Stuff reported last week:
Wellington list MP Nicola Willis and several Wellington city councillors say they don’t feel safe in the central city, with police acknowledging the capital is “over-represented” in incidents of assault and disorder. …
Willis, a National Party MP, said she had spoken to many people in recent weeks who had reported seeing multiple incidents of intimidating behaviour, particularly around Te Aro Park on Manners St.
She blamed an “explosion” in emergency housing and a growing gang presence in the area, and said she would be calling a public meeting on possible solutions.
So Nicola, a young female MP said she doesn’t feel safe in Wellington City. What was the initial response of the local MP, Grant Robertson:
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, the MP for Wellington Central, said he had no personal concerns about the safety of central city streets. “I spend a lot of time in Wellington central. It’s a very vibrant place, but we’ve always got to work together ot make it as safe as possible,” Robertson said.
So his first response is to say well he feels safe. Could you imagine the outrage if say a young female Labour MP had said she doesn’t feel safe on the streets and say Bill English had responded that he feels safe.
In September, a Wellington City Council report revealed anti-social behaviour and crime was occurring every hour of every day at Te Aro Park, while some hospitality workers said crime and disorder in the central city was the worst they had seen in 20 years.
So obviously there is a problem. Is it related to gangs and emergency accommodation as Nicola said? Well yes according to the Police:
A rise in violence and disorder in Wellington’s CBD has been linked to gang members, some of whom are living in downtown emergency housing. …
Police cite a number of premises in the area are contributing to challenges at the park, including nearby emergency accommodation providers and liquor stores, Stuff understands.
Arthur Taylor says it is a problem:
Jailhouse lawyer and former inmate Arthur Taylor, who lived at a Manners St accommodation in May and June as an MSD client, called it a “recipe for crime”.
“It’s like baking a disaster, you have all the ingredients there for a disaster.”
During his stay, Taylor said he witnessed multiple drug deals in an alleyway behind the accommodation.
The accommodation was housing the most vulnerable, including people with serious mental issues, he said.
“Anyone with any common sense knows that you don’t concentrate all those problems in one area.
And an example of what people have seen:
Recently, he watched a woman in the park being dragged down the street by her hair and getting kicked in the head.
Wilson ran outside to help but froze, along with other bystanders attempting to intervene, put off by a man making threats to people, yelling “Black Power!” and “we will kill you”.
And oh the next day after Nicola went public, the Police raided an emergency accommodation provider:
Wellington police have searched a central city motel used for emergency accommodation, seized drugs and stolen property. …
About 20 officers, including the Armed Offenders Squad, raided Harbour City Motor Inn on Webb St in Te Aro early on Wednesday morning. They uncovered methamphetamine, cannabis and stolen property, said Detective Senior Sergeant Warwick McKee.
So hard to dispute the linkage to gangs and emergency accomodation, but what did Grant next do, after saying well he felt safe. He wrote the following:
Violence and intimidation, especially against women is a scourge in our community that we are working to eliminate. The conflation of this with the provision of transitional and emergency housing and those that are needing that is in my view “dog whistle” politics.
So he attacked Nicola (without naming her), smearing her as practising dog whistle politics. All because she said exactly the same thing the Police have said, and numerous others have said.
Then a few days after that Stuff reports:
Mayor Andy Foster said Wellington was not alone with the problems it was experiencing. …
“There has always been an issue with alcohol management which council, police and hospitality have to continually work on together. But clearly an increasing issue post-lockdown is an apparent increase in gang activity and from the emergency housing of a substantial number of people, often with issues,where it appears that they don’t have the necessary support.
So the Mayor says it is linked to gangs and emergency housing.
Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson, who had a representative attend Monday’s meeting, said he was committed to working with the groups to implement the initiatives.
“I will be taking these ideas to my colleagues in government to see what can be done to help address these issues.”
Currently, clients in emergency housing might not automatically qualify or receive the support services offered, Robertson told Stuff. “The feedback I am getting is that the support is provided, but we just have to make sure it’s there at the right time and place.”
And here Grant also implicitly acknowledges the link to emergency housing – after attacking Nicola for the same thing.
And note Nicola never called for those in emergency housing not to be housed, or to be moved. She correctly identified it was a partial cause of the lack of safety, and Nicola herself several times has expressed concern that those in emergency accomodation aren’t getting the support they need.
Grant Robertson should apologise to Nicola WIllis for his facebook page. A female MP should be able to raise issues of personal safety without having their motives attack and be accused of dog whistling by the local male MP.