David Garrett (politician)
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|Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for ACT party list
2008 – 2010
|Political party||ACT (until September 2010)|
David Garrett is a lawyer and former member of the New Zealand House of Representatives. He entered parliament at the 2008 general election as a list MP for ACT New Zealand, having been ranked fifth on that party's list. He was ACT's spokesman on law and order until he resigned from the party on 17 September 2010. On 23 September 2010, he resigned from Parliament, following revelations that he had fraudulently obtained a passport in the name of a dead infant. The passport falsification offence occurred over twenty five years previously, in 1984.
David Garrett was born and raised in Gisborne. He went to school at Campion College, Gisborne, before spending a decade working as an oil industry labourer on rigs and pipelines around the world. He then started a second career as a lawyer, practising in Tonga, where he set up a firm that is still running. In New Zealand Garrett became a member of the Socialist Unity Party and was a Labour Party activist. He also worked as a lawyer and a pro-bono legal adviser to the Sensible Sentencing Trust.
Member of Parliament
|Parliament of New Zealand|
He joined the ACT party three months before the 2008 election, when he was approached to stand for ACT in an arrangement made between Rodney Hide, ACT leader, and Garth McVicar, chairman of the Sensible Sentencing Trust. He was elected as a list MP, having been ranked fifth on the ACT party list. He resigned from the ACT party on 17 September 2010 less than 48 hours after it was revealed he had used the identity of a dead child to obtain a false passport. He was formally confirmed as an independent MP at the beginning of the following week but resigned from Parliament in disgrace shortly thereafter.
Garrett is the author of the "three strikes" legislation which was supported by the National Party and incorporated into the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill which became law in May 2010. Under this law, certain crimes involving violence or sexual offending are deemed "strike" offences. An offender receives a normal sentence and a warning for a first strike offence, a sentence without parole for a second, and the maximum sentence for the offence without parole for a third.
He has a conviction for assault in Tonga in 2002. He was discharged without conviction three years later for stealing the identity of a dead child to obtain a passport. Garrett admitted in Parliament that he had used a dead baby's identity to obtain a passport 26 years before. He said he used a method made known in the novel The Day of the Jackal, and obtained the birth certificate of a child who died in infancy around the same time Garrett was born.
The revelations of the identity theft offence also led to him being censured by the Law Society's Lawyers and Conveyancer's Committee. The Society suspended him from holding a lawyer's practising certificate for a year and ordered him to pay court costs of $8430. The hearing related to a false affidavit Garrett had sworn to the court while he faced the charge of stealing the identity of a dead child to get a passport in 2005. He was a practising lawyer at the time but did not mention the Tongan conviction. He told the court: "The worst I could be accused of is incurring some parking and speeding fines.
- "Embattled ACT MP David Garrett quits party". Radio New Zealand. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
- Nicky Park (23 September 2010). "Disgraced NZ MP quits politics". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- Gower, Patrick (11 November 2008). "New MP looking for action on tougher sentencing". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
- "Sensible Sentencing Trust defends Garrett". One News (New Zealand). 16 September 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
- ""Three Strikes" Legislation—Reasons for Government Support". House of Representatives. 4 May 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
- Sensible Sentencing Trust defends Garrett, TVNZ News 16 September 2012
- Ex-MP David Garrett pleads not guilty, NZ Herald 8 November 2011