Police budget was trimmed but $70m will be invested in scheme to let some offenders be dealt with by iwi panels

The Nats made political hay from the government’s treatment of the Police in this year’s budget.  The Police Budget was trimmed by around $90 million

“ … despite record growth in gang membership,” National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

The government – inevitably – defended its numbers, saying some funds are still under negotiation, and the police are still better off than they were under National.

Today Police Minister Poto Williams made a fresh Budget announcement of new spending of $70 million in new operating funding.

It’s for Te Pae Oranga Iwi Community Panels, to provide more panels and ensure they are available to people across New Zealand.

This time the ACT’s Justice spokesperson Nicole McKee has rejoined that the Government will spend $70 million to go even softer on crime.

Te Pae Oranga Iwi Community Panels give police an option for dealing with people with underlying issues who need help to get their lives back on track. This includes helping them overcome problems like addiction, abuse, financial stress and difficulties getting employment or education.

This option is available to people of all ethnicities, from all walks of life. Victims are encouraged to take part too.

Police refer eligible offenders to a local service agency that runs the programme.

The participant meets with the Te Pae Oranga panel. Victims are encouraged to take part too.

The panel helps to make a plan to put things right and help everyone who takes part. The participant’s plan can include actions such as getting support to quit drugs and alcohol, getting a driver licence, a job or training, doing an anger management course, paying for damage (reparation) or hearing how victims were affected and apologising to them.

If someone doesn’t meet the panel or complete their plan, Police consider whether to charge them. If so, they might have to go to court.

Poto Williams said the Government is expanding its investment in Te Pae Oranga, so more New Zealanders can access the support services they need and turn their lives around.

“By understanding ‘what works for Māori, works for everyone,’ Te Pae Oranga is a key enabler of a more humane criminal justice system through delivering tikanga Māori restorative justice services focussed on accountability, education, and preventing reoffending.”

But McKee says these panels give offenders who commit serious crimes – like stabbing a police officer or abducting a child – the opportunity to take part in a restorative justice programme instead of going through the courts.

The Government can keep boasting that its prison population is decreasing

“ … because serious violent offenders are having a hui instead of serving time.”

For small scale offences a programme like this might work, McKee acknowledged, but serious and violent offences should be dealt with in the criminal justice system.

The Nats had not commented when we posted this report. Perhaps they won’t. Te Pae Oranga began in 2013, during the Key government, when panels were established in the Hutt Valley, Gisborne and Manukau.

Here’s the latest news from the Beehive …

  • Conservation

Protecting the whitebait fishery for future generations

Changes to whitebaiting regulations – to be phased in over three years – aim to improve the sustainability of threatened species while ensuring that Kiwis can continue catching a feed in their local river.

Four of the six whitebait species are threatened or at risk of extinction, the press statement says.

“Fishing pressure” is a contributing factor, but habitat loss, environmental degradation, impeded fish passage within river systems, loss of spawning sites and introduced fish species are also adversely impacting whitebait numbers.

Whitebait regulations haven’t been reviewed since the 1990s.

The planned changes follow two years of engagement, including consultation on proposed regulations which attracted over 11,500 submissions.

DOC has been asked to gather more evidence about the state of the whitebait

  • Crime and partnership

Budget 2021 invests to reduce reoffending

As we recorded earlier, funding has been announced for 12 more Iwi Community Panels.

This will include nine new youth panels and pay for around 35 full-time equivalent positions within Police.

Police Minister Poto Williams said an evaluation published in 2019 showed the programme reduced harm from reoffending by 22 per cent.

“This Government is committed to supporting initiatives such as Te Pae Oranga that will have a meaningful impact on an individual and strengthen its commitment to the Māori Crown Relationship,” Poto Williams said.

There are 16 existing panels, with a further two in place by June 2021.  Today’s investment will lift the number to 30 panels over the next four years.

Partnership comes into the puffery:

“To date Te Pae Oranga has been funded through funding through the Effective Justice Fund and Police baseline, which has allowed Police to partner with Iwi Māori to deliver the panels.

“What is distinctive about this investment is that the majority of the funding will be directed by Police straight to Iwi and Maori services providers, strengthening not only our Justice system but investing in the development of services where they are needed most,” Poto Williams said.

Following discussions with Iwi over the next two years, Police will confirm the location of the new panel locations, targeting communities and areas in greatest need.

  • Flood relief

Adverse event declared for Canterbury region, unlocking support for farmers

Damien O’Connor – as Agriculture Minister – has declared an adverse event for the Canterbury region, unlocking Government support for farmers and growers.

Classifying this as a medium-scale adverse event ensures funding of $500,000 for flood recovery measures, to help speed up the recovery of farming businesses and provide “wellbeing support” and specialist technical advice.

The money will be used for recovery grants, to enable the region’s three Rural Support Trusts to provide extra help to farmers, and for other flood assistance where needed.

Other recovery measures being considered include an Enhanced Taskforce Green work programme to assist with clean-up and recovery, Rural Assistance Payments to help farmers with essential living costs, and flexibility through the Income Equalisation Scheme.

  • Appointments

 Children’s Commissioner’s term extended to 31 October

The Children’s Commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft, has agreed to remain in office for an extra four months while his successor is found

But the most interesting bit of the press statement is the final paragraph:

Details of the process for finding a new Commissioner are currently being finalised and a call for applications will be made shortly.

Let’s revisit that – the quest for a new commissioner has only just got under way and applications have yet to be called for.

But Judge Becroft will have spent five years in the role as of 30 June 2021. This is the standard term for a Children’s Commissioner.

He will continue until 31 October.

  • Speech

Working together for disarmament

Yes, it’s another speech by the Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Pil Twyford, who addressed the Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington

His focus was on a strategy he will be presenting to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee on Thursday. It then will be released for public discussion.

  • International

Trade Minister to lead first virtual trade mission to Japan

Trade Minister Damien O’Connor announced he will lead “an innovative ‘virtual’ trade mission to Japan this week to promote New Zealand’s valued relationship with one of its largest trading partners”.

He will be joined on Friday by business leaders from New Zealand’s premium food and beverage, health technology, consumer tech, and renewable energy sectors.

He said:

“This mission supports the Government’s efforts to strengthen key relationships and seize new opportunities for trade and investment under our Trade Recovery Strategy.

“Having Japan as a key economic partner supports the diversification of New Zealand’s trade and foreign direct investment profile. In doing so it strengthens our long-term economic resilience.”

The Virtual Trade Mission to Japan is part of a series of high-level engagements

New Zealand’s contribution to Operation GALLANT PHOENIX extended

Defence Minister Peeni Henare and Police Minister Poto Williams have confirmed New Zealand’s ongoing contribution to the Operation Gallant Phoenix intelligence mission in Jordan.

Cabinet has extended the mandate for New Zealand’s multi agency deployment until June 2023.

The exact number was not given.  Rather,

The number of deployed personnel remains fewer than 10.

Operation Gallant Phoenix was launched in 2013, the initial aim being to track the flow of foreign terrorist fighters in and out of Iraq and Syria. It has evolved into a platform where partners collect and share information and intelligence about potential and existing terrorist threats, regardless of threat ideology.

Operation Gallant Phoenix is now made up of several countries and a variety of agencies, including law enforcement, military and civilian personnel.

Space exploration soars with Artemis Accords

It’s great to hear our government leaders enthuse about New Zealand ‘s involvement in the space industry.

As one of only a small number of states with space launch capability, says Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta,

“ …  we take responsibilities of kaitiakitanga of the space environment seriously. New Zealand is committed to ensuring the next phase of space exploration is conducted in a safe, sustainable and transparent manner and in full compliance with international law.”

Accordingly, the government has agreed to join the Artemis Accords, launched by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and now signed by 11 nations.

The Accords guide cooperation on space exploration, including support of NASA’s Artemis program to return humans to the Moon in 2024,and explore Mars and beyond.

Our space sector is worth over $1.7 billion and our space manufacturing industry generates around $247 million a year, the press statement said.

Other signatories of the Artemis Accords are Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and Ukraine. Brazil has announced its intention to sign.

Further information about the Artemis Accords and the associated Artemis Programme is here: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-international-partners-advance-cooperation-with-first-signings-of-artemis-accords

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