Revelations that the Government has stepped in to save the Te Kūwatawata mental health service in Gisborne is great news, but only raises further questions about why the Government scrapped the Police/mental health co-response pilot planned for this year to near-universal acclaim by Police and the health sector, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“David Clark’s excuse for dumping the $8 million pilot, which was funded in Budget 2017, was that it would be premature to fund it while the Mental Health Inquiry was underway. This excuse was always a poor one, as has been shown by his boasting about saving the Te Kūwatawata service.
“The police/mental health co-response pilot would have seen mental health nurse attending mental health incidents alongside police and paramedics to ensure that people in distress receive timely responses that are tailored to their needs. Police spend around 280 hours a day responding to mental health calls and demand is increasing. The pilot would have eased pressure on police and improved the quality of the response for those experiencing mental distress.
“It still beggars belief that this Government would axe the potentially game-changing pilot which had universal support from those on the frontline dealing with mental health, including mental health expert Nigel Fairley who said in February that the pilot was ‘top of his spending list.’ Even Police Commissioner Mike Bush told the Justice Committee in May that he hoped the pilot would still go ahead.
“If David Clark can step in to save one mental health service while the Mental Health Inquiry is underway, why can’t he step in to save something that everyone working in the sector agrees is a great idea?”
Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha now has no choice but to stand aside after confirmation that two official complaints about alleged bullying have been lodged against him, National’s Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Mr Haumaha must stand aside or Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should make him after it was revealed today that two women that the Deputy Commissioner is accused of bullying have made formal complaints to the Police about his conduct.
“The complaints have now been referred to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
“It is just not tenable for Mr Haumaha to stay in the role while these official complaints are dealt with, which are on top of the independent inquiry into his appointment led by Mary Scholtens QC.
“Mr Haumaha will be working at Police HQ either in or near the same office as witnesses to his alleged bullying. Probity demands he stand aside while the inquiries take place.
“The handing of this case by the Government has been woeful from the get-go and today’s revelations just continue what has been an utter debacle for the Government.”
The coalition Government has today voted down legislation which would have given police new powers to make sure the most dangerous gang members with a history of serious crimes don’t have access to firearms, Hutt South MP Chris Bishop says.
“The Arms (Firearms Prohibition Orders) Amendment Bill, would have ensured that gang members couldn’t hold a firearms licence and allowed police to carry out searches on gang members with a history of serious crimes.
Firearms Prohibition Orders were recommended by the Law and Order Select Committee in the last Parliament, the introduction of FPOs was supported by the Police in their Briefing to the Incoming Minister and they are supported by the Police Association.
“Instead the Bill was shot down at first reading by NZ First, Labour and the Greens, despite too many firearms ending up in the hands of violent, criminal gang members.
“The Bill would have ensured that no unnecessary restrictions would have been placed on other law-abiding firearms holders.
“This legislation is in place in Australian states including New South Wales where it has been proven to work.
“The vast majority of Kiwi hunters, farmers and recreational shooters do the right thing, but criminal gang members have no respect for the law, so police need expanded powers to be able to deal with them.
“National takes the safety of our communities seriously and it’s disappointing that the coalition Government hasn’t voted for my bill which would have prevented victims and given police more powers to deal with our worst criminals.”
Today’s big announcement by Police Minister Stuart Nash and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters about 1800 new police officers is another example of spin over substance, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Mr Nash trumpeted this as a massive increase in frontline sworn police officers, but the reality is that only around two thirds of the total will be deployed into Police districts and not even all of those will be frontline officers.
“This total includes the 800 extra officers delivered by the previous Government. That means this Government is only delivering an additional 420 police staff over five years and not all of those will be frontline.
“This is hardly the ‘biggest increase in Police resources’ ever as Mr Nash claims.
“The Minister is also playing fast and loose with the cost because both he and the Prime Minister have been caught out making those numbers up on the hoof.
“Mr Nash claims the package was ‘fully-funded over five years’ but he’s repeatedly said previously that the $298.8 million he received in Budget 2018 was not enough and he would be seeking more cash in 2019.
“Leaked Cabinet papers earlier in the year show that Mr Nash initially wanted $515 million to roll-out the new police, so there is a $217 million gap he will need to fill. At least he’s not saying the package will cost ‘just $40 million a year’ as Prime Minister Ardern did.
“Mr Nash has also finally confirmed the 1800 new police will be rolled-out over five years, in spite of Mr Nash’s repeated denials. He was either wrong or he’s been overruled.
“Finally, while more police is great, it’s very disappointing the Government has dropped the additional targets National set for the police as part of our Safer Communities package.
“Labour and NZ First have officially dropped the target of 98 per cent of all burglaries being responded to within 48 hours and for 95 per cent of New Zealanders to live within 25km of 24/7 patrolling police. Those would have made a real difference to the safety of our communities but the Government is not willing to hold itself to account.”
The Government must come clean on what its new transport plan and its focus on building a new tram in Auckland at the expense of regional roads means for the future of the important Petone to Grenada Link Road, National’s Chris Bishop and Brett Hudson say.
“The New Zealand Transport Agency has issued a project newsletter this week titled ‘Shift in government transport priorities prompts fresh look at P2G’ which confirms this important project is under serious threat, yet the Government has kept quiet on this,” Mr Bishop says.
“This is because the Government’s cuts to state highway funding to fund trams along Dominion Road in Auckland are now starting to bite, with residents of Ōhāriu and the Hutt first to be hurt.
“The Petone to Grenada Link Road would significantly add to regional roading resilience in Wellington, while unlocking productivity and commercial opportunities for the Hutt Valley. It would also ease congestion for residents of Ōhāriu and the Hutt traveling to and from Wellington.”
“It’s been estimated up to 20,000 vehicle movements per day could be transferred from State Highway 1 to the P2G link road,” Mr Hudson says.
“That would have a major impact on congestion along State Highway 1 from Tawa south to Ngauranga Gorge, benefiting the bulk of the population of Ōhāriu and freeing up traffic movements across the wider city.
“It needs to go ahead. P2G is a vital project and should be developed along with the Cross Valley Link road in the Hutt which would link to the east of the Hutt Valley where heavy industry is located, making it easier to do business and to get around.
“Now this vital project is under serious threat because of Labour’s new transport policy settings. The Government promised New Zealanders the balance wouldn’t be tipped too far in favour of Aucklanders at the expense of the rest of the country. That promise is looking increasingly hollow and they need to front up.”
New allegations about Wally Haumaha means the Deputy Commissioner now has no choice but to stand down while he’s being investigated, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“There are now allegations of Mr Haumaha contacting an important witness to an alleged bullying incident after the Herald started asking questions, which shows that it’s not appropriate for him to be in the role while the investigation is taking place,” Mr Bishop says.
“There must now also be an assurance that the government inquiry into Mr Haumaha’s appointment as Deputy Commissioner will protect witnesses otherwise it won’t to get to the truth.
“I understand a number of officers wish to give evidence to the inquiry, but they are rightly concerned about their identities and job positions being kept confidential, for fear of possible consequences down the track when the inquiry reports back.
In order to get to the truth, the inquiry must institute some form of protected disclosure regime, and do it quickly.
“The Prime Minister cannot express confidence in him. There were new allegations last week of bullying and the latest allegations of him contacting important witnesses. This role is too important for him to remain in while an inquiry is happening, for the sake of trust in the Police he must stand aside,” Mr Bishop says.
Revelations about bullying and intimidation by Wally Haumaha against three female public servants are deeply troubling and raise further questions about Mr Haumaha’s appointment as Deputy Police Commissioner, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Today’s revelations, alongside earlier reports that Mr Haumaha described serious allegations surrounding his friends in the Police as ‘nonsense’, risks undoing all the work Police have done to regain the public’s trust and confidence in the way Police treat women.
“Complaints of bullying and intimidation made against Mr Haumaha by the three women were passed to senior Police who consulted officials at the Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections where the women were employed.
“But it appears nothing was done to address the concerns and Mr Haumaha has since gone on to climb the ranks to one of the most senior positions in the Police.
“Given these new revelations, the Prime Minister, Police Minister and Police Commissioner must explain whether they continue to believe Mr Haumaha’s position is tenable. Questions must also be asked of all three about what they knew and when.
“And the Internal Affairs Minister must explain whether the terms of reference of the inquiry into the process for Mr Haumaha’s appointment will be expanded in light of the revelations.
“This is a very serious matter. All women should be able to feel like they can go to the Police with any issue they have to report and that they will be taken seriously.
“Over the last decade, Police have worked hard to rebuild their reputation but the promotion of Mr Haumaha to one of the most senior roles in the Police has begun to undo that hard work and the rot needs to stop.”
Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin’s suggestion that she is automatically responsible for appointing a Chair for the inquiry into the process that led to Wally Haumaha’s appointment as Deputy Police Commissioner is false and she must step aside, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Ms Martin’s refusal to step down as head of the Haumaha inquiry on the basis that she is the Internal Affairs Minister and therefore responsible doesn’t stack up with the fact that not one other Internal Affairs Minister has led any other inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2013.
“There is no law that states the Internal Affairs Minister must be the appointing Minister for every Government inquiry. Appointing Ministers for Government inquiries are assigned by Cabinet and can be any Minister.
“A quick scan of recent inquiries reveals the Attorney-General was put in charge of the Havelock North drinking water inquiry, while under this Government the Health Minister was given responsibility for the mental health inquiry.
“There’s no reason why Attorney-General David Parker couldn’t be put in charge of the Haumaha inquiry.
“Not only has Ms Martin proved she is not equipped to handle an inquiry of such importance as the Haumaha inquiry, after bungling the appointment of Dr Pauline Kingi as Chair, but Mr Haumaha has close ties to NZ First of which Ms Martin is also a senior member.
“The public won’t be able to trust that the inquiry is truly independent if Ms Martin continues to be involved. She must step aside or Cabinet must make the decision to replace her.”
Tracey Martin must stand down as head of the inquiry into the process for Wally Haumaha’s appointment as Deputy Police Commissioner following revelations of more close links between Mr Haumaha and NZ First, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Revelations that NZ First’s Deputy Leader Fletcher Tabuteau is related to Mr Haumaha, that Mr Tabuteau’s uncle and close friend of Winston Peters, Tommy Gear, is a senior leader of the marae chaired by Mr Haumaha, and that Mr Peters spoke at an event at the marae last year to celebrate Mr Haumaha’s promotion to Assistant Police Commissioner make it untenable for Ms Martin as a NZ First MP to have anything to do with this inquiry.
“This follows earlier revelations that Mr Haumaha was selected as a NZ First candidate for the 2005 General Election.
“That link alone was enough to make Ms Martin’s appointment as Minister in charge of the inquiry completely inappropriate, but with the emergence of even more close ties between Mr Haumaha and NZ First there is no way Ms Martin can possibly continue in the position.
“This matter is simply too important to be tainted with any suggestion that the inquiry lacks independence. The public must have confidence in the appointment process for senior positions in the New Zealand Police but so far the inquiry has been nothing short of a farce.
“Just last week, the Chair of the inquiry Dr Pauline Kingi was forced to stand down after it was revealed she had endorsed Mr Haumaha 23 times on LinkedIn.
“Now it looks like Ms Martin will be the next to stand down. It is imperative she does if the Government is truly committed to ensuring that the inquiry is completely independent and there is no perception of any conflicts of interest.
“To avoid the inquiry becoming a complete waste of time and money, Cabinet must replace Ms Martin with a non-NZ First Minister and appoint an independent QC as Chair.”
Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin must own her error in handpicking Dr Pauline Kingi to chair the inquiry into the process that led to Wally Haumaha’s appointment as Deputy Police Commissioner, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Ms Martin today admitted in Parliament that she had 10 candidates to choose from and decided on Dr Kingi who as it turns out had previously endorsed the subject of the inquiry she was appointed to chair.
“Given the inquiry is looking into the process that led to Mr Haumaha being appointed as Deputy Police Commissioner, it is deeply ironic that the process that led to Dr Kingi being appointed as Chair of that inquiry was itself a shambles.
“Ms Martin should know how important it was to get this process right.
“In fact, shortly after Dr Kingi’s appointment was announced, Ms Martin said publicly, ‘I know for me particularly the process is everything. Process makes sure that there can't be accusations or even incidents of corruption’.
“If the process truly is everything to Ms Martin, then she and her officials would have done their due diligence properly and realised that Dr Kingi’s public endorsements of Mr Haumaha showed there was, at the very least, a perceived conflict of interest.
“The situation Ms Martin now finds herself in, with having to find a new Chair after Dr Kingi stood down following the revelations that she had endorsed Mr Haumaha, is entirely of her own making.
“It’s time for Ms Martin to stop blaming others, own her mistakes and get the process right.”