Counter-Terrorism Announcement

On Friday the 3rd of September New Zealanders were targeted again by a terrorist. Though the ideology driving the hatred of this man was different to the terrorism we saw in March of 2019, there were certainly some commonalities.

Neither of these terrorists were home-grown. They brought their ideology to our shores. Both expressed deep hatred for their targets online and in forums. Both were ‘lone-wolves’. And both attacks have left us with questions of what opportunities the Government had to prevent them for taking place.

After Christchurch, the Government rightly called for a Royal Commission. From that commission came an extensive report with many recommendations. Unfortunately, little has been done to advance these. It is evident that we have a lot more work to do as a Parliament to make New Zealand safer. That is why I am writing today to the Prime Minister to call for a Public Inquiry into the September 3rd attack.

We have the Royal Commission to draw on, of course. But this attack has highlighted some vulnerabilities in our Immigration and Counter-Terrorism law. It is important a Public Inquiry is conducted so that the interoperability of Government agencies can also be examined. Cases like that of this terrorist interact with the state across agencies and more cooperation is required.

A Public Inquiry ensures a level accountability and transparency as it results in a report being presented to the House of Representatives.

I have decided to call for this inquiry myself as it has become apparent that the Government has not prioritised enacting the recommendations from the Royal Commission. No work has been done on establishing a Counter-Terrorism Agency as is a key recommendation of the Royal Commission. The purpose of which is to establish clear leadership and accountability as well as ensure cross-agency cooperation.

Because of this, in addition to the Public Inquiry, Dr Shane Reti and I have made the decision to step up our work in this area. In the National Party we are fortunate enough to have an MP who knows a lot about counter-terrorism. So we have appointed Mark Mitchell as National’s Counter-Terrorism spokesperson. He will also take on the responsibility of shadowing Minister Andrew Little in his role as the Minister in charge of the Royal Commission.

Some of you will be familiar with Mark’s impressive resume, but I will briefly run through why we have appointed him to the role.

Mark spent 14 years in the Police force. 11 of those years were spent on specialist squads including the Armed Offenders Squad and Police Dog Section. He was trained and deployed in Police Surveillance and among his awards are a Police Gold Merit Award for Bravery and Dedication to Duty, and a Police Commendation.

Mark also has experience in overseas conflict zones. He has lead protection units in Iraq.

And was head hunted to deploy with the Iraqi Tactical Support Unit which focused on anti-terrorism operations. He has advised many Governments including the US, British, Italian, Australian, and Japanese. Mark has worked with America’s Deputy Secretary of State and Defence at the Pentagon on operations. And of course, he was New Zealand’s Minister of Defence in the previous National Government.

I am confident that Mark’s expertise will be an asset to New Zealand as he leads the work we have committed to doing in working with the Government to better protect New Zealand from Terrorism.

National is taking our responsibility as elected representatives very seriously. I have said it many times this week and I will say it again; the Government’s primary job is to keep New Zealanders safe and National will support them to do so.

Naturally, lockdown restrictions prevent Mark from being here today, but he will be available for comment if you get in touch with our Press Team.

I am happy to take any questions.

You can read my letter to the Prime Minister here.