Prime Minister’s post-Cabinet statement on terror attacks

A statement from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on progress on dealing with issues related to the Christchurch mosque massacres, including announcing an inquiry into the attacks, and plans for firearm law reform.


PM statement on Christchurch mosques terror attack

Before I begin I want to acknowledge again and use this opportunity to again highlight 1737 as the contact number that anyone can text or call if they are feeling distress, if they have any mental health concerns for themselves or a loved one.

We have had, I’m advised, over 500 calls or contacts to the 1737 number. It has ranged from people who simply feel distressed to those themselves — those who have been caught up in the terrorist attack on Friday. So it is a line that has specialist support available and I again encourage those who need it to utilise it.

Let me give you an overview to begin with of the coming days. Tomorrow, as the Leader of the House has advised, members of Parliament will gather in the House at 2pm to make statements of condolence for victims of the Christchurch mosques terror attack. The House will then adjourn for the day and will meet again on Wednesday at 2pm for members’ day.

On Wednesday, I will return to Christchurch. I will be meeting again with first responders, including St John’s ambulance and front-line support staff. I plan on meeting with family members, but I’m also very mindful that families are receiving their loved ones for burial and I certainly intend, and I ask others also, to be respectful of course at this hugely sensitive time.

Today Cabinet was expanded to include representatives from our confidence and supply support partner, the Green Party. It was an opportunity to discuss several key issues and pieces of work, and having all parties around the table has helped to expedite that process. I’ll run through now several preliminary decisions that have been made.

Firearms laws

Cabinet today made in-principle decisions around the reform of our gun laws. I intend to give further detail of these decisions to the media and public before Cabinet meets again next Monday. This ultimately means that within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism, we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer.

In the intervening period, we will be working hard and as quickly as we can to finalise some of the details around the decision Cabinet has made today and the consequences of it.

As a Cabinet, we were absolutely unified and very clear: the terror attack in Christchurch on Friday was the worst act of terrorism on our shores.

It was in fact one of the worst globally in recent times.

It has exposed a range of weaknesses in New Zealand’s gun laws.

The clear lesson from history around the world is that to make our community safer, the time to act is now. I know that this might for a short period create a small degree of uncertainty amongst some gun owners, including those who possess guns for legitimate reasons, and I particularly acknowledge those in our rural communities. I want to assure you that the work that we are doing is not directed at you.

In fact, I strongly believe that the vast majority of gun owners in New Zealand will agree with the sentiment that change needs to occur. I, in fact, believe that they will be with us.

In the meantime, I want to remind people: you can surrender your gun to the police at any time. In fact I have seen reports that people are, in fact, already doing this.

I applaud that effort, and if you’re thinking about surrendering your weapon, I would encourage you to do so.

Inquiry announced

Today it was also agreed that there will be an inquiry to look at the specific circumstances leading up to the Christchurch mosques terror attack on March 15. The purpose of this inquiry is to look at what all relevant agencies knew or could or should have known about the individual and his activities, including his access to weapons and whether they could have been in a position to prevent the attack.

It will look at whether there were any impediments to the sharing of information, such as legislative or intelligence sharing challenges. The key agencies we’ll be looking at include the New Zealand SIS, GCSB, Police, Customs, and Immigration I want to highlight again, though: this is an inquiry that these agencies absolutely support.

The inquiry will also look at the individual’s travel movements to and from New Zealand, and internationally; his activities in New Zealand; and his use of social media and his connection to others.

The terms of reference are currently being finalised, and decisions around who will lead the inquiry and what form it will take will also be made shortly. Our key considerations will be public confidence in the work, timeliness, and the management of classified information. We’re also mindful, of course, that criminal proceedings are under way.

Commemorations and future memorial date

The Government has also had preliminary discussions around ensuring New Zealanders have the ability to commemorate as one the lives lost at Deans Avenue and Linwood mosques. A number of vigils have already been held in local communities throughout New Zealand; I have no doubt that these will continue.

In fact, I encourage people to come together. While I will not be announcing the memorial date today, I can assure you that the Department of Internal Affairs will be working in conjunction with the Muslim community, iwi, local government, and the mayor of Christchurch, police, and other agencies.

I can confirm the memorial will not be held this week. We want to ensure that the priority for the coming days is the families’ opportunity to grieve together. I will, however, look to announce a date as soon as I am able.

ACC grants

As I said yesterday, the families of those who have lost a loved one can apply for a funeral grant of around $10,000, which is made available via ACC.

What I’ve made clear to agencies today is that further costs should be covered upfront for these families taking their loved ones overseas. Details around these provisions are currently being finalised by officials, but Victim Support will help manage this process with the victims’ families.

There will continue to be high police visibility and presence over coming weeks in Christchurch. I understand this may concern some people, but it is not about a specific threat.

As I’ve said before, this is about taking a precautionary approach and providing reassurance as investigations continue into the terrorist attack on Friday.

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9 Comments

  1. Cork

     /  18th March 2019

    Someone needs to tell the PM any attempt to make people hand in their semis will definitely swell the ranks of Supremacists, Patriots and good ole boys, both brown and white.

    Worse, those with evil on their mind will have their real or imagined paranoia amplified. More will go off the grid..filling each other with bs and false bravado..then a new situation arises.

    And all this is for nothing. Take Tarrant.. under new legislation he would just be held up for a couple of months while he makes the right contacts and is introduced to a block. Depending on his fiances the block will procure what he needs. Nothing changes except the time frame.

    Meanwhile law abiding people who like these guns for recreation will be denied that opportunity.

    We had a commentator on the radio saying Australia has solved their gun problem. Since Port Arthur there has been no mass shootings like that in Australia.

    Well, there are a couple of reasons I can think of why that is. And there is absolutely nothing stopping such a mascara in Australia again. In fact they are overdue for something to happen.

    BTW.. the Port Arthur massacre is a very strange case indeed.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  18th March 2019

      Someone needs to tell the PM any attempt to make people hand in their semis will definitely swell the ranks of Supremacists, Patriots and good ole boys, both brown and white.

      Contact
      Email
      j.ardern@ministers.govt.nz
      Phone +64 4 817 8700

      Reply
      • Corky.

         /  18th March 2019

        You jest surely? Why don’t you ring her and let me know how you get on. I can tell you now what will happen, but that would spoil the surprise.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  18th March 2019

          I don’t have an issue with it. I don’t have a semi-automatic. You have an issue with and a prediction of what mayhem it will cause. Why do you want someone else to tell her about your issue?

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  18th March 2019

            No, not mayhem.. unintended consequences. I want you to ring her because anyone like me who goes into bat for gun owners is considered a nutter. Arrant nonsense of course, but given the kneejerk reactions happening at the moment, quite a normal turn of events. It will be great practice for when they start censoring the internet..boy, I bet that will get your attention.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  18th March 2019

              I don’t have an issue with it. I don’t see any need for someone to tell the PM. If I did feel strongly someone should tell the PM something I might email her and see what happened. I think she will have plenty of people happy to tell her what they think – for and against her proposal.

              Why do you think you would be considered a nutter?

              What sort of unintended consequences are you anticipating?

    • Andrew

       /  18th March 2019

      And yet Australian police are armed, they have a higher homicide rate than we do, and we own 3 times the guns that Australia does.

      Reply
  2. NOEL

     /  18th March 2019

    Study couple of years ago to determined if the Australian laws had any impact cited the fact that NZ allowed semi autos and nothing happened here. I guess that paradigm will have to be reworked.

    Reply
  3. The Consultant

     /  18th March 2019

    It has exposed a range of weaknesses in New Zealand’s gun laws

    True. Like how he got a gun licence, what the weaknesses are there and what’s being done to fix that. But I see nothing about that.

    … and I particularly acknowledge those in our rural communities. I want to assure you that the work that we are doing is not directed at you.

    Not what your supporters are saying around me. They’re jumping for joy at getting to the “hick reactionaries”. I don’t recall even the Howard government moving this fast.

    In the meantime, I want to remind people: you can surrender your gun to the police at any time. In fact I have seen reports that people are, in fact, already doing this.

    Hoo boy. So even without details we now know what’s coming from the all powerful State, enforced by the Police. It won’t affect me since I have no semi-autos, but that’s not the point.

    I always wondered what it would be like to live in such a country…. under such a government…

    Venezuela has brought a new gun law into effect which bans the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition.

    Until now, anyone with a gun permit could buy arms from a private company. Under the new law, only the army, police and certain groups like security companies will be able to buy arms from the state-owned weapons manufacturer and importer.

    The government has been running a gun amnesty in the run-up to the introduction of the new law to try to encourage people to give up their illegal arms without fear of consequences.

    The government’s most recent statistics put the murder rate at around 48 per 100,000, although some non-governmental organisations estimate it’s much higher – 60 per 100,000 in 2011, one of the highest rates in the world.

    One member of the public in Caracas told the BBC: “They’re killing people every day. This law is important but they need to do more, they’re not doing enough now.”

    Hugo Chavez’s government says the ultimate aim is to disarm all civilians

    It can’t happen here, right? Just like Friday could not happen here.

    Reply

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