We were prompted to check out Greg O’Connor’s CV this morning after finding him mentioned in despatches on Lindsey Mitchell’s splendid blog.
We turned to Wikipedia for a quick rundown on what he has done and found he served in the New Zealand Police for almost four decades, ending his career with the rank of Senior Sergeant.
He was later elected President of the New Zealand Police Association in 1995. His time as President was highly politicized with O’Connor weighing into political debates that concerned the Police force, particularly in regards to arming officers with firearms.
O’Connor called for arming the police in New Zealand and also proposed routine arming of front line response police officers.
He retired as President in 2016, serving a record 21 years as the Police Association’s head and regarded raising the Police Association’s credibility as his main achievement during his tenure.
He also spent time serving as the chair of the International Council of Police Representatives Association (ICPRA).
That’s an impressive track record. What’s he doing now?
Oh, look. He is sitting on Labour’s back benches, his credentials apparently regarded as inadequate for a ministerial job, such as Minister of Police.
Poto Williams has been given that job.
So what’s her Police experience?
Her Wikipedia entry tells us she has been a Labour MP since 2013, when she became the second Cook Islander elected to the New Zealand Parliament (after Alfred Ngaro).
Before that …
Williams has worked for the Ministry of Education, BirthRight, Healthcare NZ and disability agencies. She moved from Auckland to Christchurch’s suburb of New Brighton in January 2013 to take up a position as regional manager of the St John of God Hauora Trust. She resigned from that role during the election campaign so that she could focus “110%” on the election.
We kept reading and, fair to say, did find an element of law and order stuff in her history:
Williams first got politically involved through making submissions on family violence and child welfare issues, which she has a strong interest in. She has served as a member of the Community Child Protection Review Panel, was involved in the Waitakere Community Law Service and Community Waitakere, and was part of the Living Wage Campaign and the LIFEWISE Big Sleepout.
One other thing:
She has called for rape investigations to reverse the “innocent until proven guilty” legal methodology.
This obviously troubles Lindsey Mitchell, who has written:
Poto Williams has been appointed Minister for Police.
I recall being rather alarmed about her views just three years ago:
Mitchell steers her readers to a news item which said:
Labour MP Poto Williams is calling for rape investigations to reverse the “innocent until proven guilty” legal methodology.
Labour’s sexual violence spokesperson, Mrs Williams has called for radical reform of the sexual justice system which would see rape accusers believed by police as a starting point.
This would place the burden of proof on the accused – directly contradicting the philosophy of “innocent until proven guilty”.
Mitchell muses that ‘s it’s conceivable the new Minister for Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, Green MP Marama Davidson, could throw her weight behind this.
Then she asks:
Am I wrong to be worried that we are in for some scary stuff?
And how come Greg O’Connor has never gotten anywhere near a police ministerial role with his decades of experience?
Too conservative. By a long shot.
Sorry, we don’t know why O’Connor has been cold-shouldered (although we wonder if being white and a bloke in his 60s came into calculations while the PM focused on diversity).
But we do contrast the treatment of him with the treatment of first-term MP Dr Ayesha Verrall.
This week Verrall was promoted directly into Cabinet as an Associate Minister of Health with delegations for public health, as well as picking up Food Safety and (was her age a factor here?) Minister for Seniors .
“It is not without precedent to bring new members straight into cabinet, and in the middle of a global pandemic, I believe we would be foolish not to use the considerable expertise Dr Verrall brings in infectious diseases into our response.”
And the considerable experience of Greg O’Connor?
We are left wondering.
But it could be worse. Williams could have been given Justice and a much greater opportunity to translate her deeply troubling guilty-until-proven-innocent ideas into policy.
UPDATE: Our attention has been drawn to the Wikipedia information about Greg O’Connor which says:
O’Connor served in the New Zealand Police for almost four decades ending his career with the rank of Senior Sergeant.
He was later elected President of the New Zealand Police Association in 1995… He retired as President in 2016, serving a record 21 years as the Police Association’s head and regarded raising the Police Association’s credibility as his main achievement during his tenure.
O’Connor is 62 years old. If he did spend nearly 40 years as a police officer and then 21 years as President of the Police Assn, before serving the past three years as an MP, his police career must have started pre-conception.