The Ardern-Peters Government is playing Russian Roulette with public safety as it continues to make a mess of law and order, with Police Minister Stuart Nash admitting today that he doesn’t bother to read official advice, National’s Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“In an extraordinary performance before the Justice Select Committee this morning, Mr Nash confirmed he hadn’t bothered to read a briefing from Police titled ‘Alternative Five Year Phasing Options for 1800 New Police’.
“It just beggars belief that he didn’t bother to read a paper from officials providing advice on his flagship policy to add 1800 cops to the beat.
“If that wasn’t bad enough, he also confirmed that when he does read advice, he simply ignores it if it doesn’t suit him.
“Mr Nash’s own Cabinet paper says that the Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections estimate between 650 and 900 extra prison beds will be needed as a result of adding more cops to the beat.
“But this advice doesn’t suit the Government because it doesn’t want to build the required prison beds.
“Instead of reading and taking on the advice of officials, Mr Nash, who clearly thinks he knows better, continues to make pie in the sky statements about how the extra police will prevent crime and won’t impact the prison population.
“Being ‘determined’ to prevent crime is not enough to ensure public safety.
“Any responsible government would take the advice of officials and build the required number of prison beds so that dangerous criminals can be taken off the streets.
“The arrogance of this reckless and incompetent Government is putting the safety of New Zealanders at risk.”
The extra police promised by the Government will mean an additional 900 prison beds will be needed – yet it will announce tomorrow that it is downsizing the plans for Waikeria Prison, National’s Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“This makes no sense but that’s typical of the clumsy and incompetent Ardern-Peters Government, particularly when it comes to law and order policy.
“National had plans to build a new 1500-bed facility at Waikeria Prison to accommodate forecast growth in the prison population, partly because of the 880 extra sworn cops we were adding to the beat.
“More police will mean more arrests which will mean even more prison beds are needed, over and above what was already planned.
“But incredibly, not only is the Government not increasing prison beds as advised by officials in a leaked draft paper to Cabinet, it will tomorrow likely announce that it is doing the opposite and adding only 600 new prison beds at Waikeria.
“That means the Government will have to significantly weaken our bail, parole and sentencing laws – and effectively instruct police officers to catch and release.
“This will make our communities less safe, because we know that 98 per cent of people in prison are there for our most serious offences, in spite of the Prime Minister claiming otherwise.
“But those are the only options available to the Government to be able to counteract the increase in the number of offenders caught by police so that it doesn’t have to increase prison capacity and can reach its arbitrary target of cutting prisoner numbers by a third.
“This is ultimately at the expense of the safety of New Zealanders, and proves everything incoming Prime Minister Winston Peters has said about being tough on crime is a sham.”
Jacinda Ardern and Stuart Nash have broken the trust of Kiwis who believed them when they said they’d keep their promise to add 1800 frontline cops over three years, National’s Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Even when it was becoming obvious to everyone that the Government wasn’t going to keep this promise, Ms Ardern dug her heels in and on the eve of the Budget told Parliament that it was still her Government’s policy to add 1800 sworn police over the next three years.
“And despite Ms Ardern and Mr Nash continuing to claim the extra cops will be delivered in three years, Budget documents clearly confirm the Government will be taking five years to bring them on.
“No matter how much the Government tries to weasel of admitting that it has broken its promise by claiming it is ‘striving towards’ delivering 1800 extra cops in three years, it’s clear it made an unrealistic pledge to New Zealanders that it will not able to deliver upon.
“Not only that, but the Government will be claiming the 880 sworn frontline cops funded under the National Government, of which over 400 recruits have already graduated. That means the Government is only adding 920 more cops, with just 220 of those being frontline.
“But exactly what ‘frontline’ means these days is unclear. Mr Nash has tried to redefine the term in recent weeks to include backoffice staff, who are no doubt important, but they won’t be turning up to dairies after an aggravated robbery or attending family violence incidents.
“The most important thing is that these extra cops improve public safety. But with no Government plan to reduce crime and moving towards softening bail laws, it seems that all these extra cops will be required to do is catch and release.
“There’s no point letting more cops in through the front door if you’re just going to let more criminals out through the back door.”
Budget 2018 looks set to be the Budget of Broken Promises, with the Government not only downsizing its promise of 1800 extra cops to 1100, but it’s also looking to phase the promise in over five years instead of three, National’s Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Police Minister Stuart Nash has applied a three-pronged approach to breaking the Government’s promise of adding 1800 sworn frontline police officers over three years.
“First, he downsized the number to 1100 additional sworn frontline police and confirmed that National’s 880 extra sworn frontline police would be included in that number – effectively making it only an additional 220 under this Government.
“Second, he redefined the meaning of ‘frontline’ police. Most New Zealanders would consider frontline cops to be the ones that patrol the streets and turn up to your house when you’ve been robbed.
“But Mr Nash is now including back office staff, like forensic accountants, in his definition of ‘frontline’. These are very important roles and we need them, but I don’t think anyone is going to call for the local forensic accountant to attend their house after it’s been robbed.
“And last, but not least, it now appears that Mr Nash is looking at phasing the ‘promise’ in over five years instead of the previously stated three years.
“Mr Nash has received a paper titled ‘Alternative Five Year Phasing Options for 1800 New Police’, which might as well be titled ‘Options for Breaking Promise of 1800 New Police Over Three Years’.
“So not only is the Government adding fewer cops than it said it would, it is going to take longer to bring them in.
“It is worrying that it’s become the norm for this Government to break its promises. Worse than that, it is breaking the trust of the people who voted for them.”
Police Minister Stuart Nash is fudging the numbers in a desperate attempt to meet the Labour-NZ First coalition promise of an additional 1800 sworn police officers, National’s Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Today in Question Time Mr Nash admitted that the Government will start counting the additional 1800 cops from the day the new Government took office.
“Every one of the estimated 400 new cops on the beat since the election were funded by National through the Budget 2017 Safer Communities package, not by the new Government.
“Mr Nash confirmed that Labour plans to count National’s 880 extra sworn police officers funded through Budget 2017 towards his 1800 target
“That means Mr Nash is shamelessly putting a stamp on National’s additional new cops and claiming them as part of the coalition promise.
“Taking into account his admission in the weekend that only 1100 of the 1800 new police will be frontline, the Government will only be adding 220 frontline cops – a far cry from 1800.
“It’s clear he’s trying to hide his Government’s broken promise by counting National’s cops, as well as counting sworn officers who won’t be sworn. All so that wealthy tertiary students can study for free and so Winston Peters can build a new $5 million outpost in Sweden.
“To make matters worse, Mr Nash says “it hasn’t been completely decided” what the new police numbers will be – either to give himself room to downgrade the promise even further or because he simply hasn’t bothered to figure it out.
“We are only eight days out from the Budget and Mr Nash has been the Minister for over seven months. What on earth has he been doing?”
A National Party Members’ Bill drawn from the ballot today will crack down on dangerous gang members and ensure they don’t have access to firearms, says National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop.
“Too many firearms are ending up in hands of violent, criminal gang members, and that’s got to change. Under this Bill if you’re a gang member you won’t be allowed to own or possess firearms, period,” Mr Bishop says.
“Police have said these changes would enhance their ability to control illegal firearms, and requested stronger safeguards to protect New Zealanders from illegal firearm possession in their Briefing to the Incoming Minister. It was also one of the recommendations made by the Select Committee last year and supported by the previous National Government.
“A new Firearms Prohibition Order, similar to what is available in New South Wales, will widen the powers available to Police to search the homes and cars of serious, violent gang members for firearms.
“We estimate around 600 gang members will be eligible for the order but it will be up to the Police Commissioner to decide how to prioritize the most serious offenders within that group. These people pay no attention to needing a firearms licence, so we need to be able to search them to ensure that they don’t have access to illegal firearms.
“This Bill reflects the fact that the vast majority of Kiwi hunters, farmers and recreational shooters are law-abiding and responsible New Zealanders. They should not be treated the same was as gang members who illegally obtain firearms and stow them away in order to cause harm to our families and communities.
“I’ll be approaching Police Minister Stuart Nash and New Zealand First to ensure they stay tough on gangs and support these new laws through the House.”
Associate Transport Minister and Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter should explain why she doesn’t think roadside drug testing is a good way to reduce the road toll, National’s Associate Transport Spokesperson Brett Hudson and Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop say.
“For a Minister who claims to be serious about reducing New Zealand’s road toll to zero in just eighteen months’ time, why won’t Julie Anne Genter accept the advice of her own officials that roadside drug testing will reduce fatalities each year?” Mr Hudson says.
“Ms Genter says she doesn’t think roadside drug testing is the best investment of money to reduce impaired and dangerous driving, and reduce serious injuries and deaths.
“This is despite advice from officials at the Ministry of Transport and New Zealand Police that it would act as a deterrent and reduce the number of fatalities on our roads. What exactly makes Ms Genter think that she knows better than these experts?
“The technology previously wasn’t available to make roadside drug testing practicable in New Zealand. But there have been major advances and now is the right time to introduce it. That’s why Alastair Scott lodged a Member’s Bill to establish random roadside drug testing.”
Mr Bishop says frontline Police have seen the impact that drug drivers have and have told Ms Genter they need random roadside drug testing to keep our roads safer.
“But Ms Genter’s rebuff that Police should stop pushing for roadside drug tests and instead focus on more alcohol testing undermines and even discredits Police.
“Recognising and responding to the harm of drink driving doesn’t need to come at the expense of recognising the danger posed by drug driving. Police are more than capable of focusing on both.
“Roadside drug testing is a measure that will help save lives but Ms Genter appears to be putting her own ideology ahead of doing the right thing.”
Hutt South MP Chris Bishop has lodged a Member’s Bill to allow restaurants that hold on-licences to sell alcohol, to also hold off-licences under the same roof.
“The Sale and Supply of Liquor Act currently prohibits ‘shops within shops’, which means that restaurants that are also speciality food stores have great difficulty in selling alcohol through an off-licence under the same roof and at the same time,” Mr Bishop says.
“For instance, Bel Mondo international food market and restaurant in Kilbirnie was recently forced to close after licencing authorities asked the owners to erect a wall separating the dining area from the food store and operate two separate companies in order to sell wine to take away.
“At La Bella Italia in Petone, customers who may wish to purchase a bottle of wine after trying it in the restaurant are required to buy the wine online on an iPad in the corner of the store and pick it up from a separate entrance out the back.
“There are other examples I know of around the country. The Sale and Supply of Liquor Act is about reducing alcohol related harm; but this section of the Act is sadly just stopping innovative restaurants from offering a broader dining and retail experience.
“My bill makes it clear that restrictions on the granting of an off-licence to a premises that is situated within a shop do not apply to a premises that is a shop sharing premises with a restaurant.
“This is a common-sense change that I hope will receive broad support across the House.”
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.”