‘Surprising’ New Zealand has no strategy to prevent terrorist attacks

Can terrorism prevention in New Zealand be effective without having a strategy. The risk of terrorism can’t be eliminated completely, but some sort of strategy must be a help.

RNZ – Christchurch Attacks: What security agencies are keeping us safe?

The minister responsible for New Zealand’s spy agencies says it’s “surprising” the country doesn’t have a strategy to prevent terrorist attacks.

But Andrew Little maintains the country’s intelligence systems are effective.

“We like to think we have a counter-terrorism means, the ability to respond to something. But we don’t have a strategy that anticipates and prevents or seeks prevention of a terrorist act happening,” he said.

According to research by former army officers Chris Rothery and Terry Johanson, both now academics at Massey University, New Zealand’s entire national security system is “reactionary”, and does not focus on anticipating and preventing terrorist activity.

“There are not many countries that do have a national security strategy, but they do have a more formulated policy [than New Zealand] in regards to a lot of the threats that they’ll face,” Mr Rothery said.

The pair said New Zealand has no national security strategy, no counter-terrorism national strategy and – unlike in Australia,Canada and the United Kingdom – no independent body to check threats are being prioritised properly.

Andrew Little, who is responsible for the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) and Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), admitted the focus had been on reacting to events.

“We’ve focused a lot on building up the components you need to have a system that can act and respond, but what we haven’t done is lift it up to the next stage which is having got good foundations, to then think strategically and think ahead and think more robustly about preventative measures.”

This was the case despite a four-year rebuild of the SIS and GCSB, an extension of their legal powers and $200m extra ploughed in since 2016, once an extra $50m included in last week’s Budget is factored in.

The SIS and GCSB did not begin, in earnest, looking into far right activity until mid-2018. The agencies were yet to get to the point of focusing on individuals or organisations when the Christchurch terror attacks happened.

The DPMC stated its counterterrorism approach covered prevention and preparation, plus there was a terrorism risk profile and a framework for preventing violent extremism.

It added that there was a strategic framework drawn up just last year.  The department delayed Insight’s Official Information Act request to be supplied with the framework until later in June.

Governments can’t be fully proactive with everything.

A lot has changed regarding earthquake proofing requirements and guidelines of buildings since the Christchurch earthquakes. And insurance premiums have gone up a lot – it wasn’t just the Government who was unprepared.

There were immediate reactions to the Christchurch mosque massacres, with changes to firearms laws to make it harder to get high capacity rapid fire weapons.

There were also immediate reactions from the Police who arrested a number of people on firearms and hate speech related charges.

We can expect that our secret services are working secretly to substantially improve counter terrorism and deterrence of and prevention of terrorism.

King slams suicide prevention plan

Mike King has resigned from the suicide prevention panel, slamming their draft plan as ‘saying everything and promising nothing’, and full of PC jargon. What he cited on the news tonight did sound like vague PC claptrap.

Stuff: Suicide prevention strategy ‘the responsibility of all of us’

Comedian and mental health advocate Mike King has resigned from New Zealand’s suicide prevention panel, saying the Government’s draft plan is “deeply flawed”.

But it’s not just the Government’s plan, the Ministry of Health has pointed out. It’s a framework for how New Zealanders can work together to reduce suicide, and Kiwis are encouraged to take part in the public consultation process.

King has been a member of the panel since it was set up in December, 2015.

On Monday, King sent his letter of resignation to Ministry of Health’s director of mental health, Dr John Crawshaw.

In the letter, King said he felt increasingly concerned about aspects of the draft plan, which is open to public consultation.

I presume this is what is being referred to:  A Strategy to Prevent Suicide in New Zealand 2017 – Draft for public consultation


From About this draft strategy:

We want a New Zealand in which everyone is able to have a healthy future and see their life as worth living. Reducing suicidal behaviour will help us become this kind of country. Suicidal behaviour is a sign of great distress and impacts on the lives of all of us in some way. Other changes that will help people to have a healthy future include increasing employment and education, and decreasing violence.

This draft strategy sets out a framework for how we can work together to reduce suicidal behaviour in New Zealand, by both focusing on prevention and supporting people while they are in distress and after suicidal behaviour.

Suicidal behaviour occurs in many different places and affects the lives of many people. This draft strategy takes a broader view than previous strategies and considers how different sectors and the whole community can contribute. It also focuses more strongly on preventing suicidal behaviour throughout a person’s life, as well as on integrating and coordinating services and support to prevent suicidal behaviour and help people in distress.

This draft strategy has been developed by a cross-government working group. This draft strategy and the work throughout the country to prevent suicidal behaviour sit alongside a range of other government strategies, policies and programmes of work aimed at improving people’s lives and responding more effectively to the needs of the most vulnerable individuals, families and whānau. It also reflects the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

This draft strategy is a public consultation document. It offers an opportunity to change how we think and talk about suicidal behaviour, and how we combine our efforts to achieve a shared goal. Government agencies would like your feedback on the draft strategy and your thoughts on how to turn this framework into practical action. After the consultation period, we will consider this feedback as the final strategy is developed. When Cabinet approves the final strategy, it will become the next New Zealand suicide prevention strategy.

Terms used

This draft strategy contains words related to suicide that have different meanings to different people. It uses these terms with the following meanings in mind.

  • Suicide – a death where evidence shows that the person deliberately brought about their own death. In New Zealand a coronial ruling decides whether a death is classified as suicide.
  • Attempted suicide – any action or actions where people intentionally try to bring about their own death but they do not die and may or may not be injured.
  • Deliberate or intentional self-harm – behaviour or behaviours where people try to hurt themselves on purpose but do not intend to die and they may or may not be injured.
  • Suicidal ideation – thoughts of intentionally killing oneself.
  • Suicidal behaviour – suicide, attempted suicide, deliberate or intentional self-harm and suicidal ideation.

War with the press strategic

It is fairly obvious that Trump and his campaign team, and now Trump and his White House team, are running a war on the media strategy.

This is made easier by how some of the media have dealt with Trump and how they continue to report on him.

VOX: Trump can be impulsive. But his war with the press is strategic.

Donald Trump very deliberately picked a fight with the media to help fuel his rise to the White House, and now that he’s there — and his administration is struggling — he is strategically escalating it.

On Friday, the administration canceled press secretary Sean Spicer’s scheduled briefing to the full White House press corps, and replaced it instead with an off-camera briefing to which some media outlets were invited — and others were excluded, including CNN, the New York Times, Politico, and BuzzFeed News.

This isn’t an isolated incident. The move came on the heels of a morning speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in which Trump complained, at length, about what he called the “fake” media, saying “they are the enemy of the people.”

And at Trump’s freewheeling press conference last week, he similarly started off by denouncing members of the media who, he said, “will not tell you the truth and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect that we deserve.”

Trump can be erratic, reactionary and unpredictable but this is too consistent to be anything other than a deliberate strategy.

Though Trump is surely motivated in part by personal pique here, and he has long complained about the press, it’s now indisputable that the attacks on the press are part of a deliberate White House strategy — one that has the fingerprints of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who early on in the administration suggested the media was the “opposition party” and Trump’s most important foe.

Some claim this is to divert from what the White House are achieving. Andrew Prokop claims this is to hide their lack of achievements, including:

  1. He’s ended his first month without any significant accomplishments (since his controversial immigration and travel order is currently frozen in the courts).
  2.  2) He’s been plagued by a seemingly endless series of leaks from what appears to be every level of the government.
  3. There are burgeoning scandals potentially implicating his administration officials and associates — scandals publicized and often exacerbated by the aforementioned leaks.
  4. With Democrats reduced to minority status in both houses of Congress, and years remaining before candidates begin challenging him for the 2020 election, he’s lacking an obvious enemy to make his foil.

It could be a bit of both – diversion from what they are trying to do and diversion from failures.

Trump appears to be trying to solve all these problems by attacking the press. Doing so changes the subject from his lack of accomplishments and scandals. It also discredits the institution that is the conveyor of a great deal of negative information about him. And it gives Trump a nemesis he can fire up the conservative base by fighting.

The strategy certainly seems be be pleasing at least some of Trump’s support base, who only seem to see positives in him so anyone who criticises is seen as a negative.

But the fairly large number of sceptics and opponents are unlikely to be converted to the Trump cause by this. They also risk losing from support if Trump fails to live up to his boasts.

Trump and his team are deepening the divide. This may or may not be a deliberate strategy.

Will it work? Maybe, to an extent (every President will always have opponents).

The bigger picture here is that being president is difficult, and Donald Trump has had a particularly rocky start to his administration.

With his appointees bogged down in Congress, no evident movement on any of his major legislative priorities, his main executive action blocked in the courts, and his top national security aide already fired and replaced, Trump has little to show for his first month in office.

The idea that he can get his mojo back by attacking the press might seem to make sense. After all, Trump enjoys fighting, so if the goal here is to please the president by picking a fight, then mission accomplished.

But if the goal is to actually get anything done in this administration, it’s not so clear this is wise. Picking random fights with the media won’t help the White House get anything through Congress. It won’t make FBI investigations go away. And it won’t help the administration’s arguments in the courts.

Another problem is that if the administration destroys its own credibility by waging a war on the press, it could have a hard time getting its message out later when it truly needs to — say, during a major crisis of some kind.

A ‘cry wolf’ problem. This also applies to when there is actually valid criticism of some media – it could be largely ignored as just more strategy.

The media has a credibility problem, but so does Trump. It’s likely the bulk of the public will become even more disillusioned with both the politicians and the press.

Moves like this could also make the leak problem worse. The more people inside the government get scared that Trump is threatening democracy, the more they might be motivated to leak a damaging bit of information before it’s too late.

Finally, it’s also worth remembering that presidents can greatly damage themselves by overreacting to leaks. The Watergate scandal came about because President Nixon was furious at leaks, and in an effort to “fight back” against leakers, his White House aides created the “plumbers” to retaliate against leakers and political opponents (because plumbers, you see, fix leaks). This eventually led to the botched Watergate break-in at the DNC headquarters. That didn’t play so well in the press, either.

Trump, Bannon et al may feel that they are invincible, the best anti-press revolutionary strategists ever.

But for all it’s faults the media is a many pronged and resilient combatant, spread around the US and around the world.

And all they have to do is observe, investigate and report. They don’t have to try and run the world’s biggest power and biggest bureaucracy at the same time.

National custard and Labour jelly

The National led Government may be showing signs of turning to custard but who wants warmed up Labour jelly?

Rob Salmond posted about a dire time for the Government at Public Address.


These last few weeks have been dire for the government, across housing, crime, employment, and caring for kids. Yes, I’m biased, but I haven’t seen National have this bad of a stretch for a long while.


He details a number of things that have been going wrong for National – fair enough – and concludes:

This whole period has been very messy, possibly worse than they’ve had. And at the moment it’s not easy to see where the next big win for National is coming from, unless they massively reverse course on a house building programme, something 75% of the public wants but the government has spent years saying is insane.

There’s an old idea in politics that people aren’t willing to consider switching teams until they get sick of the incumbent, in just the same way most people don’t buy a new car until the old one starts giving them problems.

The last three weeks show a government car that’s starting to cough and splutter, spewing out noxious gas but not going anywhere fast.

The next fifteen months are going to be fascinating.

The Government car has certainly looked more dented recently. But Labourites have been predicting that the Key wheels are about to fall off for years.

It seems to have been Labour’s main strategy – wait until it’s their turn.

So the Government has looked a bit like lumpy custard lately – but tellingly on a Labour leaning blog the comments quickly turned to the lack of solidity in the presumptive alternative, Labour.


Trouble is Labour for what ever reason as still so unlikeable I wonder how much difference it will make.


What am I supposed to think after reading this? If the point is meant to be that a Labour-led alternative would be better, then I wish there were more in here about what Labour would be doing, why Labour’s people are superior, would make highly competent and better Ministers who are less prone to screwing up, and how it’d overall be better.

Otherwise it’s just asking people to vote for the least worst instead of the best.

Joe Wylie:

It’s like we’ve internalized the right wing talking points.

When Rob Salmond offers nothing beyond passively spectating while National deliver a series of own goals, yes, you could be forgiven for thinking that.


Meanwhile Labour is still shooting itself in the foot with unwanted headlines like Andrew Little: ‘I was wrong’.

Labour still looks too wobbly to look like a credible alternative.

Salmond tries to defend his post and strategy:

I agree that there’s a two-fold challenge for parties of the left – to show their promise as well as the incumbent’s shortcomings – and they need to meet both challenges to win the right to govern. Commenters are entirely right about that.

The only thing I’d say is that not every blog post is about every aspect of politics.

Put another way, a *blog post* that concentrates solely on National’s shortcomings does not mean the left’s *electoral strategy* is to concentrate solely on shortcomings. There are many other blog posts and other media that do different things to this post. Indeed, in many other forums Labour and the Greens are already rolling out their positive vision for New Zealand, promoting alternative policies on housing, jobs, kids, and so on. It’s the combination of all of those posts that make up the strategy, not this post alone.

Salmond admits that his post is a party of ‘the strategy’.

There is not much sign of Labour “rolling out their positive vision for New Zealand”, and even those who would like a decent alternative to vote for are not seeing it.

Labour is currently better known for ruling out policy positions and having a jelly-like policy strategy.

And Labour and Andrew Little have become likened to ‘barking at every passing car’ – which is what Salmond’s post appears to be encapsulating.

That’s the vision we feel New Zealanders will warm to come election day, and that people will go the booth next year voting for a great progressive vision as well as to get rid of the current crowd.


There you have Labour on a plate. Warmed up jelly is not very appealing to voters.

When will we see a substantial main course on offer?