The Nation: Andrew Little on criminal justice reform

One Newshub’s Nation this morning: Justice Minister joins us to discuss why the criminal justice system needs an overhaul, and what will happen if the reforms don’t go far enough

Mike Williams, who now works with the Howard League for Penal Reform, is on the panel so could have some interesting comments.

 will be on their Twitter panel so that could be worth watching.

Justice Minister says…

…at this point repeal of three strikes is off the table but might be considered further down the track.

Says the advice he has received states unless substantial change occurs, a new prison will be needed every two to three year.

On potential law changes, says he will look at the parole act, the bail act, and sentencing law but the real “game changer” is what we can do inside our prisons to rehabilitate offenders.

On high recidivism rates, “It’s not good enough. If I ran a business where 60% of customers were coming back for a refund within two years, I wouldn’t have a business. Yet we tolerate that within our justice system

Says the fact that 60% of inmates re-offend within two years of being released is a sign of failure for the last 30 years of criminal justice policy.

Little rejects assertion by that 98% of inmates are ‘serious criminals’ , says most prisoners entering the system in any one year are there for non-violent, ‘low level’ offences.

This sort of claim has been controversial in parliament this week.

To be honest, my major concern with the NZ form of three strikes are the third strike consequences. Just having the second strike consequence repeated (no parole) would be a possible compromise.

Our prison numbers are nowhere close to the US.

It doesn’t sound like Labour isn’t promising criminal justice reform, but welfare reform, education reform, CYFS reform. But why double-bunk current prisoners in the interim?

If we wanted to reduce the remand population, you don’t need to change bail laws, you need to change police bail practice. National’s law change was minor. What changed were the actions of prosecutors and judges.

How on Earth has *Treasury* identified 20,000 at risk kids? Estimated there are 20k such kids, sure. But how has it worked out their names?

‘Identified’ is a poor description of what must be a rough estimate.

On the panel Mike Williams insisted there were people in prison solely for driving without a licence.

Interview: the digital divide and inequality

This morning on Newshub Nation:  Tech entrepreneur Derek Handley talks to Lisa Owen about the digital divide, and how technology could be increasing inequality.

InternetNZ: NZ’s digital divide now on display

InternetNZ has teamed up with the 20/20 Trust to build an interactive map called the Digital Divide Map – which shows the different digital divides facing New Zealanders and their communities.

You can see Internet infrastructure access, digital skill gaps and socioeconomic divides broken down by area units across New Zealand.

InternetNZ Chief Executive Jordan Carter says it’s important that people are aware of the digital divides in New Zealand.

“Some people don’t have access to the Internet, some are not skilled enough to use it and some cannot afford an Internet connection.

“This is something that we want to see fixed. The Internet has so many benefits for us all and no New Zealander should be denied the potential that the Internet offers us,” says Carter.

The purpose of the map is to help identify these divides, understand them, and therefore help local, regional and national decision makers address the divides.

The map also pinpoints known digital inclusion projects and local community resources to address digital skill gaps. We hope that by sharing these digital inclusion projects and resources, they can act as models and inspiration for other areas.

The Digital Divide map.

On Handley two weeks ago: Digital divide holding back New Zealand – tech entrepreneur

In its report Solving Digital Divides Together, InternetNZ claims that “infrastructure access is no longer the primary access issue for New Zealanders. 93% of Kiwis tell us they have the Internet.

in a TechWeek speech earlier this week Derek Handley, whose roles include Adjunct Executive Professor at AUT, board member at SkyTV, and Chief Innovation Officer at a New York-based start-up studio Human Ventures, said New Zealand will fail to become a leading digital nation if it doesn’t address the number of children without internet access in their homes.

During a visit to the Otara Library in Manukau he discovered that the most popular attendance time was directly after school, so that the students could use the library’s computers and internet.

“Many of them (students) use cheap Android phones without data plans, to connect to WiFi – to search, type up essays and assignments, on their tiny screens,” he says. “Many of the homes they go back to might have only a handful of books. In their homes, they are barely connected to the present – let alone the future.”

Handley contrasted that experience with his own five-year-old son, whom he says is “digitally roaming every day creatively and in his own way”.

“If we believe, as I do and I have witnessed, that the internet and a tablet accelerates the learning and discovery of a young child, orders of magnitude beyond what a simple book can – we have on one hand a child growing

The Government also pledged to create a National Chief Technology Officer and is currently recruiting again for the role, following a failed attempt earlier this year. While Handley positively referenced the CTO role in his speech, he later told Computerworld that he has not put his hand up, noting that he is still living in New York.

Tech Entrepreneur Derek Handley “For the last couple of decades, clearly, no government authentically, genuinely committed to creating a pathway for a digital or innovative technology-oriented nation.”

“There are so many ideas and services and concepts that should exist in New Zealand — that we should be leading — that we’re not.”

… says we need to ensure access to internet in the same way we ensure access to water in order to close ‘the digital divide’

…on the Government’s hunt for a Chief Technology Officer – “The fact that it even exists, the fact that it will be working with the Prime Minister and the Minister, to me, is a symbol and a signal that we get it and that it’s important.”

He sort of sound like he could be interested in the job, saying ‘I’m working in the US’ but intends coming back to New Zealand soon.

He could be a good fit for the job, but he expressed no specific ideas on how to ensure the people with none or little online access could join the electronic revolution.

Just like it is difficult to force some people to read and write (or some families to support and encourage education), you can’t make people use the Internet if they don’t want to.


Nation: Health Minister David Clark

On Newshub Nation this morning: Budget 2018 pledged around $4 billion to fix the ailing health system. We ask Health Minister David Clark if that’s enough, and what areas are going to take priority.

Unusually Newshub hasn’t tweeted an excerpts of the interview as it happened.

Clark came across ok. he acknowledged that past Governments had dome their best to provide good health services, and New Zealand had one of the best and in some ways cheapest health services in the world, but was due a comprehensive review to try to determine the most cost effective ways of delivering.

Hence the Government are doing a review. And Clark deferred most questions to be being subject to the review. And he repeated several times that he wouldn’t say what might happen in pay negotiations (he is not directly involved) nor with future budgets.

So he competently didn’t really say much about what might change in providing health services.

There was little of value in this interview. Maybe next year, or the year after, Clark will be able to explain how he will improve health services.

Nation – immigration and banking

On Newshub Nation this morning:

Immigration – Lisa Owen asks Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway about Labour’s plan to reduce immigration by 20-30,000 and what the effect will be on our economy.

Banking – Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr talks about lifting the lid on New Zealand banking practices and which areas concern him most.

What now for Bridges?

There had already been murmurings in media about Simon Bridges leadership of National before the latest poll (Newshub/Reid Research) had him at 9% ‘preferred Prime Minister’.

Newshub headlined their poll with Simon Bridges failing to connect with voters – Newshub poll and the l4esd paragraph was worse:

A Newshub-Reid Research poll has brought some seriously bad news for Simon Bridges.

Mr Bridges, who has now been in the role three months to the day, has earned just 9 percent of the vote in the preferred Prime Minister stakes – the lowest result for a National leader in over a decade.

The poll, which is the first to be conducted since the new Labour-led Government’s first Budget, suggests his status as leader of the Opposition is failing to get any real traction with voters.

This is despite National support holding up on 45.1% to Labour’s 42.6%.

And also as has been murmured lately, Judith Collins got a promotion: Judith Collins makes surprising appearance in preferred Prime Minister poll

Prime Minister Judith Collins – how do those four words strung together make you feel? For 3.7 percent of New Zealanders, it feels pretty good.

Because for the first time ever, Ms Collins has registered in our Newshub-Reid Research poll as a candidate for preferred Prime Minister.

However, Ms Collins is ranking higher than Ms Ardern did when she first appeared as a preferred Prime Minister in 2015. Back then, Ms Ardern debuted at 3.5 percent.

But this is dire news for the actual leader of the National Party, Simon Bridges – his preferred Prime Minister ranking is just 9 percent.

I’m not sure how 9% is dire but 3.5% is somehow seen as an ominous appearance in the poll.

What should Bridges do about this poll? Nothing except continue on his two and a half year strategy. As one person put it, “his listening tour now is classic first year opposition stuff”. Travelling the country meeting as many people as possible is relatively low profile, but an essential in creating credibility and support.

I don’t think an election has ever been lost on a ‘preferred Prime Minister’ poll this far out from an election.

Jacinda Ardern peaked at 4.2% in 2016, and was averaging about 6% for the first half of 2017, suddenly spiking to 26% in early August, 6 weeks before the election.

There’s no reason Bridges can’t do something similar (unless he continues to look like a damp squib) if National are still near or ahead of Labour in the all important party poll, especially if NZ First look like they do now, out of contention, and if Greens look shaky again.

Neither James Shaw or Marama Davidson rated at all in the ‘Preferred prime Minister’ poll – Shaw got 0.4% with Colmar Brunton in December and February, but his absence in this poll means nothing about Green prospects.

Winston Peters got 4.6% in the latest poll, about average for him since the election, and he is going to be acting Prime Minister soon.

We have no idea how Jacinda Ardern’s popularity will track over the next two years. She may or may not even lead Labour next election. And that isn’t what is important anyway.

Bridges should carry on with his strategy and hope that he finds a formula that connects him with voters. More importantly National as a whole need to continue to look like a credible alternative.

Media will keep posting pointless poll stories – they use polls to create news, not to give a non-emotional balanced indicator of a snapshot of public opinion that is very minor in the whole scheme of things.

The opposition will continue to talk up doubts over National’s leadership.

The niche blog Whale Oil will continue it’s primary role as a political activist, talking up Collins and trying to trash Bridges. That’s been their modus operandi – promoting Collins and trashing Key/English/Bridges – for years. But 3.5% is a long way from suggesting their is wide support for Collins, even within National.

And WO’s toxic association with Collins will make things difficult for her – if she still has leadership ambitions. She is probably the most prominent and effective Opposition MP  at the moment, but it’s not uncommon for a non-leader to be the primary attack weapon of a party.

All this poll does is create a flurry of speculative comment, until the next poll. And there’s going to be many more of them before the election.

It’s not unusual for many people to prefer the current Prime Minister to be the Prime Minister – but Ardern’s 40%, well short of a majority, shows that it means little.

It is almost certain that National would suffer in the polls if they switched leaders every time media made a headline out of a single number. Labour struggled for eight years and ten months in Opposition, and their revolving door leadership was a significant part of that.

Bridges has far more important things to work on then ‘preferred PM’ polls that mean very little under MMP.

Newshub/Reid Research poll – May 2018

The first poll since the budget, from Newshub/Reid Research:

  • National 45.1% (up 0.6%)
  • Labour 42.6% (up 0.3%)
  • Greens 5.7% (down 0.3%)
  • NZ First 2.4% (down 1.2%)

ACT, Maori Party and The Opportunities Party were not mentioned.

The only movement that is statistically significant is the drop for NZ First.

National and Labour will be happy their support is holding up – perhaps surprisingly for National given the amount of publicity Jacinda Ardern has had internationally recently and with her pregnancy, and how much attention Labour got out of last week’s budget.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 40.2%
  • Simon Bridges 9.0%
  • Winston Peters 4.6%
  • Judith Collins 3.7%

Not surprising to see Ardern well ahead. Bridges is struggling be be seen or liked.  Support of Peters is waning ahead of him becoming acting Prime Minister soon.

Judith Collins makes her debut – she has been the most prominent and effective Opposition MP, and liked by some in the National Party.

39% said Peters would ‘do well’ in the top job.

Newshub stories:

Sepuloni interview another ‘wait and see’

Both Newshub Nation and Q&A have had trouble this year with interviews of ministers who can’t say much of substance due to pending reviews and committees. This happened yesterday with an interview of Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni.

Lisa Owen: So we’ve seen ads for an expert advisory group for jobs. How many people on this group? And what’s your time frame?

Carmel Sepuloni: We’ll announce that in the next few weeks, Lisa, so today on the programme, I can give some kind of general details, but I can’t pre-empt the announcement.

So why is Sepuloni being interviewed? Is there no Minister actually implementing things now?

Lisa Owen: What can you tell us?

Carmel Sepuloni: Well, I can basically tell you what’s out there in the public arena that some people may not have seen, like I’ve been asked what will be taken into consideration. Our public agreement with the Greens states very carefully, very clearly that we will be considering excessive sanctions, that we will be looking at the interaction between the welfare system and Working for Families, that income adequacy is a consideration for us as well.

Lisa Owen: So level of benefit.

Carmel Sepuloni: Income adequacy is a consideration for us as well, so we need to be looking at all of those things. So I can tell you that those things will be part of it. But can I just say? There’s been lots of discussions in recent weeks about service delivery and the culture through MSD, and of course that has to be part of it too. Of course we need to be looking to make sure that people are getting access to what they’re entitled to, that their rights and dignity are upheld and they’re not being treated disrespectfully in any way.

Lisa Owen: Okay, there’s a lot in there, so we’re going to unpack some of it, but first, what is your time frame to make actual change – not just talk about it; to make change.

Carmel Sepuloni: So change has already started happening; can I just say that?

Lisa Owen: But it’s another committee, Minister, and you know what people are going to say. The National Party put out a press release saying you got 75 committees, and this is another expert panel/committee.

Carmel Sepuloni: National did have an expert panel on this as well. We now have to undo some of the damage that was inflicted on us over the last nine years.

Lisa Owen: So time frame for actual change.

Carmel Sepuloni: So time frame in terms of announcing the actual scope of work that will be undertaken and the advisory group – well, you can expect that to happen in the next few weeks, and then from there–

And it went on, with Sepuloni resorting to a common tactic, repeating National blah blah last nine years blah blah in lieu of having anything of substance to say, apart from repeating election commitments but with no clear timeframe for implementation.

Lisa Owen: You’ve said that you’re going to ditch the sanction against solo parents who won’t name the other parents. You’ve said that will happen at the earliest opportunity. When will that happen?

Carmel Sepuloni: Everything that we put in our policy and that we’ve announced has to happen in the next three years, and so that’s all I can say to you at this stage. It has to happen.

Lisa Owen: So you’re telling people that they potentially have to wait three years for you to ditch a sanction that you knew all through the campaign and before that you were going to get rid of.

Carmel Sepuloni: I’m absolutely committed to ditching that sanction, but it would be done within the next three years.

Lisa Owen: Not within six months?

Carmel Sepuloni: I can’t tell you that that’s the case. It’ll be done– The commitment is making sure that anything that we had in our policy is going to happen before the next election.

Lisa Owen: Can you imagine how unsatisfactory that is for people listening to this interview? 17,000 kids are missing out on that money.

Carmel Sepuloni:  Oh, look, and I absolutely agree that that sanction needs to be dumped, and so the commitment coming into the election – we never it would be done in the first six months. Everything in that policy was that it would be done within the next three years.

Lisa Owen: So why is it so hard to do it sooner?

Carmel Sepuloni: I think, you know, Lisa, I’m not saying that it’s not being done sooner; I’m just telling you that it’s being done within the next three years.

There was a lot more vague non-committal to and fro. A bit of a waste of time until the committee does it’s review, and the budget reveals how much additional money will be available to address pressing issues.

Welfare overhaul to get underway ‘in next three years’ – Carmel Sepuloni

Full interview: Carmel Sepuloni

Newshub Nation – how to fix a broken justice system

On Newshub Nation (they have rebranded this year) this morning:

On Newshub Nation; CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora Lance Norman, former prison inmate Alex Sweeney, Corrections Association Vice President Paul Dennehy and criminal defence lawyer Stephen Bonnar discuss why our justice system is broken and what can be done to fix it

Most on the panel say that punitive punishment has increased with insufficient rehabilitation and reintegration on release.

Overcrowding is bad, and pressure on staff is high and increasing.

Swney – prison is a miserable environment.

Norman – many people don’t belong there, they should be going into health facilities rather than the prison system.

Dennehy – 91% of prisoners have mental health or substance abuse issues.

There is close correlation between the failed ‘war on drugs’ and imprisonment rates.

Drug laws and drug rehabilitation need to be urgently reviewed and revamped.

And on a small but important fix:

Justice Minister meets with a man set to have his historical conviction for homosexuality expunged to hear about what the new law would mean to him

L plates, T plates, E plates

They are about to discuss on TV1 breakfast whether there should be E plates for elderly drivers, similar to L plates for learner drivers. This is  is discriminatory, and it’s pathetic.

There have also been class for T plates for tourists.

What would an elderly learner tourist have to use? It would confuse other drivers if they had an LTE plate, people might think they are some sort of gay.

It would be more appropriate to have I plates – for idiot drivers.

Perhaps TV talk shows should have ratings displayed – TVNZ could do with an I rating with this discussion, it’s idiotic (posted before they start).

It turns out that a young guy has suggested it and has been given some air time.

It also turns out that he is trying to sell ‘Elderly Driver’ signs for cars.

Idiot (whoever decided to put him on TV to allow him to publicise his products).

I have an idea – idiot stickers. Drivers are unlikely to want to put I plates up themselves, so they would be better applied from the outside. Unfortunately that wouldn’t work very well for TV.

‘I’d rip their throats out’ over the top

When I saw this via Stuff – ‘I’d rip their throats out’: Nats’ Judith Collins slams Labour’s handling of sex claims – I thought it sounded over the top and not good for building support for the new look National Party line up.

Judith Collins has hit out at the Labour Party for not telling the victims’ parents of the alleged assaults at the Young Labour summer camp.

On Friday, National Party MP Judith Collins told the AM Show if she were a parent she would expect to be told what had happened.

“I’d actually rip their throats out for doing that if it was my kid, I really would,” she said in reference to Labour not telling the parents.

Collins said the “culture of secrecy” bred abusive and coercive behaviour.

To me that sounds like an inappropriate expression, and it isn’t great regardless of it touching on something like a feeling many parents might have if they found out a political party had kept the abuse of their teenager secret from them.

But hang on a minute. here’s a Newshub report – ‘I’d rip their throats out’ – Judith Collins tears into Labour’s handling of Waihi camp incident

Judith Collins says parents of the kids allegedly sexually assaulted at a Labour Party youth event should have been told right away.

The Housing Minister admitted if it was one of his own children, he’d liked to have been told right away.

“It’s not a good situation. We’re not happy about it. I think we let these young people down,” Mr Twyford told host Duncan Garner.

Ms Collins, appearing alongside Mr Twyford, said there should never have been any question about what parents would have wanted.

“I’d actually rip their throats out for doing that, if it was my kid, I really would. Obviously not physically, but you might as well. That’s what I’d want to do.

“I cannot believe they’d sit there saying, ‘Let’s not widen the circle.’ Why not? This is the culture of secrecy that actually breeds this sort of behaviour.”

“Obviously not physically” puts quite a different complexion on Collins’ turn of phrase. I still don’t think ‘rip their throats out’ sounds very good, but it’s not dissimilar to ‘give them a kick up the bum’, albeit more impactful being less comon (I haven’t heard it before). She could have said something without violence connotations, like “I’d be bloody pissed off’, and ik think many parents would identify with that.

The partial reporting by Stuff was quite poor. It was written by Laura Walters.