Lauranora – National’s biggest achilles heel?

Written By: - Date published: 8:14 am, November 12th, 2014 - 33 comments
Categories: accountability, national, Politics - Tags:

This National Government is very predictable.  When it senses a need to prop up flagging support it goes into one of two modes, either it bashes beneficiaries or it goes tough on crime.  With either policy it will taunt Labour, and challenge the parliamentary party to take a principled stand against what National is proposing in the hope that it can then paint Labour as being soft on crime or benefit fraud or benefit dependancy.  If Labour acquiesces then National celebrates its impotence, if Labour opposes then National claims they are tougher on crime or on beneficiaries.  It is evidence of the most cynical abuse by National of some of our most marginalised members of society purely for political gain.

If you need proof there is the habit of Paula Bennett announcing on two different occasions the same policy.  Or the use by the Government of really dodgy statistics to support changes to the criminal law which will take away the civil rights of members of gangs.

It is a well choreographed game.  Go to the absolute edge of what a civilised society should tolerate, take three big steps over, and then challenge the opposition to take a principled yet politically damaging position in response.

The only possible threat to National in this game of charades is if through incompetence it should help someone really evil.  After all it promised to have a public service function just as well as it did under Labour with less resources.  If there are clear failings then National now needs to own these.  Claiming that it is all the fault of the Fifth Labour Government is wearing thin.  National has now been in power for six years.

This is why the unravelling story of Phillip John Smith is going to hurt National big time.  The story is huge and the loopholes and gaps exposed in our justice system are deeply troubling.

Mr Smith is someone even a die hard liberal would struggle to feel sympathy for.  He was convicted in 1996 of the murder of the father of a child he was sexually abusing after he tracked the family to Wellington.  He was also convicted of aggravated burglary, sexual violation and kidnapping all related to the same family.

The latest Parole Board hearing decision thought that his chances of reoffending were high and it noted that despite having the ability to do so he had not paid reparation that had been ordered.

His expression of regret is trashed by the news that through an intermediary he approached the family of the victims a few years ago.

And he was able to conduct a business behind bars which netted him a significant sum of money.  And he was able to obtain a passport.  And he was able to get through Customs after declaring that he had over $10,000 in cash to take with him.  And this is the real kicker, the Government knew about the passport loophole two years ago but did not close it up.

Stuff reported yesterday:

A 2012 ministerial inquiry into the employment of a sex offender as a teacher found Customs, Immigration, and the Passport Office at the Department of Internal Affairs were not informed when a person holding a passport under a particular name changed that name.

The inquiry report warned that the name change process could be used for the purpose of obtaining a passport in a new name to leave the country without being detained at the border.

It recommended that appropriate protocols be put in place to notify those relevant departments of any registered change of name, as the only notification of a change of name was made to the Registrar of Electors.

The report the article is referring to is the report to Hekia Parata on the employment of a convicted sex offender in the education sector.  The person who was the subject of the report had used a passport he had obtained in a different name to the name that he was convicted of various offences to obtain employment.

The report recommended (page 122) to Parata that the issue be referred “to the appropriate Ministers with the proposal that urgent consideration be given to require [Births Deaths and Marriages] to notify any registered change of name to the Passports Office, Customs Department and the Immigration Office of the Department of Labour and that appropriate protocols be put in place to govern that process.”  If this change had been made then it is possible that Smith’s passport application may have been stymied.

There are the reputations of a number of Ministers on the line here.  So much apparent incompetence involved in one single case is hard to imagine.  The Government knew about the problem two years ago.  This is going to hurt the Government in an area it has mined for political support for years.

33 comments on “Lauranora – National’s biggest achilles heel?”

  1. karol 1

    And as stargazer pointed out, in 2011 the Parole Board noted Smith still used other names.

    NZ Herald feb 2011:

    In its report, released today, the board said Smith continued to use different names. He uses the surname Traynor, which he said was his birth name, for his university studies, and when he lived with his blackmail victim he went by the name Stacey Beavers.

  2. AsleepWhileWalking 2

    A couple of years ago the use of previous names giving criminals the ability to offend again/escape was covered heavily in Australia.

    From memory a glitch in the system allowed criminals to change their name by deed poll and therefore circumvent systems designed to protect victims of their crime/future victims.

  3. miravox 3

    Hmm so there is a Minister who could be held accountable for not following through on the passport issue. I thought it would have ended with Tremain, seeing as he retired. So how many strikes is that for Parata now?

  4. Chooky 4

    Forged or illegitimate passports does seem to be an ongoing problem for New Zealand authorities …in fact NZ’s archilles heel for criminals both NZ and overseas

    …why havent safeguards been put in place…. and passport fraud cleaned up?

  5. mickysavage 5

    Stuff reported yesterday that Lotu Iiga’s office was in “meltdown” and he was nowhere to be seen. I was fascinated by this leak from within as National is normally so disciplined. Slater is wondering today if John Key himself was the source of the leak …

    There are some very strange games being played.

  6. greywarshark 6

    Interesting discussion on radionz – Smith/Traynor has had a stepfather called Smith and has gone under that name mainly. But he has told the parole board that his name is Traynor? and has been using that name to run a mail order business from prison. (Don’t know what he has been selling. But when I have been trading over the internet I give my name and address and I would feel unhappy to know these are in the possession of a convicted killer with a very nasty attitude to people.)

    • Blue 6.1

      My understanding is that he was born Phillip John Traynor and that is the only legal name he has ever had. He has been going by his stepfather’s surname of Smith, but had never legally changed his name by deed poll to Smith.

      The convictions should have been in the name Phillip John Traynor, which would have meant he could not have obtained a passport. Instead they were entered in a legally meaningless name, leaving the man free to do whatever he wanted using his real legal identity.

      The media has been incredibly confusing in their reporting of this issue. They make frequent reference to ‘left the country under an alias’ when the opposite is true. He left the country under his real name because the convictions were under an alias.

    • greywarshark 6.2

      There is an acronym aka that has been used in police summons/docs and personal information. Why the police did not make sure that their paperwork was full and correct I don’t know. Perhaps they have too many people on the front line and have sacked too many of the back room staff in their wonderful efficiency drives under the lean-service, fat-political-cats neo lib governments.

  7. Tom Jackson 7

    One wonders who helped him flee. Whoever it was should be detained for a very long time. My guess it was his stupid mother, who has form here.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 7.1

      Not really, they helped to get his passport some time back, nothing done illegally there. As he was out on day release, and nothing stopping a prisoner to get a passport.

    • greywarshark 7.2

      There was mention of a sponsor who would be responsible for him while he was out of prison. Don’t know who.

  8. Well all this stuff about who to blame for Traynor absconding and nothing about what the hell would he want to stay in NZ for?
    All his serious offending involved one family and stemmed from his relationship with the young boy. He was obviously badly off the rails in those years.
    But he paid the price and to jump from that after 20 years to media hype of ‘dangerous’, ‘manipulative’ etc is kneejerk stuff and part of vigilante mentality he complains of.
    The guy had been out several times, this time was out for 72 hours. How does that square with all the kneejerk stuff? Or is the Parole Board totally dysfunctional?
    Had he waited another year or two and flown to Brazil who would have cared?
    With hundreds of innocent children being bombed by Obama in Syria backed on our behalf by the NACT regime, and the assassinations of children by cops in Rio on a daily basis, lets not treat Traynor as the lightning rod for all our pet hates.
    I’ll wait to read his side of the story before I decide whether he’s a psychopath, but I suspect that he saw doing a runner as part of his permanent rehabilitation.
    And on the face of it I cannot disagree.

    • McFlock 8.1

      He killed a guy. That makes “dangerous” a pretty reasonable description, in my book.

      No, he didn’t “pay the price”. He hasn’t completed his sentence.

      • Naki man 8.1.1

        A copper coated lead pill would have avoided all these problems and reduced the stress on his victims, this cunning bastard is likely to offend again.

        • Tracey

          not according to dave brown above, he is all reformed now.

          • Murray Rawshark

            Again, not what was said. You make a habit of this.

            I think NAct is safe on kneejerk lawnorder stuff because hardly anyone in Labour actually disagrees with them. In this post we see an unholy alliance between Naki boy and Tracey. One of the few Labour types I’ve seen stand up to the mob was Richard Northey, who fronted a gathering that wanted to bring back hanging.

    • Tracey 8.2

      you understand that this so called reformed chap just broke a slew of other laws…


      the children of brasil deserve to be his means to prove his alleged rehab… they are poor, if he pays them, will you consider him a charity on legs?

  9. Dave Brown –
    So blackmail, driving a man to suicide and threatening witnesses with fire bombing were not serious offences?

    Traynor ingratiated himself into a family, and abused a boy from the age of 10 to 13, including sodomising him. He threatened to harm the boy’s family if he told anyone.

    For some truly inexplicable reason, given his history of threatening witnesses in a previous case, Traynor was granted bail on the abuse charges, tracked the family down, armed himself with a gun and a knife, cut their phone lines, broke into their house, stabbed the boy, repeatedly stabbed the father and took the mother and another son hostage.

    The depictions of Traynor as manipulative and dangerous are based on psychological assessments which have been borne out by his behaviour.

    He continued to harass and obsess about the family while in prison. He did not accept his offending – appealed his convictions, the non-parole period, his security classification and the clinical assessments of him which typified him as a narcissistic psychopath.

    He has claimed he acted as a result of PTSD from sexual abuse as a child; that he had not abused the boy at all; that his killing of the father was self-defence and that the wife was lying when she gave evidence that he had held her at knife point while her husband lay dying.

    As to the ‘vigilante system’ that is out to get him – he used the prison system to his advantage including getting 2 degrees, running a business (and committing fraud) and presumably building up a sizeable sum of money in his trust account. He got his security classification downgraded and got a transfer to a low security prison closer to his mother; he conned the authorities into granting him release so that he could build up to the 3 days he needed to get away. And he managed to con whoever it was who helped him with the passport, plane tickets etc.

    Hardly the picture of a hapless victim of vigilante justice and media hype.

    There are a lot of hapless victims in NZ prisons and I’ll save my compassion and concern for them.

    • Tracey 9.1

      and his temp release was not in anticipation of release into the community but as a way to get the parole board to change their mind… turns out they were right, he hasnt rehabilitated.

  10. Tracey 10

    in the absence of true leadership certain types of people will follow anyone. the number of people who see nothing wrong in keys behaviour or try to excuse it is worrying.

  11. AmaKiwi 11

    Why wasn’t he wearing one of those radio transmitter ankle bracelets, Mr. Key?

  12. Maui 12

    Nothing ever hurts National though..

    • paddy 12.1

      Every day he was escaped National would suffer but recaptured in 5 days and they will come up smelling like roses. Incredible how often they climb out of the crap without any dirt.

  13. Ross 13

    The saying is: if National swallowed a nail they’d shit a corkscrew.

  14. Peter 14

    This will simply have no impact on the election chances of a 4th National government.

    A viable opposition might.

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