Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


5 Comments

It’s over for New Zealand: News from President Trump

Three campaign rallies and three times President Trump calls out the abject failure of the country of New Zealand in fighting the pandemic. It’s time Kiwis kissed their elderly and sick goodbye, throw away masks and hand sanitiser and await their fate. It’s no use fighting it, for as the PONTUS knows, it’s over for New Zealand. Everything’s gone.

So America, and the rest of the world, take a lesson from the dumb ass Kiwis – don’t try to emulate them. Celebrate the great job being done by Donald Trump. You only need to look at the US mortality rates to know how well they’re doing, and as the president has said, other countries would know just how well you’re doing if only fewer of you were tested.

If you think I’m jesting about the wisdom the President Trump, then I highly recommend you listen to the three video clips below. Not only will you be greatly informed, you will also be greatly inspired.

Donald Trump scoffs at NZ, calling latest Covid-19 cluster a ‘big surge’ – The US President added New Zealand to his campaign rhetoric in Minnesota.

Donald Trump mentions New Zealand in Covid-19 briefing for second time
The US president said during a White House press conference that Aotearoa “had a big outbreak”.

‘It’s over for New Zealand’ – Trump slams Aotearoa’s Covid-19 outbreak response yet again. President Trump made reference to a “massive breakout” here.

Now I realise the President was a short on details. Well it was a political rally after all. So I have prepared some charts. I’ve used charts because I know how well the President is able to explain them. You saw how he slayed that interviewer when he challenged the President: The President used charts to really sock it to that guy.

Just in case you find charts a little more difficult to read than the President, I have included a brief explanation below each one.

You can see that America is doing very good in new cases. There was a time in June where Sweden was winning, but they’ve since gone down and America up. But look at New Zealand – it’s over.
This one charts deaths. As you can see, there’s no comparison between New Zealand and the other three countries. It’s over New Zealand, beautiful. America does more testing than Sweden and England so that is why America’s score is not as big.
This is charting the number of tests done each day. America is winning big time. Look at New Zealand. Loosers. They should test like America does. That’s why it’s all over for them.
This chart is more difficult to understand as there’s some maths going on. You need to be a genius like President trump to grasp its complexity. See how good America’s percentages are – they are higher than the other country. England tried to beat America in April, but they couldn’t keep it up. Losers just like New Zealand. But America is doing just great.

As you can see, America is higher on every chart (except one, and that’s because America tests too much). If you want to keep America high in the charts, then don’t forget to vote for Donald Trump in November. If you vote for that other guy, America might end up like New Zealand.


2 Comments

The perils of a New Zealand Border Force — Will New Zealand Be Right?

Keeping the coronavirus out of Aotearoa New Zealand is fraught with difficulties, the most significant perhaps being that it requires the cooperation of multiple agencies. I’m glad I’m not the only person who regards the setting up of a Border Security Force as a potential source of abuse and tyranny.

Whilst the current multi-agency arrangement involving Customs, Health, Police and Military has revealed many flaws from managing security to testing for COVID-19, these are being acknowledged and corrected as they come to light. This is uncharted territory, and if anyone believes that a plan of action can be brought from the drawing board to fruition in record time taking into account every possibility with every permutation already considered and planned for, then they are living in cloud cuckooland.

Would a Border Security Force result in appalling forms of abuse as can be witnessed in countries such as Australia and the United States? I would hope not, but I’d prefer that the opportunity does not arise. Better to resource the existing agencies adequately and create a management task force dedicated to coordinating the agencies and quickly respond to issues as they arise.

If there are legal barriers to setting up such a task force in any future national emergency, then sure, bring in legislation that will allow it ensuring that transparent oversight is included. But having a permanent independent force with little in the way of transparent oversight on the American or Australian model with all their reported abuses? No thanks!

With a general election coming up in less than two months, several political parties are promoting a Border Security Force, but this does not appear to be on the radar for the governing Labour party at the moment. However, they are just as subject to public pressure as other parties, so I want to put my position now in the hope that I’m just one of many voices opposing the formation of a Border Security force.

On this matter I can do no better than reblog Robert Glennie’s post on Will New Zealand Be Right?

Normally I am quite tough on matters of national security, and I am, but the concept of a New Zealand border agency fills me with dread. One does not have to look far to see in other countries why it is controversial. And the last a government agency with enormous control was created in New […]

The perils of a New Zealand Border Force — Will New Zealand Be Right?


Leave a comment

The wisdom of Donald Trump

Lots of places they were using to hold up, they are having a big surge, they are… And I don’t want that, I don’t want that. But they were holding up names of countries and now they are saying whoops! Even New Zealand. You see what’s going on in New Zealand. They beat it. They beat it. It was like front page. They beat it because they wanted to show me something. The problem is big surge in New Zealand. It’s terrible. We don’t want that.

Donald Trump, 17 August 2020

Of course, the surge is terrible in New Zealand. While we might want to see the Trump administration emulate us, it’s out of spite. We know that Donald will never allow that to happen to the USA.

MAGA

Here’s the evidence in the form of a chart of daily infections per million:

I know that President Trump says we can’t use per capita measurements because it it makes US testing rates look bad, so here’s a chart showing new infections in absolute numbers:

As you can see, New Zealand is flatlining. That’s terrible. Not many people know this, but when a brain scan or heart monitor flatlines, it means you’re dead, very dead. That’s terrible for New Zealand. I have every confidence that the President of the United States will not let that happen to America.


1 Comment

Rumours and conspiracy theories

Rumours

Even in this country of Aotearoa New Zealand there are those who like to spread rumours. The problem is that with all the social media platforms available, and the way their algorithms select “news” all too often truth gets drowned out by the cacophony of rumours, innuendos and lies.

In the case of the family at the centre of the current COVID-19 cluster in Auckland, the rumour mill has been working overtime. Social media attacks on the family are vile, and the fact that the family are part of the Pasifika community has brought out the worst of racism in some people.

Health authorities keep the identity and ethnicity of those with COVID-19 away from public scrutiny, but work colleagues, neighbours, friends, family, and the curious will in all probability be aware of their status and either accidentally or maliciously leak the information into the realm of social media. After that it gains a life of its own.

Unfortunately the rumours, innuendos and attacks on the family and and those of the same ethnicity have had such a traumatic effect that the Minister of Health felt it necessary to start Monday’s COVID-19 press briefing with a strongly worded statement:

Coronavirus: Man who started COVID-19 community outbreak rumour in New Zealand speaks out

MBIE shuts down rumour blaming Auckland’s COVID-19 outbreak on girl breaching quarantine to visit man deported from Australia

Conspiracies

When it comes to conspiracy theories, some politicians seem to like nothing better than to add fuel to the fire. It’s election time here, and so to some extent, innuendos that the government is less than honest, have a hidden agenda or are corrupt or incompetent do tend to pop up more frequently. But it’s disappointing that some politicians are using the pandemic as a political football. Mind you, To some extent, the Labour party has to accept some of the blame, as their campaign is based almost entirely on how well they, as government, have managed the pandemic.

I do however feel that Gerry Brownlee (deputy leader of the National Party) overstepped the mark with his comments made shortly after the Auckland outbreak was announced where he said “it was Interesting” that the recommendation to wear face masks, the Prime Minister’s visit to a mask factory, the director General of Health having a COVID-19 test, and the new COVID-19 outbreak all occurring within a relatively short time frame.

His intention might have been an indirect criticism of the news media for not investigating the possibility of a link between these “facts”, or it might have been an attempt to have the media act as a proxy for political point scoring as Parliament was not sitting, but it played right into the hands of the conspiracy theorists.

Even Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the government junior coalition partner New Zealand First, has got in on the act. On his recent visit to Australia, he claimed that he had information from a “reliable source” that there had been major security breaches at the border isolation facilities. While most Kiwis probably paid little heed to his comment, as he’s notorious for quoting “reliable sources” that turn out to have no substance, it’s precisely what the conspiracy believers crave for – validation from a supposedly reliable source straight from the mouth of a supposedly reliable public figure.

Many prominent scientists and medical professionals have made an open plea for politicians of all persuasions and community leaders to be very careful about how they ruminate in the public forum. They need to fact check before attempting to make one plus one equal three. In this country all the facts relating to COVID-19 and the pandemic are readily available, and unlike many countries our public service, including the health service, are outside the political arena. It’s one thing not to trust politicians, but it’s entirely another matter to believe that peer reviewed scientifically based information is part of some evil plot to eliminate/control/modify humanity.

The conspiracists’ election: How the farthest fringes of politics are making a play for the centre

General elections delayed by four weeks

I’m sure that since Jacinda Ardern has set a new date for the general elections (moved from 19 September to 17 October), there’ll be a conspiracist somewhere who will believe this is part of “the Plan”, whatever that is.

Contrary to the belief of some, the delay is a the behest of most political parties but not because visiting a polling station might be hazardous during lockdown as that can be managed – besides, early voting and postal voting are both available. An essential part of democracy is for those standing for election having an opportunity to argue their cause. That is why, after listening to politicians of all persuasion she put election back 28 days.

While this is less of an issue throughout most of the country (although a limit of 100 people at a political rally does pose its own problems), in Auckland where groups of more than ten are not permitted, the campaign trail has virtually gone cold.


Leave a comment

“Say I Slew Them Not” Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, and the U.S. Response to COVID19 — The Inglorius Padre Steve’s World

If you haven’t read the article (below) by Padre Steve, do so. It has relevance to every nation, every community, every social group. This quote from one of the commenters on that blog ring true:

The quote by Martin Luther King comes to me often these days: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

jilldennison

Friends of Padre Steve’s World, I have to admit that the amount of ignorance in the defense of evil that I see daily is simply mind blowing. It makes me shake my head. But then I cannot be surprised anymore. Over the weekend I saw a poll in which nine percent of Americans said that […]

“Say I Slew Them Not” Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, and the U.S. Response to COVID19 — The Inglorius Padre Steve’s World


1 Comment

Draconian measures

I do wish there were fewer idiots. Without them life would be so much easier. And no more so than during the current pandemic. I can understand why authorities bring in draconian regulations that seem “over the top”. It’s to minimise the harm caused by idiots.

Take the Australian state of Victoria for example. Their lockdown was no where near as severe as the one we faced here in Aotearoa New Zealand, and may have worked. The idiots have not only delayed the state’s recovery, but have moved it into rapid reverse. There, persons tested positive are required to self isolate for 14 days.

Seems reasonable to me, but following evidence that some people were not self-isolating, the authorities checked on every person who should have been self-isolating. They found one in four people weren’t home! Yep, 25% of all those known to be infected were running around loose in the community!

The state government is now contemplating a lockdown similar to that which Aotearoa New Zealand was subject to for five weeks. Although in Victoria it might be for a longer period due to how widespread the virus is in the community.

I’m not sure whether we Kiwis are more sensible or more compliant. Possibly a bit of both. During all the stages of lockdown there were a few thousand breaches recorded in total, which have resulted a few hundred prosecutions. But on the whole, it was social disapproval of rule breakers that seemed to have had the strongest effect. The concept of a “team of 5 million” whether a myth or not, kept this country united and indeed is keeping this country (mostly) united in the fight against the pandemic.

Our attitude towards rule breakers can be clearly seen in our attitude to the borders remaining closed. Back in March when this country was first closed to non-residents, the government introduced mandatory self-isolation rules. Those arriving in the country were required to stay at home in isolation for 14 days. But it soon became apparent that a small minority (less than 5%) were not following the rules.

As the Prime Minister said at the time, the authorities placed a high level of trust in those in isolation. Had everyone followed the simple rules of self isolation, that’s where we’d still be. But no. A few idiots spoil it for everyone. The outcome has been that inbound residents are now required to undergo managed isolation in luxury hotels.

Originally security was minimal. Again the authorities placed a high level of trust in those staying in managed isolation. However it’s become very evident that a small handful of those returning to the country have little regard for the safety of others, and over time, security has tightened to the point now where every facility has a permanent police and military presence and perimeters have become more secure as the weeks pass by.

Over thirty thousand people have passed through managed isolation since March and there have been somewhere around ten incidents where an individual or family group have left isolation without permission. Originally the term “absconded” was usually used when the media reported these breakouts. More recently I hear the term “escaped” used instead. I think this reflects the community attitude to those who flout the isolation rules.

The public attitude towards those who now arrive in this country is unfortunately becoming antagonistic. While there’s always been a small minority of the population antagonistic towards immigration, there is now a widespread attitude that returning Kiwis should have stayed where they were. The wife has this attitude (and she’s an immigrant herself) and as far as she’s concerned every returning Kiwi is being selfish. As far as she is concerned, there’s no set of personal circumstances that can justify travelling to this country. In other words, she wants a blanket ban, even though our Bill of Rights guarantees the right of every citizen to enter and leave the country. Her attitude borders on draconian in my view.

The wife’s attitude is becoming more prevalent, and we can now see examples of graffiti sprayed on security fences around isolation facilities demanding the residents return to where they came from. Apparently some returnees have faced hostilities even after completing managed isolation. I find such an attitude understandable but totally unacceptable.

The negative attitude to returnees has culminated in a call from many, including some political parties, for all returnees to be billed for their stay in isolation. This is something the government has resisted simply because it’s likely to place an unreasonable burden on many families. Let’s face it, many of those returning are not doing so willingly. Many are returning because there is no support structures accessible to them in their country of residence. Others are returning to escape ill managed pandemic environments.

To placate the hostile attitude where returnees are seen as “living in luxury at the taxpayers’ expense”, the government has finally introduced legislation that will allow some returnees to be billed for staying in isolation. For this to occur, the government had to seek the cooperation of the opposition National Party as the Greens were totally opposed to any billing of those in managed isolation.

Eventually a compromise has been reached where those who return from overseas having been away for less than 90 days, and those who return to the country with the intention of staying less than 90 days will be billed for part of the cost of their managed isolation. The legislation also specifies grounds under which exemptions can be granted. So how many will be charged? Perhaps five or ten percent of those arriving in the country. I think a reasonable compromise.

Already we’re seeing comments in overseas media that such moves are another step in the erosion of our freedom and rights, usually accompanied by associating such moves with recent legislation that tightens some aspects of gun ownership. I’ve previously posted about ignorance some foreign media have about our handling of the pandemic, and no doubt the ignorance will continue unabated. I would like to remind such critics that the nation still has the highest level of freedom, ranking at number one or number two on every freedom index, but I suspect I’d be wasting my effort. Those people seem so willing to ignore the facts whenever it’s inconsistent with their prejudice.

So my question is: do most jurisdictions impose restrictions with the aim of gaining greater long term control of the population – in other words tyranny, or are restrictions reluctantly imposed because some idiots give the authorities little choice if they are to prevent widespread harm?


2 Comments

Pay equity versus pay equality

Are “market forces” capable of ensuring a “fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work”? The fact that almost every nation has legislation requiring women to be paid the same as men for the same job would indicate that this is not so.

Pay equity vs equal pay
Pay equity is about women and men receiving the same pay for doing jobs that are different, but of equal value (that is, jobs that require similar degrees of skills, responsibility and effort).
Equal pay is about men and women getting the same pay for doing the same job.

Historically, there has been pay disparity between the sexes, but since the early 1970s, equal pay laws in Aotearoa New Zealand require that men and women should be paid equally for the same for jobs of equal value, even if those jobs are different. In theory that should result in everyone being paid equally for work of equal value – pay equity. That never happened.

The problem with the legislation is that pay equity could only be claimed through the courts– there was no provision for pay equity to be negotiated through the existing “good faith” bargaining framework. Litigation can be a costly and lengthy process and this has resulted in jobs that have historically been female dominated continuing to be paid less than similar jobs where the workforce is predominantly male.

Kiwis are not a litigious lot by nature and workers are usually reluctant to take their employers to court. Following a landmark court decision in 2014 that resulted in significant pay increases to those working in the aged care sector, the unions, employers and government agreed there had to be a better way to ensure pay equity. The outcome was the Equal Pay Amendment Bill that passed through it’s final stage in Parliament at one minute to midnight yesterday.

The amendment should benefit those who have been underpaid due to systemic sex-based discrimination. According to the Minister for Workplace Relations, Andrew Little, the Bill makes it easier to raise a pay equity claim, and encourages collaboration and evidence-based decision making to address pay inequity, rather than relying on an adversarial court process. Employers already have a duty not to pay people differently on the basis of sex – this Bill helps parties to come to an agreement about what equitable remuneration would be, and makes court action a last resort rather than a first step.

A modern and more effective system for dealing with pay equity claims is long overdue. It is just one step in a long journey towards gender equality, the work does not end here

Andrew Little, Minister for Workplace Relations

As Andrew Little has stated, this piece of legislation does not resolve all gender inequality – it’s just another step in that direction. What’s next?


Leave a comment

Decisions

Our triennial general elections are just two months away (Saturday 19th September) at which time I will be faced with four choices:

  1. Cast a vote in the End of Life Choice referendum
  2. Cast a vote in the Cannabis legalisation and control referendum
  3. Chose my electorate (constituency or voting district) representative
  4. Choose my preferred political party

Choices 1 and 2 are the easiest to deal with as the choice is binary: support or oppose. Unless some radically new information comes to hand before I cast my vote, I will be saying Yes, I support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force and Yes, I support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.

I have been a long time supporter of the concept of drug abuse being a health issue and not a criminal matter, so my decision to support the proposed legislation was a no brainer. I hope this is just the first step on the path to removing all drug use from criminality. I have a very different view of those who peddle the drugs.

The cannabis referendum is nonbinding, but the Labour Party and the Green Party are committed to introducing the proposed legislation to Parliament in 2021. The other parties have made no such commitment, so if Labour and/or the Greens do not form the next government, the proposed legislation will likely fade into oblivion, at least for a while..

On the other hand, the End of Life Choice Act has already been passed by Parliament and simply requires a 50% Yes vote from the electors to come into force. As it was first introduced into Parliament, I would not have supported it. While I personally felt it was too liberal on the grounds one could request assisted dying, my main objections were twofold:

  • It would not have prevented those suffering from depression and other mental health issues from obtaining assisted dying
  • There was no protection from individuals being pressured or persuaded into seeking assisted dying.

I believe that the act as it now stands answers those concerns. Also the grounds under which assisted dying can be granted has been tightened, although possibly more than I thought necessary. Perhaps this is a good thing. In my view, it’s better that a life not be taken unnecessarily than a life be spared unnecessarily. And like all laws, it can be amended in light of new evidence.

If I’m not mistaken this will be the first time any nation has held a referendum on assisted dying.

Choices 3 and 4 are more difficult for me as they are “multiple choice”. Choice 3 is perhaps the easiest as I base my choice on who I feel is the best person to represent myself and my community in Parliament. I’m more interested in them as a person than what their politics might be.

In this regard, I prefer someone who is open minded over someone with rigid views, someone who values consensus over majority decisions, someone who puts social justice above individual “rights”, someone who has shown service to the community over someone who has not, someone who recognises that the interests of minorities, be they ethnic, neurology, religious, or healthwise, are just as important as those of the majority, and finally, someone who I feel I can relate to. Such attributes can be found in people of any political persuasion. Ultimately who I choose as my local representative has no impact on the proportionality of the parties in Parliament.

In the bad old days of FPP I had to juggle the often conflicting issues my preferred MP (Member of Parliament) and the political party I preferred to govern the country. Not always an easy decision, and under MMP, something I no longer have to struggle with.

I was first able to vote in the general elections in 1972 – I had just missed out in the 1969 elections as the voting age was still 21 at that time. I have voted in every election since. By a quick estimate, that’s 16 general elections I’ve participated in.

Over that time I have voted for six different political parties! By a strange twist of fate, not one of the parties I have voted for has been in government (prior to 1996) or part of a governing coalition (since 1996). On only one occasion have I voted for either of the major parties, and that was before the introduction of MMP in 1996.

I don’t regard my vote as either a protest vote or a wasted vote. Perhaps, prior to MMP, it could be argued that any vote other than for the winning candidate was a wasted vote – in one election the party of the candidate I voted for gained almost 30% of the popular vote nationwide, but gained only a single seat in Parliament. That result was a significant catalyst in the call that eventually lead to the introduction of MMP.

Provided your preferred party reaches the 5% threshold, or gains an electorate seat, a party vote is never wasted. It counts towards the number of seats that party will have in Parliament.

Personally, I’d like to see the threshold lowered to 2% or removed altogether to encourage more diversity in Parliament, but such a change would require the support of one of the two major parties, and I don’t see that happening any time soon. Neither of them supported lowering the threshold to 4% as recommend by an electoral review a few years ago, and both voted against that change when Parliament considered the matter.

I usually decide who my electorate candidate will be by around a week before the election, but typically, all the policies I’d like to see implemented are spread across many parties, including both major parties, and my very final decision on preferred party is not made until, pencil in hand in the voting booth, I go to place a tick beside one of the parties listed on the ballot paper. I don’t think this year is going to be any different.


2 Comments

Will COVID-19 harm our democracy?

The question posed in this blog’s title refers to Aotearoa New Zealand, and no other country. America, has an orange clown who all by himself is harming that nation’s democracy more than the virus can. Putin has already sunk Russia’s fledgling democracy, and Boris is trying to do a Trump impersonation, but is hamstrung by the collective decision making process inherent in a parliamentary democracy.

Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, it’s the government’s success in squashing the virus that makes me a little uneasy. It has made Jacinda and the Labour Party too popular based on recent polls. We have our triennial General Election in September, and if voting is anywhere near recent opinion polls, Labour will romp home with an clear, outright majority. And that’s the problem.

What I like about our MMP voting system is that since its introduction in 1996 no political party has been able to govern alone. This may not seem all that important to many today, but as one who lived through decades of governments that in many respects acted as three-year dictatorships, I’m grateful that no party can steamroll whatever legislation it likes through Parliament.

Perhaps the worst part of FPP voting is that it almost invariably leads to a two-party system, and if as in Aotearoa New Zealand, you have a unicameral legislature, the majority party has almost unbridled power and that was the case until the introduction of MMP.

Given that the NZ Parliament is sovereign and we don’t have a formal constitution, it is perhaps surprising that this nation has the highest levels of economic and personal of freedom and lowest levels of corruption worldwide. Perhaps it says something about our politicians, or about respecting social and parliamentary conventions?

Two conventions that have arisen from MMP ensure that a single political party does not hold sway over Parliament. One is that political parties do not form coalition arrangements before an election. The other is that coalitions are very loose allowing the coalition partners to pursue their own policies apart from those specified in the coalition agreement.

A case in point is the current government formed after a coalition agreement between the New Zealand Labour Party and the New Zealand First Party. Together they form a minority government, and to ensure stability on matters of confidence and supply, the Labour Party entered into a confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party.

So, getting back to my concern:

Prior to COVID-19, opinion polls placed both the two major political parties, National and Labour, each with a little over 40% support, although national was usually slightly ahead. I’m comfortable with that although the slow decline in support for minor parties as a concern.

However, the success of the government’s handling of the pandemic, which at its height had an approval rating of 87%, has seen opinion polls reporting those who intend to vote Labour soaring well above 60% while National have slumped to the low 30s, with one poll showing only 28%. That, I don’t like.

Just as alarming is that Labour’s popularity has resulted in support for minor parties dropping away. The outcome is that there are likely to be fewer political parties in Parliament after the elections given that a party must gain at 5% of party vote or gain an electorate (voting district) seat to be represented in Parliament.

While governments need to be able to govern, they also need to be subject to effective scrutiny. They also need to be inclusive – to listen to minority voices. One way of guaranteeing this is to ensure that no political party has absolute control over the legislature. One method is to have a bicameral or multicameral legislature, although my observation of such arrangements is that scrutiny often disintegrates into filibustering and political point scoring.

Here, the parties that make up the government are free to disagree in all policies apart from those specified in coalition or support agreements. Given that Labour’s partners are a centrist nationalist party and a socialist environmental party that have about as much in common as chalk and cheese, it often requires a lot of negotiation and compromise all round for bills presented to Parliament to be passed.

As sometimes occurs, Labour is unable to gain the support of one or both of its partners, in which case either the bill is dropped from the Parliamentary schedule, sent back for further consultation and redrafting, or support is negotiated with National. All round, it results in more inclusive and better written legislation.

If Labour does achieve an absolute majority in September’s election what guarantee do we have that we won’t return to the pre MMP days where poorly drafted and ill considered legislation too easily became law? The only safety net would be the select committee process that all legislation must pass through.

The select committee process allows for the public to present oral and or written submissions and committees themselves can recommend and draft amendments to bills for consideration by the Parliament. The select committee stage may take three to six months for all submissions to be considered. Convention has it that these changes are accepted, but if one party commands an absolute majority, would it continue to adhere to convention? Would it heed the voice of the public?


1 Comment

Police Armed Response Teams

Aotearoa New Zealand is one of just a few jurisdictions worldwide where the police are not routinely armed. I have had great concerns that that was about to change.

Last year Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced that a patrols with armed police known as Armed Response Teams (ARTs) would be trialed for six months in selected areas of the country. If they were successful (what criteria would be used to measure “success”?), ARTs would be rolled out across the country. The trial ended in April.

I was one of tens of thousands of Kiwis who were sufficiently concerned about the prospect of police being routinely armed on patrol that we communicated our concerns to the police and to our Members of Parliament. It seems our concerns have been listened to.

In early April the Commissioner retired and was replaced by Andrew Coster. On the 9th of June Commissioner Coster announced that ARTs have been abandoned permanently. The pushback from the public and especially minorities has been strong. That’s good news.

In an interview on The AM Show on Wednesday, he said that police listened to feedback from the public before scrapping the ARTs. He said:

“The key issue here is having people routinely carrying firearms – I’ve made it really clear that’s not part of the policing model that I would support for New Zealand.

“Absolutely, we do have access to firearms when they’re required but the point is, 99 percent of the time when we’re interacting with the public we are not carrying a firearm and that, for me, is the style difference that’s important.

“We need to remember it was a trial and we are going to take a range of learnings from the trial, particularly in terms of how we keep evolving the skills and training available to the frontline to deal with the high-end firearms incidents.”

In an interview with Stuff, Commissioner Coster said:

“We have a model of policing by consent and that means we need the vast majority of people to see as legitimate the style in which we’re policing and it’s been clear to me that there has not been acceptance of this as an appropriate style of policing in New Zealand.”

How much of the decision to scrap the ARTs was based on public pressure and how much was based on the personal preference of the Commissioner, we’ll probably never know, but what concerns me is that our politicians considered that the arming or non-arming of the police is an “operational matter”.

As commissioner Coster said, policing is by consent, and on this basis, I believe it is important that any change in operations only occur with public consent after widespread consultation. While I don’t want to see politicians become involved with normal police activity, I believe there is room for legislation that would prevent major operational changes from occurring without parliamentary approval.