Section 69 of the Crimes Act says culpable homicide that might otherwise be murder may be reduced to manslaughter "if the person who caused the death did so under provocation".
It is an archaic part of the law that unconscionably turns the victims of society's most serious crime into victims for a second time as their reputations are sullied by the people who killed them.
The leader writer then lauds Justice Minister Simon Power for going where Labour was not bold enough to go after the latest Law Commission recommendation of two years ago:
So it is good news that Justice Minister Simon Power will reform this part of the law, something Labour failed to do two years ago. The minister says: "I do not believe this defence has any place on the statute books. It wrongly enables defendants to besmirch the character of victims and effectively rewards a lack of self-control."
Mr Power must be careful: he risks becoming the new century's Ralph Hanan, a reforming National justice minister who, with a far-sighted justice secretary, modernised much criminal procedure in the 1960s. The jury is still out on that. But Mr Power is showing considerable political courage in a sphere imbued with tradition and expense.
Inevitably, there will be claims that Power is reacting to the saturation coverage of the Weatherston murder trial. That's probably, in our humble and considered opinion, a reflection of our cynicism towards politicians of all hues. But we agree totally with the writer's criticism of the former government, which was twice advised that a law change should be considered. On the second occasion, there wasn't even a Cabinet paper prepared.
It was galling to see Liane Dalziel try to introduce a Member's Bill yesterday, and we were delighted that the Government refused leave. Dalziel and her colleague Charles Chauvel had nine years to propose a law change when Labour was in government. We believe that it is entirely appropriate that the Government drives this small but important law change, not yesterday's people.