What’s Behind National’s Sudden Police Priority? Winston!

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Earlier this year, New Zealand First laid down our first Bottom Line demand for the 2017 electoral season: 1800+ extra front-line police to seriously get on top of spiraling crime-rates. We also pushed various other law-and-order related initiatives in connection with the ongoing situation of shopkeeper standovers and robberies occurring in South and West Auckland.

It should come as no surprise that good ideas such as these are frequently met with imitation – and even less surprise that the National Party is, as per usual, late to the party when it comes to dealing with these issues.

Yesterday’s announcement that the NZ Police will start taking burglaries more seriously is a good start; but short of directing them to do something radical like broadly ceasing the enforcement of cannabis laws or something, it is difficult to see how our already overstretched police force will have sufficient manpower to attend to each and every one of the dozens of burglaries which reportedly occur in New Zealand every day.

That is why New Zealand First’s proposal to increase police numbers in line with the twin growths in both population and crime-rate makes so much sense – and why forcing the Government to ‘put its money where its mouth is’ when it comes to funding increases in service delivery is so important. Because it’s very easy for the Minister of Police to merely issue a press-release stating that our boys in blue will be paying more attention to a particular category of crime. A statement to the media, after all, costs nothing except the time of a PR-officer. But it takes far more commitment, energy and effort to ensure that such a promise to the electorate – as National has made on burglaries – is actually delivered upon come Budget-time.

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I have no doubt that the average policeman out there wants to do his or her best to attempt to keep our communities safe. I do not necessarily blame them for the present woeful stats on burglary resolution or any of the rest of it. As Winston has pointed out – they are but a blue-line being stretched ever-thinner by under-funding and per-capita proportionate reductions in manpower.

But considering the present Minister of Police also presided over a previous scandal in which police in her own electorate were found to be scurrilously misrepresenting and massaging data in order to make their National Party bosses look good … it does not take a political Copernicus to be able to observe and adduce that the Government’s previous habitual response to rising crime figures and a deterioration in community safety over the previous eight years has largely been to spin, lie and distort rather than actually seriously and sensibly address the issue.

John Key informing media that there will be an increase in police numbers at some point presumably prior to the next Election is thus something of a volte-face.

Attempting to work out what’s behind the sudden (and welcome) change in attitude, therefore, leads us inexorably to two likely motivators:

First, there’s an Election next year. Crime is a hot-button issue – and, unlike with Housing, one which even National’s well-off core constituents definitely feel concerned about. It thus makes a certain sort of sense for the Government to start attempting to address the issue now, while signalling future substantive improvements in the number of police which they can unveil for added media attention closer to the Election.

But second, and arguably more importantly, New Zealand First has already started staking out seriously strong territory on Law And Order. National knows this. National are scared. They are therefore seeking to ‘head us off at the pass’, and take the wind out of our sails on this issue by attempting to ‘claim’ it for themselves.

That’s why I have penned this piece. In order to highlight what I feel to be a reasonably clear chain of causation between Winston announcing a policy bottom-line earlier this month, and National stating they’re going to do broadly the same thing less than three weeks later.

In any case, when it comes to the choice between New Zealand First and National over whom you trust with law and order and policing issues … it’s not too terribly hard to make a selection between a Party which delivered you 1000 extra front-line police plus three hundred support staff the last time we were in power – versus a government which has basically spent eight years pretending the problem doesn’t exist, except when they’re scared of a rival.

Accept no imitations. The only time National’s generally serious about bolstering the number of ‘boys in blue’ is when they’re out electioneering to increase their Caucus. 

11 COMMENTS

  1. It is true though, more and more through this term it is the opposition parties who are setting the agenda. Unfortunately I’m not sure that this has fully filtered through to the public yet – so it is good to have articles like this which draw attention to the fact.

  2. So Police are going to focus on burglaries now? Whatever next, will doctors be attending the sick and injured??

  3. “New Zealand First has already started staking out seriously strong territory on Law And Order. National knows this. National are scared. They are therefore seeking to ‘head us off at the pass’, and take the wind out of our sails on this issue by attempting to ‘claim’ it for themselves.”

    Winston is vital to pressure the NatZ always it has been demonstrated so you are very right.

    Yes Curwen, Winston is also supporting the fight for restoration of our broken East coast rail after National destroyed a section of it by stealing the track funds for his Auckland rail four years ago.

    So after he came to Gisborne & spoke to restore our rail and was mentioned in the press as pledging to fight for our Gisborne rail Government are now afraid of what Winston will do to damage Ann Tolley, here as Gisborne’s sitting National MP, who was in favour of rail and now has refused to re-instate our rail, and the word is that the Minister of transport has agreed and signed a agreement to allow Kiwirail to provide some limited service for log freight to Wairoa short of Gisborne ( They still won’t fix the part to Gisborne) so we sit agai for another year sadly now as national approval of this is yet to be announced.

    National are setting all these possible scenario’s up as “insurance” come election time if the polls sag and they need a lift, so Transport and police have become strange bed fellows it seems.

    But everyone in HB/Gisborne deeply distrust national now over this so Winston must return to discuss rail soon now we are asking for him to come in October so please ask him for us too.

    Winston is vital to pressure the NatZ always it has been demonstrated so you are very right.

  4. Isn’t it an amusing coincidence that the National government suddenly makes investigating burglaries a Police priority in the wake of PryMunster Key’s statement about people not taking the law into their own hands when dealing with break-ins, itself a direct response to a certain property-speculating demographic’s fears of such crime..?

  5. I think the catalyst for the wake up was the formation of the NZ People’s Party, with burglaries at the top of their agenda, and trends showing up in National’s nightly polling.

  6. “What’s Behind National’s Sudden Police Priority? Winston!”

    Nope. The sudden impetus is new crime stats becoming public that reveal National’s “drop in crime” to be a fiction. The Nats realise this and are scrambling to appear that they are Doing Something, to avert the coming media scrutiny and public criticism.

    Remember that Law & Order and “tough on crime” is the Bread and butter of every conservative party in the western world. Take that away from them and they’ve got bugger all left to sway the population with.

    Like on the housing front, the Nats are panicking before events catch up with them. And it’s Election Year next year!

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