Aucklanders (many of them, anyway) are to be freed from Covid curbs soon – but the rest of NZ has cause for anxiety

More than one announcement from the Beehive yesterday has the potential to affect the country’s health and general wellbeing in one way or another.

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi – for example – was chuffed about the the Three Strikes Legislation Repeal Bill passing its first reading in Parliament.

But critics fear this legislation  will put several of the worst criminals in New Zealand back on our streets over the next four years.

ACT Justice spokesperson Nicole McKee said:

“Three Strikes offenders make up just one per cent of all convictions, they have an average of 75 convictions, they are the worst and most violent offenders New Zealand has seen. They aren’t behind bars for petty theft or minor crimes. They have beaten, raped and murdered people.

“For every offence carried out by these people, there is a victim…” Continue reading “Aucklanders (many of them, anyway) are to be freed from Covid curbs soon – but the rest of NZ has cause for anxiety”

Whoa there, Minister – O’Connor is off again on a mission to talk about trade and help rebuild our post-Covid economy

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While Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has ventured at long last on her first overseas trip, Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor – in contrast – is becoming something of a globe-trotter.

In June he travelled to the United Kingdom and European Union to progress New Zealand’s respective free trade agreement negotiations and in September he travelled to Europe and the United States to promote our trade and economic interests with key partners, including representing New Zealand at the G20 Trade Ministers’ Meeting in Italy.

Now he has announced he is off to Singapore, Australia, and Switzerland until 6 December, among other things (in Geneva) to engage in concluding negotiations at the World Trade Organisation to address environmentally harmful subsidies on fisheries and put in place a new framework to reduce such subsidies in the agriculture sector. Continue reading “Whoa there, Minister – O’Connor is off again on a mission to talk about trade and help rebuild our post-Covid economy”

The people represented by Poto Williams loom large in consultations on Police’s Tactical Response Model

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Poto Williams  –  a few months ago – was telling us who had influenced her refusal to support the general arming of police.

At that time, a man who admitted murdering Constable Matthew Hunt during a routine traffic stop was on trial.  He was denying the attempted murder of a second officer.

A Hamilton officer had been injured by a firearm during a routine traffic check earlier that  month, police in Hamilton and Auckland had been confronted by armed offenders, and Police Association president Chris Cahill was calling for more frontline police to be armed because of a growing number of criminals carrying guns.

Poto Williams’ reason for sticking to her guns (so to speak) and for resisting any clamour for the general arming of the police?

The Māori and Pacific Island communities she represents did not want it, she insisted.

Williams told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Yardley she supported police officers being armed when they needed to be, but did not think it should extend to the permanent arming of the force.

This was because she had listened to overwhelming feedback from the Māori, Pacific Island and South Auckland communities who didn’t want it.

The communities she represented – Māori and Pacific – who were telling her “loud and clear” that the general arming of police and the Armed Response Teams (ARTs) were a real concern to them and had been distressed to learn armed police were routinely patrolling their streets, she said. Continue reading “The people represented by Poto Williams loom large in consultations on Police’s Tactical Response Model”

Foodbanks get a boost as the govt continues to keep northern parts of NZ under Alert Level Three constraints

Uh, oh.  Chris Hipkins , the Minister in charge of the response to Covid-19, had nice things to say about the good people of Northland and the Waikato but the announcement that mattered was bad news.

His press statement declared:

“It’s … great to see Northlanders coming out to get vaccinated. There have been 19,691 vaccinations in the past seven days – that’s more than double the previous week.”

And:

“The Waikato has done a phenomenal job in getting tested and getting vaccinated…”

But you were right if you were expecting a “but” was on its way before Waikato people could celebrate that cheering observation:

“However, this morning we were informed of two new cases that are as yet unlinked to the existing cluster.”

Health authorities believe the risk from these two cases is low and there will be few locations of interest.  Great ….

“However we need to assure ourselves that there is not undetected transmission before lowering alert levels. Genome sequencing is underway and will hopefully shed new light on these cases.”

Moreover,

“…we still don’t have confidence we have a full enough picture of the situation in Northland.”

Thumb screws, water-boarding, stretching on the rack and other techniques for extracting information from people who don’t want to explain themselves or dob in their companions are not being made available to our authorities, apparently. Continue reading “Foodbanks get a boost as the govt continues to keep northern parts of NZ under Alert Level Three constraints”

Opposition MPs demand answers about Covid border breach – they seem coy, however, about Treaty-based local govt reform ideas

Trade Minister Damien O’Connor seems to be earning his keep on his overseas travels.  He and his Irish counterpart have just signed a statement to re-affirm the agricultural cooperation partnership between Ireland and New Zealand.

Among the consequences, and building on bilateral dialogues held late in September, Irish agricultural officials and officials from our Ministry for Primary Industries will develop a joint cooperation agenda around the central mission of Advancing a Progressive International Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture.

But much more media attention has been paid to the announcement from COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins on Northland’s move to Alert Level 3 restrictions

“… following recent information on the risk presented by the positive case initially tested in Whangarei earlier this week and confirmed in Auckland yesterday…”

That person is now in an Auckland Managed Isolation Quarantine facility.

“A public health investigation continues to identify close contacts and any potential locations of interest.”

But huge questions are being asked about how the unidentifed person was able to cross the border that is supposed to protect Northlanders from infectious Aucklanderss and Oppposition MPs are demanding more information Continue reading “Opposition MPs demand answers about Covid border breach – they seem coy, however, about Treaty-based local govt reform ideas”

No, we aren’t part of the nuclear submarine pact, but CER keeps us in a relationship with our cobbers in OZ

Reassuring news about this country’s relationship with Australia emerged from the office of Trade Minister Damien O’Connor yesterday after his virtual meeting with his Aussie counterpart.

It was reassuring because of the concerns raised in some quarters after this country (where we pride ourselves on shunning nuclear power) was left out of the new defence pact embracing Australia, the US and UK that will deliver a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to the Pacific.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responded to news of that alliance by letting the Aussies know their nuclear submarines would not be permitted in New Zealand waters, in accordance with this country’s long-held anti-nuclear stance and laws.

Whatever might happen in terms of New Zealand’s military relationships with Australia, the US and the UK,  the joint statement on the economic relationship shows the trans-Tasman trade ministers are still talking to each other.

And their statement reiterated that CER, which they described as one of the most comprehensive trade agreements in the world, underpins the integration of the New Zealand and Australian economies.  Continue reading “No, we aren’t part of the nuclear submarine pact, but CER keeps us in a relationship with our cobbers in OZ”