Mental Health and Addiction report repeats well known problems

The Mental Health and Addiction report details well known problems with mental health and drug issues, and makes 40 recommendations. Will the Government actually do something major to address the issues?  Or will we just have another inquiry in a few years time, as people keep suffering and dying?

Beehive: Mental Health and Addiction report charts new direction

Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink how we handle some of the biggest challenges we face as a country.

The Government has today publicly released the report of the Inquiry in full, less than a week after receiving it.

“Mental health and addiction are issues for all New Zealanders. Every community and just about every family has someone in it that has lived with a mental health or addiction challenge.

“The Inquiry heard many stories of people who did not get the help they needed and deserved. We must listen to these voices of people with lived experience.

“The report charts a new direction for mental health and addiction in New Zealand, one that puts people at the centre of our approach.

“It is clear we need to do more to support people as they deal with these issues – and do a lot more to intervene earlier and support wellbeing in our communities.

“The Inquiry panel has delivered a set of strong and coherent recommendations covering everything from the social determinants of health and wellbeing, to expanding access to treatment services and taking strong action on alcohol and drugs.

“We are working our way carefully through the 40 recommendations and will formally respond in March. I want to be upfront with the public, however, that many of the issues we’re facing, such as workforce shortages, will take years to fix.

“Reshaping our approach to mental health and addiction is no small task and will take some time. But I’m confident this report points us in the right direction, and today marks the start of real change for the better,” David Clark says.

Clark and Labour said urgent action was required – last year. Now he says “Reshaping our approach…will take some time”.

ODT:  Mental health shake-up urged

Mental health and addiction services are unbalanced, under-resourced, unfocused and require a major shakeup to make them patient-centric, the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction says.

A 219-page report released yesterday made 40 recommendations in a broad assessment of health issues which affect an estimated 20% of New Zealanders each year, and 50%-80% of people at least once in their lifetime.

”We think New Zealand’s future mental health and addiction system should build on the foundations in place, but should look and be very different,” the report said.

”At its heart should be a vision of mental health and wellbeing for all … hospital and inpatient units will not be the centre of the system.

”Instead, the community will be central, with a full raft of intervention and respite options designed to intervene early, keep people safe and avoid inpatient treatment where possible.”

Some recommendations are controversial, such as setting a targets for reduction in suicides – a 20% drop by 2030 – and to measure the effectiveness of mental health and addiction services.

New Zealand’s approach to drugs needed to change, the report said.

”While New Zealand was the first country to introduce a state-sponsored needle exchange programme, we seem to have lost our spirit and failed to put people’s health at the centre of our approach.”

It was similarly forceful on the place of alcohol in society.

”We do not believe one in five New Zealanders drinking hazardously each year is a small minority,” it said.

”We also know that alcohol’s reach across society is far greater than simply the sum of its impacts on individual drinkers; families, friends and communities are all touched through one person’s drinking ”

Key recommendations

• Repeal and replace the Mental Health Act.
• Review laws and regulations concerning drug possession and sale of alcohol.
• Set a target of a 20% reduction in suicide rates by 2030.
• Establish a suicide prevention office.
• Establish a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.
• Significantly increase access to mental health and addiction services.
• Make improving mental health a specific focus of the primary healthcare system.
• Strengthen the consumer voice in developing mental health and addiction programmes.
• Make families more involved in treatment.
• Improve training and retention of mental health and addiction workers.

 

 

Mental Health Inquiry report being released today

RNZ:  Govt to release Mental Health Inquiry report today

The panel, led by the former health watchdog Ron Paterson, has spent roughly 10 months consulting people around the country, holding more than 400 meetings and considering about 5000 submissions.

It delivered a 200 page report and 40 recommendations to the Health Minister David Clark last week.

The government will release the report today, but will not formally respond with its plan until March.

Dr Clark has said the inquiry will shape the country’s response to mental health for years to come.

There is pressure on the Government to act quickly with claims that current mental health care is in crisis.

Like:  Teens face up to three month wait for mental health services

Teens needing non-urgent mental health services in the top of the south currently face a wait of up to three months before they are seen.

There had been five resignations in CAMHS team across the district in the past six months and there were three vacancies.

Working in mental health care is very demanding.

The Inquiry website:  Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction

Our purpose was to identify unmet needs and develop recommendations for a better mental health and addiction system for Aotearoa New Zealand.

We wanted to set a clear direction for the next five to ten years that Government, the mental health and addiction sectors and the whole community can pick up and make happen.

On 28 November 2018, we presented He Ara Oranga : report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction to the Government.

The Government has indicated it needs time to consider the report’s findings, but expects to release the report prior to the end of the year.

Once the report has been released it will be available on this website in various formats.

That should be today.

 

Scholtens inquiry clears Haumaha appointment process, other issues remain

Oddly after Tracey Martin seemed to be maaking the decisions over the release of the Scholtens inquiry into the appointment of Wally Haumaha, the only official statement has been made by State Services Minister Chris Hipkins.

The Inquiry into the process that led to the appointment of a Deputy Commissioner of Police has found that the process was sound, State Services Minister Chris Hipkins says.

The Government asked independent reviewer Mary Scholtens QC to report on the adequacy of the process that led to the appointment of Wally Haumaha.

Mary Scholtens’ report was released today.

The Inquiry’s purpose was to examine, identify, and report on the adequacy of the process that led to the appointment.

It found the process was sound and no available relevant information was omitted.

However it did make some recommendations on how the appointment process could be improved in the future.

“I want to thank Mary Scholtens for her work and thank everyone who participated in the inquiry,” Chris Hipkins said.

The inquiry found that information that later emerged about Haumaha was not available at the time of the appointment. Some of this is being covered by an ongoing IPCA inquiry.

Media are following up on the report release.

Stacey Kirk (Stuff): Haumaha and politics of perception

On the political stage, perception is the backdrop curtain that hangs over everything.

The “nothing to see here” report on the appointment of Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha makes for interesting reading – it’s not the typical whitewash.

Inquiry head Mary Scholtens, QC, found the process to appoint Haumaha was “sound”.

Her investigation into Louise Nicholas’ concerns over Haumaha and statements he made to Operation Austin suggest he appeared to have her support – at least in the absence of outright opposition.

The public perception that’s likely to form, after an advocate of Nicholas’ standing publicly spoke out against him is probably enough to empower a number of recipients of negative actions to come forward and lay their own complaints of negative treatment, and it did.

Government coalition party NZ First, with MPs who historically had close ties to Haumaha, adds further fuel to fire of public perception.

In fairness to Haumaha, he has had, at least outwardly, an exemplary career. On paper, he should be a prime candidate for the role. The allegations for which he has had little avenue to answer to, are found to be unsubstantiated in this report – but public perceptions about him will remain.

Haumaha report to be released on Monday

There seems to have been a lot of fluffing around since Tracey Martin received the report over a week ago, following the inquiry into the appointment of Police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha. Yesterday Martin announced that the report would be released on Monday at 11 am.

On Newshub Nation  on Saturday morning:

All right, final question with your third hat on – Internal Affairs Minister. You’re in charge of the inquiry into Wally Haumaha’s appointment to Deputy Police Commissioner. You have that report right now, so when are you going to release it?

Monday at 11am.

Why have you not released it before the police commissioner went to the select committee?

Because, first of all, I didn’t even know the police commissioner was going to the select committee. Because I needed to make sure that Crown Law had gone through and redacted all the names and so on and so forth of Woman A, Woman B and Woman C, to protect their privacy. And so that is what I did. I wanted to make sure that that had happened and then to set in the process by which to release it publicly.

So they took a week to redact names from the report, and then deferred release of the report until after the weekend – they would have been slammed if they released the report on Friday afternoon, so I guess Monday is as good a time as any.

Jacinda Ardern will have had plenty of time to prepare for her response, either following the release of the report or at her weekly media conference on Monday at 4 pm.


One could wonder if this had any connection: NZ First party president denies laying down the law in Nelson

NZ First’s president called a sudden party meeting on Saturday to deal with “concerning issues” that were said to involve a rift.

New president Lester Gray flew into Nelson with the party’s judicial officer, lawyer Brian Henry. One source said he was demanding members toe the party line, or face expulsion.

The short-notice invitation from Gray said “this week I have been notified of some potentially concerning issues for the NZ First Party. We have therefore called a special meeting in Nelson for Saturday.”

However, Gray said it was a standard electorate meeting, with the agenda closed to members.

Members across parts of the South Island received an email late on Friday morning, calling them to the meeting the following day.

Martin received the report that Friday. I don’t know whether the ‘special meeting’ had anything to do with the report or not

Oddly, Martin didn’t hand on a copy of the report to the Prime Minister until the following Monday.

Question No. 12—Internal Affairs

12. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Which Ministers, if any, have been provided with a copy or executive summary of the final report of the Government Inquiry into the Appointment Process for a Deputy Commissioner of Police, and when were those Ministers provided with those copies or summaries?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Minister of Internal Affairs): My office delivered a copy to the office of the Prime Minister yesterday.

Chris Bishop: Will she be discussing the report and the next steps the Government will be taking with the State Services Commissioner and/or the Solicitor-General?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: My office is currently taking legal advice around the process to hand over to the Minister of State Services and the process with which to do pre-releases to those who need to see the report—e.g., those who participated in it—and then when that report will be released. We are trying to release the report as quickly as possible.

Surely this could (should) have all been worked out prior to the report being handed over.

On Wednesday:

Question No. 10—Internal Affairs

10. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Does the report of the Inquiry into the Appointment Process for a Deputy Commissioner of Police recommend that the appointment process be reopened?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Minister of Internal Affairs): The Government is not going to talk about the findings of the report until it is publicly released. We are following the process recommended by the inquiry, which is to first provide the report to the interested parties.

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: Because it is not in the public interest, we are following the process recommended by the inquiry, which is to first provide the report to the interested parties.

Chris Bishop: Does the report of the inquiry into the appointment process for a Deputy Commissioner of Police make findings or recommendations in relation to the allegations of bullying against Mr Haumaha made by the three public servants who worked with him?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: I refer the member to my answer to the primary question. It is those people exactly who we are trying to make sure are protected.

Martin repeats “The Government is not going to talk about the findings of the report until it is publicly released”. But then…

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister confirm, in light of the report, which she has seen, that the allegations of a cover-up are just plain ridiculous?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: Unfortunately, the scope of the inquiry is not around the terrible allegations put forward by members of this Parliament.

…she responds to a question from Peters regarding the findings of the report. Obviously Peters had seen the report or had been advised of the contents of the report by now.

Peters and NZ First have associations with Haumaha and his appointment, so it seems odd that a NZ First minister is managing the release of the report.

 

 

 

Hauhama report delayed

It was highly questionable that Tracey Martin should have been put in charge of the inquiry into the appointment of Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Hauhama. She  received the inquiry report a week ago, but is not releasing it. She is under increasing pressure from critics, which seems fair enough.

Newsroom:  Release of Haumaha report delayed

The controversy over the investigation into the appointment of Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha continues this week as the release of the findings are delayed.

Haumaha’s appointment to one of the top policing jobs was called into question following revelations he backed police officers accused of raping Louise Nicholas.

Bullying allegations from 2016 then surfaced, and are now subject of an investigation by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA).

The investigation into the process of Haumaha’s appointment had a false start due to a conflict of interest, and was then extended, but has now concluded.

However, the findings are yet to be released.

Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin said she was the only one who had a copy of the report. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was also aware of the findings, she said. And Cabinet met on Monday to discuss the release of the report.

But a wider circle of people involved – including the Police Commissioner – had not seen the report, and would not be briefed until those mentioned in the report had the chance to see it, Martin said.

It had now been almost a week since the Minister received the report, and the opposition is accusing her of cynically delaying the release as Parliament approaches a two-week recess.

This looks increasingly messy.

 

A big day for Simon Bridges

Yesterday was an awful day for Simon Bridges, and for the National Opposition, but I actually think Bridges handled the mess reasonably well, stepping up in difficult circumstances, showing he may have some leadership abilities after all. To me he came across ok at his media conference, speaking better than normal – having to speak off the cuff on important matters, and no lame scripted platitudes nor his normal boilerplate criticism of the government.

There were signs of solid support from other National MPs like Judith Collins and Maggie Barry. I can imagine most if not all National MPs being very pissed off at what Jami-Lee Ross had inflicted on them, their party, and on their prospects in the next election. It was a possible sign of real solidarity rather than feigned fawning.

How Bridges handles today may determine whether he survives as National leader or dives irrecoverably.

The National caucus will meet to consider what to do about Ross over what now looks like his very likely leaking of Bridges’ expenses (the original offence), him almost certainly being the MP who sent messages asking for the inquiry to be called off because of mental health pressures (was that real or was it a desperate attempt to escape exposure), and his very clear deliberate damaging of Bridges and the National party yesterday.

Bridges also referred to other matters:

I also discussed with Jami-Lee other matters concerning his conduct that have come to my attention and suggest, together with the leak, a pattern.

MP Maggie Barry gave more of an indication what this referred to:

What a disloyal disgrace this flawed & isolated individual has become. Having now read the PWC report I personally believe the unpleasant & bullying pattern of behaviour of Jami Lee Ross has no place in an otherwise united National Caucus under our leader Simon Bridges.

I think that Bridges and National caucus have no option but to dump Ross from the caucus, on his behaviour yesterday alone.

How Bridges manages this publicly will show his mettle as a leader. If he is as decisive as he is able to be it may end up enhancing his leadership prospects.

There are limits. Ross cannot be removed as an electorate MP by anyone but himself or the voters at the next election. He could continue to spit the dummy, causing ongoing problems for Bridges, but his credibility is wrecked and if Bridges does ok handling it then he may build his leadership mana.

From what I’ve seen so far I don’t think the stuff yesterday about donations is a big deal. MPs and parties (plural) fiddle their donations, usually within lax rules, and generally the public don’t care much.

Yesterday looked more like an attempted hit job on Bridges. That may not harm him.

Ross also claimed to have a secret recording of Bridges “discussing with me an unlawful activity”. As Judith Collins said, he needs to “put up, or to shut up”. It also raises the question of whether making a secret recording is an unlawful activity itself. It is certainly political career ending action or threat.

Bridges has a chance of coming out of this ok, of actually looking like a leader. There will be difficulties and repercussions for National, but that’s what leaders have to deal with. If Bridges does it well his job may be more secure.

On the other hand if he fluffs it he will be toast.

So it’s a crucial day for Bridges and his leadership, and also for the National Party.

There’s an old saying in politics that goes something like ‘it’s not the original issue that causes the damage, it’s how it is handled’. The same could apply here.

I think voters know leaders will find themselves in difficult situations dealing with difficult people. That’s politics. The key here will be whether Bridges steps up as a leader to sort things out or not.

There were glimpses yesterday that this  could be the un-wimping of Bridges.

Mallard and Parliamentary Services cleared of Bridges leaked

A lack of evidence connecting Trevor Mallard or Parliamentary Services to the leak of Simon Bridges’ expenses makes more of a mountain out of what looks increasingly like a mole in the National Party.

RNZ:  Bridges’ expenses inquiry narrows down possible leakers

Mr Mallard initially called a Parliamentary inquiry into the leak but that was overtaken by political events.

His inquiry ended in August after RNZ revealed the person claiming to be both the leaker and a National MP contacted Mr Bridges and Mr Mallard pleading for it to be stopped for the sake of their mental health.

Subsequently, a National Party inquiry was launched – the findings are expected in the next week.

Mr Mallard arranged a forensic investigation of emails and relevant databases connected to his office and those staff involved in the preparation of the expenses – about 20 staff in total.

KPMG, who carried it out, has concluded there is no evidence that Mr Mallard or any Parliamentary Service finance staff were responsible for the leak.

“On the basis of this independent review there is no evidence that staff in the office of the Speaker, Mr Speaker or Parliamentary Service finance and corporate staff released details of this quarterly expense disclosure report to any unauthorised parties,” the report said.

This doesn’t surprise me – why on earth would Mallard or anyone in Parliamentary Services leak expenses information that was due to be officially released a few days later? It defies logic.

With those possibilities ruled out that leaves National MPs and their staff or someone in the National Party.

Mr Bridges has repeatedly insisted none of his MPs were responsible but now that Mr Mallard has all but cleared his own name, his office staff and the Parliamentary Service staff involved in the preparation of the expenses, the finger of blame is pointing to the National Party.

The National Party’s own investigation is being led by PWC and Simpson Grierson.

It will consider both the original leak to Newshub and the subsequent text sent by someone citing mental health issues.

PWC will conduct the forensic work and lawyers at Simpson Grierson will be responsible for filtering what information is and is not passed onto Mr Bridges and his deputy, Paula Bennett.

So this bizarre issue will keep festering away for Bridges for a while yet.

If the leaker is discovered and revealed to be a National MP that will be tricky for Bridges to deal with.

If Bridges decides not to reveal the outcome of the inquiry it will be tricky for Bridges.

It’s hard to see a good outcome for Bridges. He may have created a mountain of a mess from a mole in his party.

Kavanaugh inquiry seems like a political sham

Both Democrats and Republicans have dragged the Supreme Court nomination process down into a debacle, and the rushed and hobbled FBI inquiry has just added to a spectacle that should be an embarrassment to the United States.

It looks like the limited inquiry has just initiated more controversy, which is hardly surprising given how rushed it was.

Fox News: White House receives FBI report on Kavanaugh, ‘fully confident’ he’ll be confirmed

The White House on Thursday announced that it has received the FBI’s supplemental background investigation into President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, and is “fully confident” that he will eventually be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The FBI was tasked by Trump last week to look into allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against Kavanaugh by three women. The investigation commenced after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — the first woman to come forward — testified before the Senate Judiciary last week about her claims against the federal judge.

Raj Shah, the principal deputy press secretary for the White House, said the FBI report is currently “being transmitted to the Senate.”

“With [Senate Majority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell’s cloture filing, Senators have been given ample time to review this seventh background investigation,” Shah said in a statement posted to Twitter.

‘Ample time’ is a joke.

“This is the last addition to the most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history, which includes extensive hearings, multiple committee interviews, over 1,200 questions for the record and over a half million pages of documents.”

Shah said the “White House is fully confident” Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court in the Senate vote.

Fox News: Grassley says new FBI report backs Kavanaugh, urges Senate to send him to high court

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, declared earlier Thursday that nothing in the document changed his mind, and that it was time to vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

“I’ve now received a committee staff briefing on the FBI’s supplement to Judge Kavanaugh’s background investigation file,” Grassley said Thursday. “There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know. These uncorroborated accusations have been unequivocally and repeatedly rejected by Judge Kavanaugh, and neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations.

Republican swing senators on the Brett Kavanaugh nomination indicated Thursday they were satisfied with the FBI’s investigation into sexual assault allegations against the Supreme Court pick, stirring speculation they could back the embattled judge in the end.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has stayed mum on her Kavanaugh stance, said Thursday that the bureau’s supplemental background probe “appears to be a very thorough investigation.”

And Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who originally requested the FBI re-open its investigation into the claims leveled against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford, agreed.

“No new corroborative information came out of it,” Flake said on Capitol Hill Thursday. “Thus far, we’ve see no new credible corroboration—no new corroboration at all.”

But Flake continued to keep the public guessing, returning to view the report again saying he has “more reading” to do. He pulled a surprise last week when he publicly backed Kavanaugh, and then demanded the FBI probe before a final vote.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who also is considered a swing vote, was going to view the document Thursday afternoon. “I’m going to read it myself,” Murkowski said on her way to read the report for the first time. “I’m gonna go in with my eyes to it.”

But Fox News: Ford’s lawyers slam FBI investigation after McConnell signals Kavanaugh vote later this week

Attorneys for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford late Wednesday slammed the FBI background investigation into President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, after it was revealed that the agency’s probe appears to be over.

“An FBI supplemental background investigation that did not include an interview of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford– nor the witnesses who corroborate her testimony– cannot be called an investigation,” the statement read. “We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.”

Sources previously told Fox News that Senators and some aides would be able to start looking at the FBI’s background investigation on Thursday morning and that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and committee member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would be given the first chance to look at the report.

It sounds like conclusions have been reached before most people have had a chance to read the report.

Business Insider: ‘Our fears have been realised’: Democrats slam FBI investigation into Kavanaugh

  • Senate Democrats condemned the FBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, calling it “incomplete.”
  • Democrats have accused the White House of limiting the probe, and they point to the fact that the FBI didn’t interview either Kavanaugh or his most prominent accuser, professor Christine Blasey Ford.

Senate Democrats condemned the FBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, arguing that the probe was limited by the White House and plagued by a lack of transparency.

After being briefed on the report, of which only one hard copy has been made available to senators under time limits and intense security, Democratic leadership called the probe “incomplete” and pushed for Republicans to release a redacted version of it and of the White House’s directive to the FBI instructing the law enforcement agency on how to conduct the investigation.

“We had many fears that this was a very limited process that would constrain the FBI from getting all the facts,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said during a brief press conference on Thursday morning. “Having received a thorough briefing on the documents, those fears have been realised.”

Schumer said that he disagrees with Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley’s description of the report as containing “no hint of misconduct.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called the report “a product of an incomplete investigation” and accused the White House of blocking the FBI from “doing its job.”

“The most notable part of this report is what’s not in it,” she said during the press conference.

Democratic lawmakers were given one hour on Thursday morning to view the report in a secure room in the Senate.

A rushed inquiry and rushed reading are very poor ways of dealing with such an important nomination.

Fox News: GOP senator said he urged Trump to pick someone other than Kavanaugh

During a passionate speech to his Senate colleagues, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse told lawmakers he “urged” President Trump earlier this summer to consider choosing another Supreme Court nominee after discovering Judge Brett Kavanaugh was his top pick.

Speaking about the #MeToo movement and the rancorous debate over Kavanaugh’s confirmation and the sexual assault allegations against him, Sasse said on the Senate floor Wednesday he asked Trump to “make a different choice” for the nation’s highest court as early as June. He also sharply rebuked the president for mocking Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — the woman who accused the federal judge of sexual misconduct more than 30 years ago.

Sasse, from Nebraska, didn’t reveal who he asked Trump to nominate but did hint it was a woman. Amy Coney Barrett and Joan Larsen were considered on the short list for Trump’s consideration.

“Part of my argument then was that the very important #MeToo movement was also very new and this Senate is not at all well prepared to handle potential allegations of sexual harassment and assault that might have come forward,” Sasse said, adding his warning “was absent of knowing a particular nominee.”

The inquiry may may now lead the way to a vote for the appointment of Kavanaugh, but it is unlikely to calm the controversy down.

There have been a number of reports like this from the New Yorker: The F.B.I. Probe Ignored Testimonies from Former Classmates of Kavanaugh

Frustrated potential witnesses who have been unable to speak with the F.B.I. agents conducting the investigation into sexual-assault allegations against Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, have been resorting to sending statements, unsolicited, to the Bureau and to senators, in hopes that they would be seen before the inquiry concluded.

NBC News reported that dozens of people who said that they had information about Kavanaugh had contacted F.B.I. field offices, but agents had not been permitted to talk to many of them. Several people interested in speaking to the F.B.I. expressed exasperation in interviews with The New Yorker at what they perceived to be a lack of interest in their accounts.

The FBI did not interview either Kavanaugh himself, nor Christine Blasey Ford.

I’ve just heard a very slanted speech by Mitch McConnell who lauded Kavanaugh and slammed accusers. He said that the FBI couldn’t find any corroborating witnesses, but there have been a number of claims from people that they were ignored by the FBI.

This nomination is a mess that reflects very poorly on politics and justice in the US.

One thing seems sure – this will do nothing to calm the controversy down.

 

National target Government over committee can kicking

The National opposition has increased criticism on the Government over the many working groups, reviews, inquiries and committees they have set up. Labour has tried to play down the assistance they have sought.

The big news from Jacinda Ardern’s business confidence speech yesterday was the announcement of the setting up of a ‘business advisory council’. A chairman only has been announced so far.

This was a day after National launched this Twitter campaign:

Simon Bridges reacted to the Business Advisory Council announcement:

This means a third of the economic announcements so far from this Govt are working groups.

That brings the total number of working groups set up by this Govt on business issues to 10 & counting. This gives businesses no certainty.

I think the PM needs a new rubber stamp. The “set up a committee” one is wearing out.

The Government have a problem reacting to this, as the results of the many committees will not be known for months or years.

The Opposition campaign has been running for months.

The bill for the Government’s constant outsourcing of its job to 152 working groups and reviews has reached $170 million so far, with a third still to be costed, National Leader Simon Bridges says.

What’s worse is the Government doesn’t know the cost of over a third of the 152 working groups and reviews announced to date.

“This is a Government caught badly unprepared and New Zealanders are now paying an exorbitant price. And now we know Ministers are ordering reviews and setting up groups without even knowing what they will cost, while the reviews are coming back with recommendations for more reviews.

The Government has sometimes responded.

I saw Ardern disputing National’s numbers last week but can’t find coverage of that.

Every Government sets up external groups too help them research and set policies and to investigate issues of concern. When National took over Government in 2008 they used a lot of committees etc.

But it does seem that there have been a lot announced since the Labour led Government took over last year, and national will no doubt keep highlighting any new ones.

The Government will have to get some tangible outcomes, but that may be some time off yet.

One of their major reviews is on the tax system, but whatever that recommends Labour has committed to make no tax changes this term.

The Government is at risk of being seen as synonymous with committee can kicking down the road. Until they start getting tangible outcomes from all these advisory groups and reviews the Opposition are likely to keep hammering away.

Bridges keeps pushing on leak, challenges Speaker and PM

Simon Bridges seems determined to keep the leak of his expenses issue alive.

NZH: Simon Bridges says if leaking issue is not resolved, Trevor Mallard is to blame

National Party leader Simon Bridges has lashed out at Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard for cancelling an inquiry into the travel-expenses leak 24 hours after confirming it was going ahead, and suggested he had been influenced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

He said if Mallard or Ardern had any new information, they had a duty to share it with National.

If the issue remained unresolved, National blamed Mallard, Bridges said.

This is upping the ante somewhat. That’s a serious accusation aimed both at Mallard and Ardern. It pretty much guarantees that the Speaker will not be able to walk away from the inquiry and wash his hands of the issue.

On Thursday last week Mallard named Michael Heron QC to conduct the inquiry into the leak.

On Friday afternoon Mallard cancelled the inquiry – more than a week after the alleged leaker sent a text pleading not to hold the inquiry.

That did seem to be an odd sudden reversal of Mallard’s position.

“Nothing had changed fundamentally on the Friday other than that the Prime Minister said it was an internal matter for the National Party,” Bridges said.

“Surprise, surprise, Trevor Mallard then changed his position.

“I know of nothing that gives any good reason for his change unless the Prime Minister or he knows something we don’t and if they do, they should be sharing it with the National Party,” he said.

“I believe he is obliged as Parliament’s Speaker, not a partisan one, to tell us what he knows unless there is an exceptional reason not to.”

This should force Mallard too do something in response.

Mallard appointed Heron to conduct the inquiry, despite having received the text the previous week.

The existence of that text was not revealed until last Friday – and later that day Mallard issued a statement cancelling the inquiry.

The statement said: “The text is from someone who is clearly very disturbed and today’s publicity will almost certainly make that worse.”

Mallard said the person who sent the text was the leaker. “He or she has details of events that it is unlikely anyone outside the National Party would be privy to.”

So a day after appointing a QC to conduct the inquiry Mallard has reversed his decision based on his judgement that it would be “unlikely anyone outside the National Party” would be involved. That seems quite unusual.

Speaking on Friday, Ardern said the inquiry should be stopped if it was proven the individual had mental health issues, and it was an internal matter for National.

“I would want to deal with that internally but that is a matter for the leader of the National Party.”

“If indeed this is an issue that’s come out of the caucus, and if there are indeed mental health issues, it would strike me it needs to be dealt with really sensitively. It is perhaps best dealt with internally than externally.”

This was also an unusual involvement of Ardern, saying much the same thing that Mallard had said in justifying scrapping the inquiry.

It does seem odd that Ardern and Mallard are saying much the same thing. The Speaker is supposed to act independent of any party.

It seems to be high risk for Bridges to escalate this issue into a likely confrontation with the Speaker, given that whatever the outcome this is an awkward issue for him and National.

Does he have information that he hasn’t disclosed that justifies his challenge of both Mallard and Ardern? He has as good as accused them of collusion in scrapping the inquiry.

This is all becoming increasingly messy, and seems to be far from over.


Bridges is just now being interviewed on RNZ.