Government and Police versus burglaries

The Government is getting more openly involved in trying to combat crime. John Key has written to Asian communities trying to give them reassurances, and Judith Collins has announced that the Police will now attend all reported burglaries to try and improve the 10% rate of solving this insidious crime.

NZ Herald: PM’s open letter after fears of people taking law into own hands

Prime Minister John Key says an open letter he wrote to the Chinese community about burglaries was partly prompted by concerns people would start arming themselves to defend themselves and their property.

Key’s ‘open letter to the Chinese community’ was sent to four Chinese newspapers this week. It was a modified version of a column he wrote for about 30 ethnic media outlets.

Key said it was aimed at reassuring those communities the Government was taking the issue of crime seriously.

He said crime was often raised with him by ethnic communities. High profile burglaries or assaults sometimes prompted concern an ethnic group was vulnerable or being targeted.

Key said he himself had been burgled three or four times “and I know what an invasive and disturbing experience this can be.”

It said Police were now putting more focus on preventing and resolving burglaries and from September 1 would treat it as a priority, including a goal of attending every burglary scene.

“I would like to reassure you National remains as focused as ever on preventing crime and helping to keep our communities safe.”

The Government has been under pressure over low resolution rates for burglaries.

Yesterday Minister Judith Collins announced a greater focus by Police on addressing a major problem with burglaries.

Police take further steps to counter burglary

Police Minister Judith Collins welcomes Police’s decision to attend all house break-ins, which comes into effect today.

While burglary rates are still below that of recent years, there has been an increase over the past 12 months. Police has responded by raising dwelling burglary from a volume crime to a priority offence.

“This shows Police are serious about tackling burglary and also sends a clear message to offenders.”

The new policy sets the expectation of full attendance at dwelling burglaries so the public can now expect either a constabulary or scene of crime officer to attend within a reasonable time.

“Given the nature of policing there will be occasions where they cannot attend a dwelling burglary for a range of reasons, including adhering to the wishes of the victim. However, the Commissioner of Police has made his expectations clear.

“Police have assured me that they continue to make burglary a priority with ongoing work in every district to reduce this crime type while also focusing on increasing resolution rates.”

If police attend all burglaries it will give them more visibility in the community, which may help address other types of crime too.

While not raised here the number of police officers is becoming a bigger issue.

Problems with releasing sex offenders

Releasing recidivist sex offenders when they have completed sentences is a very difficult thing to deal with. Understandably no one wants them living anywhere near them.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins was interviewed about this on Q & A this morning.

One News: Courts need to do more about keeping sex offenders from the public

Corrections Minister Judith Collins says public protection orders should be used more by the courts to keep sex offenders away from potential victims in the community.

Mrs Collins told Q+A that in cases such as one publicised today, where a young mother of three spoke out about her struggle with a sex offender living behind her house in Mangere, Corrections tried to get a Public Protection Order for him.

But, the High Court felt he did not meet the criteria.

So he has to be released, and he has to be housed somewhere.

“He does have 24-hour, seven-day-a-week monitors and minders with him,” Ms Collins said.

“But unfortunately, he has served his sentence… he’s on the most intensive form of monitoring that Corrections can get, and they’ve been turned down for a public protection order.”

She also said the government was building a community inside the prison grounds at Christchurch Men’s Prison to house people who had completed their sentences, but were deemed too risky to be living back in the community.

“But… the courts have to allow that to happen, allow us to have these people placed there.

“So Corrections doesn’t just decide where people are; they’re actually directed by the courts and the parole board.”

Full interview: Where to put sex offenders (14:03)

Panel: Where to put sex offenders – Panel (10:17)

Bennett and Collins ‘derail’

A number of incidents and media reports suggest that it hasn’t been a good week for Ministers Paula Bennett and Judith Collins.

Jo Muir at Stuff: Cabinet Ministers tipped as possible PM successors derail over homelessness and police

There’s been suggestions and rumours that Bennett and Collins may be possible future Prime Ministers but there has been nothing of any real substance (other National MPs have also been suggested) and there is no indication that there will be a vacancy any time in the foreseeable future.

What Cameron Slater and Martyn Bradbury post does not necessarily have any relationship with reality.

Two ministers touted as heir apparent to John Key did themselves no favours this week, derailing spectacularly.

Not just a wheel coming off the track, but the carriage flipped on its side, smoke and flames kind of derailing.

The ongoing headlines around homelessness and a shortage of emergency housing for the most vulnerable Kiwis has plagued the minister for months.

Attempts to get back on the front foot haven’t worked and Bennett has been left drowning in a pool of kneejerk policy.

To add insult to injury, Key was comfortable throwing her under the bus when she got things wrong about the Ministry of Social Development’s flying squad accompanying the Salvation Army to offer help to homeless living in cars.

Bennett in particular has had a difficult time lately.

But it was Bennett’s mixed messages to the PM that really gave Labour’s Phil Twyford some free hits.

Last week Key told media that the MSD flying squad had taken an active role tracking down the homeless to see what support they needed.

He said those people approached by MSD and the Sallies had declined help.

But the Salvation Army said they turned down an offer by MSD to accompany them to the park where people are living in cars, as some people are very wary of Government officials.

Bennett went into crisis mode, explaining what she meant was that MSD had gone to help by taking phone calls to assist the Sallies.

This was an embarrassing blunder from Bennett who provided the muddled information to Key, meaning he had no qualms about throwing the mess back at the culprit.

This kind of public botch-up is a godsend for a relentless MP like Twyford, who spent all week asking Bennett why she wouldn’t apologise to the Sallies for jeopardising their relationship with the homeless.

While not linked to leadership contention Twyford is one of the few Labour MPs causing real problems for the Government.

Even National Party sources have confirmed there’s little internal support for her refusal to say sorry.

She nearly mentioned the sorry word in Parliament but checked herself and threw shit back at Twyford instead.

As for the other train wreck, perhaps more of a car crash – exhibit two is Collins.

The minister usually known for her hard and crusher-like approach seemed to have a minor meltdown following the horrific road toll at Queen’s Birthday weekend – the worst in 27 years.

Labour’s Stuart Nash was quick to put out a predictable press release on Tuesday saying police underfunding was at fault.

He also blamed Collins’ announcement that 100 cops were being taken off the road.

But instead of simply pointing out that Nash was ahead of himself given the 100 police hadn’t been cut yet and his argument was redundant, Collins went a bit rogue and blamed men talking on their mobile phones.

Given there’s no proof any of the crashes at the weekend had anything to do with men talking on mobile phones, it’s just odd to even go there.

But that’s not where it stopped. The following day Collins, who has been noticeably withdrawn and quiet in the House over recent weeks, threw a grenade at police efforts to reduce speed on the roads by saying she didn’t agree with their zero-tolerance approach.

I’m not sure if Collins momentarily forgot she’s the Police Minister, but to criticise the police’s flagship policy as far as road policing goes and tackling excessive speed was just bizarre, especially given how unheralded her position was.

Her performance was far less serious or embarrassing than Bennett’s but indicate that Collins is not functioning at her best.

National don’t have any leadership vacancies or problems, but wobbly wheels like Bennett and Collins won’t do much towards helping the National bus weave it’s way into another term.

The Nation today

On The Nation this morning at 9:30 am:

and Gerry Brownlee live on tomorrow morning. From people smugglers to prison popn


First it was faulty hip parts. Tmrw, has a new story on medical devices causing pain for Kiwi patients & costing taxpayers

And the panel:

Great panel joining us at 9.30am on , &

Their Twitter panel this morning is and . Follow for  their own coverage.

Up first on , the white paper talks of people smugglers targeting NZ & battles over Antarctica’s resources. Gerry Brownlee is live

Are we getting it right as we talk the tightrope over the ? will ask Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee


Speaking out on family violence

Continuing on their series today NZ Herald quotes a number of people including Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Police Minister Judith Collins, Andrew Little plus a few actors.


Family violence: New Zealanders speak out

New Zealand has the worst rate of family and intimate-partner violence in the world. Eighty per cent of incidents go unreported — so what we know of family violence in our community is barely the tip of the iceberg.

Today is the final day of We’re Better Than This, a week-long series on family violence.

Our aim is to raise awareness, to educate, to give an insight into the victims and perpetrators. We want to encourage victims to have the strength to speak out, and abusers the courage to change their behaviour.

Take a stand – NZ is #BetterThanThis

So here’s a prompt for Your NZers to speak out.

Q+A today

Q+A today (9 am TV One) has a focus on foreign trusts and land tax:

Revelations this week that a company set-up by John Key’s lawyer lobbied the Government against changing the rules on foreign trusts. We asked Revenue Minister Todd McClay for an interview but he wasn’t available nor was the Prime Minister. But former Revenue Minister Peter Dunne will join us live to discuss.

Also, economist Arthur Grimes from the Motu Research Institute on Land Tax. Will it work?


Minister of Police and Corrections Judith Collins is back. How will she tackle drugs and gangs?

Joining our host Greg Boyed on the panel will be political scientist Dr Raymond Moore, Green Party chief of staff Andrew Campbell and social commentator and Ngāti Whātua spokesperson Ngarimu Blair.

Peter Dunne says he is looking forward to this:

The longest serving revenue Minister he’ll join us to discuss the and 9am Sunday

There’s been some preliminary exchanges on this on Twitter between and :

Espiner: says Panama Papers a ‘wake up’ call on foreign trusts. I interviewed him in 2012 for TV3 doco: he denied they were a problem.

Dunne: The issue has moved since then: IRD’s first of expression of concern to Ministers was August 2014, after I left portfolio

Espiner: exactly the same regime as I put to you then. Difference is 8000 trusts in 2012, 12000 now. Attraction is the same: secrecy.

Dunne: Again, you’re not listening. The first advice of concern from IRD was late 2014 when I was not Minister.

Espiner: Why didn’t you listen to me in 2012?!

Dunne: As I’ve long suspected, it’s all about you🙂

Espiner: It’s my job to be fair …. (!)

Dunne: And mine to act on the basis of competent official advice.

: What if there is no competent advice?

Dunne: Personally, I think it foolish to take any advice on anything that is not competent.

Dunne was Minister of Revenue from 17 October 2005 to 7 June 2013 – the three years of that was during the Clark Labour Government’s third and final term, and then Dunne continued with Revenue in the first term plus a year of the second term under Key’s National Government.



Trotter on Collins and Key

In his weekly Stuff/Press column Chris Trotter writes Judith Collins a sop to National’s base.

What is National’s ‘base’? I expect that with close to 50% support continuing their base is quite diverse and broad.

Trotter makes a number of unsubstantiated claims.

Was John Key’s decision to stand down his Justice Minister, Judith Collins, critical to his 2014 election victory? The National Party was hemorrhaging votes as a result of the extraordinary revelations contained in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics. Collins featured prominently in the book, making her, in the eyes of many, a symbol of all that was wrong with the National-led Government.

The bleeding ended abruptly when, pending the outcome of an investigation into yet another spate of allegations, the Prime Minister decided to stand Collins down.

The polls leading in to the last election don’t reflect Trotter’s claim that National was ‘haemorrhaging votes’ after Dirty Politics was launched and recovered after Collins stood down.

As shown in Opinion polling for the New Zealand general election, 2014 closer to the opposite occurred, with if anything a lift in the polls after Dirty Politics (13 August) and a drop off after Collins stepped down into the election (30 August).

There were other significant things happening as well, like David Cunliffe’s campaign performance (note Labour’s poll slide), and probably more significant was the rise and fall of Kim Dotcom and Internet-Mana, including Dotcom’s ‘moment of truth in mid-September.

Does Trotter have access to some secret polls? Or is he making things up?

But, if the standing down of Judith Collins played an important part in securing Key his third term…

A big ‘IF’ about the importance of Collins in the election result.

…why bring her back into his Cabinet? In her new role as Minister of Police and Minister of Corrections, Collins is once again displaying all the headstrong and abrasive qualities that made her so unpopular during her first, controversial, stint in Key’s cabinet.

I think she was generally quite popular, except amongst Trotters far left, until Labour and Winston Peters decided to target her and try and bring her down.

I don’t see any obvious sign of major unpopularity now either, except at The Daily Blog and The Standard, and there’s few votes for National there.

What Trotter seems to struggle with, like many on the left (and right for that matter) is separating their own feelings from those of the general voting population.

Many political scientists would dismiss this question as naive. They would argue that Key brought Collins in from the cold in order to appease National’s “base”.

I expect that ‘many political scientists’ would think and argue a wide range of things and wouldn’t be confined to Trotter’s narrow band of thinking and assertions.

Collins has become the poster girl for a great many of the deeply conservative National Party voters living in rural and provincial New Zealand.

Has she? I don’t know how in touch Trotter is with the “many of the deeply conservative National Party voters living in rural and provincial New Zealand”. I doubt many of them frequent his favourite cafes and bars in Auckland.

Many of them also belong to the Sensible Sentencing Trust, a powerful lobby group committed to securing harsher penalties for criminal offending and a more Spartan regime for prison inmates.

How many Chris? Can you quantify this at all? Or are you guessing?

The accusation that Key has adopted a “Labour Lite” strategy for remaining in power strikes a very resonant chord with the party’s conservative base.

I see that at Kiwiblog and The Standard but I don’t think many of National’s ‘conservative base’ comment at either. I think those strongly anti-National are more likely to be Conservative or Mana Party supporters.

Indeed, it was almost certainly that back-bench intervention which persuaded Key to bring Collins back under the protective umbrella of collective cabinet responsibility.

Almost certainly that is a big guess too, and I doubt it’s accuracy.

Once Collins was cleared in the investigation into allegations made against her I think it was widely expected that Collins would be one of the first in line to be appointed to Cabinet in Key’s next reshuffle, and I think Key signalled this. It was not a surprise when she was reinstated.

National’s base doesn’t care. For rural and provincial conservatives, the tougher the prison regime, and the longer the prison sentence, the better they like it. There is deeply punitive streak running through these voters that is apparent not only in relation to crime and punishment, but also in their expectations of welfare and housing policy.

Sweeping generalisations like this looks like little more than another raft of baseless assertions.

Sure there will be some amongst National’s base, and amongst their rural and provincial supporters, who fit Trotter’s descriptions but I doubt he has any measure of how many. Half a dozen perpetually disgruntled Kiwiblog commenters does not a base make.

John Key, raised by a cosmopolitan Jewish mother in New Zealand’s second-largest city, and with years of residence in Singapore, London and New York, has little genuine affinity with National’s traditionalist base.

Key’s ongoing popularity suggests he has an affinity with quite a bit more than National’s traditionalist base – which is wider than rural and provincial, especially with extensive urbanisation over the past hundred years.

Judith Collins is his sour sop to the snarling Cerberus of social conservatism.

Collins is one of a diverse twenty or so Cabinet Ministers.

The sour and snarling seems to be from Trotter.

Collins – police and Gay Pride

Judith Collins walked with police during Saturday’s Gay Pride parade in Auckland.

So thrilled to be supporting & Dept of Corrections in today’s


NZ Herald reports that Judith Collins criticised for walking in Auckland Pride Parade

A spokeswoman for Ms Collins said the police had invited her to take part a month ago “in support of their ‘theme of diversity of people and roles in police’.”

“She was pleased that she was able to attend and was very happy to support police in the parade.”

Ms Collins went with the police rather than fellow National MPs Nikki Kaye and Chris Bishop and a National Party float featuring a rainbow of balloons.

During the parade, Ms Collins tweeted photos of herself arm in arm with two officers, writing: “so proud to be supporting @nzpolice and Dept of Corrections in today’s #PrideParade.” She also tweeted a photo of a line of police along the side of the parade holding back protesters, one of whom was carrying a sign that said “**** the police”.

Some weren’t happy the police took part.

The protesters were objecting to the police taking part in the parade, claiming alleged ill treatment of transgender inmates. They held up the parade by about an hour.

They may have some valid grievances about how transgender inmates are treated but disrupting a parade and everyone involved in it seems to be ill-judged.

This follows protests directed at John Key in the Big Gay Out last week. If it becomes a trend it is a concern – should participants in any event be vetted in case a minority doesn’t weant them to take part?

Trevor Mallard thought it was ok for the Police and Corrections to take part.

Mr Mallard said he understood the protesters felt marginalised but it was good Police, Defence and Corrections now took part in the parade. “I think it’s a sign of enormous progress that it’s okay for police to march. I don’t agree with the people who were protesting.”

But he protested about Collins marching with them.

Labour has criticised Police Minister Judith Collins for marching with police at the Pride Parade, saying it was “clear politicisation and totally inappropriate”.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard made the comment on Twitter after Ms Collins took part in the police contingent at the march. He later told NZME that while it was good the police took part in the parade, having the minister with them went “beyond the boundaries of what’s appropriate”.

“She’s not a police officer and constabulary independence is something that is very important. I think it was poor judgment to be part of a police march. It’s a matter of perception as well as fact, and being part of a public march as part of a police team undermines that.”

Andrew Little added to this criticism.

“It was totally inappropriate for her to be there as part of the police contingent. The police department is a special department which is constitutionally independent of the Government of the day and she should not have been anywhere near serving police officers, even in an event such as the Pride Parade.”

“It reflects poorly on Judith Collins who should have known her constitutional obligation to remain independent of the police. It is not an excuse that she got an invitation — she is not a newcomer to Cabinet and I think the New Zealand public are entitled to expect the highest standards of constitutional propriety from her.”

Perhaps there is some Ministerial convention that frowns on Collins’ participation but I fail to see what the problem is here. It seems to be another case of Labour picking lame and probably counter-productive battles.

Nikki Kaye tweeted from the parade:

Feb 19
With Louisa Wall at LGBTI Love ain’t political❤️


So some MPs from opposing parties were able to join in the camaraderie of the event. Kaye and Wall worked together on the marriage equality bill.

But Kaye also expressed disappointment with the criticisms:

Pretty gutted with labour on this one. As ministers we attend events all the time to support the agencies we are responsible for.

has no bearing on their operational independence. Championing diversity&creating change takes leadership-it’s great she marched


Police + Justice system have different arrangements. As a Minister you should not only understand but stand up for what is right

And Kaye replied:

not disputing different arrangements..just don’t agree that a minister marching for human rights compromises independence

It seems that Politic Egos have interfered with Gay Pride.

Mallard had marched and been photographed with placards recognising his support of the Homosexual Reform Bill thirty years ago.


Good on him for that.

Why couldn’t he let the Police, Corrections and Collins celebrate the normalising of common sexual preferences?

Garner on next National leader

Duncan Garner ponders on who may be National’s next leader. He rules out Judith Collins, saying her party has lost faith and trust in her (she could earn that back but it will take time, effort and care).


She’s emerged from the Collins rubble to be the frontrunner. She’s handled everything Labour has thrown at her and sent it back with interest.


The Health Minister is ambitious and is starting to get a bigger profile – and he likes the idea that he’s being spoken about as a potential leader. He will need to show more charisma and reach out more.


Depending on who you speak to in the National Party she’s either a leader in waiting or someone you wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.


He has long been discussed as a future National leader and that will probably mean it will never happen. On TV and radio he sucks the life out of the universe but he’s still very capable and knows his subject.


I got to know Muller when he was a Boy Friday in  Jim Bolger’s office in 1996. A thoroughly smart and likeable bloke, Muller bleeds blue and has been earmarked for higher office from an early age. He has genuine private sector experience and has wisely kept his head down  in his first term as an MP.

That’s about how many ex-leaders Labour has.

More details: Duncan Garner: Forget Crusher, Paula Bennett is National’s next leader



Comeback Collins

Judith Collins was down and shown the way out of Parliament last year – sent to the office known as the departure lounge. But she has demonstrated resolve and determination, and will be back in Cabinet next week.

Tracy Watkins at Stuff writes about this in Judith Collins – ‘exonerated, vindicated’ and on the comeback trail:

With the political comeback from the brink complete, Judith Collins is in no mood to waste the opportunity.

Last year Collins was relentlessly hounded over her association with Oravida in a trip to China, to the extent that I think both Phil Goff and Winston Peters jetted to China to try to find dirt. Some aspects of that didn’t look flash for Collins but no smoking gun was found.

Then she became embroiled in the ‘Dirty Politics’ election campaign distraction due to her friendship and association with Camerson Slater, involving a campaign of attack on the Serious Fraud Office head.

That was too close for John Key that close to an election so Collins resigned. But a later inquiry there was “no probative evidence that Ms Collins undermined or attempted to undermine Mr Feeley”.

What Collins was accused of doing was undermining the then head of the Serious Fraud Office, Adam Feeley, in collusion with Right-wing blogger Cameron Slater.

An inquiry by retired High Court judge Lester Chisholm later found there was “no probative evidence that Ms Collins undermined or attempted to undermine Mr Feeley”.

Chisholm concluded: “The implication that she was so involved is untenable.”

Chisholm trawled through six years worth of Collins’ emails and phone records.

It was, says Collins, an incredibly invasive process.

“Not only going through my work emails, and my phone records, but all my personal emails, my computers… I had to hand in my passwords, everything.”

The upshot of all that, says Collins, is that she feels “pretty damn vindicated, frankly”.

The blame was mostly put on Slater, who admitted ’embellish’ statements in private emails:

He attacked the media saying it used “private banter” in emails as if it were court documents and denied he was responsible for Collin’s downfall with his email.

“I can say whatever I want to in private emails,” he said.

He didn’t regret writing the email, saying he “doesn’t regret anything he writes”.

He said the sentence in the email “Collins is gunning for Feeley” wasn’t a lie but “embellishing is a good word.”

Slater, lies, embellished banter, whatever.

Slater had quickly become politically toxic, especially for Collins. For her to revive her political career she needed to at least publicly and politically distance herself from Slater. She appears to have successfully managed this.

So a mixture of doing what was necessary to prove she could be relied on and trusted back in Cabinet, along with her reputation (ignoring the left wing wailing) of being a strong and capable Minister, has resulted in John Key bringing Collins back into Cabinet.

Next week Collins will be Minister of Police and Minister of Corrections, the latter a portfolio desperately needing a strong hand and some serious tidying up after the Serco Mt Eden debacle.

Watkins writes an interesting profile of Collins.

“When I was a little girl, I remember my mother saying to me – I was about eight – she said ‘you’re so determined Judith’. And she was saying it as though it was a bad thing. I guess that’s it. I’m just determined.”

Obviously determined.

Husband David Wong-Tung probably took it harder, Collins admits. But they’ve been through tougher things as a couple. Wong-Tung is half-Samoan, and that caused heartache for the dairy farmer’s daughter and her new boyfriend back in the day.

“My father and some of my family were opposed to a mixed-race marriage, so we had six years of my father being extraordinarily unhelpful and very difficult.”

That’s very sad. It was back in the late seventies, early eighties. Wong-Tung had migrated to New Zealand from Samoa as a child.

Back to being determined.

There was no way she was going to quit over the allegations that forced her resignation from Cabinet in the white hot heat of the election campaign last year.

“Never. Never. Definitely not,” says Collins.

And so she is back

 – apparently over the objections of some of her Cabinet colleagues, though they publicly deny that. Does that mean she has scores to settle maybe?

“Never,” laughs Collins.

“Can’t be bothered. It’s like, why? Why bother? Just get on and do the job.”

That’s quite different to what Slaster said on her resignation from Cabinet last year:

Slater was then asked what he would do about Collins’ resignation. He said: “I always give back double” and “Judith always gives back double.”

More banter embellishment perhaps. There’s been no sign of revenge (from Collins) over the last eighteen months, just determination to succeed again.

But isn’t that the legend she’s cultivated? Crusher Collins, hard as nails?

Nah, that’s not even very real, says Collins.

“I’ve encouraged all that just for fun, really. I’ve got a very wicked sense of humour and sometimes I just get a bit carried away with it.”

And besides, the only person whose opinion she has to worry about is the prime minister. It’s his call, and his alone, says Collins.

His call has been to reinstate Collins as a Minister. If she’s learned well from her mistakes and from dealing with sustained attacks and remains determined she may be a better Cabinet Minister than before.

I’m certainly prepered to give her a chance to redeem herself.

She had been regarded as a potential leadership contender. There is no vacancy at present, and she will have her hands full sorting out Corrections and dealing with Police.

After Key? Paula Bennett is one who seems to be being groomed for a top role. Collins seems determined to rise again on her own merits.

Will this lead to a clash? Possibly.

But what about a Collins-Bennett or Bennett-Collins leadership team? Combining their contrasting, complimentary styles could be formidable.

And it could do the historically male-dominated National Party some good too.



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