Peter Dunne says although people are looking for realistic alternatives to the current government, the National's reversion to the grim and punitive world the party now seems to be focusing on does not fit with the tone of contemporary New Zealand

Peter Dunne says although people are looking for realistic alternatives to the current government, the National's reversion to the grim and punitive world the party now seems to be focusing on does not fit with the tone of contemporary New Zealand
Simon Bridges by Jacky Carpenter.

By Peter Dunne*

What do the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission, and the Official Information Act all have in common? Two things in essence – first, each of them is a progressive measure designed to protect the rights of individual citizens from intrusion of one sort or another by the institutions of the state, and second, each was the product of a National Government.

All of those institutions, while not perfect, have been hailed in international fora as positive and forward-thinking developments, and variations of them have been adopted by a number of countries, based on the New Zealand model and its experiences. Add to that the progress made during the term of the last National-led administration on Treaty of Waitangi settlements, and the National Party can boast a pretty satisfactory record as a humane and compassionate, if somewhat cautious, judicial reformer.

So, against that backdrop the National Party’s recently released discussion paper on law and order is not only a disappointment, but a complete reversion from its historic legacy. It is certainly a long way from the thinking of Hanan, McLay and even Finlayson in previous National administrations. Indeed, even if it were to be ever implanted, it would be a pretty safe bet now that the flagship “Strike Force Raptor” (has there ever been a more ghastly title?) to deal with gangs will never come to be regarded at all highly in the pantheon of New Zealand social reforms. 

Already, the critics are saying that this proposed policy is a case of the National Party reverting to type, eschewing good policy in favour of populism. Even its own former Courts Minister, now heading the present government’s Safe and Effective Justice Advisory Group, which is tasked with helping reform New Zealand's criminal justice system, has spoken out against the idea. However, National’s leader has defended the proposal, making the correct observation that just because a policy is populist, it is not automatically bad. Indeed, a more accurate assessment of its efficacy is whether it actually works.

Strike Force Raptor is an Australian model initiated in New South Wales in 2009. Its own publicity describes it as “a proactive, high-impact operation targeting OMCGs (Outlaw Motor Cycle Gang) and any associated criminal enterprises.”  Over the last ten years questions have arisen about how effective it has been. While it appears to  have been effective at harassing the gangs and generally making life difficult for them, overall gang numbers have not fallen across Australia, and questions have arisen about the tactics Strike Force Raptor  has used, and whether the outcomes to date have been worthwhile.

Whether the policy has worked in Australia is not an immediate concern for National – they are, after all in Opposition, and will have no chance to implement their plans until they next become the government. In the meantime, they can keep pointing to this idea just being one of many included in their law and order discussion document, which they are seeking public feedback on. Firm policy decisions will come later. At face value, this is all true, although it would be a mighty surprise if the Strike Force Raptor policy, albeit with perhaps some modifications, does not emerge as a key part of the law and order policy when it is finalised. Moreover, the Leader of the Opposition has been happy to be so personally identified with the idea that it would be a major backdown if it were not to proceed.

Coming on top of the benefit sanction policy that was floated recently – that the Leader of the Opposition was also happy to be closely linked to – a clear picture of the flavour National will take into the next election is beginning to emerge. Under the current leadership, National will be presenting itself as harsher and more socially repressive than the compassionate conservatism of Bill English or the flexible pragmatism of John Key. While that may play well for it in the provinces, it is questionable whether it will be as beneficial in places like central Auckland and Wellington, where National needs to hold and win marginal seats, to have a shot at being the lead party of government next year.

Of late, National has been promoting, with some justification, the notion that it is the party of talent – based on some of its impressive new candidate selections. With the series of policy discussion papers it has been releasing over recent months it would also like to be cast as the party of vision and hope. Instead, however, some of the ideas presented have too much of an air of grimness about them to be inspiring. Exciting new talent is all very well, but to be effective, it also needs to be matched by bold new thinking.

National would do well to remember that a huge amount of the current Prime Minister’s appeal in the extraordinary, whirlwind lead-up to the last election was what she herself described as her “relentless positivity”. No problem was considered to be insurmountable, or beyond her capability. So long as there was the right attitude and confidence to tackle them, there was no limit to what could be achieved. The fact that the Prime Minister has been subsequently so woefully inept in implementing any of those dreams is not the point here. Rather, the fact National should be focusing on is that people responded enthusiastically to policies they saw then as positive and achievable.

Strike Force Raptor and benefit sanctions do not have the same inspirational ring around them. They will never generate the excitement the Prime Minister did in those few weeks in 2017. There is no doubt the unattainable dreamworld policies of the current government are leaving a huge vacuum for credible and workable policies. People are looking for realistic alternatives, but a reversion to the grim and punitive world National now seems to be focusing on does not fit with the tone of contemporary New Zealand.

There was the opportunity for National to draw on its past, listen to the voices of those around them now, and promote a law and order and justice policy that was humane and compassionate, evidence based and workable. Instead, the shades of Hanan, McLay and maybe Finlayson will be in despair today.


*Peter Dunne is the former leader of UnitedFuture, an ex-Labour Party MP, and a former cabinet minister. This article first ran here and is used with permission.

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73 Comments

10
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Don't trust Soimon as far as I could throw him. Even if he tries to fabricate a "humane and passionate face" I wouldn't buy it.

... that'd be a fun challenge : can Soyman Bridges fabricate a " humane & compassionate face " faster than Phil " kiwi build " Twyford can fabricate a house . ..

Not sure if my stomach is strong enough to cope with the image of Soyman fabricating a " passionate face " ...

There's an authentic Simon out there. You can listen to him on his telephone call with Jamie Lee Ross.

13
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The problem with National is that it has been taken over by conservative christians. They are a curious religious sect that believes in casting the first stone and worshiping money. National need to rebrand as the Christian Heritage Party, and appoint Colin Craig as their leader.

If Bridges wants to appeal to the larger community then he should go through Gay Conversion Therapy as he would be more appealing as a homosexual.

> If Bridges wants to appeal to the larger community then he should go through Gay Conversion Therapy as he would be more appealing as a homosexual.

No no, you can keep him.

Soyman proves the point that it's possible to be seriously queer without actually being gay ....

The problem with National is that it has been taken over by conservative christians.

That needs some serious qualification. Cultural Christians, more than sincere practicing Christians. Happy to pontificate and apply rules to the lives of others, but less happy to abide by the same standards themselves. In the vein of today's Republican party.

The current political system in NZ and the other four eye countries can only produce short-sighted governments that are good at paying lip services.

Governing a country requires highest level of skills in learning, planning, managing, acquiring, organising, consolidating and etc. On the contrary, any elected governments in five eye countries and their leaders are mostly good at showing and performing.

20
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Lock them away and send them to re-education camp!

Lol. If only we had a benevolent dictator to choose those who are worthy to govern (and toe the party line set by said dictator of course).

"Governing a country requires highest level of skills in learning, planning, managing, acquiring, organising, consolidating and etc."
Let's dig into the CCCP's 'etc'- you've omitted skills in:

  • Mass Surveillance
  • Using Social Credit Score as a basis for dispensing travel, justice, and other perquisites
  • Re-education programs for those deemed worthy of that dubious honour

There are doubtless other 'skills' in play, which us freedom-loving types have never encountered and frankly never hope to.

I value my freedom. NZ is likely one of the least corrupt countries in the world, but yes let’s give up all that for the all mighty superior dictatorships.

I would love to know the source of your posts:
- If you are a US troll trying to discredit the Chinese government, then my congratulations, a job well done.
- If you are directed by the Chinese authorities, this would disappoint me: I think that they are pretty smart, so something must have gone wrong here
- None of the above: well, you are entitled to your own opinions, but let me tell you without offense that they do sound a bit too much like cookie cutter propaganda

I'm not sure if the political system is primarily at fault but there is no doubt that recent governments in NZ have been, and are, short-sighted, good at paying lip service and mostly good at showing and performing - something I despair at. In saying that Xi Jinping puts on a pretty good show too :)

National have all sorts of problems, but the main one is their present leader; who has managed to scare off all the experience in their ranks. Bridges should be renamed canyon, based on the (lack of) connections he's made. Just how he got in change is a sad reflection on the quality of people parliament attract. Nikki Kaye would be my choice.

As for gangs, the Police have been too soft on them for some time. They would rather write out tickets for traffic infringements, because the work is easier.

Going into the 2020 general election , Taxcinda's greatest prayer must be that the Gnats retain Simian Bridges as their leader .... even a right of centre voter as I am , I ain't voting for him ...

Don’t mean much, however, whatever they present, if they don’t obtain power. And that looks damn unlikely, given John Key at his popular peak couldn’t get National across the line outright, on their own. This National lot and this National leader too, are well behind the ball in comparison, coupled to the fact that there is no Maori Party and no United Party. So with no viable coalition party existing or of potential, National like it or not, are going to get a lot more practice, on the opposition benches.

Maybe National is listening to the rest of the country that's getting tired of being intimidated and predated on by organized crime and thinks there's a vote in it.

The only organised crime the "rest of the country" has typically been impacted by with any regularity is the effect of money laundering on housing affordability. Now if National had been eager to crack down on that rather than those nefarious gangs we hear about on the news, well, that might have been more useful.

Think again. The Police asset recovery teams are dealing to these guys big time. The ability to track financial data is so good these hoods have a real problem on their hands. A much smarter approach than the ridiculous Raptor rubbish.

They're not scratching the surface.
The cops will advertise a 'massive' drug haul but the price on the street does not vary. That tells us a lot.

We need the law to allow raids on gang houses and stop & search.

10
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People in power who lust for even more, love militaristic titles for their programs (I am surprised Helen Clark didn't use them more), but in this SB and to lesser extents every other politician in power, as well as successive Governments do not understand and/or are trying to avoid acknowledging that gangs are just one social phenomenon that are indicative of years of failed socio-economic policies. For the majority this is almost 40 years, for Maori, much, much longer.

Much of the debate on this site today and most days are about how economic policies have created inequality and disenfranchised people and groups. yet many still don't get it.

Strike Force Raptor may make a small number feel good, but will ultimately be completely ineffective. Politicians love to avoid asking the real pertinent questions that will drive to the real causes and solutions. recently in Whanganui a local politician asked why wahine Maori were being murdered and organised marches against violence. What she should have asked was why were tane Maori killing women? Why the vast majority if not all the murders were carried out by young Maori men? Such a question might then point to parenting standards, as well as driving a discussion towards leaving the past behind to create a future. By avoiding the hard questions they can keep a grievance industry alive.

. . exactly as I said in relation to this government's vastly increased rubbish fees ... our pollies are taking the ambulance at the bottom of a cliff approach ...

Neither the Gnats nor Labour can grasp the essential nub of an issue ... hence their weird belief that a new tax or a goon squad will fix things ... or Kiwibuild ... one daft " solution " after another , from both sides of the political divide ...

... where's David Seymour ... he's been talking more sense than the rest of them put together , lately ...

Too right - National lost all credibility when they voted for the virtue signal zero carbon amendment.

Too often we treat the symptoms rather than the cause

14
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Middle class left wing living in leafy suburbs and urban centres far from the poor communities where gangs, ex-cons and welfare do their worst pretend that they are helping with generous welfare and lax policing and minimal imprisonment but are actually creating far worse and deteriorating outcomes. Since the Coalition came to power both beneficiary and gang numbers have spiked up sharply. This helps no-one. Long term beneficiaries have awful lives - destroyed by the bad choices that welfare enables, perpetuating immature behavior and wrecking the development of children who lack working role models in their lives - as can be seen by the destruction wrecked by generational welfare dependency. Gangs are cancer - anything that can be done to diminish their impact is good. Left are often too short-term in their vision, failing to see the longer term damaging consequences of candy-for-everyone policies.

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the increases you refer to are not caused by the CoL but are the consequences of policies created by multiple Governments. The biggest current one being housing, which started under Helen Clark's Labour government and was made much worse by successive Governments. The current one is equally refusing to do anything substantial and is persisting in continuing what other Governments tried and failed to achieve. By persisting in doing what we have always done, we always achieve the same results. Funny that! (sausage anyone?)

Are you suggesting the tough on crime type approaches work? There is less gang crime in the US than Europe? I'm not convinced...

US+Europe is not NZ. We are small, geographically isolated with strong borders and criminals tend not to employ firearms - probably due to poor availability. Solutions that don't work elsewhere may work here, and vice versa. Fighting organised crime (Gangs!!) is always worth it to a country - because organised crimes drags everything down, socially, economically, and perhaps most critically destroys faith in rule of law - engendering wider growth of corruption and escalating violence. The most prosperous countries are generally the least corrupt. Gangs normalize criminality in communities - leading to teens aspiring to criminal careers - turning them from assets into colossal burdens on our country. Eg ~25% of gang members are known child abusers. They are not an alternative lifestyle to be celebrated, they are a predatory menace to good NZers who should not have to endure the ongoing victimization.

Only if 40,000 gun related deaths a year count for naught.

19
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Where has National's humane and compassionate face gone?

To CHINA

10
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When my family came from overseas were wondering if they were in NZ or in China, when we went for a walk :)

That explains the damage done by National to suittheir vested interest.

Ned Trump to change status quo of current politicans be it National, Labour or any other party (Even though may be or may not be bad but current lot is bad)

And if you would have taken them to public places would have also seen signed in Chinesse language to confirm lol

25% of all NZ's exports go to China.
25% of all NZ's imports come from China.

These number will continue to increase to around 50% in next two decades.

What would you do as a rational leader then?

Economic rationality is one thing.
Morality is another.

You, presumably as a decedent of colonialists, have any ground to talk about morality?

Look, the CCP Parody Bot is trying to think......

F off. Are you part of China's propaganda machine if not, why do you live in NZ?

He might be posted away from NZ to Xianjing to be a surrogate husband.
https://www.businessinsider.com.au/china-uighur-monitor-home-shared-bed-...

Join China officaly (Instead of being a proxy country of China)

It is absolutely not China's interest to have NZ as a part of China.

China's interest, as stated by President Xi, would like to build a human community with a shared future with all countries regardless of its size.

You seem like the type that was chanting during the military parade. Get your head out of propaganda and take a look at the facts.

It's a shame you've lost the ability to think independently.

It is you that should get your facts from others sources rather than CNN, BBC and anti-China medias.

F off.

I do. But the facts still don't seem to align with the CCP's acceptable set of alternative truths.

Xingmowang - keep it up - this is great.

'Rational leaders' should be doing everything to avoid your 50% scenario. Those who are educated are already concerned with China telling us to jump and we asking how high... It is only a small number of people including yourself who wish to sacrifice freedom and morals for short-term benefit.

"sacrifice freedom and morals"

What make you think that you are at a higher freedom and moral ground?

That really interests me.

Off the top of my head,
- Hong Kong
- Re-education camps (can you please explain in what world that is remotely moral?)
- Immoral lending to poorer countries knowing damn well they can't be repaid monetarily.
- Corruption of foreign politics
- Just announced insane amount of coal plants when the world is attempting to move away from fossil fuels
- Undue influence in the Pacific
- Social credit system
- Extensive big brother surveillance
- Zero tolerance for those with alternative views/beliefs

Plenty more.. Baffling you pretend not to see.

- Hong Kong --- never had a single election for choosing its leaders from when British colonised her to when she was returned to China. Hypocrisy?

- Re-education camps (can you please explain in what world that is remotely moral?) -- people with extreme religious thoughts who are very likely to create massive damage to the whole society. Instead of locking them up, CCP offers them free education opportunities so they can rejoin the society.

- Immoral lending to poorer countries knowing damn well they can't be repaid monetarily -- you'd call ANZ and other OZ banks lending to NZ household and dairy farmers immoral as well?

- Corruption of foreign politics -- What the hell is that??? Do you know a English company called Eastern Indian Company that cultivate opium in Indian and sold them to China??

- Just announced insane amount of coal plants when the world is attempting to move away from fossil fuels -- NZ's use of coal for electricity generation increased by about 30% in Q2 2019.

- Undue influence in the Pacific -- how many military bases do the US have in pacific?

- Social credit system -- never heard of it. I do have first hand experience on OZ banks classifying customers based on their income, borrowing and mortgage payment history.

- Extensive big brother surveillance -- heard of Prism, GCSB in NZ, Five countries, Angela Merkel's cellphone hijacked by CIA?

- Zero tolerance for those with alternative views/beliefs -- political correctness is zero tolerance. Without alternative views, beliefs, China would not grow from the poorest country to the second largest economy in a short 70 years.

-- (Justification by deflection onto another party which has an exponentially less impact on the issue at hand)

You asked me to expand on sacrificing freedom and morals for short-term benefit and then follow up with being proud of China's economic progress due to suppression of alternative views and beliefs.........

I'm happy to give you a one-man re-education camp to help you re-join society ;)

Very telling that the responses to all points are not that the actions are not wrong, but that others have also done wrong things in the past. (Apart from false equivalences.)

"Sure, we're the new imperial player, but there have been other imperial players in the past!"

Whataboutism from a paid CCP disinformation specialist. He needs to be held to account for denying Chinese genocide in Xinjiang.

No, no, you see, it's okay for the CCP to engage in genocide because the Nazis engaged in genocide in the past. Any objection from any Western countries is blatant hypocrisy.

I enjoy reading the patronising tone of the Anglo-Saxon managerial class as they struggle to cope with China. The west is backed by paper. Paper issued by banks. Paper invented in China. I'd ignore the protestations. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth. China does what's good for China. NZ does what's good for...

Start again making our own bloody stuff

Don’t worry everyone. If National need a humane and compassionate leader, they can always call on the crusher Judith Colins.

National, like most of the NZ population, has probably noticed the increasing crime, and worse, the increasing violence in crimes. Labour's "let them all out of jail" policy is clearly not working, and people are sick to death of the number of violent incidents occurring. Christchurch had a double carjacking the other day, along with armed hostage takers, stabbings, and a litany of other incidents. Enough already.

Freedom and democracy are the excuses used by the current government to defend what you are talking about.

Really disgusting.

The current government is even working on giving inmates rights to vote!!!

The current government is RESTORING the right of prisoners serving less than 3 years (one parliamentary term) the right to vote, which is how it was prior to 2010, when a very cynical National government removed that right, but tellingly left intact the right of those serving their sentences as home detention to continue to vote.
There is very good reason for this to be the case, as something as basic as the luck of the draw could see one person serving less than 3 years able to vote and the next not. Please be accurate with your comments.
Oh and by the way, for all its faults we prefer our system to yours, and are right behind those seeking the same right of choice for the people of Hong Kong.

At least we don't harvest their organs and torture them to sign false confessions. Interested to hear your rebuttal but you are too scared to reply I am guessing.

At least i can sleep easy knowing that u can commit the most heinous of crimes but you will still be called by your christian name when you are behind bars.

First party to say offenders are first and foremost offenders and treat them accordingly, gets my vote.

First-time and minor offenses get as much help as the state can give to turn things around but serious, repeat offenders get long long sentences because we're not trying to rehabilitate these guys - we know by now they aren't fixable - we're putting them somewhere that they can't hurt us until they're old enough to not be able to.

Crime rates increasing? Post some stats rather than an ad hoc story which doesn't mean a lot.

Christchurch has always been sin city - its the vibe of the place.

He has been learning things from his overseas meetings perhaps ?

hes looks good with a mullet though, have to give him that
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/117740030/did-simon-bridges-ge...

He wears it in a Pony Tail on date nights with John Key.

+1
National would be far better focusing on continuing Bill English's drive to use social benefit cost assessments to get positive total welfare benefit for all NZ from government spending and which at the same time ensures productive use of capital by government. This approach could be extended to local government as well.
The private sector is constrained by financial benefit cost assessments, central government should hold itself to the same (using social cost benefit)

10
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Says Peter Dunne who legalized a range of drugs that subsequently killed a number of people.

He was a do-nothing MP for decades so it's not surprising he favours National also doing nothing about this scourge in our society.

Can’t stand the guy and his self righteousness and cheesy bowties

National? "Humane and compassionate"? April Fools comes around so quickly...

The one and only thing I have and will ever give the National Party is their honest consistency. It is unashamedly the party of the wealthy elites and always has been. National has never pretended to give a crap about anyone other than the top 1%-ers. It's who and what they are. I don't like the party but I do give National credit for staying true to itself.