So today Cabinet meets looking to “discuss what more can be done to combat crime,” according to the Prime Minister.
Sadly she’s a bit late with that statement. The irony being that her government has been inundated with people asking them to toughen up on crime for ages... they did nothing. Poto Williams, in her capacity as Police Minster dropped the ball so badly she was moved on and replaced with Chris Hipkins. There were hopes he would toughen up on crime, but sadly under his watch it’s only gotten worse.
The governments’ cheerleaders asking for this tragic death not to be politicised are missing the point. It was already politicised. The government had already dropped the ball, they’d already ignored all the pleas for help, they’d already been too slow to roll out support for business owners, they already had communities living in fear of this very thing. And then once it happened, what did the PM do? She went to the Chatham Islands. She didn’t even go back to her own electorate, her own neighbourhood, her own community, she carried on – business as usual.
It was an alarmingly callous lack of judgement on her part. Speaking to the family days later, doesn’t cut it. She knows how to act quickly when she wants to – but she didn’t. So now they’re trotting out the tough on crime lines. She said yesterday they’re focussed now on “prosecuting and holding to account those who are responsible”. But the other thing we know about this too little, too late, soft on crime government is that the justice system cannot be trusted to actually deliver justice.
A cultural report, a check in of the offender’s background, a korero about his upbringing, a few discounts for mitigating circumstances, coupled with a Corrections Minister who doesn’t want people in prison and we know how these stories all too often end. Sunny Kaushal, who to his credit has been banging on about this for months on end, says the government needs to admit there’s a crime emergency in this country. He says it’s not just a crime emergency but a social emergency now too.
The Migrant Workers Association said that many of our most vulnerable workers just don’t feel safe anymore. Many elderly people don’t feel safe in their communities anymore either. Parents are worried. But what I can’t get past is that this has all been coming, in plain sight, for months, and it’s been absolutely ignored by those who have the power to do something about it. It’s almost like it took a death, for the government to wake up and go, oh wait, what more can we do here?
The problem with crime in this country and the surge in ram raids, and youth crime and gang memberships and brazen robberies is not as ‘complex’ as the government would have you believe. Offenders commit crimes, because they can. It’s that simple. They commit the crimes, because they can. They know they can, they know they’ll get away with it. Tellingly, early on in the ram raid epidemic, a teenager caught and interviewed as to why they did it, said, 'because we know we will get away with it. We do it because we can'. And that was all you need to know about how low the bar is these days when it comes to law and order.
So what will change after Cabinet meets today? My guess is nothing. And whatever it is, is certainly too late for this Dairy worker.
Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.
Appointed as New Zealand’s Prime Minister in 2017, Jacinda Ardern has been described as an iron fist in a velvet glove. She wooed the world ...
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