Bridges, Mitchell negative as justice summit progresses

The justice system summit currently under way in Porirua is trying to find ways of doing justice better – something that could certainly do with improvement.

It’s disappointing to see how negative the national opposition is: Simon Bridges dismisses Government justice summit as a ‘talk fest’ – says it will lead to a ‘softening’ of laws

National Party leader Simon Bridges says the Criminal Justice Summit due to begin today is simply a ‘talk fest’ that will likely lead to a “softening” of bail laws.

Justice Minister Andrew Little yesterday told TVNZ 1’s Q+A programme that New Zealand’s prison system is not successfully reintegrating people into society.

“Sixty per cent of those in prison will re-offend within two years of being released,” Mr Little said.

“We’ve had thirty years of the auction of more penalties, more crime, more people in prison but it’s not working, it’s not making us safe.

Mr Bridges, speaking this morning on TVNZ 1’s Breakfast programme, said it sounded like “Andrew Little knows what he wants to achieve out of it” and dismissed it as a “talk fest”.

“He doesn’t want to build more prison beds so he has to cut the prison population by a third,” Mr Bridges said.

“If I thought they were grappling with really hard issues to reduce actual offending, rather than just those prison numbers, and it was rehabilitation, reintegration, I’d go along with it.

“But it seems to me it’s pretty clear what’s going to come out – and that’s softening up the bail laws, the sentencing laws and the parole laws.

National’s justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell has also been critical of the summit.  It would be good to have seen cross party support for doing something about a prison system described by Bill English last year as a “moral and fiscal failure”.

But the summit can work without National.

Newsroom:  Much talk, some action at justice summit’s first day

Ministers laid out the cracks in the criminal justice system on the first day of the Government’s criminal justice summit. Claims that the event would be just another “talkfest” seemed to be initially borne out, but a better balance developed as the day wore on, as Sam Sachdeva reports.

About 700 people attended the first day of the Government’s criminal justice summit, the starting point for what could be years of reforms if ministers have their way.

Justice Minister Andrew Little…

…contrasted the image of New Zealand as a “small, peaceful country with no obvious enemies on our border” against the country’s darker side: record homelessness; grinding poverty; strained mental health and addiction services; and a skyrocketing prison population.

Little said there were fundamental questions about the justice system that needed answering: how to tackle high levels of domestic violence and reduce over-representation of Māori in prison; and how to ensure prisoners get the support they need to reduce their risk of reoffending.

“Many years of public debate and public discussion about criminal justice [have] focused on one thing: how are we going to lock them up and get them out of our way…

“We haven’t much talked in the last 30 years about what we do to change people, at least those who can be changed because they have understandable, identifiable problems and challenges in their lives which with a bit of effort we can turn around.”

Little made a point of singling out the National MPs in attendance despite their publicly expressed concerns about possible reforms, in a sign of the political battle the Government knows it has on its hands.

“If one of the things that we get from the conversation that we get to trigger in these two days is understanding, an agreed understanding about the gaps in national policy, about the way forward, some things we can do better, some things we can do differently, then that will help the debate,” he said.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis…

…asked for a show of hands from those who thought the justice system was perfect – predictably, none were raised – before asking the crowd to “ask hard questions” of the Government and provide ideas for change.

“None of us are precious about what’s going on, and we know things have to change, so we have to have the courage to challenge the status quo.”

Maori imprisonment rates are a significant part of the problem, so Davis needs to step up on this. It will require a lot of consultation with Maori communities.

Police Minister Stuart Nash…

…who on Monday announced the details of where the 1800 extra police funded by the Government would go, said that boost would not mean an equivalent rise in prison numbers as police took new approaches to crime.

“I do believe when I talk to people who are not politically aligned or socially aware, they are uncomfortable with the level of incarceration, they are uncomfortable with the fact that Corrections’ operating budget has increased by a billion dollars a year over the last 12 years, and they’re open and receptive to an alternative vision.”

Parliamentary undersecretary Jan Logie…

…a Green MP who is working under Little on domestic and sexual violence issues – work he described as “profoundly important” – then spoke about the flow-on impact of sexual and family violence on people who then went on to offend themselves, and the need to provide better support services.

Some frustration bubbled over as Logie finished her speech, with an interjector standing up and urging the organisers to “let Māori speak for us”.

“We don’t need to hear some organised speech, a pre-written speech to talk about us,” Anzac Wallace said.

National’s justice spokesman Mark Mitchell…

…seized on the “boilover” as a sign of the Government’s failure to properly plan the summit.

“They feel that there’s been too much talk, too many working groups, no action, and that’s basically what we’ve been saying…this has basically been like a big counselling session, and although these voices are important, this isn’t the right format.”

National had said it would support reforms which made a difference, Mitchell said, but did not support where the Government appeared to be heading.

“At the moment, and this was part of our discussion, fundamentally we’re going down two different tracks: we believe that at the heart of any good criminal justice system, public safety and victims should be at the heart of that.”

Talk and public engagement are important parts of political processes, so long as they lead to significant changes and to improvements.

The proof will be quite a bit further down the track – there are no quick or easy fixes.

38 Comments

  1. NZ Herald: ‘Where are Māori?’: Utu star Anzac Wallace disrupts Government’s criminal justice summit

    Anzac Wallace, who once starred in the movie Utu, has found himself centre stage again at the Government’s criminal justice summit.

    …It came to a point where he could not contain himself, with frustration forcing him to his feet to interrupt proceedings and ask: “Where are Māori?”

    The outburst disrupted the smooth flow of the Government’s criminal justice summit and thrust a spotlight onto Wallace, and the issue he wanted raised.

    Speaking later, Wallace said he was deeply aware – as were all Māori – of the disproportionate rate of imprisonment. While making up 15 per cent of the population, the percentage of Māori in prison is more than 50 per cent.

    “I can’t see Māori representation, yet the opening address is about Māori in jail. If we are 52 per cent of the prison population, why aren’t we 52 per cent of the people speaking?”

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=12111005

    Maori are a major problem in the justice and prison systems, so Maori need to play a significant role in finding solutions.

  2. Blazer

     /  August 22, 2018

    doesn’t Anzac realise that Kelvin is Maori.

    As for Mitchell ,NZ’s Dutton in the wings,……mercenary then…and now.

    • Corky

       /  August 22, 2018

      Davis is what’s know in Maoridom as a plastic tiki. I was more disparaging of him yesterday. That may have been uncalled for. I don’t know him personally. I’m going by his public profile.
      I would love him to prove me wrong – that he makes a solid contribution to this issue.

      • Blazer

         /  August 22, 2018

        saw off some formidable real’ Maori in …elections .

        • Corky

           /  August 22, 2018

          That can’t be denied. So obviously ”real” Maori support him. Will that hold at the next election?

    • Gezza

       /  August 22, 2018

      doesn’t Anzac realise that Kelvin is Maori.

      Yes, he does:
      https://yournz.org/2018/08/21/open-forum-tuesday-197/#comment-301736

      But it’s still surprising there were few if any Maori who already work with rehabilitating offenders there, like those working in the youth justice remand facility John Campbell reported on that was posted here a while back.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 22, 2018

    Maori are too often both perpetrators and victims of crime. Makes sense to have more involvement from both sides but without political axe grinding.

  4. Corky

     /  August 22, 2018

    This type of talk from National pisses me off. Yes, they are correct. Its another in a long line of talk feasts that will end with a himine and a big kai..and nothing else.

    Sure National have toughened sentences up. That’s good. That’s what the public wanted. But National always does what David Lange did to Roger Douglas…not finish what was started.

    In my opinion this problem should first be approached from a military perspective. The support structure supporting feralness needs to be destroyed. That means gangs must be treated as terrorists and wiped out. Once that is done we switch to the rehabilitation part that allows liberals to ”do their thing.”

    The problem here is no ones interested in doing that. In fact it doesn’t cross their minds. And even if it did our police and armed forces are so intertwined with Maoridom, there would be mutiny should these arms of the state be required to implement such a strategy.

    So we arrive back at square one. Sad when you think about it.

    • Gezza

       /  August 22, 2018

      I do think it is time for everyone to talk loudly & intolerantly about the gangs. They are a blot on our society in general & a curse on Maori society in particular, & it’s time Maori stopped letting whanaungatanga make them keep defending them because their kids & cuzzies are in them.

      They are heavily involved in crime & violence & intimidation & it’s time that message was pushed over & over again. If it were at all possible I’d like to see them outlawed – but getting real – we don’t have the prison capacity. And that is already their recruitment breeding ground. So relentless public campaigning against them seems the only other avenue.

      Is Castlecliff in Whanganui still flooded with armed police from all over & AOS & a locked down armed camp after one of them shot killed another gang member in front of his missus & kids yesterday? Or have they caught the bastard?

    • NOEL

       /  August 22, 2018

      Read Gilberts book. Don’t agree the Police are just another gang but do agree no Goverment has tried to deal to the barstards. From Muldoons beer drinking photo op until today they have been usless in protecting the public.As the father of a son who was beaten senseless as he unkowningly crossed a gang area for a “mean as phone” and left with a Trumatic Brain Ingury and long term recovery I dont give a shit about a gang member been shot in another gang hood.

      • NOEL

         /  August 22, 2018

        Sorry should be” beaten senseless for a “mean as phone”
        No one was convicted.

      • Corky

         /  August 22, 2018

        Sadly it happens everyday, Noel. Unless it’s real bad-as, if wont make the news. Journalists have long since given up reporting such cases nationally.

  5. robertguyton

     /  August 22, 2018

    Bridges, and the rest of his motley crew, have adopted the strategy of publically opposing everything the Government does; not what an Opposition is tasked to do, but what a cynical, jilted party starved of power chooses to do, not for the benefit of the people they are supposed to serve, but for their own gain.

    • Gezza

       /  August 22, 2018

      Exactly. It’s the same strategy adopted by a succession of failed leaders of Labour in Opposition & led to 9 looong years of their whingeing, barking at every passing car & occasionally publicly apologising for, or backing down, from silly allegations until Winston Peters finally took control of the situation & let them form a government.

      Bridges & his team need to get their act together & get involved in helping on this issue, but it’s ok for them to oppose just emptying the jails without all the necessary funded programmes to prevent offending and reoffending.

      It’s good that Davis is Maori, but strange & not a good sign more Maori working with offenders don’t seem to have been there.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  August 22, 2018

        Bridges missed the opportunity to offer something constructive and exploit his experience as a prosecutor. Very poor strategy and thinking.

        • Gezza

           /  August 22, 2018

          Very poor strategy and thinking.
          Well … at least he’s good at those, Al? 😳

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 22, 2018

            Sadly, yes. JK left him for dead at handling these kinds of opportunities. Bridges just makes you wince time after time.

            • Blazer

               /  August 22, 2018

              who are his advisors?

              Key had the best in the business and a Reaganesque talent at delivering their…lines.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 22, 2018

              Key could ad lib without leaving the impression his brain had disconnected from his mouth. Bridges can’t.

          • robertguyton

             /  August 22, 2018

            Key’s mouth was certainly connected to his brain but the pathway to his heart was severely atrophied.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 22, 2018

              Rubbish. He was good at engaging with people because he came across as a natural straight up guy. You can’t do that if you are not.

            • robertguyton

               /  August 22, 2018

              Played the natural straight up guy. You can pretend to be that, if you’re sociopathic, as is Key.

            • Blazer

               /  August 22, 2018

              no surprise he has the nic…’the smiling assassin’…always be sincere…even if you don’t really mean it.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 22, 2018

              Don’t believe you. Both of you are too partisan to judge.

            • robertguyton

               /  August 22, 2018

              And you’re …not?
              People who don’t like someone are excluded from…judging them?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 22, 2018

              No, you are not excluded from judging them, just excluded from being taken seriously. Me, I try not to judge people’s characters unless they have blatantly offended. You may notice I rarely judge the Lefty politicians on the basis of character.

  6. Rickmann

     /  August 22, 2018

    “And even if it did our police and armed forces are so intertwined with Maoridom, there would be mutiny should these arms of the state be required to implement such a strategy.” Ah, apart from a high Maori representation in infantry units in the army and some in the navy, who probably very few to one in the airforce, and with probably greater representation of immigrants in the police, how are the institutions mentioned so intertwined ?

    • Corky

       /  August 22, 2018

      Ricky, in the late 80s the armed forces had a think tank session. From that it was found the armed forces relied on Maori for many menial roles, both combative and logistically. The projection was Maori numbers would continue to grow in the armed forces. However, that shouldn’t be left to chance and closer ties to the Maori community should be established. That was done. The army now does a haka for every occasion. There’s plenty of hongis and
      fellas running around in piu piu. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if the SAS have karakia before torturing someone.

      You may also like to look at the Police recruitment website.

  7. PDB

     /  August 22, 2018

    PG: “Maori are a major problem in the justice and prison systems, so Maori need to play a significant role in finding solutions.”

    From my experience nothing like a good old haka to fix all that is wrong in the world.

  8. duperez

     /  August 22, 2018

    Mark Mitchell’s foremost interest is Mark Mitchell. If someone on the other side came up with a cure for cancer, Mitchell would be “Yes, but ….”

  1. Bridges, Mitchell negative as justice summit progresses — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition