Scant notice is given of town hall meetings to enable us (or just some of us?) to discuss mosque massacre inquiry proposals

Here’s hoping the government has been using means other than Beehive press statements to advise interested parties about a programme of consulting people about implementing recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch mosques on 15 March 2019.

The public statement was issued yesterday.  The first of a nationwide series of meetings starts in Wellington tomorrow.

According to a Radio New Zealand report, each meeting will be “a town-hall style discussion where people can share their thoughts and views directly with Ministers and ask questions”.

But NB – only some citizens will be let into the town hall.  Some meetings are for Muslims, some for Muslim youth and some for pan-ethnic or pan-faith groups.

The press statement gives the strong impression the meetings are not intended for most New Zealanders.

Mind you, maybe that’s because the discriminatory tone of the statement is a consequence of hasty drafting.   The government issued it hours after RNZ made inquiries.

It was pumped  into the public domain along with –

  • A reminder from the Minister of Immigration to tour and other event organisers of the importance to have all COVID-19 border requirements approved and in place before visitors try to enter New Zealand. This follows a charter cruise vessel’s decision to set sail for New Zealand last month before ensuring all those on board had the necessary visas for entry to this country.
  • An announcement that new research into what Kiwis want from tourism and domestic holidays has been released to help the industry adjust to the impact of COVID19 on borders and international travel. The research is available on Tourism NZ’s website (here).
  • Prudence Steven QC, barrister of Christchurch has been appointed as an Environment Judge and District Court Judge to serve in Christchurch.
  • An updated assurance from the Minister of Finance that the Government’s books are in better shape than expected.  The Crown Accounts for the five months to the end of November were more favourable than forecast in the Half-year Economic and Fiscal Update (HYEFU) The Operating Balance before Gains and Losses (OBEGAL) deficit at $4.3 billion was $1.9 billion better than that forecast in HYEFU.

 Our suspicion that most Kiwis are not expected to turn up at meetings to discuss the implementation of Royal Commission recommendations on the mosque massacre stems from the emphasis in the the first sentence of the press statement:

The Government begins extensive engagement with Muslim and other ethnic communities across the country on the report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain (the Royal Commission) this weekend.

The hui, which will be attended by Andrew Little, Lead Coordination Minister for the Government’s Response, and Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, begin this Sunday 31 January 2021 in Wellington. Hui will be held in Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, Palmerston North, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill. These follow an earlier series of consultations with shuhada and the Muslim community in Christchurch.

The purposes of the nationwide hui are to:

  • help understand key concerns and priorities relevant communities have in light of the report recommendations
  • answer questions about the implementation of the report’s recommendations
  • provide information on initiatives already underway, and
  • outline how communities can contribute to the broader work programme.

Oh – but having given the impression the great bulk of New Zealanders are being excluded from the meetings (or so it seems), the Ministers who issued the statement then bang on about unity and integration:

These conversations will feed into the Government’s work to promote inclusion for all New Zealanders while recognising and responding to the value diversity brings to our communities.

“The Government is committed to integrating communities’ feedback in the design of how we implement the Royal Commission’s recommendations. Communities’ active engagement will help strengthen New Zealand’s social cohesion and counter-terrorism efforts, and foster a safer society for everyone,” Andrew Little said.

“It’s really important to us that we consult widely, including with ethnic communities, so that everyone’s perspectives are heard and considered in the design of the Government’s response. I’m looking forward to hearing from a broad cross-section of New Zealanders because everyone has insights into how we can build a safe and inclusive country for all,” Priyanca Radhakrishnan says.

Information about the Royal Commission of Inquiry community engagement can be found on the DPMC website.

The Royal Commission investigated events related to the terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques on 15 March 2019, including what relevant State sector agencies knew about the terrorist before the attack.

The report was released publicly on 8 December 2020.

But here’s the thing – why doesn’t the government just get on with doing what it says it is going to do?

Its intentions are fairly clear from the press statement:

The Government accepted the findings of the report and agreed in principle to implement all 44 recommendations.

Any questions about the community engagement can be sent to rcoi@dpmc.govt.nz.

Whether you will get an answer before the first meeting tomorrow is – dare we say – highly unlikely.

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3 thoughts on “Scant notice is given of town hall meetings to enable us (or just some of us?) to discuss mosque massacre inquiry proposals

  1. If “hate speech” legislation is presented to Parliament, will there be a full Select Committee process to hear public submissions? Or will Labour try to pass it under urgency with the support of the Greens? This unwelcome initiative could all go very pear-shaped.

    Liked by 2 people

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