A well-known prison inmate and bush lawyer has appeared in court again, this time on a video screen, to fight for the right to vote in the election next week. From behind bars, Arthur Taylor took his fight to the High Court in Auckland today. It’s been many years since Taylor was allowed a say in who governs New Zealand, a country he says is now on the wrong side of history. “Its now one of the only countries in the Western world that is denying all prisoners the vote,” he told the court via video link as he sat at a desk wearing an orange prison jacket.
The career criminal and jailhouse lawyer has been stuck inside our maximum security prison, Paremoremo, for 10 years and unless he’s granted parole before his 2022 release date, he’s likely to miss a few more elections, unless the law is changed. Until 2010, only prisoners sentenced to less than three years were allowed to vote. But the law changed and there’s now a blanket ban on all prisoners voting.
Our own Attorney-General has decided that’s inconsistent with the Bill of Rights and he has the backing of the Human Rights Commission and the New Zealand Law Society. Most of today’s argument centred around whether that law change was legal. Taylor says Parliament needed a 75% majority vote to pass the new law.