- 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.