Right Thinking: repeal section 172


Leading authoritarian libertarian Dr Frank Shizenhausen returns with some more common-sense thinking.

At last! Finally a government prepared to do something about the red tape that seems to be tangling up every facet of our lives.

A new taskforce is being set up to do away with stupid rules and regulations, and not a moment too soon.

The Rules Reduction Taskforce will “work closely with the public to weed out pedantic and unnecessary rules that frustrate property owners and councils alike”, according to Local Government Minister Paula Bennett.

Regular readers of my columns will be aware that I hold strong views on the issue of government regulation. I have long believed that the government needs to get out of our lives and let us enjoy the freedoms that God gave us. The only justification for any sort of regulation in a civil society is to protect the community from people I don’t like.

I look forward to submitting on a number of particularly irksome rules and regulations, some of which have caused me considerable personal inconvenience and expense on several occasions.

My immediate focus will be on securing the repeal of section 172 of the Crimes Act 1961. It’s a little-known provision applied by the police in only a handful of cases each year. But when a person does finds himself being accused of a crime under section 172, the effects can be distressing.

For those of you who don’t know, section 172 of the Crimes Act states:

172         Punishment of murder

(1)  Every one who commits murder is liable to imprisonment for life.

(2)  Subsection (1) is subject to section 102 of the Sentencing Act 2002.

You can see the problem, can’t you? I were to put an axe into the head of my next-door neighbour this afternoon I would run the risk of being arrested, charged, found guilty of murder, and then imprisoned for life, unless I could convince the court that I had a defence under the Crimes Act. So what am I meant to do? Just let this guy continue to put Labour Party leaflets in my letterbox? What about my rights?

Repealing of section 172 would undoubtedly help my local community. There is a family three doors down that I simply don’t like, and I suspect my neighbours feel the same way. They’re noisy and smelly, and they just don’t look right, but we’re powerless to stop them from living on our street. Shouldn’t we have the right to determine how we run our own communities? But section 172 stops us from exercising any real control over our neighbourhoods.

The economy and tourism would also receive a boost if we repealed section 172. Rather than just being a boring little country that sells meat, wool and milk, we would become the murder capital of the western world. So why on earth wouldn’t we get rid of this antiquated provision?

It may turn out that we need to review the entire Crimes Act, not just section 172. It would make no sense to legalise murder but leave attempted murder or wounding with intent a crime, would it? And then there’s arson, poisoning with intent, acid throwing, and a whole range of other quite legitimate activities a reasonable person might want to engage in from time to time.

Such curbs on our liberties are unwarranted and unjustified. They are also unnatural, because the fear of prosecution is a powerful brake on my natural urges, the very urges that God gave me. And who are we to presume to interfere with God’s will?