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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”