Law and order is back as a key political issue as gang warfare and ram raids in Auckland dominate the headlines.
National accusing the Labour government of being “soft” on crime has grabbed the initiative with its call for a crackdown on gangs and its proposal to give the police fresh powers to deal with them. As a consequence National has gained further ground as Labour slips in the polls to new lows.
Meanwhile Police Minister Poto Williams has looked more and more a weak link in the Labour Cabinet, facing calls by Opposition parties for her to be sacked. She could be top of the list on the soon-to-be-announced Cabinet reshuffle.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has responded by saying the government is “considering” more action to crack down on violent gang behaviour but has dismissed the idea of a ban on wearing gang patches in public.
There have been almost nightly shootings and arsons in Auckland and Northland in recent weeks linked to escalating tensions between the Killer Beez and Tribesmen. Continue reading “Public are disquieted by gang warfare and ram raids – will the Police Minister cop it in a Cabinet reshuffle?”
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”
The Ardern government may feel pleased it hasn’t fallen lower in the latest Roy Morgan poll, but there wasn’t much to cheer about, particularly for those MPs who it indicates face being banished to the political wilderness come election day.
The key element in the poll – the fourth in a row in the Roy Morgan sampling to show a change of government, were there to be an election now – is the decline in net country direction from -5% to -12.5%, as has been pointed out by another pollster, David Farrar.
The gender breakdown of the direction question is also pertinent: in February women were + 8% but are now -6%.
Of course, Covid is still dominating the headlines in the mainstream media, few of which level any kind of criticism at the Prime Minister – and there was barely a mention to be found in the media of the Roy Morgan poll.
Strangely, too, the NZ Herald’s percipient political editor, Claire Trevett, defended the Prime Minister for her choice of Poto Williams as Police Minister, even after the newspaper had earlier given her front-page headlines “Williams slated, over police response times”. Continue reading “New poll (does the mainstream media know about it?) affirms Ardern govt is on the back foot”
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”
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.
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”
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”.
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”
We were prompted to check out Greg O’Connor’s CV this morning after finding him mentioned in despatches on Lindsey Mitchell’s splendid blog.
We turned to Wikipedia for a quick rundown on what he has done and found he served in the New Zealand Police for almost four decades, ending his career with the rank of Senior Sergeant.
He was later elected President of the New Zealand Police Association in 1995. His time as President was highly politicized with O’Connor weighing into political debates that concerned the Police force, particularly in regards to arming officers with firearms.
O’Connor called for arming the police in New Zealand and also proposed routine arming of front line response police officers.
He retired as President in 2016, serving a record 21 years as the Police Association’s head and regarded raising the Police Association’s credibility as his main achievement during his tenure.
He also spent time serving as the chair of the International Council of Police Representatives Association (ICPRA). Continue reading “We could have had a former copper as Minister of Police but the PM opted for Poto Williams”
Refugees and volunteers were the subjects of the only two press statements to emerge from the Beehive since our previous report on ministerial announcements.
Saturday was World Refugee Day, giving Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway a pretext for reminding us of his existence, and Sunday was the start of National Volunteer Week, 21 June to 27 June 2020, giving Community and Volunteer Sector Minister Poto Williams a similar platform.
Both occasions left us wondering at Point of Order: who dreams up these occasions?
Lees-Galloway clumsily said:
“The Government is proud to play our part in international humanitarian work to provide support and protection to refugees, and celebrate the contributions our refugee community makes on World Refugee Day today.”
So how does it regard the contributions our refugee community makes on other days? Continue reading “Ministers pay tribute to refugees and volunteers (and Lees-Galloway will have more to say in a Beehive speech)”