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.”
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.”