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”

Buzz from the Beehive: Williams has faith in data on Police recruiting but gang growth numbers are – a bit bent?

Police Minister Poto Williams was responsible for one of just two new ministerial press statements at time of checking on what the Beehive mob are up to.

She was obviously delighted to be able to end the week with something to crow about (she used the word “celebrated”):

Police Minister Poto Williams celebrated today the graduation of Wing 352 at the Royal New Zealand Police College, which marks the 3,000th new police officer since October 2017.

“The 79 recruits graduating from Wing 352 bring the total new officers since we took office to 3,000. The milestone reached today is a testament to our Government’s record investment in Police,” Poto Williams said.

The only other press release was from Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta, announcing more humanitarian aid for Afghanistan. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Williams has faith in data on Police recruiting but gang growth numbers are – a bit bent?”

How Poto Williams rejected a premise and denied Nats the data sought about gang membership

For   successive  days  in Parliament this  week  National’s  Mark  Mitchell   has  been asking Police  Minister  Poto  Williams whether gang  violence  has  increased  or  decreased  under  her  watch—and  whether  gang  membership  has  risen in that time.

Adopting a  technique favoured  by  her  leader,  Williams  is apt to say “I reject the  premise of  that  question”.

It’s a neat way of answering without providing the information that has been requested.

Here’s how  Hansard recorded  the   exchange  on  this point: Continue reading “How Poto Williams rejected a premise and denied Nats the data sought about gang membership”

We don’t recall Ministers drawing attention to their new road-block laws – but Hone Harawira is making the most of them

There were no new statements on the Beehive website when we checked today, which means ministers have nothing fresh to announce – or rather, nothing they want to boast about or let us know about.

Matters such as changes to the Covid laws which determine who can mount road blocks to stop people going where they might want to go.  

The COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Act (No 2) 2021 was enacted on 20 November 2021.

According to the  Ministry of Health website, this legislation mainly continues to enable the Minister for COVID-19 Response to issue Orders to respond to COVID-19 in a flexible and agile way.  

Many of the changes made by this Amendment Act are technical in nature. These include clarifying some terms in the Act and improving transparency around decision making.

And:

Most of the changes in this Amendment Act will not immediately have direct impacts on the general public. However, future Orders made under the Act using these changes may impose obligations or requirements on individuals to ensure the Government can supress and minimise the impact of COVID-19 and reconnect New Zealand.

The one change that will have a more immediate direct impact on all New Zealanders is the increase of infringement penalties for people who breach orders under the Act. The Government believes these higher penalties will more accurately reflect the risks associated with breaching an Order. Continue reading “We don’t recall Ministers drawing attention to their new road-block laws – but Hone Harawira is making the most of them”

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

Latest from the Beehive

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”

Mahuta says there’s more talking to be done on three waters reforms – but let’s see if that means she is listening

A bemusing press statement  flowed this morning from the office of Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta on the highly contentious matter of “three waters reforms”.

Under these reforms, the country’s 67 local and regional councils’ drinking, waste and storm water assets would be taken over and administered by four large regional entities, each of which would include iwi leaders with extraordinary co-governing powers.

In return, the government would pay for billions of dollars’ worth of much-needed infrastructure and repairs.

But as the NZ Herald noted two days ago

“… mayors up and down the country are far from convinced, with major reservations about losing local control over such vital assets.”

That report said Mahuta may allow for more council influence in the contentious water reforms,

“… but still refuses to rule out changing the law to force councils to sign up.” Continue reading “Mahuta says there’s more talking to be done on three waters reforms – but let’s see if that means she is listening”

Yes, the govt will invest in Police response teams but the emphasis will be on tactics (and dogs) rather than firearms

Police Minister Poto Williams – explaining her opposition to Armed Response Teams  a few weeks back – said she would not be backing down on her strong stance not to support the general arming of police because the Māori and Pacific Island communities she represents do not want it.

But whoa.  As MP for Christchurch East, isn’t she supposed to represent the people of that community of many ethnicities?

And as Minister of Police, isn’t she supposed to have some regard for the wellbeing of our police officers?

Well, yes.

And today (lest anyone might doubt it ) she said the Government is committed to keeping the country’s frontline police officers safe, so they in turn can keep New Zealanders safe. Continue reading “Yes, the govt will invest in Police response teams but the emphasis will be on tactics (and dogs) rather than firearms”

While we wonder who Poto Williams represents, let’s muse on why Greg O’Connor missed out on the Police post

Newstalk ZB broadcaster Mike Yardley, writing about his recent interview with Police Minister Poto Williams,  said he had been keen to learn why she was so dead against Armed Response Teams.

Good question.

But some of Williams’ replies during the interview raised another issue:   who does the Member for Christchurch East represent?

We emailed that question to her office last Wednesday.  We have yet to receive a reply.

In the Newstalk ZB interview, Yardley put it to Williams that – along with the Police Commissioner – she was placing far too much stock on the woke radical pressure groups who purport to represent the public pulse on policing issues.

He mentioned lobby groups such as Just Speak, Action Station and People Against Prisons Aotearoa, describing them as

“… a bit like the cycling lobby, highly organised, highly adept at capturing councils, flooding them with submissions, and courting favour.”

Yardley reckons these groups are driving the anti-cop agenda and fuelling the hostility to armed police. Continue reading “While we wonder who Poto Williams represents, let’s muse on why Greg O’Connor missed out on the Police post”

Arming the police: Police Minister’s explanation about her stance triggers questions about representation

It has been a quiet week in The Beehive, since the Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau Andrew Little expressed New Zealand’s condemnation of malicious cyber activity by “Chinese state-sponsored actors”.

Ominously quiet.

What are they hatching now (we wonder) and when will they announce it?

Mind you, when we say it has been a quiet week in The Beehive, we don’t mean Ministers have been quiet.

Speaking as Minister of Police (for example), Poto Williams said she will not be backing down on her strong stance not to support the general arming of police because the Māori and Pacific Island communities she represents do not want it.

We kid you not.

And there we were thinking she was the MP for Christchurch East, a community of many ethnicities.

The graph we found on Parliament’s website suggests Maori and Pacific Islanders comprise a minority in the electorate and the substantial numbers of “European” residents comprise a bigger percentage of the total population (around 70,000 people) than they do nation-wide.

Source: Parliamentary Library using data from Stats NZ

Continue reading “Arming the police: Police Minister’s explanation about her stance triggers questions about representation”

Police and their Minister duck Maori Party question which drew attention to something troubling about children and the cops

Yes, we are aware of the Maori Party’s aversion to Parliamentary questions from Opposition MPs which aim to flush the PM and her government into the open on their programme of incorporating the “Treaty partnership” in their reform programme.

The Maori Party insists those questions are racist and has pressed the Speaker to rule them out of order.

It has also challenged the Speaker and Parliamentary protocol through expressions of dissent which culminated in one co-leader being ordered from the House for performing a defiant haka and the other walking out to show her support for her colleague.

This has won headlines around the world.

Not bad for an outfit which won 1.2 per cent of the party vote at the 2020 general election.

Māori Party co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi have also won publicity this week by declaring their intent to fight the Government’s proposed laws targeting gangs. Continue reading “Police and their Minister duck Maori Party question which drew attention to something troubling about children and the cops”