Another theory on Winston’s ambitions

Theories about the ambitions of Winston Peters are a staple of New Zealand political discourse. Matthew Hooton added his own in his NBR column.

Mr Peters knows that if he can get his party up another five points at the expense of Labour, Mr Little – a list MP – will not even be in parliament. The result might be something like 23% for Labour, 17% for NZ First and 12% for the Greens.

The crisis in the Labour Party would be readymade for Mr Peters to step in, declare that he will be prime minister, Ms Ardern his deputy, Mr Robertson finance minister, Mr Jones foreign minister, Phil Twyford transport and housing minister, and James Shaw climate change minister.

Ms Ardern would then become prime minister after 18 months and Mr Peters would retire, to be replaced as NZ First leader by Mr Jones, Ron Mark or Tracey Martin. Like his namesake Sir Winston Churchill in 1952, Mr Peters would see himself as mentoring his young queen as she grew into the role.

Under the circumstances towards which Mr Little appears to be leading them, why on earth wouldn’t Ms Ardern and her colleagues go for it?

It’s hard to know whether Hooton is being serious or mischievous.

My prediction – someone will be right about NZ First’s result in the election, and someone will be right about the eventual coalition arrangement. And given the variety of predictions, most people will be wrong.

Ardern’s Congress speech

Jacinda Ardern has given the key Saturday speech at Labour’s election year Congress, and has announced new policy on mental health.

Labour on Facebook:

And today, Jacinda Ardern has announced that we’ll deliver comprehensive health services to every state secondary school. These services have been shown to reduce the risk of suicide by two thirds.

We’ll make mental health an absolute priority.

It’s great to put more priority on dealing with mental health issues – in the shorter term this may put more pressure ion the Government to take more action.

But I question this claim: “These services have been shown to reduce the risk of suicide by two thirds”.  There’s no way of knowing in advance what degree of success it might have.

Ardern’s speech:

A curious personal intro to her speech by Ardern, trying to appeal to a social media audience.

Stuff reports: Labour promises a nurse in every secondary school

An emotional Jacinda Ardern has spoken about her grief at losing a childhood friend to suicide.

Speaking to Labour’s election year congress, Ardern put youth mental health on the political agenda, with a promise to place a nurse into every public secondary school.  Schools will also get the support of a GP.

“Evidence around existing services shows where students had more time with on-site professionals there was significantly less depression and suicide risk. Depression and suicide risk were up to two thirds lower in schools with comprehensive health services. Early intervention works.”

Ardern revealed that as a 13-year-old in Morrinsville, her best friend’s brother took his own life.

“I had just started high school and was waiting for class to start when I heard the news, I can remember exactly where I was standing, just outside the science block.

“I went straight to my friend’s home and spent the next few days with her as her and her family went through the unimaginable grief of losing their only boy, grief that was felt by everyone that knew him, and was captured in the handwritten notes and messages from his classmates that hung around the walls at his funeral. Every single thing about it seemed unfair and still does to this day.”

Ardern said school based health services were introduced by Labour in 2008  but were currently only funded directly for nurses in decile 1-3 public secondary schools, teen parent units and alternative education facilities.”

Under Saturday’s announcement, the average secondary school would have a full time nurse and also the support of a GP.

The cost would be around $40 million a year, funded out of Labour’s commitment to reverse National’s $1.7 billion of health cuts.

That doesn’t sound a lot in the whole scheme of things. The question to ask is whether it’s the most effective way to deal with a big problem.

Personal experiences can be a powerful driver of change that matters.

Full text: Jacinda Ardern: Labour Congress Speech

Ardern at the Press Club

Jacinda Ardern spoke at the Wintec Press Club yesterday. Time Murphy (@tmurphyNZ) tweeted as it went.

Jacinda Ardern addressing the after-lunch Wintec Press Club – reading (!) about 10 typed pages of anecdotes/observations. A surprise.

To a question on Peters: ‘Is he a racist?’ Long pause. ‘I think Winston knows what he’s doing.’

On Peters: “If the electorate delivers a result meaning would we negotiate with him? ‘Yes'”
Audience member: ‘Could you not?’

On outpolling Little: ‘Andrew tends to focus on the party vote’. Because of my unusual name ‘I tend to pop up a little’.

That’s an odd claim. I haven’t heard anyone attribute the publicity she gets to her ‘unusual name’.

Question to Ardern:’Does Little tend to dull your shine?’
‘No. Part of my job is standing alongside Andrew helping people get to know him’.

I don’t know how her presence helps people to get to know Little, unless she attracts people to meetings who wouldn’t go just to ‘get to know’ Little.

Ardern: ‘Trevor Mallard is much more sensitive than you know. He feels things deeply. And I’ve learned – you just don’t let em see you cry.’

Fairfax’s Tony Wall: Do you sometimes feel like you’re a winner in a loser party?
Ardern: long answer on left parties overseas

On being a professional politician – and her view on outsiders like Trump: ‘What – so you elect a professional arsehole, instead?’

On being labelled a ‘Show Pony’?’
‘If you rally against that too hard you’re treated as humourless. So I’ve chosen not to react’

Ardern’s grilling continues, from young journo: ‘You have a man above you that you’ve refused to roll? What does that say about you?’

MC Braunias: ‘We have time for a couple more questions’
Ardern: ‘Do we have to?’

Stunning raw politics at Wintec Press Club – pack questioning after a severe introductory roast: Ardern did better as it went on.

Final Q on Winston answer
Ardern: ‘I’ll tell you why I paused – I truly do have to ask is he genuinely racist. I don’t know him well enough’

Peters is one of, if not the, best known politician in New Zealand, so it’s odd for Ardern to claim she doesn’t know him well enough.

She joined the Labour Party at a young age, and became a senior figure in the Young Labour Party. After graduating from Waikato University, she spent time working in the offices of Phil Goff and of Helen Clark as a researcher.

After a high placement on Labour’s party list for the 2008 election (her ranking at number 20 virtually guaranteed a seat in Parliament) Ardern returned from London to campaign full-time. She also became the Party’s candidate for the Waikato electorate. Ardern was unsuccessful in the electorate vote, but was elected as a List MP.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacinda_Ardern

She is now 36 and has been involved in politics most of her late teen and adult life. This is her ninth year in Parliament. She must have at least observed Peters a bit by now. It’s hard not to notice him in Parliament.

If Labour want to negotiate a coalition deal Ardern might need the start getting to know Peters better.


It’s interesting that the Wintec Press Club invited Ardern to speak. Some of the media seem to like giving her attention, more so than for Andrew Little.

Immigrant to Little, Ardern…

An immigrant who owns a restaurant in Auckland and knows both Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern has a public message for them via The Spinoff: Andrew Little is a regular at my restaurant. Here’s what I’d like to say to him about immigration

Israeli-born Yael Shochat is the owner of much-loved Fort St institution Ima Cuisine. She writes about the essential role immigration plays in her restaurant – and why the Labour leader’s vow to slash immigrant numbers by ‘tens of thousands’ has her deeply worried.

To Mr Andrew Little, and to dear Jacinda, whom I consider a friend: you’ve been to my restaurant, Ima Cuisine, many times. You’ve shared my company and enjoyed my most beloved dishes – immigrant food from all over the Jewish diaspora, and Palestinian food, the indigenous cuisine of my country. What are we going to say to each other next time you come in? Are you going to give “compliments to the chefs”, half of whom are not welcome here under your immigration policy? Am I welcome here? I certainly don’t feel welcome now that you’ve promised to cut “tens of thousands” of immigrants.

Your immigration policy (and the policy of the Greens and the National party) is based on racist tropes and stereotypes. Anti immigration sentiment is built on myths that don’t add up. We migrants are “lazy”, sucking up resources and putting a strain on the welfare system, and at the same time we work too hard – we are “stealing” jobs from “ordinary New Zealanders”.

This is false. Immigrants are largely young (considering we have an aging population this can’t be a bad thing), fit, and keen to work to better their lives. They are good people, they are healthy and they are paying tax. They are not a drain on society, they are holding it up! The jobs they are “stealing” are usually the ones Kiwis don’t want – low-paying and physically demanding. This unfortunately makes migrants more easily exploited by employers; that was certainly the case for some of my staff before they came to me.

She explains what she thinks Little’s suggested slashing of immigration will do.

Right now I, my friends and peers in the restaurant industry are all crying out for kitchen and wait staff. Stopping immigration – while refusing to actually address the underlying causes of problems in the job and housing market – will mean I won’t be able to hire anyone. I won’t be able to cook for you anymore. Many other industries will also suffer.

Stopping immigration won’t solve our problems but it will create more. Stopping immigration will divide our country and make it less safe.

Policies such as yours are dog whistles, mostly inaudible messages of demonisation and othering used for political gain.

If today it is the case that even the left can be covertly racist, we are emboldening more overtly racist individuals, leaving them more space to spread their hatred and their violence.

I understand that you are desperate for more votes this election, and sure, blaming immigrants for the ills of society is an easy way of getting them. So shift the blame on us as many have done before you. I just hope you’re ready to face the consequences.

I hope Team Little-Ardern do what they can to avoid the consequences by rethinking their stance on immigration and coming out with some actual policy that doesn’t harm those who have already come here and added value to New Zealand.

And more than Little and Ardern – immigration without discrimination and ostracisation is necessary for New Zealand to thrive as a compassionate and thriving multi-cultural country.

Is ‘forced marriage’ bill necessary?

A Members Bill  “aims to crack down on forced marriages”, but how much of a problem is it trying to fix?

It is said to target ethnic groups such as Indians and Pacific Islanders but traditionally in New Zealand pressure to marry has come from Christians of European ethnicities.

National MP Jo Hayes had her Marriage (Court Consent to Marriage of Minors) Amendment Bill  bill drawn from the ballot last week.

This bill proposes that 16 and 17 year olds who wish to marry must apply to the court, and sets out how the court is to consider the application.

Getting courts involved in consent to get married looks like an unnecessary interference by the state unless it is addressing a real problem.

NZH: Marriage Amendment Bill in first reading to prevent forced underage marriages

National List MP Jo Hayes believes forced marriages between teenagers are “slowly creeping into New Zealand society” and that the problem exists primarily in Pacific and Asian communities, where parents can pressure a young girl into marrying an older man for financial security.

She said some young girls were treated like slaves once coerced into wedlock.

Hayes said the bill would sort out which marriages were between consenting teenagers and which were forced.

At present, the legal age to wed is 18, but 16 and 17 year olds can marry with their parents’ consent.

Is it actually a problem? And if so would court consent fix the problem? And if it’s a problem why have it for a limited age range?

“I think [the teenagers] do it for their parents sake. I think it’s hell on earth for some of them.”

Marriages and relationships entered into voluntarily are as likely to to turn bad, and probably do in far greater numbers.

The numbers of young people getting married has dropped significantly over the last half century.

Teenage marriages were more common in the 1970s. In 1971, a total of 285 boys and 2304 girls aged 16 and 17 were wed.

In the most recent data, for 2015, 12 boys and 36 girls were married aged 16 or 17. That was a slight increase on the previous year when 33 girls and 9 boys were wed.

I wonder what data, if any, Hayes has on the ethnicities involved in forced marriages.

Labour’s spokesman for Pacific Island Affairs, Su’a William Sio, said he had not heard of forced marriages happening in Pasifika communities.

“I’m not sure what she’s aiming at. Certainly in the Pacific community, look this is the 21st Century. That just doesn’t happen.”

Indian community leader Jeet Suchdev said forced marriages were not a problem he had observed.

He said he did not personally feel teenagers were mature enough to marry and believed most Indian parents in New Zealand would agree.

“Our tradition is to try and get a good education, after [that] they want to get married.”

There could be exceptions in any ethnic group.

Forced or pressured marriages were more common when giving birth ‘out of wedlock’ was frowned on by New Zealand society – and this was mostly a religious (Christian) pressure.

Anecdotally ‘shotgun marriages’ were common, with angry parents rushing their children to the alter to try to avoid family embarrassment.

A worse problem has been brought up again recently, where pregnant girls were hidden away (sent ‘up north’ for a few months) to give birth. And often forced to give their babies up for adoption. See Harrowing tales of ‘forced adoption’ amid call for inquiry.

That doesn’t happen any more, or at least I hope not. More liberal attitudes to de facto arrangements, sole parenting, contraception and abortion has changed things markedly.

I remember in the early seventies a girl sitting school certificate at school while pregnant – her family supported her being open about being pregnant, which was very unusual then.

In the late seventies I sort of pretended to be married when I moved town, it just seemed easier at the time to appear to conform. Now few care whether couples are legally married or not.

It seems like Labour may support the Hayes bill. Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern said…

…Labour would support any way to combat forced marriage. But sometimes marriages occurred outside the law.

“The marriage doesn’t have legal standing but it has religious standing. It’s the same consequences for these young women.

“You can put laws in place, but if people aren’t going to conduct ceremonies within the law then it become a blunt instrument.”

That seems to be sort of a yes, but acknowledges it doesn’t prevent non-legal forced marriages.

The Green Party have not yet decided their position as the bill is yet to go to their caucus.

If Labour supports the bill (and National block votes for it) then it doesn’t really matter whether any other parties back it or not as there would be plenty of votes.

Ardern said the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill, which is before the select committee, has proposed a new offence for the coercion of marriage with a sentence to imprisonment for up to five years. This would cover marriages not governed by New Zealand law or those not legally binding.

“We’re very supportive of taking action.

So there is already a bill that tries to address any forced marriage problems. So why would we need another bill?

“People are surprised to hear forced marriage is an issue in New Zealand, but it absolutely is.”

But how much of a problem? And how can it best be addressed?

I’m very much against forced marriages of any type, but I’m not sure that requiring court consent for young people to marry is going to solve much if anything.

Young people could still be pressured into convincing the court that they are happy about getting married.

Or families could just wait until the person or people getting married are both 18 or older.

So I wonder how big a problem the Hayes bill is trying to address (the numbers suggest quite to very small), and how effective it would be.

I really question whether the ‘Court Consent to Marriage of Minors’ bill is one that has sufficient merit to add to our statutes.

Labour promises immigration cuts, sort of

Labour say they would definitely cut immigration, but are still working on their policy so can’t say what they actually propose.

NZ Herald: Labour Party promises to cut immigration

Labour is promising to cut immigration in a bid to curb Auckland’s rampant growth and creaking infrastructure.

Labour’s election campaign manager and Te Atatu MP, Phil Twyford, said the party was still working on the policy, which was not about slashing immigration but would probably have a number on it to find a better balance.

He said Labour was still working on the policy and it was too soon to say what cap Labour might put on immigration.

“The current levels of immigration without proper investment in infrastructure is totally irresponsible,” Twyford said.

This seems little more than Government bad, vague suggestions of doing something different, which has pretty much been how Labour has campaigned so far in election year.

Deputy Labour leader and Mt Albert MP Jacinda Ardern said no-one could deny the role immigration has played for New Zealand’s economy and diversity, but it was time for a discussion about whether Auckland could offer the “kiwi life” to new migrants.

“I want people who choose to make Auckland their home to have their best shot to live in an affordable home, move across the city with ease and swim in a healthy environment,” Ardern said.

That’s even more vague. All Ardern has done is tie Labour’s kiwi dream slogan to the three issues that every candidate has dutifully repeated.

Twyford seem to have just poked some campaign palaver to media, there is no recent press release on this.

Twyford is Labour’s Auckland campaign manager. Neither him nor Ardern are the Labour spokesperson for immigration. That is Ian Lees-Galloway, who last put out a press release on immigration in February:

National still has no plan on immigration

Today’s release of latest immigration statistics is further proof the Government has absolutely no plan for immigration and its impact on New Zealand, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.

It’s ironic blasting National for having “no plan on immigration” when Twyford has just said that “Labour was still working on the policy and it was too soon to say”.

“It’s clear Bill English has no plan for immigration and National can’t cope with the impacts on housing prices, infrastructure and the labour force. A major reason why so many migrants flock to Auckland is because the Government has no plan for regional economic development.

“Labour will create opportunities in the regions that will be attractive to high skilled migrants…

Twyford wants to cut numbers, Ardern wants “kiwi life” to be hunky dory, and Lees-Galloway wants immigrants to go to the regions.

Labour wants to “probably have a number on it to find a better balance”, sometime, maybe.

And Andrew little puts such an importance on addressing immigration didn’t mention it at all in his Speech at State of the Nation 2017.

 

 

Abortion law reform

This morning The Nation asked Is it time for abortion law reform?

The Nation has spoken to a number of women about their experiences. Some didn’t want to be identified.

The common theme is that seeking an abortion in New Zealand is a drawn-out process that adds stress and discomfort to an already fraught situation.

“It’s unnecessarily complicated, it’s out of date,” says Dame Margaret Sparrow, who has been advocating for abortion law reform for decades.

“I think it’s demeaning to women because women can’t make the decision for themselves – the decision has to be made by two certifying consultants.

“And also, I don’t think we need grounds for abortion – 98 percent are done on the grounds of mental health. I think that’s ridiculous.”

Under New Zealand law, abortion is a crime. But the law outlines a few scenarios where women can obtain an abortion at under 20 weeks’ gestation:

  • if the pregnancy is a risk to the physical or mental health of the mother
  • if there’s a substantial risk that the child would be “seriously handicapped”
  • if the child is a result of incest
  • if the women is “severely subnormal”.

Handicapped and subnormal are not terms you hear much any more.

The way abortion law works in practice in New Zealand is outdated and outlandish, demanding dishonesty from women seeking abortions as well as from doctors rubber stamping them – if the woman is lucky, otherwise it is degrading.

When a woman decides to seek an abortion, she first has to get a referral from her doctor. She has to undergo a number of tests, including an ultrasound.

She’ll see two doctors, called certifying consultants, who give the sign-off for the termination.

She’ll also be offered counselling. In some areas it’s compulsory.

Ms Ruscoe said for her, the process took a month.

“I had pretty much every side-effect it is possible to get. It made it really difficult to work, really difficult for me to keep it from people around me. Emotionally it was really difficult, it was stressful, it was pretty much the longest month of my life.”

For A, the process was similar.

“It was extremely tiring. It took every ounce of energy to be able to continue to just go through my day-to-day without letting everything go. That was hard.”

And a bad experience with a social worker made it much more difficult.

“It felt like I was at the mercy of everybody else and their opinions, and what they thought was best.

“It is my body and I made the best decision I could at the time and I don’t regret it.

The law needs to properly reflect modern public attitudes and practices. But MPs and parties don’t seem keen on doing anything about it.

But the Government says change isn’t necessary.

“We’ve made it quite clear it’s not something we’re planning to review at the moment,” said Minister of Justice Amy Adams.

“Our main concern is that the law is working as Parliament intended, and I haven’t’ seen any indication that that clumsy language is affecting its operation. That’s the critical thing for me.”

The whole way it operates is more than clumsy, it’s crazy – women just about have to claim they are crazy to get an abortion.

National isn’t the only political party apparently ducking for cover. The Labour Party wants a Law Commission review of abortion law, but justice spokesperson and deputy leader Jacinda Ardern declined to be interviewed for this story.

Her spokesperson says that’s because it’s a conscience issue rather than a party one.

That is, doesn’t want to do anything about it.

The Greens and ACT support decriminalising abortion. The Green Party’s Jan Logie says changing the law isn’t a topline priority, but it’s a fundamental human rights issue.

“When we have a law that is being loosely interpreted, we can feel grateful but we can’t feel secure. I really think that is another call for us to act and make sure our law reflects what we want.”

‘Not a topline priority’ means they won’t do anything about it. That’s a political way of appearing to support something but not doing anything.

The national government won’t do anything, and no one else is trying to do anything about.

There are no current Members’ Bills in the system on it.

Women are poorly served by their Parliamentary representatives on this.

 

 

 

 

WTF Andy and Cindy

I know I’m not in the target demographic but I really wonder who thought this was a good idea, apart from Andrew Little, Jacinda Ardern and Anthony at The Standard who posted in praise of Labour’s leadership team:

Labour’s new tactic of featuring a leadership team seems to be working well.

The Woman’s Weekly piece is gold for Labour (and it has the added benefit of annoying Mathew Hooton). We’re going to be seeing a lot more of Andrew and Jacinda…

It doesn’t help looking like having an arm around and having a nowtolove.co.nz website.

c8c8eymuiaaf8o3

That’s:

Jacinda Ardern & Andrew Little

Our Special Bond

Jokes, road trips and whisky sessions

It’s certainly a different image for the leader and deputy leader of the main opposition party.

Perhaps they have done their research and this will attract new or ex voters to Labour, but I’m quite gobsmacked by this – not so much by Ardern, she seems to like promoting herself via women’s magazines.

But I really don’t think Little is doing himself any favours allowing himself to be promoted with his arm around a young colleague.

And that’s a rapid ‘special bonding’, they have only been a leadership item for a few weeks.

“People love Jacinda” and headline hacks

Praise piled on think for Jacinda Ardern:

People love Jacinda. National can’t understand it, but they do.

I can see what National was trying to do – get Ardern’s equal, Kaye, to lead the attack.

It is all routine attack politics but it may well be failing. It has let Ardern grab the moral high ground which fits with her brand of a “new style of politics”.

We will discover in the coming weeks and months just how popular Ardern is and how powerful Brand Jacinda can become.

You might think that can from The Standard or Chris Trotter or Martyn Bradbury, or from Labour Party PR, but no, it is from an ‘opinion’ piece of journalist Patrick Gower.

Major media (not just Gower) seem to be trying to talk Ardern up into some sort of phenomenon.

Is Arderrn an equal of Nikki Kaye? Kaye has beaten Ardern twice in what had been a safe Labour seat, Auckland Central.

The above quotes are cherry picked but there is more context, trying to portray National as panicked in fear of the threat of Ardern – something that has been claimed at The Standard  see Nats’ attack on Ardern backfires.

The way National has revved up its attack machine to take on Jacinda Ardern shows just how worried they are.

But what should be more worrying for National is that the attacks are backfiring and may be empowering Brand Ardern rather than weakening it.

First, Nikki Kaye had a go in Parliament saying Ardern was all show and no substance.

Then Paula Bennett tried to double-team Ardern on the AM Show this morning by saying she was “condescending” in her response to Kaye’s condescending attacks – which only served to make Bennett look condescending.

It is all a tactic of course. It shows us National is worried about Jacinda. And it makes them look more than a little desperate.

I’ve been around Parliament for a while and the “attack” by Kaye on Ardern wasn’t really up to much in my view – Labour called John Key out in a similar way for years for being all photo ops and no substance.

But it was the way Ardern’s supporters leapt to her defence which shows she potentially has that untouchable aura that National should recognise all too well – because John Key had the very same thing.

People love Jacinda. National can’t understand it, but they do. People loved John Key. Labour couldn’t understand it – but they did.

For years Labour and the left attacked John Key and it only made him stronger.

Now National faces the danger that its attacks on Ardern will only make her stronger.

It may just be that Brand Jacinda is the same as Brand Key – no wonder National is so panicked.

One thing about them is the same – their first names begin with ‘J’.

We will discover in the coming weeks and months just how popular Ardern is and how powerful Brand Jacinda can become.

Is Ardern really as big a threat to National as John Key was to Labour?

Key was elected at his first attempt (to a safe Helensville seat) in 2002. Four years later he became Leader of the Opposition, and in another two years in 2008 election he led National to victory.

Ardern lost her first election (in Waikato) in 2008, then lost two elections to Kaye in 2011 and 2014 but got in each time on Labour’s list. After eight years in Parliament she was appointed Labour’s deputy leader.

Do National fear the rise of Ardern? I’m sure they are wary of what effect she may have in this year’s election.

It’s not unusual for parties to criticise opponents, often far more than Kaye and Bennett have done this week.

Bennett herself has often been attacked and criticised, in part because she has been suggested as a possible future leader and Prime Minister.

Judith Collins has also been hammered by Labour – Phil Goff travelled to China to try to find dirt to use against her, and she started defamation proceedings against Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little in 2012 – see Judith Collins defamation case settled.

Collins had been seen as a prospective leader for National.

So the reaction against National by some political opponents, saying a bit of criticism in Parliament is unfair and panicky, should be viewed with a bit of ‘same old politics’ in a relatively mild way.

But why are journalists like Gower supporting the ‘poor Jacinda, Jacinda is great!’ meme?

It may be panic on their part – panic that Bill English and Andrew Little will be too boring for them, another meme some of the media keep pushing.

Perhaps that’s why they have chosen to promote Ardern – not so much as a politician but as a celebrity.

New Zealand politics is served poorly by headline hacks who confuse journalism with political activism.

Data modelling to estimate crime

Data collating and modelling is being used to try to predict “how many New Zealanders are at risk of committing or being victim to crime – and estimate the total future burden of crime on society”.

NZ Herald: Crime ‘crystal ball’ maps NZers’ risk of committing and falling victim to crime

A crime “crystal ball” is using big data to estimate the probability of New Zealanders committing or being victims to crime.

Cutting-edge computer data modelling is tapping into a powerful IDI database of Government information, which provides data from the tax, education, benefit and justice systems.

It maps the probability of New Zealanders committing or experiencing crime over their lifetime.

They are then assigned to a group – “vulnerable adults”, “career criminals”, “petty criminals”, “at-risk young people”, “vulnerable children” and “not at risk”.

The data is anonymised – officials are not working out how likely certain individuals are to commit crime in their lifetime.

Rather, the work is useful because it can give some idea of how many New Zealanders are at risk of committing or being victim to crime – and estimate the total future burden of crime on society.

The actuarial-type model – developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers – can then be used to estimate how that burden would change if more money is put into certain initiatives or policy.

Is this why police numbers are set to increase by about a thousand over the next few years? If so that suggests the crystal ball foresees an increase in crime.

Early work has resulted in judges being told that in certain cases a fine could be a better option than community work, after analysts found criminals getting the latter were more likely to reoffend and rely on the dole.

Offenders given community work were found to be 4 to 7 percentage points more likely to be reconvicted within two years, compared with offenders who were fined.

It does make sense to analyse what works and what doesn’t.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said the investment approach aimed to prevent people from being victimised in the first place.

Prime Minister Bill English has championed that work and has appointed Adams to the new role of Minister Responsible for Social Investment.

Labour’s justice spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said evidence-based policy-making was something to aspire to.

The Government is not just aspiring, they are doing.

How it works

  • A model has been built that taps into a powerful database of data from the tax, education, benefit and justice systems.
  • The model estimates the probability of New Zealanders committing or experiencing crime in their lifetime.
  • It separates the population into groups with different levels of risk, such as “vulnerable adults”, “career criminals”, “petty criminals” and “vulnerable children”, and estimates the “total future burden of crime” on society.
  • The model can simulate how the burden of crime might change if investment is made in certain initiatives or policies.

If it ends up reducing crime and reduces the costs associated with crime – and they are many – then it is worth doing.