forefront of policy-making in the last term of the Labour Government, and their changes to bail were prime examples of that.

"This law reverses Labour's changes that increased the threshold for remand in custody from 'a risk' that the defendant may abscond, interfere with witnesses or evidence, or offend on bail, to 'a real and significant risk'.

"That meant that even if a defendant had repeatedly breached his or her bail conditions in the past, they may not have been remanded in custody.

"Those changes compromised public safety, but the new provisions return the threshold to simply 'a risk'.

"In the Government's view, the 'risk' test draws the appropriate balance between the rights of accused to be considered innocent until proven guilty, and the safety of the public.

"We have now returned the benefit of the doubt to the public, rather than to the accused, and that's good for everyone," Mr Power says.