Sneaky Simon somersaults on support for Terrorism Bill

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, October 23rd, 2019 - 24 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, greens, immigration, International, law, law and "order", Politics, Simon Bridges, terrorism, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags:

So National has decided to really play politics on law and order and in as cynical an example of politics as you can imagine has backed down from a previous promise to support the introduction of the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill.

Jane Patterson at Radio New Zealand has the background:

The Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill was scheduled to have its first reading tonight, but has now been shunted well down the list.

Justice Minister Andrew Little is proposing a ‘control orders’ regime to boost government powers to deal with people trying to get back to New Zealand after fighting for extremist groups, or having helped their cause.

The matter had taken on some urgency, he said, with the changing situation in Syria, where the Kurds said keeping ISIS detainees in custody was no longer a priority while they were under attack from Turkey.

Mr Little met with National’s leader Simon Bridges and its justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell last night, but they were unable to come to an agreement.

National confirmed its support via email last week, with no conditions attached, but now would not follow through with that commitment, said Mr Little.

“After that they then tried to seek conditions, I met with them to talk about that…they haven’t indicated they will support it so frankly, I do feel a little dicked around by them.”

How would Mr Bridges describe the minister’s negotiating style? – “Belligerent.”

Mr Little had an “interesting” way of negotiating, he said, “coming out and slagging off the people he’s negotiating with”, but that would not affect National’s approach.

The party made its position clear when it released its first media release, said Mr Bridges, which laid out the changes it wanted to make.

“We want to continue discussions with minister Little, I’m not going to get into the name or the blame game, even if he is.”

But his bottom line was National was not going to do “half a job” on New Zealanders’ safety.

The history is simple.  Two weeks ago someone in Bridges’ office sent this email:

SC is shorthand for select committee which means that the bill would pass the first reading in Parliament.

But National then thought it would wedge Labour by trying to make the bill tougher.  And made this a condition of support when previously it had promised that it would not.

National’s proposed changes are very simple ones, lowering the age of someone the order can be made against to 14, extending the potential duration of an order and allowing for someone arriving in the country to be detained for up to 72 hours.  These are tweaks intended to show that National can do some hairy chest thumping about how much stronger on law and order it is than Labour.

They have not sought to justify the changes. This debate was best left to the Select Committee process where each proposal could be considered in full.

The proposed reduction in the minimum age is especially cynical.  The Oranga Tamariki Act 1987 already provides the state with significant powers over young people aged between 14 and 18.  National has not even tried to show how the powers are inadequate.  But that was never the purpose.

And logically National’s position is bizarre.  It is refusing to agree to a toughening of the law because the law was not going to be made even more tough.  So status quo prevails.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not convinced that the legislation is actually needed and at this stage I prefer the Green Party’s position.  From Yvette McCullough at  Radio New Zealand:

Greens Justice spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman is raising humanitarian red flags and warning this could end up catching people who aren’t actually terrorists.

“What’s actually frightening about this is we’re going to rely on evidence collected by foreign agencies who may have employed torture, which we know isn’t going to be reliable, or actually targeted at political dissidents,” she said.

Ms Ghahraman said we already had laws to deal with someone like Mark Taylor coming home and she called it “dog-whistling” legislation.

“It’s that kind of tough on crime, war on terror language that especially in a post-Christchurch world in New Zealand has no place here.

“We know that it will rile up fear and anxiety about something that isn’t a problem, we have terror law, we have policing mechanisms – let’s rely on those”, Ms Ghahraman said.

There is still the possibility the Greens may support the bill.  But they are seeking a New Zealand based definition of “conviction” and stronger procedural safeguards put into place.

But this cynical action by National in giving a clear promise to support the introduction of the bill and then welching on that promise is a sign of how messy and unprincipled New Zealand politics has become.

24 comments on “Sneaky Simon somersaults on support for Terrorism Bill ”

  1. ianmac 1

    "someone arriving in the country to be detailed for up to 72 hours" Actually I think it is Bridges who should be "de-tailed" for more than 72 hours but I expect you meant "detained" Micky?

    [Fark! Fixed now – MS]

  2. Tony Veitch (not etc.) 2

    Originally posted this on Open Mike before Micky put up a dedicated post.

    Just been, for my sins, listening to Soimun on RNZ – and the lack of logic he displays is quite exceptional.

    In his monotone monologue he accused Andrew Little of only wanting to make NZers half safe by not extending the supervision period and not lowering the age to 14 years.

    But does this mean National won't support the bill? And if that's the case, will NZ be not at all safe?

    I hope Andrew calls his bluff on this and makes National support the bill, or risk being accused to endangering all NZers. Surely, "the reality is" half safe is better than no safe?

  3. Dukeofurl 3

    The email just confirms to me what I had thought about 'Mps negotiating' with other parties on issues for legislation.

    They dont.

    Looks like its delegated to staff. The previous instance was NZF and Labour over 'euthanasia' bill. The formal form was announced and then someone was reminded that NZF election policy was to have a referendum option. Clearly 'the staff' were doing all the donkey work and MPs and Ministers just do the photo call. Likely there are many other issues before that one where the public image is that 'wires were crossed'

    Is it really that hard for MPs to have more day to day involvement with proposed legislation ? Just leaving the work to 'twentysomethings' with a political science degree isnt good enough

    • mickysavage 3.1

      It is not delegated to staff but communicated by staff. This is as strong an assurance as you can hope for.

  4. Peter 4

    The Slimin' Simon is becoming more obvious as the weeks until the next election tick over.

    • Chris 4.1

      Maybe, but his party's gathering support, again. The left's never managed to work out how to deal with pop politics of the masses. It still translates into votes. And to add to the irony the smell of the left's desperation when attempting to deal this problem only fuels the divide. I can't help thinking that the condundrum must come down to something extremely fundamental, close to perhaps the reality that most humans are stupid. The question of what to do has remained unanwered for so long it has to be something as basic as that.

      • AB 4.1.1

        The Nats are always up for wedging a few votes from Labour with a law 'n order beat-up. It's very hard to counter – which is why historically we have seen Labour governments increasing prison sentences. One approach may be to outflank them by introducing harsh prison terms for essentially middle-class misdemeanours, such as tax evasion, fraud and harming your workers or tenants. If we started to lock up National Party supporters and donors in this way, it may cause them to re-balance their thinking. Risky tactic though.

      • Gabby 4.1.2

        If Slick's picking up support with his bleating and fibbing, people must be a bit thick chrissy.

  5. Enough is Enough 5

    Play politics in politics…hmmm who would have thunk it??

    He really should just stand aside and support everything the government does. That would make this (non politics) game a lot easier for everyone.

    • marty mars 5.1

      Some people use anything to score political points and make themselves feel bigger. His arguments are puerile – at least the Greens argument is coherent.

      • Enough is Enough 5.1.1

        The Green's argument is coherent for lefties like us.

        I would expect most righties feel the same about National's argument.

        It's fine to argue against their "puerile" rationale, but its a bit silly to suggest the leader of the opposition should not be challenging the government on this.

        It will be a sad day for democracy when an opposition bends over and accepts every bill as it is presented, just so they can't be accused of politicising an issue.

        • marty mars 5.1.1.1

          sure go to bat for the poor little righties lol – imo they are playing politics with important issues – it's all they have because they are rotting – from simon downwards – the head tells the story and the head is a car nodding toy…

          • Enough is Enough 5.1.1.1.1

            okaaaay, I think we are now descending into cray cray land, with talk of rotting and nodding heads. So I think its best we leave it there.

            Have a nice day

      • The Al1en 5.1.2

        Clearly Simon has taken onboard the advice given on his trip to aussie and decided to go full Trump in order to attempt a boost in his polling figures. The nonsense about buggering pc talk the other day was yet another dog whistle in the ears of red neck nz. It's quite predictable, see through and an obvious sign he's desperate as a desperate thing from desperate land.

    • tc 5.2

      Time for urgency IMO take some parts of that 'screw you' approach Nats had when pushing legislation through.

      Lead the country and stop entertaining nationals childish behaviour, soimon's just handed you the opportunity with his disingenuous approach.

  6. Jackel 6

    Well, I think the standard of politics drops when a parties support of a bill becomes conditional on haggling over a few relatively minor points. But then Soimun does seem to lack the ability to judge political proportion accurately.

  7. Climaction 7

    What a different government.

    leaking emails to friendly bloggers….

    [Fixed typo in e-mail address]

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