Police “not tolerating bad behaviour any more” (sexual assaults)

RNZ reports in ‘They’re not tolerating bad behaviour any more’:

A decade of independent scrutiny of how police treat sexual assault victims and how they investigate their own officers is about to end.

Ten years ago today a Commission of Inquiry led by Dame Margaret Bazley released a scathing report describing disgraceful conduct by officers over 25 years and a wall of silence protecting the men that women complained about.

The inquiry investigated historic sexual assault claims and misconduct from 1979 to 2004.

In 2007, Dame Margaret released her findings which pointed to systemic issues, evidence of disgraceful misconduct and a culture of scepticism around reported sexual assaults.

The case of Louise Nicholas prompted the Commission of Inquiry to be established in 2004.

Louise Nicholas vividly remembers how fearful she was, the day her story was made public on 1 January 2004.

“In talking with [journalist] Phil Kitchin, in putting the story out there publicly, ‘what am I going to get out of it?’

“And he said, ‘What do you want?’ And I said, ‘I need for the police to acknowledge, to stand up and say, ‘yeah, we’ve got a really, really bad culture and we need to do something about this.’ And Phil said, ‘Well, let’s call for a Commission of Inquiry’ … and that’s how it all got started.

“And then, as fate has it, police decided to investigate my allegations that came through the media.”

She said the investigation was important in enabling victims to come forward.

“The results were of course, acquittals. But, did I get my justice? As I sit here today, abso-bloody-lutely I did.

Mrs Nicholas said how police dealt with sexual assault survivors was the biggest change she wanted to see happen.

She said if her case had happened today, it would have been handled so much better by police.

“I’ve actually seen the change in how police are investigating their own. They’re not tolerating bad behaviour any more. We’ve got coppers out there on the front line actually stepping up and saying, ‘I’m not going to tolerate your behaviour’, and actually are speaking out. That’s huge.”

She said in recent years, she had dealt with a number of women who had been alleged victims of rape by police staff.

Many of those women got the justice they wanted, with their offenders being convicted and jailed, Mrs Nicholas said.

The inquiry investigated quite a few allegations.

The inquiry reviewed 313 complaints of sexual assaults against 222 police officers between 1979 and 2005.

Charges were laid in relation to 141 of those complaints.

As a result, 10 police officers or former officers were convicted of sexual assault, 20 accused were cleared and two officers took their own lives before their cases could be heard.

This shook things up in the Police force, as it should have.

Mike Bush, the third Police Commissioner since 2007, said the inquiry acted as a catalyst for reform.

“We’re now a very, very victim-focused organisation. We’re focused on being very high performing and we have excellent values that sit as the foundation of the New Zealand Police.”

He said the public could have confidence that complaints would be dealt with appropriately.

“If there are any complaints made, in regards to sexual complaints, whether it’s involving our staff or others, we act with absolute urgency, absolute transparency and absolute professionalism with the victim at the heart of everything we do.”

Making complaints of sexual assault is still not easy, but at least now the Police will take them seriously and deal with them much more appropriately.

Independent Police Conduct Authority chair Judge Sir David Carruthers said in a statement that it appeared the police had taken the recommendations very seriously.

“There is no doubt the genuine efforts that have been made to achieve the progress which has been reported.”

Dame Margaret says that since here inquiry there has been a huge cultural change in the Police Force.

“The Commissioner wasn’t always aware of what was happening out in the regions and there had been a culture of tending not to deal with things. But that has all changed.”

“There’s the observing public that take note of this.. and if they were aware of this sort of thing now.. they would be blowing the whistle very smartly I believe.

“I don’t think communities would tolerate that sort of behaviour today.”

There is much less open community tolerance of sexual crime now, and there needs to be zero tolerance of sexual offending by police officers, and zero tolerance of inappropriate handling of sexual assault complaints.

Panama papers: NZ to examine tax laws

It hasn’t taken long for John key to switch to damage control over the Panama papers. he has announced that the Government will get an international tax expert to ‘independently examine New Zealand’s tax laws in the wake of the Panama Papers revelations’.

Newshub – Key: Independent look at NZ tax law after Panama

The Government is hiring an international tax expert to independently examine New Zealand’s tax laws in the wake of the Panama Papers revelations

Prime Minister John Key told Paul Henry he’s taking a paper to Cabinet this morning proposing the appointment. Mr Key says changes may be necessary.

“We’re ranked in the top 20 in the world for disclosure,” he says.

“Trust firms have to know the source of their revenue and they have to keep good records as they are regularly audited.

“If there can be improvements, we’ll make improvements and we’ll get this independent voice to look.”

This is after Key defending New Zealand’s trus and tax laws last week in parliament – see “New Zealand is not a tax haven”.

Key doesn’t agree with Winston Peters’ call for a Commission of Inquiry (that Labour supports) – Labour supports Panama Papers inquiry

Winston Peters wants a full scale investigation into whether the country’s being used as a tax haven and Labour’s Andrew Little agrees.

“It’s an issue about us being set up in a way that prevents other countries from collecting their fair amount of tax, and we shouldn’t be party to that. It ought to be inquired into,” he says.

A Commission of Inquiry does seem premature with only vague New Zealand connections to the Panama papers so far and it being likely to take months to examine the Panama papers.

Time will tell whether the international tax expert move will be enough damage control – an expert will be open to questioning about their credentials.

In the meantime the opposition attacks on key continue.

The Standard: Key changed the law to turn NZ into a tax haven

The definition is pretty simple: “A tax haven is a state, country, or territory where, on a national level, certain taxes are levied at a very low rate or not at all.”

New Zealand is a tax haven. We became a tax haven in 2011 as a result of a law change directly instituted by John Key. Chapman Tripp – “New Zealand’s leading full service law firm” – helpfully explains:

A publication dated 10 october 2011:

New Zealand now an attractive tax location for offshore managed funds

Foreign investors in a New Zealand fund with only foreign investments will now bear no New Zealand tax on their income, whether or not the fund distributes that income. The tax change, which came into force in September 2011, should make New Zealand managed funds an attractive alternative to funds resident in Luxembourg, Ireland or the Caymans.

Robins at The Standard:

The proposal to change to 0% tax was the direct instruction of John Key

The change to 0% tax went ahead (here’s the IRD’s page on Foreign investment PIEs), at which point NZ became a tax haven. End of story.

He also links to “the secrecy aspects of havens” – see the earlier post by Deborah Russell.

Expect Key to try to damp down any potential damage, while the Opposition will no doubt see this as their next big thing to beat National over the head with.

It’s far too soon to know how this will play out.