Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Drugs and human rights

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  • Thomas Lumley,

    By personal and professional inclination I would have loved to believe in the Social Investment Unit, but not when it's run by a government that would make this sort of policy.

    There's no way their expert advice can say meth contamination is a leading public-health problem. Or that drug dogs are a more effective use of public funds than Biosecurity Beagles.

    I could see targeted use of searches in some special cases: there's some evidence from the US (PDF) that intrusive and unpleasant random alcohol testing of repeat drunk drivers is helpful. But if they had evidence that ad hoc removal of rights from gang members helped, they wouldn't have waited for the election.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2013 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    One of these days we have to give the bill of rights act more teeth, and everyone in NZ should know those rights and be able to quote them back to politicians when they start to propose this sort of crazy

    Hear that Labour? first things for your proposed civics classes - make sure every kid coming out of school knows their rights and knows they should aggressively affirm whenever appropriate

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2543 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Sir John Key may have to be arrested (without a warrant, obviously) for associating with gangs.

    Really, there are dozens of confused and contradictory stories on this: National in opposition a decade ago pledging to win the War on P, National in government assuring us that the war is being won, National on the campaign trail promising to start the war again every 3 years and deal to National the useless government, etc, etc.

    It would help if reporters could Google, rather than conduct pointless vox pops (looking at you, Lloyd Burr). Do we really have to pretend every election that this is something new?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1168 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    Simply shocking language from Paula Bennett and the PM. The PM's actual words as reported in the news went something like 'it's a good thing we don't have a written constitution because we can deal with things more effectively'. Meaning we can run roughshod over anything we like because our citizens have no inalienable rights.

    Charming. I will be seriously embarrassed if these folks get voted back in.

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2014 • 713 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Remember that they won't actually be voted back in, as currently constituted: they can (realistically) only form a government with NZ First. So that would actually be a more conservative/authoritarian government than Key's.

    Since they won't want to hand over much influence on economic policy, National would throw Winston all the bones he wants on getting "tough" with PC liberal wimps.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1168 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Dr Jarrod Gilbert has written a scorching column:

    National are proposing to give police powers to search gang members without a warrant. Allowing police the power to march through people's houses at their will is a power that if targeted against anybody else (the parents of wealthy school children, for instance) would be seen as completely outrageous.

    But as Bennett said, 'some people have fewer rights than others.' And that's a statement that should trouble us, particularly when the Prime Minister supports it by saying, 'it's good that we don't have a written constitution it's enabled the country to deal with issues in a practical way.'

    But this isn't even practical. Far from it. Bennett said on Twitter that 'scumbag gangs don't deserve protection'. But the majority of drug dealers aren't gang members, so why do those scumbags have greater rights than those in a gang?

    And concluding:

    The proposed law will not have any meaningful impact on the drug trade in New Zealand. But it does speak to who we are as a country. Paula Bennett ought be called out in the strongest possible terms for this cynical politicking.

    Our country, and the principles of Western justice that underpin it, are more valuable than a political party's advantage on the hustings.

    It's not that I think we shouldn't vote for Paula Bennett. I think she should resign.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22182 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Bill English says it's a good thing we don't have a written constitution because it gives him more power, maybe it's time we did

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2543 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Dr Jarrod Gilbert has written…

    I was just thinking how Dr Gilbert would know how gang culture began to evolve in this country, and what's responsible for that. My best guess is it’s not the drugs, it’s borstals. The misuse of drugs and violence is secondary. It’s state institutions such as Epuni that need relentless scrutiny. These institutions still operate, and we assume that they are not still coursing grievous harm, as it’s obvious they did in the past. We assume that all is well behind those walls becouse people like Bill English and Paula Bennett say it is. I don’t believe them!

    Some of the most notorious violent criminals in New Zealand, emerged after spending time as children in state care.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3821 posts Report Reply

  • Adam H,

    And there we have it: proof that Key really was the moderating influence on National.

    And a warning for all those who look at the USA / UK and think "it couldn't happen here"

    Auckland • Since Oct 2014 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • william blake, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I'm reckoning that Bill English has thought through this statement and is hoping to turn the election discourse away from housing poverty jobs and the environment to one about the constitution and law n order. Safer ground for the Nats and their constituents.

    Since Mar 2010 • 346 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    English seeks to walk it all back on Morning Report.

    Mr English told Morning Report Mrs Bennett had misused the term human rights.

    "It's just not the right way to describe human rights," he said.

    "She understands the policy the right way, but it was a discussion about the legal rights of particular people, not the human rights of New Zealanders."

    "Sometimes we just don't say the right thing, that happens," he said.

    Which is all very well, but no one's asking English about him saying NZ's lack of a written constitution lets us be "flexible" about people's rights.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22182 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    When I heard this policy I thought straight away, wow those internal poll numbers must look bad. This is dangerous blustering from a desperate government that has completely run out of fresh ideas and from a minister who happily uses the civil service and private information to target the enemies of the National party.

    Bennett WANTS to be challenged by academics and opponents. She wants to bash PC liberal lawyers and professors and for the loons of the talkback Taliban to rail against her opponents. She wants to suck the publicity oxygen away from the “relentless positivity” of Jacindamania and re-focus it on the dark hatred of objectifying human beings.

    If the public wanted a difference between the probably next leader of the National party and Jacinda Ardern, they got it on spades from Paula Bennett. Bennett is a class traitor and a sociopath- a dangerous, cunning, ignorant and utterly immoral piece of work.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2113 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Bennett is a class traitor and a sociopath- a dangerous, cunning, ignorant and utterly immoral piece of work.

    I don't even know what a class traitor is. And I don't think she is a cunning/ignorant sociopath. She isn't particularly clever and her position in the National party is an indication that they have hit rock bottom. They probably need to get there own house in order before they get the keys to the limousine back.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3821 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to steven crawford,

    I don't even know what a class traitor is. And I don't think she is a cunning/ignorant sociopath. She isn't particularly clever and her position in the National party is an indication that they have hit rock bottom.

    Class traitor implies rather more self-awareness than Bennett's ever demonstrated. At best she's a useful idiot of the Judas goat variety. English's scurrying behind with the pooper scooper only confirms this.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4493 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    It seems to be being reported as a misstep. In stating that human rights and civil liberties would be infringed, Bennett has placed the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons within what has become a very tight electoral race. Chris Finlayson and Amy Adams will be very pissed off at her and I imagine that there are some rather heated phone conferencing exchanges going on within Fortress Nat at the moment as a result.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 455 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Hooton, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Bennett WANTS to be challenged by academics and opponents. She wants to bash PC liberal lawyers and professors

    Correct. And very astute of Jacinda Ardern not to rise to the bait and risk being seen to defend P dealers and gang members.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 182 posts Report Reply

  • Shaun Lott, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    My initial thought was exactly that: my impression of Paula Bennett is that she is an ambitious party hack who is not that smart, and I doubt she has a tight grasp on what human rights are, how they might differ from the legal rights of a potential suspect etc. Seems like she got a crash course last night?

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to william blake,

    I'm reckoning that Bill English has thought through this statement and is hoping to turn the election discourse away from housing poverty jobs and the environment to one about the constitution and law n order.

    The decision would have been Joyce's, as was the dogwhistle/unwhistle two-step.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19382 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A stinging statement from the National Committee for Addiction Treatment:

    “People across the spectrum of society experience the impact of drug addiction. When people are made to feel less worthy than others it makes it very difficult for them to reach out for help.

    “So at a time when we’re seeing a worldwide move away from kneejerk punitive approaches, these statements take us back to the failed war on drugs mentality that in practice is a war on drug users.

    “While Mr English may be glad we don't have a constitution to get in the way, we do have a Bill of Rights and a National Drug Policy, brought in recently by this very government, that is underpinned by the ideas of proportionality, innovation and compassion.”

    Dr Caldwell says the government seems bent on chipping away at these ideas and its own policies by dismantling good work that’s already been done.

    “You can't have it both ways. Earlier this year we saw funding pulled for a very successful treatment programme for gang members who wanted help for methamphetamine addiction that the whole world was applauding. That innovation is gone.

    “Gangs don't actually have a monopoly within the drug industry. Drug use and supply cut across all segments of society so to target one segment and say they are worth less than others means proportionality and compassion are thrown out the window as well.

    “This is not okay. In fact, it’s appalling. This is exactly how stigma is perpetuated and why we have to constantly go cap in hand to get the funding needed to actually address this issue properly.”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22182 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    Gangs do play a major role in pushing P into already vulnerable communities.

    P is unlike most other drugs in terms of its risks and those making and distributing are knowingly selling misery.

    Bennett was wrong to talk of people having less rights but the strategy of coming down hard on manufacture and supply while providing more resources for the victims makes sense to me.

    I'm in favour of legalisation and controlled supply of most drugs . But P has specific risks that put it outside of a purely harm management strategy.

    Since Nov 2016 • 108 posts Report Reply

  • dave stewart,

    Not sure who's comments are more disturbing - English or Bennett's.
    Both are very similar in sentiment to the propaganda from some of the worst villains of the 20th century: Hitler, Stalin, Mao's gang of 4 etc.
    No media comments from any constitutional experts yet?
    Of course it seems like just a great big dog whistle, the intent being to round up all the straggler "tough on crime" votes.
    But the fact that this has come out of the mouths of incumbent PM & deputy is SCANDALOUS!!!
    Does the GG have sufficient teeth to chastise them over this?

    Since Aug 2014 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • dave stewart,

    Oh, and keeping with the dog metaphor:
    Bennett & English are dog tucker!

    Since Aug 2014 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    English seeks to walk it all back on Morning Report.

    As noted in the morning TV panel later on - "Even if she misspoke, if she said it, it's because she thought it"

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4335 posts Report Reply

  • Lynn Yum,

    I find the cynicism of the National party knows no bounds.

    By most accounts they are underfunding the police. They allow the drug dealers and robbers of dairies to feel like they can operate with impunity. They themselves are part of the problem.

    To solve that problem they want to what, take away human rights from alleged criminals instead of properly funding the police? They made their own bed with their "rationalisation" in the past 9 years. Now they need to lie on it.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2016 • 37 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    the dark hatred of objectifying human beings

    I know this is meant as an insult but it really is worth noting that in a neoliberal world, humans are just resources to be manipulated and spent to maximise profit.

    They really do believe humans are objects

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4335 posts Report Reply

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