Newstalk ZB broadcaster Mike Yardley, writing about his recent interview with Police Minister Poto Williams, said he had been keen to learn why she was so dead against Armed Response Teams.
But some of Williams’ replies during the interview raised another issue: who does the Member for Christchurch East represent?
We emailed that question to her office last Wednesday. We have yet to receive a reply.
In the Newstalk ZB interview, Yardley put it to Williams that – along with the Police Commissioner – she was placing far too much stock on the woke radical pressure groups who purport to represent the public pulse on policing issues.
He mentioned lobby groups such as Just Speak, Action Station and People Against Prisons Aotearoa, describing them as
“… a bit like the cycling lobby, highly organised, highly adept at capturing councils, flooding them with submissions, and courting favour.”
Yardley reckons these groups are driving the anti-cop agenda and fuelling the hostility to armed police.
So, what happened?
“The Police Minister duck shoved my suspicions by arguing that she was solely representing the concerns of Māori, Pacific, and South Auckland communities, not the pressure groups.
“Now the whole interview could have got side-tracked if I had got preoccupied over whom she says she’s representing. She’s the Māori and Pacific Minister of Police, apparently.
“But I was happy for her to dig her own hole, on that score. Who am I to stop a politician from continuing to hoist themselves with their own petard, if they so choose?
“She’s inadvertently blown a gaping hole in the Prime Minister’s oh-so earnest pledge on election night. ‘We will govern for all New Zealanders’.”
Other news media picked up on her remarks, reporting her as saying she will not be backing down on her strong stance not to support the general arming of police because the Māori and Pacific Island communities she represents do not want it.
Here at Point of Order, we mused:
And there we were thinking she was the MP for Christchurch East, a community of many ethnicities.
At that time, we had not received a response to questions we sent to Williams, to establish if she had been accurately reported.
We are still waiting.
Our letter drew attention to this report and asked:
- Has the Minister been accurately reported?
- If so, who is representing all other ethnic groups in the Christchurch East electorate?
- Has she sought feedback from those communities and what do they say?
The interview with Yardley reminded us that, when the PM appointed her ministers after the 2020 general election, she bypassed Greg O’Connor, a former police officer (he rose to the rank of Senior Sergeant) who was elected President of the New Zealand Police Association in 1995.
Wikipedia provides a quick rundown on his career:
His time as President was highly politicized with O’Connor weighing into political debates that concerned the Police force, particularly in regard 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.
But the PM left him on Labour’s back benches, his credentials apparently less impressive than those of Poto Williams.
And 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.
Fair to say, there is 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.
Oh – but don’t get the idea from the Yardley interview that she resists change in the law-and-order domain.
She has called for rape investigations to reverse the “innocent until proven guilty” legal methodology.
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”.
We wonder what the people she has chosen to represent – Māori, Pacific, and South Auckland communities – think about that.