Govt aims to keep “three strike” criminals out of the cooler but has increasingly warmed to making race a factor in research funding

Latest from the Beehive

The Government is running hot and cold on crime – in the eyes of its political opponents, at least.  One consequence will be keeping more offenders from being banged up in the coooler for too long.

Less ambivalently, it is turning up the heat in its efforts to tackle the country’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions change while non-Maori and non-Pacifika applicants are feeling the chill when funding is distributed by the Health Research Council. 

On the law and order front, Police Minister Poto Williams is crowing about a Police operation which resulted in the seizure of more than 50 kilograms of cocaine, and $300,000 in cash, cocaine and cryptocurrency wallets.

Is the cocaine in the weight reference the same as the cocaine in the dollar-value reference? It is unclear.

Nine people were arrested.

“This major crackdown on class A drugs and money laundering has today made our streets safer,” Poto Williams said.

Williams also announced the government’s intention to establish a dedicated firearms unit within Police, to take over firearms regulatory activities “in a further move to ensure public safety”.

On the other hand, the Government is delivering on its election campaign commitment to repeal the Three Strikes law with the introduction of the Three Strikes Legislation Repeal Bill.

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi, leading the charge on this one, huffed:

“The three strikes regime is an anomaly in New Zealand’s justice system that dictates what sentences judges must hand down irrespective of relevant factors,” Kris Faafoi said. 

“It has led to some absurd outcomes. In one case, for example, a person was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for an offence for which the sentencing judge indicated that they would, ordinarily, have imposed 18 months in prison.”

And

“Those who backed the law argued it would improve public safety – it has not. The evidence remains overwhelming that there has been no effect on violent crime rates since its implementation in 2010.”

Other jurisdictions have repealed their versions of three strike provisions, including the Northern Territory, and California repealed aspects of its three strikes law in 2012.

Faafoi said other sentencing options and orders exist in New Zealand law already which provide judges the tools to impose the same restrictions as provided by the three strikes law in appropriate cases, such as:

  • preventive detention for repeat serious offenders,
  • public protection and extended supervision orders,
  • minimum periods of imprisonment, and
  • imposing maximum penalties, up to life imprisonment.

Further information is available on the Ministry of Justice website here: https://www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector-policy/key-initiatives/repeal-of-the-three-strikes-law

Measures to deal with NZ’s climate change commitments were announced at the same time as Stats NZ data showed greenhouse gas emissions from industries and households rose by 4.8 per cent in NZ in the June 2021 quarter.

What to do?

Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced the Government is rolling out its plan for a carbon-neutral public sector by 2025 by requiring that all new non-residential government buildings are climate friendly,

  • From 1 April 2022, new non-residential governments buildings with a capital value over $25 million will have to meet a minimum Green Star rating of five
  • The same standard will apply to government buildings with a capital value over $9 million from 1 April 2023

Finance Minister Grant Robertson chipped in with news of the Government’s plans to issue sovereign Green Bonds from next year to help raise finance for New Zealand’s low carbon transition.

Green Bonds provide financing for low-emission or environmental projects like renewable energy or reforestation. They are issued globally to support climate-friendly initiatives, including by the World Bank since 2008.

Money raised from the bonds would be used to support projects that help reach the Government’s net zero carbon target.

“Green Bonds will enhance the development of New Zealand’s sustainable finance market,” Grant Robertson said.

“Projects financed by the bonds will be subject to additional scrutiny and, over time, the project selection, evaluation, and reporting requirements will help to ensure high-quality projects with robust environmental outcomes are delivered. 

“This is particularly important given the significant amount of investment that will be required by the Government to support the climate transition. 

“There’s now a substantial and growing investor demand for sovereign Green Bonds, reflecting an increase in the number of investors with a mandate to invest in Green Bonds,” Grant Robertson said.  

This is the latest in a raft of measures the Government has introduced to require New Zealand’s financial system to address the climate emergency, including:

  • Launching a new investment framework so all investments by Crown Financial Institutions are carbon neutral by 2050
  • Becoming the first country in the world to pass legislation to require all listed companies and large financial institutions to report on their climate related risks
  • Requiring KiwiSaver Default Funds to divest from fossil fuels
  • Launching NZ Green Investment Finance and quadrupling the capital it has available to invest in low carbon technologies of the future

New Zealand Debt Management at the Treasury is leading work on the Green Bond programme. Subject to market conditions and progress of establishment activity, final details of the Green Bond programme will be announced in mid-2022, followed by an inaugural issuance in late 2022.

Green bonds do not mean taking on new debt over and above the Government’s existing borrowing programme, they represent a change to the way some bonds are issued.

Further information on the Green Bond plans is available on the New Zealand Debt Management website here

What about the government’s increased warming towards bringing race considerations into its funding policies?

Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall didn’t highlight this aspect of the latest allocations of state funding for health research  – it was mentioned towards the end of her statement.

But if we do our numbers, we will find 36 of the 58 researchers who have just been awarded funding by the Health Research Council – that’s 62% – are Maori or “Pacific” researchers.

But aren’t we all Pacific?  Apparently not.

Mind you, the 36 Maori and Pacific researchers who were granted funding may well complain they haven’t been given enough of it.  Their portion (according to a crunching of the numbers in the press statement) was just 28% of the $11.2m total in the latest distributions from the rich swill in this trough.

Verrall chose not to draw too much attention to the race element in the opening paragraphs of her statement:

Funding to bolster the research workforce, and support research into Aotearoa New Zealand’s health challenges has been announced today by Associate Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall.

“As we build a stronger health system, this funding will support some of our most promising emerging researchers to enhance health services, policies, and everyday treatment and care of New Zealanders,” Ayesha Verrall said.

Then she mentioned the amount of dosh being distributed:

Around $11.3 million has been awarded to 58 researchers across Aotearoa in the Health Research Council’s annual Career Development Awards.

“This significant investment aims to improve the health of New Zealanders, by building research capability that responds to our population’s needs.

“It will allow research into issues such as heart disease, childhood diabetes, workforce wellbeing, and traumatic brain injuries. It also supports frontline health clinicians to gain research qualifications and deliver the best evidence-informed healthcare,” Ayesha Verrall said.

Then we are told the successful applications include projects led by Māori and Pacific researchers, driven by Kaupapa Māori and Pacific research methodologies.

“Nearly $3.2 million has been awarded to 24 Māori and 12 Pacific researchers, including early to mid-career researchers and health professionals. We are supporting the next generation of Māori and Pacific health science leaders. This is an important investment in people, and their work will help improve health outcomes and equity.”

Verrall concluded:

“The research funded in the latest round showcases some of the country’s most innovative research, which will have a tangible impact on people’s lives. It demonstrates the research sector’s ability to respond to community needs and emerging health threats.”  

More information and the full list of successful projects can be found on the Health Research Council’s website.

Latest from the Beehive

Public safety prioritised with new firearms unit

In a further move to ensure public safety, a dedicated firearms unit will be established within Police, to take over firearms regulatory activities, Minister of Police Poto Williams announced today.

Climate standards for new Govt buildings

The Government is rolling out its plan for a carbon neutral public sector by 2025 by requiring that all new non-residential government buildings are climate friendly.

Government backs emerging researchers to tackle health challenges

Funding to bolster the research workforce, and support research into Aotearoa New

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Conservation jobs provide wide-spread benefits

A Government-backed environmentally focused employment programme has created ten new jobs in Dannevirke and is looking to become a key labour source for the region in the future.

New Zealand to issue Sovereign Green Bonds

The Government plans to issue sovereign Green Bonds from next year to help raise finance for New Zealand’s low carbon transition.

Oranga Tamariki Oversight Bill introduced

The Government has today introduced key legislation intended to strengthen oversight of Oranga Tamariki.

Major organised crime operation sees crackdown on drugs

A significant Police operation has resulted in the seizure of more than 50 kilograms of cocaine, nine individuals arrested, and $300,000 in cash, cocaine, and cryptocurrency wallets seized.

Independent report on M.bovis response welcomed

Biosecurity and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has welcomed an independent review into the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme, which has found it is on track to achieve eradication and made recommendations to boost biosecurity work.

Deed of Settlement signed by Maniapoto and the Crown

A deed of settlement has been signed between Maniapoto and the Crown marking a significant milestone towards resolving their historical Treaty of Waitangi claims.

Government moves on “three strikes” law

The Government is delivering on its election campaign commitment to repeal the Three Strikes law with the introduction of the Three Strikes Legislation Repeal Bill.

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