The Coalition Government is putting politics ahead of public safety by lowering police training standards in a desperate attempt to meet its target of 1800 new police officers, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“New Zealanders have the right to expect that every police officer on the beat is able to protect them from harm. That means we must have the highest standards of training for those wanting to become police officers.
“It can be a dangerous job and police officers need to be capable of not only keeping the public safe, but of protecting themselves and their colleagues in high-risk situations.
“It was concerning today to hear the Police Commissioner indicate that training standards are being significantly lowered.
"Police applicants were previously required to meet the minimum criteria for each activity in the physical appraisal test. Now, if they’re weak in one area of the test, they can make up for it in other areas.
“It is also no longer a requirement for police applicants to have a swimming certificate so people who are completely unable to swim can now be accepted into Police College.
“I think the public and current police officers will be rightly concerned to hear about the softening of these training standards. There was a good reason why the physical tests and standards were so tough – we needs cops to be fit, strong, fast and able swimmers.
“It’s clear the Government is worried about not being able to meet its target of 1800 extra police officers, but making it too easy for people to become cops cannot be the answer.”
A Members’ Bill to improve access to justice by making it easier for lawyers to do work outside their existing employment has today been lodged by Hutt South MP Chris Bishop.
“My Lawyers and Conveyancers (Employed Lawyers Providing Free Legal Services) Amendment Bill makes a small change to allow a lawyer who is employed in either a law practice or in-house (i.e. by a non-lawyer, like at a government agency or a power company) to do legal work other than for the lawyer’s employer, on conditions set by the New Zealand Law Society,” Mr Bishop says.
“Many people will be surprised to learn that currently under the Act, an employed lawyer is deemed guilty of misconduct if the lawyer does legal work outside of the lawyer’s employment.
“Any in-house lawyer who, for example, advises a friend on a tenancy dispute matter or a domestic building contract, or who amends the local tramping club’s rules is considered guilty of misconduct.
“The ban is commonly breached and not strongly recognised. We know that many employed lawyers do legal work outside their employment, mostly on a pro bono basis, and many lawyers are unaware that in doing so, they are considered guilty of misconduct.
“The Bill provides that lawyers may do work outside their employment on conditions set by the New Zealand Law Society. I expect those conditions will include the work being done with the employer’s consent and on a pro-bono basis.
“The current Act is far too strict in its application and stops lawyers providing legal assistance to those who need it.
"I look forward to the Bill being drawn from the Parliamentary biscuit tin.”
A game-changing pilot to tackle meth use in Northland is at risk of shutting down as Police Minister Stuart Nash remains silent on whether it will receive funding committed by the previous Government to continue, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Northland DHB and Police were funded $3 million by the previous National Government to deliver the Te Ara Oranga pilot programme which has proven to be a huge success in getting people off meth, yet the new Government won’t commit to continuing its funding.
“We know the Government is strapped for cash after spending it all on tertiary students and is desperate to find money to fund the rest of its costly election policies, but it can’t be at the expense of a programme that is the best hope we have to eliminate meth use in our country.
“Meth use is destroying lives and those who peddle the drug are a scourge on our society. That’s why National had committed $82 million to the Methamphetamine Action Plan, which would not only allow Te Ara Oranga to continue in Northland, but would enable the programme to set up in other parts of the country in desperate need of help to tackle meth.
“Stuart Nash must immediately adopt National’s policy and provide the funding needed for Te Ara Oranga to continue after the current funding runs out in March. Hopefully he will make that commitment after meeting with the Te Ara Oranga team today and seeing first-hand the difference that the programme is making.
“Failing that, perhaps his Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis can convince him – Mr Davis has spoken publicly about his support for the programme and even attended the launch last year.
“Labour talks a big game about reducing the number of children in poverty, and we know that drug use is a major factor in child poverty so it should put its money where its mouth is and continue National’s plan to keep funding the Methamphetamine Action Plan.”
The Coalition Government needs to come clean about exactly what powers will be given to volunteer cops, National Party Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“The Labour-NZ First coalition agreement includes a pledge to investigate a ‘volunteer rural constabulary’. Without any detail, it sounds a bit like a rural militia.
“Volunteers play a vital role with police in communities across the country – for example, community patrollers and people who monitor CCTV cameras all help to make us safer. But there’s a big difference between these volunteers and rural militia who potentially have the power to arrest and/or detain.
“This just looks like a dangerous and backdoor way for the Government to desperately meet its target of 1800 new sworn police.
“How will the Government ensure that the right checks and balances are in place to stop these potential cowboy cops from overstepping the mark?
“And what training will they get? It’s difficult to see how they’ll pay for any training for volunteer cops when they haven’t even costed the recruitment and training of their promised 1800 sworn cops.
“It seems the Government is determined to make as much of a mess of the police portfolio as it possibly can – this is just one of a number of ill-thought-out policies, and it’s one that could actually put people at risk.
“New Zealanders have a right to be concerned. The sooner the Government provides some detail and assurance about this policy, the better.”
The Police Minister owes it to the public to come clean about the true cost of their coalition promise to recruit 1800 new sworn police, National Party Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Once again Stuart Nash refuses to back Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s estimation of the cost of training these new police each year, saying those costs are yet to be finalised and will be revealed next May,” Mr Bishop says.
“If the Prime Minister can estimate the costs of the new police to be either $40 million or $80 million, what is stopping Mr Nash from giving his estimate of the full cost? It’s clear that from his answers in the House today, Finance Minister Grant Robertson has put the squeeze on to defer the cost of Police until next year and not include it in the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update.
“The only explanation is that he simply hasn’t done the work. Answers to written questions show Mr Nash has taken no papers to Cabinet on the additional 1800 police, an Official Information Act request to the Ministry of Justice reveals they have not been asked to do any work on the impact of 1800 new police on the costs to the justice sector, and in the House today the Corrections Minister revealed he had not received any advice on the impact of 1800 new police on the cost to corrections.
“It beggars belief that on the Government’s flagship law and order policy, absolutely no work has been done, they have no idea of the costs, and Mr Nash is leaving it to the Prime Minister to just make it up as she goes. Even a simple analysis of the $503 million cost for 880 new police officers over four years announced by the previous National-led Government would reveal a true estimate of around $1 billion over the next few years.
“The Minister won’t reveal these costs until halfway through next year, hoping that by then Mr Robertson will have found the money for him. Mr Nash needs to front up now and reassure New Zealanders that his coalition isn’t writing cheques that New Zealand can’t cash.”
MP for Hutt South Chris Bishop is welcoming the coming into force of the Compensation for Live Organ Donors Act, just over one year after his Member’s Bill passed in Parliament unanimously.
The Act will ensure that live organ donors receive compensation of 100 per cent of their earnings for up to 12 weeks after the operation. Under the status quo, donors receive the equivalent of the sickness benefit while they recuperate.
“Live organ donors are heroes, and so the new Act will more fairly compensate those altruistic New Zealanders who, through the goodness of their hearts, choose to donate an organ to a friend, loved one, or even a stranger,” Mr Bishop says.
“The new Act will also reduce the financial barriers to becoming a live organ donor. New Zealand needs to improve our organ donation rates, and one big barrier to people becoming live organ donors is the financial hardship a donor suffers through lost wages and other associated costs of recovery.
“My Bill means donors will be neither financially worse or better off as a result of donating. Live organ donors save lives, save taxpayers money, and contribute to a better and healthier New Zealand. I’m proud to have sponsored this new Act into law and I look forward to it helping to create a better New Zealand in years to come.”
Chris Bishop’s Member’s Bill which will help to avoid a repeat of the banning of Ted Dawe’s award-winning novel Into the River has passed unanimously in Parliament today.
“The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Interim Restriction Orders Classification) Amendment Bill, provides the President of the Film and Literature Board of Review with more flexibility when considering whether to restrict a publication,” Mr Bishop says.
“The unfortunate banning of Into the River for six weeks in 2015 revealed an anomaly in the law around interim restriction orders which left the President with only two options – to leave the book unrestricted or to ban it entirely before the Board of Review met. He opted for the latter, despite arguing that the book should have an R18 restriction.
“My Bill allows the President, when making an interim decision, to restrict a publication based on age or specific classes of people – the same powers available to the Classification Office and Board of Review
“In the case of Into the River it would have meant the President could have reverted the book to its R14 status, rather than banning it outright, while the review was considered.
“It is clear that Into the River should not have been banned. This small but useful change will help ensure such a situation does not happen again.”
The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Interim Restriction Orders Classification) Amendment Bill was pulled from the Members’ Ballot in November 2016 and narrowly missed out on finishing its third reading before the election.
It is Mr Bishop’s second Member’s Bill to be drawn after his Compensation for Live Organ Donors Act was passed into law last year.
In what is becoming a concerning pattern of the new Government, Labour has created fresh confusion about the cost of their promised 1800 additional police, National Party Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Who is correct? Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern when she said on October 24 that the 1800 additional police would cost “a total figure of $100 million”, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern when she said later that same day that the 1800 additional police would cost $40 million, or Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern when she said on October 30 that the 1800 additional police would cost “about an extra $80 million”?” Mr Bishop says.
“When the National-led Government announced an extra 1125 police staff, it was at a cost of $503 million over four years so it’s difficult to see how the Prime Minister came up with these numbers.
“To add to the confusion, today in the House Kelvin Davis was forced to correct his own statement from earlier in the week that the costs had been finalised at $40 million. Justice Minister Andrew Little then admitted that the Government actually has no idea what the cost will be.
“Clearly he, the Prime Minister, and Police Minister Stuart Nash have been making it up as they go along.
“It’s also unfathomable that they’d make a commitment to 1800 new police officers as part of the coalition negotiations without having any idea about the cost of the policy.
“It’s time Labour figured out the cost of this policy and fronted up to New Zealanders, instead of throwing around a bunch of random numbers hoping no one will notice.”
Only one week into the job new Police Minister Stuart Nash is already feeling the heat and walking back his own half-baked ideas, National’s Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Having just floated the idea of recruiting new police staff from overseas to meet the Labour/NZ First promise of 1800 new officers, Nash has now backtracked completely, ruling out the idea after pressure from the Police Association and his own Cabinet colleague.”
“This is amateur hour stuff. Almost immediately after having been signed-up to the 1800 new Police staff by the Labour/NZ First Agreement, Mr Nash was preparing New Zealanders for failure, saying the target was “aspirational” only, there would in fact be fewer, and not all would be sworn officers.
“Then came the floating of the migrant cop idea, before the immediate slap down from Nanaia Mahuta – and the Police – who rightly pointed out it should be New Zealanders doing the job and they should be properly trained.”
“Like his colleagues, Mr Nash is quite clearly making it up as he goes along. New Zealanders deserves better.”
“I suspect another reason the policy’s been ditched is that it was obviously embarrassing for Labour to admit yet another sector of the economy would require “special visas” – meaning the government allowing people in only where it suits them - in defiance of their own policy of slashing migration.
“Poor Mr Nash has had to take one for the team so Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway can desperately try and make his own target.
“It hasn’t taken long for divisions to become apparent even with Cabinet Ministers from the same party, let alone within the Coalition.
“Furthermore, Labour need to be upfront about the cost of their commitment to 1800 new police. As Nash even admits, with natural attrition in the sector, 3000 extra police will actually have to be recruited to meet the government’s target. Like with the rest of their costings, the Labour/NZ First/Greens government is fudging the numbers and hoping the problem will just go away. It won’t.”
I am pleased I could speak to you today on behalf of my colleague Hon Chris Finlayson who overseas. I was delighted to be asked to host you at Parliament. I have long had an interest in the Shoah, or Holocaust. One of the most profound experiences of my life was visiting Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in 2010. I wrote my honours dissertation at the Victoria University Law School on Holocaust denial laws and hate speech.
Just three weeks ago I was in Budapest. Our hotel was in the Jewish Quarter and my partner and I spent a very interesting half day visiting the magnificent Great Synagogue. It seats 3000 people and is the second largest in the world after New York City. I was intrigued to discover that the Jewish Museum which is an annex to the synagogue, is built on the site of Theodor Herzl’s house of birth. Of course Dohany Street, where the synagogue stands, was the border of the Budapest ghetto.
Mr Finlayson was recently invited by the New Zealand Jewish Council to share his thoughts about the Holocaust. His statement, along with a number of others, appeared in the New Zealand Herald yesterday. I thought it appropriate to open my speech by sharing his statement with you:
The world was so traumatised by the horrors of what happened in Germany in the years 1939 to 1945 that no one ever believed it could possibly happen again. But look at the events of the past 12 months: all across Europe we see the rise of far-right parties who have anti-Semitism at their core. The phrase “never again” rings hollow. The lethal obsession with Jews changes its form every generation but the essential irrational hatred is still there. An understandable response would be despair. That is unacceptable. The beast needs to be confronted by all decent people year in and year out, decade in and decade out. History has shown anti- Semitism will never be defeated but it must always be challenged and contained.
We are here to recognise the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day which brings the international community together to remember the millions of victims of the Holocaust.
This memorial day was established by the UN General Assembly in 2005 and it is the tenth year of commemorations in New Zealand.
Many of us have just come from the Holocaust Memorial at the Jewish cemetery in Makara which is, quite rightly, the centre of the annual commemorations.
Today we pause to reflect on the magnitude and horrors of the Holocaust, a genocide which was central to Nazi Germany’s attempt to dominate Europe and the world.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of two of the Nuremberg trials – an attempt to hold some of those responsibilities for the atrocities of the Holocaust accountable for their actions.
The Doctors Trial took place between 1946 and 1947. Twenty-three people were accused of crimes against humanity, including conducting medical experiments on prisoners of war and participating in mass murder.
Sixteen judges and lawyers were tried as part of the Judges or Justice Trial in 1947 for implementing laws which furthered the Nazi ‘racial purity’ plan.
Some of the accused were acquitted and those convicted received a range of sentences from varying terms of imprisonment to death.
As well as holding people to account, proceedings at Nuremberg led to a number of UN declarations and conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and were an important step towards a permanent international court.
As is often repeated, we must never forget the horrors of the past. That is why today’s commemorations are so vital. But we must also look to the future and hope that in confronting these events we will not be doomed to repeat ourselves.
Racial and religious hatred still exist. Anti-Semitism is not restricted to the pages of history. We must be vigilant against such hatreds. We are lucky to live in a culturally diverse country and I think most people recognise we are richer for that diversity. Attacks on any one minority group, whether ethnic or religious, can lead to attacks on other groups as well as breed dangerous division.
There are many good people and organisations that are aware of the dangers that the history of the Holocaust warn us about:
The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand, now ten years old, does great work educating people about what happened during that time and how we must keep away from letting it happen again.
The Human Rights Commission works at a national level to raise awareness of what can go wrong and how to keep New Zealand a safe place.
Programmes teaching school children how to combat bullying and speak out against discrimination and hate speech are a vital way of setting the right standards from an early age.
I am based in the Hutt Valley and I see a lot of good work taking place in that community. The Hutt Multicultural Council and the Upper Hutt Multicultural Council work to spread knowledge of minority groups, and bring people together to understand each other’s backgrounds and attitudes.
Observing United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day reminds us what human weakness and hatred can lead to, but also how we must do everything we can to avoid the same disasters in the future. In the words of Simon Weisenthal:
“The history of man is the history of crimes, and history can repeat. So information is a defence. Through this we can build, we must build, a defence against repetition.”