Are America’s troubles part of a pattern or a new twist?  A bit of both perhaps 

The speed with which US protests over a ghastly death in police custody have morphed into something multi-dimensional and international precludes easy analysis.

But the triggering event, a citizen of a free country dying at the hands of the police is always shocking and invariably depressing.  It doesn’t seem to matter much that in this case (and one hopes the next one, because there is likely to be a next one) the authorities are doing the right thing: investigating and, in this instance, deciding that there is evidence to prosecute the policeman. Continue reading “Are America’s troubles part of a pattern or a new twist?  A bit of both perhaps “

Maori monarch flexes muscle to make waterways off-limits but we may muse on the matter of legality

The Waikato and Waipa Rivers have been declared off limits during Level 3 of the Covid-19 emergency, prohibiting food gathering and all recreational activities on the waterways..

Elsewhere around the country people have been barred from going to some beaches by vigilante groups who set up checkpoints to impede the public.

In the case of the two rivers, the prohibition has been imposed by a former truck driver who now rejoices in the title of Māori King Tuheitia.

He has declared the rivers are subject to a rahui, a cultural and spiritual prohibition.  It came into effect on Monday.

The king’s authority to make a rahui binding on anyone who feels they should not be constrained by it is dubious.

Point of Order hoped Local Government New Zealand would guide us on King Tuheitia’s entitlement to bar people from swimming or fishing in the rivers or boating on them.  Continue reading “Maori monarch flexes muscle to make waterways off-limits but we may muse on the matter of legality”

A checkpoint charlie would be someone who doesn’t question the legality – but the PM seems comfortable they pass muster

We wonder if Stuart Nash is too busy trying to catch up with his small business duties to find time to reply to Point of Order’s questions about highly contentious goings-on in his police portfolio.

Nash was criticised earlier this week for providing the Epidemic Response Committee with scant information about the effect on businesses of an additional week of lockdown and another two weeks at alert level 3.

In his Police patch, meanwhile, the legality of checkpoints set up by Maori communities  has become a matter of confusion.

Point of Order has tried to establish if there is any statutory authority to legitimise these checkpoints.

Our questions to the PM and to the Police were not directly answered while our questions to Nash received only an automated response.  Continue reading “A checkpoint charlie would be someone who doesn’t question the legality – but the PM seems comfortable they pass muster”

You could try going to court to flush out legal advice on Police powers – but don’t expect a hearing in a hurry

It shouldn’t be necessary, in the circumstances, but the Government is being urged to release the legal advice it has received about Police being able to enforce the lockdown rules.

National’s Justice spokesperson, Mark Mitchell, today  issued a press release saying the government has a duty to release this advice.

There is “huge confusion” among the public about what the rules are, with both the Prime Minister and former Police Commissioner contradicting each other, Mitchell contends.

“Even now with the Section 70 notice from the Ministry of Health it’s important New Zealanders understand what powers the Police have and how those decisions have been made.

 When the entire country is in lockdown, the case for public interest could not be higher and far outweighs any decision to withhold the advice, says Mitchell.
Continue reading “You could try going to court to flush out legal advice on Police powers – but don’t expect a hearing in a hurry”

You will know the border has been reached when virus vigilantes stop you in the name of health and safety

Good questions were raised by “a Far North man”, who did not want to be named because of his fear of retribution.

Talking to the Northland Age late last month, the man said he was

” … scared. Really scared. Not because of some virus. We have ways to deal with this. I am scared because our authorities allow people to take the law into their own hands.

“People with no authority, people with no mandate, who are not elected to represent the people by democratic rules.

“They are allowed to form a private militia, select their own people and block public roads. They are allowed to take away one of the basic human rights from us, the freedom to move.”

Yep.  And so far as Point of Order can see, this is being done with the Prime Minister’s tacit approval.  Continue reading “You will know the border has been reached when virus vigilantes stop you in the name of health and safety”

In the High Court, the chief judge demotes himself, while in the Supreme Court a judge promotes the mana of dead litigants

The Chief High Court judge’s decision to step down has triggered a question bluntly expressed in a headline on Asian Invasion 2019What The Hell Is Going On In The New Zealand Judiciary?

First, the blogger says, the judiciary was accepting debate sparked by a newly appointed Supreme Court Justice into the proposition that dead people aren’t dead for legal purposes, if tikanga is incorporated in our legal system.

Now we have Justice Geoffrey Venning – appointed Chief High Court judge in 2015 – stepping down.

To do what?

Radio NZ tells us: he is stepping down from the top role

 … to return to being a full time judge.

He has demoted himself, in other words.  Continue reading “In the High Court, the chief judge demotes himself, while in the Supreme Court a judge promotes the mana of dead litigants”

Prominent British jurist sounds a grim warning about how to create a Police state but our Chief Justice is coy

Political commentators from the left and right sides of the political divide are questioning the powers being exercised by police during the nation-wide “lockdown”.

The Asian Invasion 2019  blog draws attention to the warning sounded by former UK Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption when he challenged Covid-19 actions by British Police, describing them as an “hysterical slide into a police state”  and labelleing the situation as “collective hysteria”.

He said:

The real problem is that when human societies lose their freedom, it’s not usually because tyrants have taken it away. It’s usually because people willingly surrender their freedom in return for protection against some external threat. And the threat is usually a real threat but usually exaggerated. 

And:

Yet in some parts of the country, the police have been trying to stop people from doing things like travelling to take exercise in the open country, which are not contrary to the regulations, simply because ministers have said that they would prefer us not to. 

Lord Sumption cautioned against blindingly accepting what scientists say, too: Continue reading “Prominent British jurist sounds a grim warning about how to create a Police state but our Chief Justice is coy”

Don’t fret, folks – Hone’s sweet with the mayor so long as he sets up checkpoints and doesn’t mount road blocks

Hobson’s Choice spokesman Don Brash (a former leader of the National and ACT Parties) is not alone in challenging the justification for tribes claiming to have closed roads to protect their people against Covid.

Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters – his remarks apparently ignored by other media – told Waatea News unofficial tribal militia throwing up checkpoints were more likely to hinder than help the Covid-19 response.

He was interviewed at a time when hapu and iwi on the East Coast were organising such road-blocks and Hone Harawira was arranging checkpoints on roads into the far north.

Peters said the government didn’t need Harawira to ring-fence Kaitaia.

“That’s what the Government is seeking to do now. That’s why there’s a lockdown. That’s why they’re saying don’t travel. That’s why the Government is saying stay at home, look after each other.

“If you ring-fence Kaitaia, it sounds good until you have essentials coming in that are desperately needed for life to continue, food and other resources like that. So you can’t have a bunch of militias standing by the side of the road without any guidelines enforcing a lockdown.”   Continue reading “Don’t fret, folks – Hone’s sweet with the mayor so long as he sets up checkpoints and doesn’t mount road blocks”

Cops help iwi with roadblocks as a cultural response to Covid-19 – and perhaps to portend a policing “partnership”

The proposition that our Police are paving the way for a partnership in which former MP Hone Harawira and other iwi leaders police communities within the borders they define went unchallenged when put to press officers working for the Prime Minister and the Police.

The picture painted in the preceding paragraph was drawn from Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha’s statement on road blocks Harawira set up in Northland to check tourists’ health.  He declared:

” … we want to model what it looks like when iwi, police, councils and other agencies work in partnership”. 

But nether the Police nor the Prime Minister’s Office directly answered questions put to them by Point of Order about the legality of Harawira’s blocking public roads while policing the a border which he presumably established. Continue reading “Cops help iwi with roadblocks as a cultural response to Covid-19 – and perhaps to portend a policing “partnership””

Govt takes the credit for record drug seizures – but let’s not forget where Customs’ new patrol boat came from

Ministers love to bray about the seizing of illegal drugs.

Customs statistics on seizures last year – albeit “preliminary” statistics – therefore were irresistible to Customs Minister Jenny Salesa.  They gave her a platform to remind us of her existence as a Minister while acknowledging the work of her officials.

Her statement said:

Customs’ preliminary statistics for 2019 show it made 2,613 separate drug seizures of various class A, B and C drugs at the New Zealand border, adding up to 2,577 kilograms, 505 litres, and over 342,000 items such as pills or tablets.

The illegal drugs were seized at the New Zealand border by Customs and overseas by Customs’ international border partners before the drugs could be sent to our shores.

But who was given the lion’s share of the credit for these seizures?

The statement was headed Coalition Govt’s investment in Customs nets record drugs haul: 3 tonnes stopped at borders in 2019.

The first paragraph amplified the notion that the government deserves all the credit for this law-and-order accomplishment:

The Coalition Government’s investment in a strong border and disrupting transnational organised crime produced record results for stopping drugs in 2019, says Minister of Customs Jenny Salesa.

And further down in the statement:

Jenny Salesa says the record haul by Customs is down to the Coalition Government’s record investment in the agency to fight crime at our own border with 49 extra new operational staff since 2016/17, and 97 ‘Ship-to-Shore’ Customs officials working to stop drugs before they are sent from overseas destinations.

“We have given Customs the cash injection they needed to boost their capabilities, plus disrupt more criminal networks offshore to stop illegal drugs before they even leave the export country. These overseas seizures are increasing year on year.”

“In Budget 2018 we committed an extra $58.1 million over four years to disrupt drug smuggling networks, including $3.9 million for capital like detection technology and surveillance equipment. That investment is paying off because we’re stopping more drugs at our border.”

Thanks to additional funding, Customs has also been working smarter through offshore collaboration with law enforcement agencies in Australia, the Pacific, the US and further abroad to stop the drug traffickers’ products and ingredients before they can leave overseas ports and airports. Our support has meant Customs has been able to hire almost 100 extra staff in the Ship to Shore project.”

Treating illegal drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal one was a factor too, the Minister noted.

Jenny Salesa says Customs’ focus on disrupting the supply of illegal drugs from reaching communities is part of the Government’s health-based approach.

“Our Coalition Government is putting more resources into addiction, detoxification and residential care services for New Zealanders who are struggling with drug and alcohol issues. For this to be effective, it’s important for our law enforcement agencies like Customs to reduce the supply of drugs like meth as much as possible, and take a hard line against the organised criminal groups that push these products.”

The extra money for Customs to target drug smugglers was announced not on Salesa’s watch, however, but was included in the Ardern’s government’s first budget in 2018 when Meka Whaitiri was the minister.

She announced at that time:

“Budget 2018 invests $54.2 million of operating funding over four years to significantly enhance Customs’ capabilities to attack these criminal networks from all angles. This includes an additional 127 Customs staff, both here and overseas.

“New initiatives will disrupt international drug-smuggling networks early in the supply chain by making seizures offshore, while also boosting onshore capabilities through more maritime patrols, frontline resources and community engagement.  

“A further $3.9 million in capital will bolster our maritime and frontline work with new rigid-hull inflatable boats, mobile x-ray vans, and vehicles and kennels for Customs’ detector-dog teams.

“We will also hit organised crime in the pocket by targeting the cross-border flow of criminal proceeds, slashing their profits and preventing re-investment in further criminal activity.”

But the overall Customs budget hasn’t changed greatly since the Ardern government took over in 2017.

The Key government’s last budget, in 2017-18, appropriated $216.2 million for Customs.

This was 0.23 per cent of a total appropriation of $94.6 billion.

The total appropriation in the 2019/20 budget was 17 per cent higher than in the Nats’ last budget at $110.8bn.

The increase in the appropriation for Customs was a  more modest 11.8%, lifting it to $241.7m.  This amounted to 0.22 per cent of the total appropriation, a tiny tad less than Customs share of the total in 2017/18.

We must suppose savings are being made in other areas of Customs – efficiencies, too, all going well – to explain the grunt being invested in frustrating drug criminals.

But not all the crime-busting can be attributed to a change of government.

In  January 2018 Whaitiri said she was

 … delighted to announce that the new state- of-the-art patrol vessel, Hawk V, officially started work today following a commissioning ceremony at the Port of Auckland.

“The world-class patrol vessel has been purpose-built to boost Customs’ ability to identify risk, and carry out enforcement now and into the future,” says Ms Whaitiri.

Designed by Teknicraft in Auckland and built by Q-West in Whanganui, Hawk V is an 18.6 metre long, foil supported, aluminium catamaran. Equipped with the latest technology, the new vessel has the ability to monitor comings and goings over a much greater sea area than her predecessors, and at a much faster pace of around 40 knots.

Primarily based in Auckland, Hawk V will be operated by a crew of four Customs officers with specialist maritime expertise. The Hawk can be deployed to other regions.

But the Nats can take credit for this initiative.

Nicky Wagner was the Customs Minister who announced in 2016 her department  would be getting a new patrol boat, a world-class vessel that would reinforce and enhance the protection of New Zealand’s maritime border.

It would be locally-designed, purpose-built, and equipped with state-of-the-art electronics.

Wagner said the new vessel would boost Customs’ capabilities to identify risk and carry out enforcement work beyond our territorial waters.

No doubt it played a role in the statistics that prompted Salesa to put out a law-and-order statement and pump up her government’s accomplishments.