Collins is crushing her own credibility | The Jackal

2 Aug 2021

Collins is crushing her own credibility

Even before Judith Collins became overlord of the National Party, you could tell there was a huge ideological divide between her questionable values and those of the party’s former leaders. And just over a year after becoming the opposition's de facto leader, that chasm between Crusher and what her party once stood for couldn’t be more apparent.

Under her misguided leadership, the National Party have not only been campaigning against policy that they themselves enacted while in power, they're also criticising law and order initiatives that Judith Collins had implemented when she was a Cabinet Minister of John Key's neoliberal Government.

It’s an unprecedented political situation that senior political reporter David Fisher delves into with some much-needed insight and detail.

On Friday, the (pay-walled) NZ Herald reported:

National's new tough on crime campaign uses bad data, cherry-picked stats and attacks a justice scheme Judith Collins helped set up

A new social media campaign by the National Party on law and order has criticised a strategy aimed at curbing crime that was set up when Judith Collins was a Cabinet minister overseeing it.

The criticism is based on linking Labour Party policies to a quote from police stating "arrest is now the exception" that fails to explain the comment was made in relation to some low-level offending that goes before iwi community panels. 

Collins, the National Party leader whose image fronts the social media campaign, was Minister of Police in 2010, then Minister of Justice in 2014, when her officials began an evaluation of the programme.

The evaluation was reported back in 2016, when Collins was again Minister of Police, and has since been rolled out across the country.

This is a shocking indictment of just how ideologically blind the blue "team" has become.

Not only is National ignoring irrefutable evidence with their unrelenting tough on crime dogma, they're also attacking law and order policies that Crusher Collins had previously authorised in her capacity as a Minister of the Crown.

But that’s not the only thing the National Party are getting entirely wrong in their fervour to remain politically relevant. They’re also completely disregarding what the New Zealand Police are saying concerning changes to reported crime statistics. 

Analysis of other areas targeted in National's social media post - increased victimisation and claims of gang numbers increase - appeared to show selective use of data or a reliance on discredited data.

On gang numbers, this and other social media posts had seen National push the claim gang numbers had increased despite police saying the data could not be used to show actual numbers of gang members.

An interview request to Collins on the claims in the social media campaign resulted in a statement - from her office - attributed to the party's police spokesman Simeon Brown.

The list was started in 2016 as an intelligence tool to monitor those in or associated with gangs and had been added to as police awareness grew. The number of people on the list had gone from 5343 in 2016 to 8061 last month.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says the National Gang List does not provide statistical insight into gang numbers.

The growth in numbers largely reflected increasing awareness by police of those with gang links. It also showed - as Commissioner Andrew Coster had acknowledged - how difficult it was to be removed from the list when an association with a gang ended, including through death.

However instead of believing the Police Commissioner like normal grownups, the National Party is busy intentionally burying their heads in the sand and trying to make mountains out of molehills. They are in effect increasing the anxiety already felt about crime within our communities, which isn’t just a socially foolish thing for elected officials to do; it’s morally reprehensible as well.

On victimisations, Brown provided data showing serious assault resulting in injury had doubled under the current government from 10,679 in 2017 to 21,344 in 2020.

It was an increase police had previously linked to new family violence offences introduced in December 2018 that "resulted in police recognising and recording these more serious offences".

"It has also resulted in the realignment of some domestic common assaults into these new offences."

The new offences came in under the Family Violence Act which was originally introduced to Parliament under the National government as the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill.

Data shows the number of incidents in which people have been affected by crime to be stable around 265,000 victimisation.

It would be good to see the National Party actually holding the Government to account with some valid arguments for a change instead of crying wolf all the time. Because without a properly functioning opposition that isn’t hell bent on fomenting fear just to get attention, we cannot hope to tackle the more pressing issues that need to be addressed in New Zealand.