Sunday, November 6, 2022

Point of Order: ACT beats Hipkins to the draw in announcing changes to our gun licensing laws

Uh, oh. Earlier this afternoon there was nothing doing in the Beehive. Or rather, there was nothing doing that they wanted to tell us about.

We therefore drew a blank when we checked the Beehive website to find what our servants are up to.

Nor (when we checked with Scoop) could we find anything new from the Nats or the Greens, although the Nats since then have posted a statement on the rising expense of hiring government consultants.

ACT was given a free kick, in effect, and scored with three statements.

First, ACT’s Firearms Reform spokesperson Nicole McKee was braying that relentless pressure from her party has resulted in the Government making much-needed changes to firearms licensing.

The licences of firearms owners who have been waiting so long for renewals that they have expired will remain in effect until their new applications are processed.

Renewed licences will take effect from the date of issue rather than the date of expiry and the extension will apply to dealers.

The amendment also allows police to issue notices and documents electronically. ACT is supportive of this on the condition that receipt must be acknowledged.

ACT’s Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden struck a political blow on the health front, brandishing data collected from Written Parliamentary Questions which shows that New Zealand needs 24.2 per cent more midwives to fill existing vacancies.

“This shortage comes as 421 midwives chose to not to renew their practicing certificate in New Zealand in 2022. Almost twice the attrition of 2021 when 224 left the industry in New Zealand.

“Our midwifery sector is in crisis. There are reports of hospitals having to turn away labouring women and mothers being sent home with newborns early. One woman in Christchurch had to be redirected 30 minutes to a neighbouring town’s hospital, with her midwife missing the birth and her birth plan being changed at the last minute.”

The collapse of our health system is part of a gradual decline in New Zealand’s prosperity, van Velden said.

“People like to think of New Zealand as a first world country but our income figures tell a different story.”

And in a third statement, ACT leader David Seymour announced that Dr James McDowall will stand as its candidate in Hamilton West.

“James is a talented and intelligent man. Since entering Parliament, he has developed two Member’s Bills and released a Defence Policy and Immigration Policy. His first Member’s Bill protected Free Speech at Universities and the other would reintroduce 90-Day Trial Periods.”

As ACT’s spokesperson for immigration, he advocates for migrants and for employers dealing with chronic staff shortages.

He also is ACT’s spokesperson for Defence.

Just before posting this, Point of Order again checked the Beehive website.


Police Minister Chris Hipkins had posted the news which triggered (so to speak) ACT’s statement –

* Practical changes to modernise arms licensing legislation

Police Minister Chris Hipkins announced the Government is taking action to ensure responsible gun owners with an expired licence due to a predicted peak in applications aren’t penalised.

The Arms Licence Holders’ Applications for New Licences Amendment Bill will be introduced to the House in the next week. It makes amendments to the Arms Act 1983 to ensure that if the holder of a current firearms licence applies for a new licence before its expiry, the current license will continue to be in force until they are notified of the outcome of their application.

“As Police Minister I am committed to making changes to the firearms law to assist Police in keeping pace with firearm licence applications in a way that does not increase risk to public safety,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The licensing cycle is the legacy of the 1992 change to the Act which terminated lifetime licences and required firearms owners to apply for ten-year licences. No provision was made to stagger the approach, resulting in significant peaks in application every 10 years which we are now experiencing.

“This means the current demand for new firearms licence applications is currently outstripping Police’s capacity to process the application and issue a new licence before the previous licence expires. Some firearms licence holders are unable to comply with the law due to no fault of their own.”

The Police are also carrying out a more stringent approach to firearms licensing assessment processes following the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack in Christchurch which is compounding the backlog, Hipkins said.

He noted there are about 9,000 applications in the pipeline and about 2,000 applicants are holding an expired licence while waiting to be processed.

Those numbers are expected to increase rapidly as Police anticipated an upcoming peak in demand.

The Bill will be on the order paper for the first reading on 8 November and Hipkins said he would like to see it progress as quickly as possible.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

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