Police refuse to reveal any details of Dowie text inquiry

A police investigation into an alleged crime committed by a Member of Parliament is newsworthy – especially when the complainant or claimed victim is also an MP.

It’s common with major newsworthy crimes for the police to issue statements and have media conferences, with some outline and details of the investigation being made public.

But with investigations involving politicians they often if not always seem to prefer secrecy. There is no obvious reason for this, apart perhaps from protecting politicians from media mayhem.

David Fisher at NX Herald has used the OIA to seek information about an inquiry: Sarah Dowie and the text message inquiry – what the police won’t tell you

Police headquarters has pulled down the shutters on the investigation into the text message sent from National MP Sarah Dowie’s to Jami-Lee Ross.

Even basic details such as the date on which the complaint was laid and the part of the country where the investigating officer is based have been kept secret by police.

It came months after the end of their extra-marital relationship and included the words: “You deserve to die.”

Ross has previously said he did not make the complaint, which was received through the Crimestoppers freephone number.

Ross, 33, revealed the investigation just before his return to Parliament this year. It was a move which led to Dowie being named as one of the women with whom he had an extra-marital relationship while National MP for Botany.

Ross was obviously aware of the complaint and the means of making the complaint. It hasn’t been revealed whether this was due to contact with the police, or contact with the complainant.

Dowie said she was not aware of the complaint and had bot been contacted by the police.

Police headquarters had refused to make comment on the investigation, leading to the NZ Herald seeking specifics through the Official Information Act.

The sort of information sought was intended to place a context around the police inquiry involving a sitting MP – an unusual occurrence in any Parliamentary term.

Details sought included the date Crimestoppers took the complaint, when it was passed to police and where in the country the investigation had been assigned.

Other details included the rank of the officer leading the investigation, whether he or she worked in a specialised police area and the amount of time spent carrying out the inquiry.

Detective Inspector David Kirby, manager of the National Criminal Investigations Group, said: “The investigation is still ongoing and whilst the investigation is ongoing police is not in a position to go into specific details of the complaint.”

Kirby quoted the section of the Act relied on to refuse providing the information, which says OIA requests can be knocked back if doing otherwise would “prejudice the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation, and detection of offences, and the right to a fair trial”.

Other areas police ruled out were the date on which Ross had been told there was an investigation, whether he had been interviewed – if at all – and whether Cabinet ministers had been told of the inquiry.

if the police had not been in contact with Ross when he revealed the complaint had been made it would indicate that Ross knew via the complainant. He has not said he had no connection to the complaint, just that he had not made the complaint himself.

It has prompted a former senior police officer to ask: “Why would this investigation be treated any differently to any other investigation?”

The blanket withholding of basic information, commonly released by police, was at odds with normal practice, said a former detective, who would not be named.

Do politicians get special treatment from the police? That’s how it appears. If so, why?

A basic tenet of our system is ‘open justice’. This sort of statement is comment in court judgments:

The starting point is the principle of open justice and the right of the media to report on decisions of court as reflected in s 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. The principle in favour of open justice should only be departed from in circumstances where the interests of justice so require, and only to the extent necessary to serve those interests.

See Erceg v Erceg [2016] NZSC 135, [2017] 1 NZLR 310 at [2]

New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990:

Freedom of expression

14. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.

But that is often balanced against the right to a fair trial, and this was given as a reason by the police for secrecy in this case. Claiming a right to a fair trial is a common grounds for seeking name suppression,  but in this case the names of both alleged offender and claimed victim are already known – because the claimed victim Ross revealed it to media.

So Ross chose to go public for political PR purposes, but despite this the police are refusing to give out any information or context, as seems common with inquiries involving politicians.

The difference in this case is a politician claims to be the victim and has already publicised the inquiry. This is an unusual situation.

Politicians are usually subject to more scrutiny than the general public, but not when the police are involved.

Media finally report on Sarah Dowie in relation to JLR

For some reason there was blanket media silence on the identity of the National MP who had had a relationship with ex-National MP Jami-Lee Ross, and had sent him a text that had been reported widely and is now the subject of a police investigation.

But now the dam has burst. This had to come out in public. It was widely known anyway.

NZ Herald:  Police probe text allegedly sent from phone of MP Sarah Dowie to Jami-Lee Ross

Police are investigating a text message, allegedly sent from the phone of National Party MP Sarah Dowie, to her former colleague and ex lover Jami-Lee Ross.

https://sarahdowie.national.org.nz/

The police investigation is said to focus on whether the text message – which came after the break-up of their extra-marital relationship – constituted an incitement to self-harm, which is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Ross, 33, has previously named Invercargill MP Dowie, 43, as one of the women with whom he had an extra-marital relationship while National MP for Botany.

The text message included the words: “You deserve to die.”

Ross has claimed that is an incitement to suicide, even though he claims to have considered or attempted suicide a couple of months after receiving the text.

Ross initially received the message in August but has claimed reading it two months later led to considering self-harm. He was taken into mental health care shortly after.

The text message raised questions over whether there was a breach of the Harmful Digital Communications Act, passed under National and voted for by Dowie. The law regulated digital communications, including text messages, making it illegal to urge someone to self-harm.

The fact of the police investigation was revealed by Ross during a television interview. It was apparently sparked by a call to the Crimestoppers hotline. Ross said he did not lay the complaint.

Ross didn’t say if he knew who laid the complaint, or if they were associated with him.

Asked if Dowie had been aware of the investigation, the National Party leader’s office said she had not.

A spokesman said National Party leader Simon Bridges had also been unaware of the investigation.

This suggests that the police had not progressed the complaint as far as talking to the alleged offender.

Ross and Dowie were understood to have been in a relationship for more than two years. It is believed to have ended around May.

During that time, Dowie and Ross were both in marriages with children each. Dowie and her husband later separated.

Usually the private lives of MPs has been a no go subject for the media, but Jami-Lee Ross has forced this to become public.

This makes things difficult right now for Dowie, but it is remarkable that it has taken it this long to hit the media headlines.

I posted in November:  The non-naming of the National MP raises media issues. For some reason this post got a number of hits overnight.

Dowie should have pre-empted this instead of waiting for a media frenzy.

More (from Barry Soper): Sarah Dowie, the police inquiry, and the text from her phone

We have decided to name her following the police decision this week to investigate a text allegedly sent from her phone to her 33-year-old former lover during the early hours of a Saturday morning last August.

The decision to name Dowie in no way countenances the behaviour of Ross towards the women who have anonymously made claims of harassment and bullying against him.

It’s not the Parliamentary Press Gallery’s job to protect MPs when a police investigation is under way.

The text sent to Ross said: “Before you interpret this as your usual narc self – don’t. Interpret it as me – you are a f***ing ugly MF pig. Shave that f***ing tuft of hair off your f***ing front of skull head and own your baldness – you sweaty, fat, toe inturned mutant. You deserve to die and leave your children in peace and your wife out of torment – f***er!”

Ross says the text was one of the things that triggered a mental breakdown in October.

After re-reading it, he allegedly sent it to Dowie telling her “you get your wish,” before turning his phone off. After being alerted, the police found him south of Auckland.

Ross claims the police recently approached him about the text.

What Ross claims deserves further investigation, as does his current motives.

Safety concerns over Pike River mine re-entry

It’s not surprising to hear that there are safety concerns over the planned re-entry of the Pike River mine. Police will not be in the initial re-entry, limiting the chances of finding forensic evidence about the cause of the explosions and the fate of the 29 miners who were killed there in November 2010.

Stuff – Pike River re-entry: Police won’t be among first inside mine after risk assessment raised safety concerns

Police will not send staff in with the first Pike River mine re-entry team following a risk assessment.

The Government gave re-entry plans the all-clear in November. Minister Andrew Little said at the time a number of dangers still remained, but extensive advice had shown re-entry to the drift using the existing access tunnel of the mine would be “by far the safest option”.

Police said in September they would enter the tunnel only if the mine re-entry plan was approved by both the Police Commissioner and an independent review.

The police spokesman they were continuing to discuss the re-entry plan with the Pike River Recovery Agency, mine experts and Worksafe. The most recent discussion with experts took place on Friday, and discussions were “ongoing”.

“Police will go into the mine when we know it is safe and we know that there is no risk to our staff, or any others who are in the mine with us.

There will always be some risks going back into the mine. The police will presumably have to assess whether the potential benefits of investigating inside the mine justify the risks.

“This is a complex, technical process and we are absolutely committed to supporting the work to re-enter the mine, just as we are to ensuring safety of our staff. We are currently developing training to be given to staff, and have established a dedicated team to support the police role in the re-entry operation. This work will continue in the coming weeks.”

Christchurch Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Collins has been seconded to represent police in the Pike River Recover Agency. He could not be contacted for comment on Tuesday.

He said in September if re-entry was achieved, police would complete a scene examination, recover any bodies, and complete any other processes required on behalf of the coroner.

Police decided in 2013 to leave the criminal investigation open until the scene could be examined.

Any new evidence they found would be used to determine whether charges could be laid.

I really doubt whether evidence can be found that would support charges being laid. I don’t know what they expect to find in there.

The kids who were killed in stolen car smash

Yesterday a horrible car smash in Christchurch that went up in flames, killing occupants, led the news.

The police are in difficult situations where dangerous use of lethal vehicles are involved. It has been reported that the car was driven through the city at over 130 km per hour, running red lights, in wet conditions. Some sort of accident was a clear possibility. So it happened.

Police officers were quickly on the accident scene, and were injured when they unsuccessfully tried to free the boys from the flaming wreck.

The role of the police in starting to chase the car, then withdrawing from the chase, then laying out road spikes that contributed to the accident, will get plenty of scrutiny in due course. It should be thoroughly investigated.

But what about the lives and deaths of the three teenagers? stuff has some initial insight in Young brothers killed after fleeing car explodes in ‘huge ball of fire

Stuff understands the boys are 16-year-old Glen Mcallister, who was believed to be driving the car, and 13-year-olds Craig Mcallister and Brooklyn Taylor.

The mother of two young boys killed alongside their friend after the fleeing car they were in exploded says she’s in “severe shock”.

That’s understandable.

Glen and Craig’s mother, Juanita Rose, told Stuff she was in “severe shock” after losing her two sons, who she called her “babies, my life”.

Their sister posted a tribute to her “handsome brothers” on Facebook.

“Losing one of you is hard enough, but both of you going has destroyed me. Thirteen and 16 is way too young to be gone.

But these three young teenagers were out near midnight driving a car they had stolen. And it is claimed they had a habit of stealing cars.

Taylor’s older sister, TeAri Taylor, said her younger brother’s life began to unravel when their father died nine years ago.

Taylor said she felt sick when she got a call on Monday morning to say her brother had died.

I know the feeling, albeit in less horrific circumstances.

“He was a broken child.They were attached at the hip, Dad was his best mate.”

Brooklyn was in the care of Oranga Tamariki at the time of his death.

TeAri Taylor spoke with him in April last year, after the death of their grandmother, about moving up to Wellington to live with her.

“At the time he wasn’t going through a very good situation, wrong people, wrong crowd – just basically couldn’t get out of the situation that he was in,” she said.

It sounds like he was certainly in the wrong crowd in the wrong car on Sunday night.

“Everybody makes mistakes, but that’s your life. They were only 13 and 16 – it’s absolutely disgusting, they had so much to live for.

“As much as I’m broken that we have to bury my baby brother, it wasn’t an easy decision or situation to deal with for those police to have to deal with.”

It is understood the three boys had regularly stolen cars throughout the city in recent months. The Mazda Familia involved in the crash was first seen speeding in central Christchurch at 11.13pm on Sunday, reaching speeds in excess of 130kmh and running red lights on Moorhouse Ave. It had been stolen earlier that night.

If it is understood that “the three boys had regularly stolen cars throughout the city in recent months” how could they have still been able to be out stealing and driving on Sunday night?

The police will hopefully learn from how they handled the incident. Some of the police officers are likely to be haunted by what they had to deal with.

Oranga Tamariki may also hopefully learn something from their involvement.

But will there be lessons for families of out of control teens?

Also from Stuff – The faces of fatal police chases: Teens make up half of crash victims

Teenagers make up almost half of all victims of fatal police pursuits reported in New Zealand in the last three years.

Stuff has been able to confirm the identities of 27 people who died as a result of car crashes where police were in pursuit at some point since 2015. This includes drivers, passengers, and innocent road users who were hit.

Of the 27 fatalities, 13 were teenagers, some as young as 12 years old.

 

 

 

 

Tougher measures against drug dealing, police to go easier on users

The Government announced new measures to combat drug problems, especially synthetic drugs that have been causing a number of deaths. Two common ingredients of synthetics will be reclassified, making selling them punishable by up to life imprisonment, balanced with instructions to police to go easier on drug users.

Generally this is a big and welcome step forward, but it has a complication – it’s common for drug users to also sell drugs to finance their habit.

And Police have expressed concerns about what the changes will mean for them. They already use their discretion in dealing with drug users.

Beehive: Crackdown on synthetic drug dealers

I don’t know why they have chosen to focus just on the getting tough bit in their headline.

The Government is responding to increased drug-related deaths by cracking down on the suppliers of synthetic drugs while making it easier for those with addiction problems to get treatment, Health Minister Dr David Clark and Police Minister Stuart Nash have announced.

“Under current laws synthetics and other dangerous drugs are killing people and fuelling crime while dealers and manufacturers get rich. The current approach is failing to keep Kiwis safe and can’t be continued,” David Clark said.

“It’s time to do what will work. We need to go harder on the manufactures of dangerous drugs like synthetics, and treat the use of drugs as a health issue by removing barriers to people seeking help.”

I hope the measures will work better – they should – but it is not going to solve all drug problems.

The Government has today announced a suite of measures to tackle synthetic drugs. The measures include:

  • Classifying as Class A the main two synthetic drugs (5F-ADB and AMB-FUBINACA) that have been linked to recent deaths. This will give police the search and seizure powers they need crackdown on suppliers and manufacturers, who will also face tougher penalties – up to life imprisonment.
  • Creating a temporary drug classification category, C1, so new drugs can easily be brought under the Misuse of Drugs Act, giving police the search and seizure powers needed to interrupt supply – an important part of a health response.
  • Amending the Misuse of Drugs Act to specify in law that Police should use their discretion and not prosecute for possession and personal use where a therapeutic approach would be more beneficial, or there is no public interest in a prosecution. This will apply to the use of all illegal drugs, so there is no perverse incentive created encouraging people to switch to a particular drug.
  • Allocate $16.6 million to boost community addiction treatment services, and provide communities with the support to provide emergency “surge” responses, when there is a spate of overdoses or deaths, for example.

“To be clear, this is not the full decriminalisation of drugs recommended by the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry. These are immediate steps we can take in response to the challenge we face with synthetics. We are considering the Inquiry’s recommendations separately,” Dr Clark said.

National have grizzled about it being a path to decriminalisation but given their lack of action through their 9 year term i feel like telling them to get stuffed.

Police targeting dealers

Police Minister Stuart Nash says frontline Police are targeting dealers and suppliers with an increased focus on organised crime and trans-national crime as a result of extra resourcing in Budget 2018.

“Misuse of drugs remains illegal and people should not be complacent about the risks of getting caught. Whether a drug user ends up getting Police diversion, goes through an alternative resolution process, or is referred for health treatment, they will still come to the notice of Police,” Stuart Nash said.

That’s fine, when a user isn’t also doing some dealing.

Police Association:  Police Association conditional support to drug initiatives

The Police Association supports the government’s move to go after the manufacturers and suppliers of lethal synthetic drugs.

Association President Chris Cahill says he is pleased to see a commitment to classification of two synthetic drugs as Class A, and the intention to create a temporary drug classification, C1, so new drugs can easily be brought under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The association supports a greater focus on treatment of drug addiction rather than prosecution. However, there is concern about some aspects of the government announcement.

“It has an air of drug reform on the fly, rather than a more considered debate and informed legislation. I am worried that by codifying Police discretion the government is potentially asking officers to be the spearhead of decriminalisation. If decriminalisation is what parliament wants, then that’s what the law should say,” Mr Cahill said.

Police officers already use discretion and follow very clear guidelines to determine whether a prosecution is appropriate for the particular person and whether a prosecution would be in the public interest.

“This is often a difficult decision, taking into account factors about the offender, the offence and the victim. Evidence of discretion-in-action is apparent in research from Massey University’s Dr Chris Wilkins which notes that apprehensions for cannabis use have declined by 70 per cent between 1994 and 2014, and about half of all arrests now result in warnings only,” Mr Cahill said.

“Now the government wants officers to apply that discretion when it comes to drug users who are suffering from addiction or mental health problems so, instead of going to court, they can undergo addiction treatment. However, we know the treatment facilities are just not available.

For this all to work it is critical that substantially more treatment facilities and options are made available.

Russell Brown has a good post on it –Just quietly, this is a big deal

Finding the actual nature of that balance has not been an easy matter, and both official and independent expert advice has been sought on how to manage it. But this is what they’re doing, per this morning’s announcement:

Amending the Misuse of Drugs Act to specify in law that Police should use their discretion and not prosecute for possession and personal use where a therapeutic approach would be more beneficial, or there is no public interest in a prosecution. This will apply to the use of all illegal drugs, so there is no perverse incentive created encouraging people to switch to a particular drug.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Misuse of Drugs Act will be amended to guide Police discretion in such a way that the default will be to not prosecute personal use and possession of any illegal drug. The government is at pains to emphasise that this is not the full Portugal-style decriminalisation  repeatedly called for in last week’s Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, and you may even expect reform advocates to play it down a bit.

But it’s a really big deal.

If you are interest in these changes Russell’s whole post is worth reading.

Louisa Wall’s speech at Pride Parade hui ‘circus’

Labour MP Louisa Wall was recorded speaking at a recent Pride Parade hui that has further highlighted the fraught factional gender debate surrounding this year’s parade, and also on “the whole gender identity issue”.

Wall “To be honest I think fundamentally that is part of the issue, that we’ve been infiltrated by people who are trying to divide and rule us”.

Wall made some controversial comments, in particular:

“So I’m here to say, that my whole thing is I don’t want any fucking Terfs at the Pride Parade”. But Wall also provides context around the current debate. The whole context of her speech is important.

The organisation of the Pride Parade this year has highlighted growing problems in the LGBTQ+ community, with division and exclusion – the opposite of what the Pride Parade was supposed to be about – festering and sometimes blowing out into the open.

There have been claims that the organising committee has been hijacked by radical activists – and if People Against Prisons Aotearoa (they want to shut all prisons and disband the police force) have taken some degree of control then others should be concerned.

Media were excluded from the hui, but Stuff reported: Auckland Pride Parade’s hui over police uniform ban turns into ‘a circus’

A physical scuffle broke out at a meeting of the Auckland rainbow community to discuss the ban on uniformed police marching in the city’s 2019 Pride Parade.

Before the start of the meeting, Tim Foote, an independent facilitator on behalf of the Pride board, also asked media if they had taken any notes and told them to leave the meeting at Grey Lynn Community Centre on Sunday night, which was attended by about 250 people.

The meeting was described as “emotional” and “a circus” by an attendee.

A number of attendees walked out when the scuffle broke out between an older man and a founder People Against Prisons Aotearoa. Its “No Pride In Prisons” group has been advocating for police to be excluded from the parade.

Another attendee, who requested not to be named in fear of the repercussions, told Stuff the meeting was a farce from start to finish.

Tracy Phillips, co-ordinator of the New Zealand Police’s diversity liaison officer (DLO) service, responded by saying: “We’re certainly not going to force our way in, and we’ve taken that message as we are not welcome.”

In a Facebook post made while the meeting was still underway, Rainbow Tick chief executive  Michael Stevens said organisers had underestimated the number of people wanting to attend, and the meeting had been “a shambles”.

Stevens said the Pride Board had “totally underestimated the depth of division they’d created with their decision. If that’s how they’re running the Pride Parade then God help them”.

A source told Stuff it was “the ugliest meeting I have been to in a long time”.

Louisa Wall, Labour’s MP for Manurewa, said she had gone to the meeting as a member of the community, because she had “wanted to understand how we got to this place”.

A recording of Louisa Wall addressing the hui has emerged via Speak Up for Women:

Stop Hate Speech

Here’s the full recording of MP Louisa Wall’s hate speech targeting women during the Pride Hui earlier this week.

The recording was made in secret by a hui attendee who will not speak publicly for fear of the attacks and threats they have already been subjected to. We demand that our MPs promote respectful dialogue on women’s legitimate concerns with proposed changes to the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationship Registration Act.

Some of what Wall said:

I want to actually commend you on your consultation, I think it’s really important. As you began the journey you actually listened to the community.

And the other bottom line for us all, I mean the whole gender identity issue and trans exclusion is huge. Right? It’s a global issue at the moment, and I think none of us want to see the exclusion of our trans sisters.

Up until this stage the speech was interspersed with clapping.

To be honest I think fundamentally that is part of the issue, that we’ve been infiltrated by people who are trying to divide and rule us.

No clapping after this line, but some inaudible comments could be heard, after which Wall continued uninterrupted.

Part of the issue is we have had a decision made based on as Sissy has articulated, a series of consultations. but what is really difficult for the community is actually since 2013, and we need to look at the context, the police were initially asked not to march in uniform.

Ok, so in 2013, when the Pride parade started, the police participated not in uniform, but since 2014 the police have been able to participate and march in uniform.

Historically as a community we know we’ve had an issue with the police. Historically as a community we know we’ve had an issue with Corrections.

So these issues are not discrete.

But I think what’s happened is the board has made it’s decision based on listening to the community, and we are all now here together because the decision they made was actually to listen to our community. So we have to thank them, which is why i have started by thanking Sissy and her team for what they have undertaken. Now…

Clapping and ‘hear hear’.

And as we move forward, and herein lies a bit of a, it’s an ironic, h, part of the police’s history, ’cause I do want to acknowledge you Tracy, and I also want to acknowledge our brothers and sisters, LGBCQ, whanau and the police.

I’m actually here representing my friend Whiti Timutimu, who is the Maori Responsiveness Adviser for the New Zealand Police…she’s the first Maori woman serving in the Police having a moku. She couldn’t be here, she’s based in Gisborne.

But the Police are doing an amazing job at diversifying…The Police are exemplifying at the moment diversity and inclusion, and that’s the irony of this decision…

And having a meeting, and possibly rolling the Board, we all need to just take a big deep breath, and actually focus on what Pride is all about.

Everybody who’s here has been motivated to get here tonight because we are proud to be members of the LGBT community…all of us want the same thing,

But, what we also have acknowledge is for our trans community, I believe they are still the most marginalised, excluded group in our LGBT community, and I stand here as takaatapui Lesbian woman, who feels fucking grateful that my identity means I get access to services that I need.

And our trans whanau do not experience life like we do. We have to fight and support their rights and their ability to speak up, and I do also want to acknowledge what you said Bobby, ’cause it’s true when we look at the Police Complaints Authority, the Human Rights Authority (I’m there tomorrow), and our trans whanau too, if you are feeling victimised and abused and not listened to, and your complaints are not getting through to institutions which again highlight the fact that if there are some discrimination and issues in our community, then we’ve got a problem.

But the people we need to be working with are those diversity liaison officers, and ourselves with our community. We’ve got the capacity, we’re bloody strong, and when we speak in a unified voice, we can get change.

So I’m here to say, that my whole thing is I don’t want any fucking Terfs at the Pride Parade.

Much cheering and clapping.

Speak up for Women define terf: The word ‘terf’ is hate speech used to belittle and threaten anyone who rejects the premises or conclusions of transgender ideology.  It is used to dehumanise and incite violence.

Sorry about swearing everybody

So that’s why I’m sorry I took a bit more time, but can we just show some compassion, some aroha, some love, some support for one another. And that’s my korero for tonight.

So spoke a bit more after that and then closed her speech.

Small parts of that speech have led to a reaction, including frowns over a ‘secret’ recording, but I think that if small parts are going to be quoted then wider context is important.

 

Jami-Lee Ross “taken into mental health care”

This isn’t surprising. A bit sad in a way, but …

NewstalkZB: Jami-Lee Ross taken into mental health care

Jami-Lee Ross has been taken into mental health care

Newstalk ZB can confirm the rogue National MP was taken in by police.

He was taken to a facility in Auckland.

A spokesperson for the National Party said in a statement: “Over the past several weeks the National Party has taken seriously the mental health concerns raised by Mr Ross and the medical professionals he has been involved with.

“That has included seeking advice from medical professionals and involving Police wherever necessary to ensure support is made available to Mr Ross. It would not be appropriate to comment further.”

When he talked to media on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said that his doctor had cleared him and he was feeling healthy. He rejected comments from National deputy leader Paula Bennett that he was suffering from mental health issues, saying that his doctor had called Bennett to tell her that he was healthy.

It is unclear if Ross was admitted under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act, which means that someone can be admitted to a safe place and given treatment against their will if their safety is considered at risk.

Something like this seemed kind of inevitable as things spiralled out of control for Ross, politically, personally, credibility-wise – his life had become a real mess.

I hope he gets the care and support he needs.


Update: Andrew Geddis had posted at Pundit on what National’s options were with Ross remaining in Parliament, but he has updated his post after this latest development.

[Update: According to media reports, Jami-Lee Ross has been taken into mental health care (i.e. has not voluntarily committed himself for treatment). This has two consequences for my already written commentary on the party hopping law (which remains in place below):

One, it means that National will almost certainly not use the party hopping law in relation to him. Not because Ross’ commital changes my original legal analysis at all, but rather because no political party is going to force an unwell MP who is undergoing treatment out of Parliament. They just aren’t.

Two, it brings the Electoral Act 1990, s 55(1)(i) into play, in that Ross’ seat automatically becomes vacant “if he … becomes mentally disordered, as provided in section 56.” I am not knowledgable enough regarding mental health law to comment in any detail on this possibility, so I’ll reproduce s 56 here for you to see:

(1) Where a member of Parliament is, or is deemed to be, subject to a compulsory treatment order made under Part 2 of the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, the court by which the order is made shall, as soon as may be, give a notice to the Speaker of the making of the order.

(2) Where a member of Parliament is received or detained in a hospital in accordance with an inpatient order made under Part 2 of the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, the person in charge of that hospital shall, as soon as may be, give notice to the Speaker of the reception or detention.

(3) Where the Speaker receives a notice under subsection (1) or subsection (2), the Speaker shall forthwith transmit the notice to the Director-General of Health, who, together with some medical practitioner named by the Speaker, shall without delay visit and examine the member to whom the notice relates, and shall report to the Speaker whether the member is mentally disordered.

(4) If the report is to the effect that the member is mentally disordered the Speaker shall, at the expiration of 6 months from the date of the report if Parliament is then in session, and, if not, then as soon as may be after the date of the commencement of the next ensuing session, require the said Director-General, together with the said medical practitioner or some other medical practitioner named by the Speaker, again to visit and examine the member; and, if they report that he or she is still mentally disordered, the Speaker shall forthwith lay both reports before the House of Representatives, and thereupon the seat of the member shall be vacant.

So, in essence, if Ross gets committed into compulsory mental health care by a Family Court Judge, and if he’s still in that care six months from now, then his seat becomes vacant at that point.]

Ross, Bridges and the party hopping law (updated for recent developments)


Update 2 – NZH  Jami-Lee Ross ‘sectioned’ to mental health facility in Auckland

Jami-Lee Ross has been sectioned to an Auckland mental health facility, following a tumultuous week in which he traded insults and allegations with the National Party and came clean to his wife about extra-marital affairs.

Ross was taken in by police on Sunday afternoon, and a source close to Ross told the Herald that Ross was “not in good shape” and “had been sectioned … people who go willingly aren’t sectioned”.

Under the Mental Health Act, a person can be sectioned to a safe place against their will and given treatment if their safety is considered at risk.

But the source told the Herald that the National Party was warned about pushing Ross too far on Monday, when Bridges and Bennett met with Ross about the PwC inquiry into Bridges’ leaked travel expenses.

Concerns were raised about Ross’ mental health three weeks ago, when Ross took leave from Parliament for “personal health issues” and later said he had a mental breakdown over being accused of inappropriate behaviour towards women.

Ross’ doctors were in contact with Bridges and Bennett and, the source said, “were told if any more pressure or stress was headed his way, there was a real likelihood of this incident [being sectioned] occurring”.

“Two weeks later, when they confronted him about the report of the leak, the medical advice was reiterated. And they said they were going to release the information in half an hour.”

A very difficult thing for National to deal with. They are likely to get hammered no matter how they dealt with it.

 

 

Where to start on Jami-Lee Ross versus Bridges and National?

There is a huge amount of material around after yesterday’s unprecedented developments, where Ross was dumped from the National caucus but resigned anyway and also resigned from Parliament.

This will trigger a by-election in Botany that Ross says he will contest as an independent, saying it will be a vote on the leadership of Bridges. I’m not sure what voters will think of using democratic processes to advance a personal and party feud.

Ross says he will go to the police today after making accusations of corruption (that he says he played a part in). He seems to be trying to portray himself as some sort of principled whistle blowing hero.

Bridges denies everything and he and other National MPs have attacked back against Ross.

It may take some time to unravel the facts of this unravelling of Ross and National.

As Newsroom says, Jami-Lee Ross leaves more questions than answers

Ross denies being the original leaker of Bridges’ travel expenses. The expenses were leaked to a Newshub journalist in August and the PwC report commissioned by Bridges showed no correspondence between Ross and the journalist. The report said the leaker had not been identified “with certainty”, but the evidence pointed to Ross.

Ross has admitted to being the leaker of the text from the person claiming to be the expense leaker (stay with us). The text calling for the leak inquiry to be called off was leaked to a different journalist, from a different organisation. Ross said he passed the details of the text to the RNZ journalist because he disagreed with Bridges’ decisions regarding the leak saga, including his decision to push forward with an investigation despite the leaker revealing they had mental health issues.

So Ross denies being the original leaker but supported that leaker by leaking texts from them.

Ross is also now facing allegations of harassing at least four women. He was confronted by Bridges, deputy leader Paula Bennett, and National chief of staff Jamie Gray about three weeks ago. They said there were complaints from four women, and they were aware of a “pattern of behaviour”. Bridges said the women did not want to take the matter further.

Last night Bennett told Newsroom it was wrong of Ross to claim she and Bridges had raised allegations of sexual ‘harassment’ with him. “We just put to him some form of inappropriate behaviour for a married man. We had a private conversation with him. It was sensitive, but it is him who has chosen to go public about it being around sexual harassment.”

This is very touchy ground for MPs who generally don’t go public on the private behaviour of other MPs. I’ve seen a range of accusations but will wait for substance and evidence.

Ross denies ever harassing a woman, saying he was raised by his mother and grandmother to respect women. He then strangely referenced the Brett Kavanaugh affair in the US, saying a man who was accused of harassment these days found it almost impossible to clear their name. Ross said these allegations led to him having a “mental breakdown” and caused him to take leave. He said he was better now.

Odd, Ross wasn’t publicly accused of harassment. He outed himself, claiming to be the victim of false accusations of harassment.

Ross said Bridges filed false returns for electoral donations. One of those was a $10,000 donation from an organisation called Cathedral Club, which Ross alleged was a front for Bridges’ friend. Bridges said there was a clerical error regarding two donations totalling $24,000, as they were listed as candidate donations, rather than party donations. The return was amended and resubmitted.

Ross also alleged Bridges had received $100,000 from Chinese businessman Yikun Zhang, which Bridges asked Ross to collect and split up so it could be filed anonymously. The outgoing National MP said he would be taking information regarding the alleged “corruption” to police on Wednesday.

But:

So that may distance Bridges from prosecution (National’s party secretary could be in the firing line), but if substantiated it is likely to leave Bridges in political difficulty, especially as a leader.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow said the party could find no proof of Ross’ allegations, which seemed “inconsistent with the donor information we have to date, including information previously supplied by Mr Ross”.

If Ross proves wrongdoing he may be culpable himself.

Bridges’ handling of the leak saga, and his popularity both in and out of the party, have been questioned during the past two months. The leader said the party was united and all 55 MPs had voted to expel Ross. He also said his leadership had not been discussed by caucus but the party was united. He repeatedly referred to Ross as a “lone-wolf MP”, who was “leaking”, “lying” and “lashing out”.

However, this will not be the end of the saga for Bridges, who may now be at the centre of an investigation into alleged electoral fraud. He’s in a stronger position than Ross at this stage but nothing’s a sure thing in politics.

I think it’s too soon to know how this will impact on Bridges’ leadership and on the National Party.

David Farrar is on RNZ right now saying ‘it is bad for both National and Bridges, they only questions are how bad and for how long”.

If the police launch an inquiry that is almost certain to drag things out for some time.

The Botany by-election will drag things out for a couple of months or so if they can fit it in before Christmas.

And Ross seems intent on revealing a lot of information including a recording and communications.

Police numbers increased to combat serious and organised crime

This has already been signalled, but Police Minister Stuart Nash has released details on a push to police serious and organised crime and gangs more.


Extra police to combat organised crime

The deployment of 500 extra Police to target organised crime will make significant inroads to efforts to reduce victimisation and improve the wellbeing of our communities, says Police Minister Stuart Nash.

“The Commissioner of Police has today revealed details of how the additional frontline officers will be allocated as part of the unprecedented effort to prevent and combat serious and organised crime,” says Mr Nash.

“Areas of focus include disrupting trans-national criminal groups, national and local gangs, cyber-crime, money laundering and child exploitation. The purpose is to prevent crime and reduce the harm to our communities from the supply of drugs, serious violence and other offending.”

“The 500 extra specialist police are part of the Coalition Agreement with New Zealand First to strive for 1800 extra officers. Gangs and disruption of organised crime was also identified as a priority area in the Coalition Agreement. Extra officers at both district and national level will truly make a difference in our communities.

“Organised criminals and gangs are supplying methamphetamine to our communities with no regard for the significant harm it causes, and these extra police will be going after them.

“Police will be targeting our most serious offenders and criminal leaders to take them off the street. We need to cut the head off the snake. But police will also be looking to help others on the periphery of gang life and other vulnerable people to get the help they need to fight addiction, break the cycle, and improve their lives.”

A further 200 district-based officers will support the focus on preventing organised crime. The new investment also provides for the specialist skills and the tools required for effective 21st-century policing, including the latest technology to combat organised crime.

“The Government’s long term plan makes it a priority to improve the wellbeing of families and communities. We are focussing on preventing crime and reducing reoffending in order to keep our communities safe”, Mr Nash says.

http://www.police.govt.nz/news/release/unprecedented-drive-combat-serious-and-organised-crime

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Bridges versus Ardern: “in hot pursuit of murderers”

A shock in question time in Parliament – while grilling Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges appeared to think on his feet and ask an off-the-cuff non-scripted question. It even raised a few laughs across the house.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why will union representatives not be required to gain consent from an employer before entering the premises of their workplace when even a police officer has to ask a judge for a warrant?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I pointed out in my last answer, if there are health and safety obligations that require them to do so, then they would. Again, I come back to this issue that these are changes that existed, in many cases in this omnibus bill, right up until 2015. These are changes that allow employees to have a voice, to be well represented in the workplace, and I’m surprised that the member considers that this is going to have such a dire impact on the economy.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Using the member’s previous question, does a policeman in hot pursuit of a highly suspected murderer inside an office situation have to spend all the time to go and ask a judge for a warrant to pick that person up?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I had called order before, but I think we’ll just leave it there.

Hon Simon Bridges: Can the Minister confirm that we are giving unions the powers that we give police officers when they’re in hot pursuit of murderers?

While Ardern avoided answering that directly, apparently not.

Draft transcript:


1. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s statements and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes.

Hon Simon Bridges: When she was asked whether proposed employment law changes would allow a union representative to enter the property of a business without the business’ permission, does she stand by her answer “only if the person in question they are visiting is a member of the union.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’m glad the member’s asked that question again; it gives me a chance to clarify. The example that he gave related to farmhouses, and I know that section 19 of the Act and the proposal that is included in this bill specifically precludes going into a dwelling, which means that the example that the member used would not have been accurate. So thank you for the opportunity to clarify.

Hon Simon Bridges: Can she confirm that the Government’s changes actually give the power to union representatives to enter the premises of a business without their permission, even if there are no union members on site, so that unions can recruit new members or distribute the union information?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The first principle I want to point out is that this legislation that is before Parliament at present, essentially, brings back employment legislation that existed right up until 2015 in some cases, and I have to say that unless the member is now saying that there was a dire economic situation for the six years his Government was last in as a consequence of that legislation, then that’s for him to argue. We personally do not believe that this is the case with these changes. To come back to the question that the member raised, for the purposes of perhaps signing up directly a union member, which is quite a specific circumstance, then that would be the case. But, again, I point out that section 21 of the Act means that the union official has to comply with all reasonable health and safety and security procedures and must access the workplace in a reasonable way, having regard to normal business operations in the workplace. There are plenty of protections in place.

Hon Simon Bridges: Has she seen comments by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety in relation to her answers in the House last week: “If the National Party really wanted to debate the detail of the bill, they would be asking me questions, because it is my responsibility to understand the detail of this legislation. They should be talking to me, not trying to catch the Prime Minister off guard.”, and, if so, does she agree with her Minister that she was caught off guard?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I know the point that the Minister was making was that if this was such a significant issue for the economy, why has the spokesperson not asked the Minister directly about this issue?

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she think it’s her responsibility to know the detail of a policy that business says is their number one concern with her Government?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As much as it is the Opposition leader’s responsibility to know that a union official can’t enter a farmhouse.

Hon Simon Bridges: To be really clear: can the Prime Minister confirm that under the Government’s proposed employment law changes, a union representative will be able to enter the premises of a business without permission from that business?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The person in question has to comply with the rules and obligations of that workplace, including the health and safety obligations. So if that means reporting in at the gate because there are health and safety obligations, then they must comply with that law.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why will union representatives not be required to gain consent from an employer before entering the premises of their workplace when even a police officer has to ask a judge for a warrant?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I pointed out in my last answer, if there are health and safety obligations that require them to do so, then they would. Again, I come back to this issue that these are changes that existed, in many cases in this omnibus bill, right up until 2015. These are changes that allow employees to have a voice, to be well represented in the workplace, and I’m surprised that the member considers that this is going to have such a dire impact on the economy.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Using the member’s previous question, does a policeman in hot pursuit of a highly suspected murderer inside an office situation have to spend all the time to go and ask a judge for a warrant to pick that person up?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I had called order before, but I think we’ll just leave it there.

Hon Simon Bridges: Can the Minister confirm that we are giving unions the powers that we give police officers when they’re in hot pursuit of murderers?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The point that the Deputy Prime Minister was making was that the member is being alarmist and dramatic.

Hon Simon Bridges: Can she confirm that under the Government’s proposed employment law changes, businesses owners will now have to pay workers for time spent undertaking union activities?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes, in the same way that they have to, under the legislation, also allow them to have rest and meal breaks.

Hon Simon Bridges: So, to be clear, can she confirm that under the Government’s proposed employment law changes, businesses will now be responsible for funding union activities while workers should otherwise be doing their job?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I would encourage the member to have a long conversation with the likes of Air New Zealand, where, through their framework of working collectively with their employees, they have improved the productivity, the health and safety, and they have a high-performance workplace. Unlike the member, I don’t believe that excluding employees is the way to become a productive company in a productive country.

Hon Simon Bridges: Will the law changes make private businesses responsible for undertaking and funding union membership drives?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, as I say, this is legislation that existed under the last Government, and at that point—unless they’re starting to argue that under the first six years of their reign the economy tanked, they might want to change to a new line of questioning, because we on this side of the House believe it’s possible to empower employees to have a voice in the workplace and it won’t endanger business or the economy.