Police Minister under fire on gangs and guns – and attention is drawn to the PM’s gamble

Police  Minister Poto Williams  is  becoming  a  liability for the  Ardern  government,  one  of  several poorly  performing  ministers  (think of  David  Clark, Kris Faafoi,  Phil Twyford).

Williams  displayed  her  quality  as    Police  Minister  once  more in  Parliament this  week as  she   faced  questions  on law  and  order. Not  surprisingly her  performance  (or  lack of it)  is  beginning  to  attract media  attention— although  those  in  line  for   government handouts  tend  to  steer   clear  of  anything  that smacks  of a  sacking.

This  is  how  Hansard  recorded  her  latest exchange,  during  which  most  government MPs  kept  their heads  well  down.

 Hon MARK MITCHELL (National—Whangaparāoa) to the Minister of Police: Does she stand by her statement, “I reject the premise that gang tensions have increased under this Government’s watch”; if so, how does she reconcile that with reported police intelligence, which states parts of the country have experienced unprecedented levels of gang violence in the past year?

Hon POTO WILLIAMS (Minister of Police): I stand by the full context of all of my answers at question time. In answer to the member’s second question, gangs have been a feature of New Zealand society for well over half a century. What police intelligence shows us is that the arrival of the 501s in 2015 has fundamentally changed the nature of gangs, making them much more overt and sophisticated. This was responded to at the time by cutting police numbers. That’s why, since 2017, we have funded the largest increase in organised crime staff, deployed 1,400 more cops across the country, and introduced legislation to give police more tools to address gang violence.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Why do gangs have more guns under her watch?

Hon POTO WILLIAMS: I would like the member to quantify that for me please. Continue reading “Police Minister under fire on gangs and guns – and attention is drawn to the PM’s gamble”

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”

Labour Party in disarray – and the flow-on to the PM

The once-proud NZ Labour Party was in a sorry shape this week. Its president Nigel Haworth handed in his resignation, the PM Jacinda Ardern was looking rather bedraggled, and several of her senior staff stood accused of a cover-up, in the wake of the scandal involving allegations of sexual assault against a Labour staffer said to be working in the Beehive.

Stuff reported earlier this week that a 19-year-old woman was allegedly assaulted on two occasions by a staffer with “strong influence” in the party.  It took a year after the second alleged assault before the party eventually launched an investigation into multiple complaints. But in spite of the young woman meeting with Labour Party officials including Haworth to seek help, the party contended the allegations did not include sexual violence.

Continue reading “Labour Party in disarray – and the flow-on to the PM”

NZ’s Defence assets are out of action or over-burdened – so sorry, we can’t help in the Gulf

Defence  Minister    Ron  Mark  was in  ebullient form, telling  Parliament  this  week  how  much he had   achieved  in defence  since he took over the portfolio  from  National’s  Mark  Mitchell.  And it  does  look  an impressive list.

There’s $5.2bn worth of procurement running right now. P-8s—done. Hercules—getting done. Network-enabled army—done. Protected mobility—done. The King Airs, four of them, now flying at Ōhākea—done. New simulator for the NH90s—done”.

So,  when a   request   comes   for   New Zealand  to help in the protection  of vital shipping lanes in the Middle East, one might   think  the Defence  Minister   would   relish the  opportunity  to   deploy  elements  of  the   NZ   Defence   Force.

But  what  was    Mark’s  response  when  asked to  link  with  Australia  in its decision to commit a ship, a surveillance aircraft and defence personnel in the multilateral effort to keep the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman open and safe for ships to pass through? Continue reading “NZ’s Defence assets are out of action or over-burdened – so sorry, we can’t help in the Gulf”

Putting the Sroubek puzzle together is challenging – perhaps a key piece is missing

What’s  the  piece  missing from the  public  gaze  on the  Karel Sroubek scandal and what’s behind the  heavy backing  given to  Iain Lees-Galloway  by  both  the  Prime  Minister  and   the Deputy Prime Minister?

The blunder  the Immigration Minister made  over the  convicted criminal Sroubek  is  one of the  most egregious  by  a  minister  in decades.  He  wouldn’t have survived  under Helen Clark – or, for that matter, most other  Prime Ministers.

In protecting Lees-Galloway,  both the  PM and Deputy  PM  stoked the fires of speculation and political tension, culminating in the stoush in Parliament  where the Speaker expelled first the  Leader of  the Opposition, Simon  Bridges,  and then the Shadow  Leader of the  House,  Gerry Brownlee.

Continue reading “Putting the Sroubek puzzle together is challenging – perhaps a key piece is missing”

Govt decision on replacing Air Force’s Hercules fleet is in the offing

Foreign  Minister  Winston Peters   gave a  clear signal  during  his recent visit to  Canberra that  the  government  will soon be making a decision  to  buy replacements   for  the RNZAF’s  50-year-old  Hercules.

In a  speech to the  National Press Club,  he  said:

The New Zealand Strategic Defence Policy Statement informs the military equipment choices we make over the next few months as we update our Defence Capability Plan.Already, we have made one major acquisition decision.

“We will replace our six P3 Orions, with four state-of-the-art P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. New Zealand also has a range of defence platforms approaching the end of their life, not least the airlift capability embodied in our 1960s-era C-130 Hercules”.

Continue reading “Govt decision on replacing Air Force’s Hercules fleet is in the offing”

Norwegian-built ship to be bought for RNZN hydrographic and diving duties

Defence Minister Ron Mark has scored another success at Cabinet, winning approval to buy a new hydrographic and dive ship for the Royal New Zealand Navy.  An 85-metre Norwegian-built multi-role offshore support vessel, the MV Edda Fonn, will replace HMNZS Resolution and HMNZS Manawanui.

The two vessels were decommissioned from the RNZN in 2012 and 2018 respectively, following several decades of service.

The $103m budget covers purchase, modifications and introduction into service. This has been funded through an existing appropriation. Continue reading “Norwegian-built ship to be bought for RNZN hydrographic and diving duties”

Greens want to torpedo Govt’s “bigger bombs” deal

The  Labour-led coalition’s  move  to place  a $2.3bn order  for new  Poseidon anti-submarine  hunters has opened  the biggest split so  far  among the parties supporting the coalition.

Green  Party  defence  spokesperson Golriz  Ghahraman says her party  opposes the purchase  because  it  is  a  continuation  of the  old  “war-style”  obsession with  weapons.

They’re incredibly expensive because they’ve got that war-making capability that we feel New Zealand really needs to lead the way in moving away from.”

Continue reading “Greens want to torpedo Govt’s “bigger bombs” deal”