Meet a zero striker #3

Zenyata THOMSON is a Third Striker.  He is a recidivist aggravated robber.

Aged in his early 20s, he already has over 20 criminal convictions as an adult and is believed have multiple youth court convictions also. He is a gang associate.

For his third strike, he was convicted on 6 counts of aggravated robbery. He is a menace to law abiding society.

Under the Government’s proposed re-introduction of Three Strikes 2.0, he will be on a clean slate.  His prior strike offences count for nothing, and he is a zero striker.

Just as bad, under the Government’s proposed Three Strikes 2.0, Mr Thomson would not qualify as a Third Striker if he did it all again!

This is because it is proposed that a person would only be a striker if they had been sentenced to more than 24 months imprisonment for all strike offences.

For Mr Thomson’s first strike offence – an aggravated robbery – he was only sentenced to 1 year and 9 months imprisonment.  For his second strike offence – another aggravated robbery – he was sentenced to 1 year and 11 months imprisonment.Neither meet the Government’s threshold to be considered a striker AT ALL!

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The Genuine Legal Conflict for School Boards

There is media fuss today around the resistance of schools in terms of excluding students excluded from other schools. The NZ Herald highlights statistics that 100s of schools appear to be reluctant and three remain outright resistant.

The article highlights the legal obligation for schools to accept students in their zone. This can be ordered through a Ministry letter. Schools can also fight for extra resourcing for one of these previously excluded students – but don’t always get it.

What the media people are missing today is the other important legal obligation that is often in direct conflict with that of accepting students. The obligation is the very heavy requirements to provide a safe environment for students and staff. If they fail to do so the sanctions can be very punitive and significant.

Having been on both State and Private School Boards you can live in fear when accepting students with very poor discipline records. I know of schools that have been required to accept – a youth offender that had killed during a robbery, and arsonist, drug sellers, habitually violent youth (against teachers and students), sexual offenders, habitual thieves, etc. A Board of Trustees nightmare is the death or maiming of a staff member or students – but there are a whole range of other harms.

This is a way bigger discussion than – “schools are required by law to enrol these students.”

Alwyn Poole
Innovative Education Consultants Ltd

PS: Part of a discussion here on the effects of draconian rules for students changing schools for sporting opportunities:

PPS: A privilege to be on Duncan’s yesterday show (20 minutes into the link) on Charter Schools

$64 million flushed away

Stuff reports:

The Labour Government paid consultancy firms a whopping $64m for work establishing the now defunct Three Waters reform project – money that ultimately went down the drain.

Stuff can reveal that multi-national professional services company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was the biggest winner – paid $35m for work it did on the project.

Fellow “big four” companies EY ($9.3m), Deloitte ($532,000) and KPMG ($352,000) also raked in the cash as the Government worked to hand control of water management to four big regional entities.

So if they were paying $200/hour then there was 320,000 hours of consultants spent on this daft project. That is equal to 160 person years of consultants.

Police Association lose arbitration

1 News reports:

The Government has won a long-running pay dispute with the police union.

The parties could not agree on a pay deal after about a year of talks, so an independent arbitrator – employment law specialist Vicki Campbell – was brought in to decide which of the final offers would be adopted.

Today, the arbitrator was in favour of the Government’s offer, which includes a $1500 lump sum payment, a flat $5000 pay increase for officers, plus another 4% increase in July and again in 2025.

There will also be a 5.25% increase in allowances backdated to last November.

Also overtime at time and a half, which is very significant. I said previously the Government’s final offer (not the initial one) was very reasonable.

It is very significant that the arbitrator chose the Government’s offer. Off memory this is the only time in many decades that an arbitrator has not chosen the Police Association’s offer. This shows the Police Association let its members down by setting unrealistic expectations.

Sensible Sentencing Trust launches Stop the Three Strikes Sellout website

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has announced:

Before Labour repealed it in 2022, the Three Strikes law operated for 12 years from 2010.

In that time, there were:

  • 14,687 First strikers
  • About 750 second strikers
  • 25 Third Strikers

Every one of the 25 Third Strikers was a recidivist serious violent or sexual offender, by definition, having committed at least three “strike” offences.

However, the Government’s proposed Three Strikes 2.0 will not only give a “clean slate” to all prior strike offenders, the minimum 24 months imprisonment threshold waters it down so severely, that less than 30% of Third Strike offenders would qualify as Third Strikers if they committed the same offences again!

 Three Strikes 1.0Estimated number under Proposed Three Strikes 2.0Consequence of strike status
# of 1ststrikers14,687 offenders7,464 offendersWarning only
# of 2ndStrikersAround 750 offendersAround 235 offendersNo parole or early release
# of 3rdStrikers25 offenders7 offendersMaximum sentence without parole
  • Only 7 of the 25 Third Strikers would be Third Strikers if they did it all again.
  • 6 of the 25 Third Strikers would only be Second Strikers if they did it all again.
  • 11 of the 25 Third Strikers would only be First Strikers if they did it all again.
  • 1 of the 25 Third Strikers would be a Zero Strikers if he did it all again.

A coalition Government that consistently talked tough at the last election can and must do better than this.

The proposed Three Strikes Reinstatement Bill is now before the Justice Select Committee and public submissions are open until next Tuesday 23 July.The Sensible Sentencing Trust has launched a campaign website which allows submissions to be made quickly and easily.  

You can sign up for campaign updates and support the campaign at

You can make a submission at

Inflation down but not out

Stats NZ reported:

New Zealand’s consumers price index increased 3.3 percent in the 12 months to the June 2024 quarter, according to figures released by Stats NZ today.

While it is good to see inflation coming down, I would be wary of concluding the job is done, when you look at non-tradeables vs tradeables.

Tradeable inflation has fallen from 5.2% a year ago to 0.3%. This is the global impact. In fact it has fallen for the last three quarters.

Non-tradeable inflation is still at a high 5.4%. Only down a bit from 6.6% a year ago. Now the quarterly figure was a more modest 0.9% which is a more tolerable level. However I’d be tempted to wait until we get the Sep 24 quarter inflation before cutting interest rates.

The road cone plague

The Herald reports:

Transport Minister Simeon Brown is coming for road cones, announcing a suite of measures that he says will curb the excessive use of the traffic management tool on our streets.

Brown said the current level of temporary traffic management (TTM) was “out of control”.

“Excessive use of road cones and temporary speed limit reductions – sometimes left in place when work is complete – simply increases cost, forces people to slow down, and frustrates drivers,” Brown said.

“In fact, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) conducted a review of TTM at 800 maintenance worksites on the state highway network across the country in February and found that 145 of these sites were not needed, showing how out of control the use of road cones and temporary traffic management has become,” Brown said.

This does not surprise me. A couple of days ago spent around five minutes in a queue as four roads had been made one way under traffic management due to some work being done. But the work was not on any road. It was on the large median strip between roads. A few years ago there would have been no traffic management and workers would simply wait for a break in traffic to cross the road.

The Tana report

The Greens have released the executive summary of the Darlene Tana report (and good on them for doing so). Some extracts:

  • The owner of the business did not provide a coherent or consistent verbal account and his evidence both oral and documentary tended to obfuscate rather than elucidate; (DPF: He lied)
  • The respondent’s evidence shifted over the investigation with different explanations as to why that was so, requiring significant cross referencing to earlier accounts and documentation to come to findings (DPF: She lied)
  • I found Chuck to be a credible witness who was upfront in response and provided relevant corroborating evidence to support his claims and was consistent between interviews. In contrast I did not find Christian or Darleen to be as credible. Christian set out responses to me that were plainly wrong and not corroborated by evidence. Throughout our interview he also changed or adjusted his answers and so lacked consistency of account, meaning I found him unreliable. Darleen’s credibility was significantly compromised too, because she initially told me she had nothing to do with Green Wheels Blenheim Limited and it was purely Christian’s business and quite separate from E Cycles. When I asked her if she had been a director she responded, no. However, eventually when I noted the Companies Office data, she conceded she had been a director
  • I found Nick to be focused and credible in his answers. He supported his account with key documents and when he didn’t know something was clear about that.
  • Christian presented evidence to me about Nick, that was shown to be incorrect, and appeared to be done to try and damage Nick’s credibility. When talking about Darleen’s involvement in the business he was inconsistent about the extent of her involvement over different periods, and accused the investigator of tampering with his transcript, which was incorrect.
  • I find Darleen initially downplayed her ongoing involvement with E Cycles and Employee A’s employment over the latter half of 2020, until presented with the WhatsApp messages.
  • I find it more likely than not Darleen was aware that there were potential breaches of employment standards with Employee A’s visa not fitting his circumstances when working at E Cycles in the first months of his return.
  • Darleen approached Employee A at his new place of work and told him to stop saying negative things about E Cycles. Employee A reported the incident to the Police and a police report dated 23 March 2023 was provided to me. Employee A claimed Darleen was threatening and said she would take defamation proceedings.

Tana should resign.

Maybe they should have quit?

Stuff reports:

The Government’s top health officials were so concerned by its decision to repeal the smokefree generation law that at least one considered quitting.

Documents released by Te Whatu Ora show outright anger from top health officials, who discussed how to try and stop the Government’s repeal of a law which would have led to New Zealand stopping the sale of cigarettes.

Te Whatu Ora national director for public health, Dr Nick Chamberlain said he was so concerned by the moral and ethical dilemma of repealing the smokefree legislation that he was considering whether he could continue working in the role.

The job of public servants is to implement government policy, not to try and stop the Government they are sworn to serve.

Apa suggested the focus on the financial burden of repealing the legislation.

“We need to make legislation look like the cheapest option,” she said.

So the CEO of Health NZ openly said they need to provide information to support their preferred outcome, presumably regardless of whether or not legislation is the cheapest option. Either legislation is or is not the cheapest option. Having top public servants conspiring to manipulate information to stop a Cabinet decision is appalling.

IIRC, the relevant cabinet papers were leaked to the media. I have no idea who leaked them, but public servants who so adamantly oppose the decisions of the newly elected Government seem a good place to seat looking.

NZ Initiative on Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill

The NZ Initiative has a short report on the Fair Digital News Bargaining bill. Key aspects include:

  • News companies wishing to block search engine indexation can do so easily. A simple robots.txt file stops search engines from indexing sites. Paywalls can prevent those who have not paid from viewing a site’s content. Blocking platforms’ access is relatively simple. Why have news publishers not done so?
  • International research showing that digital platforms, overall, do more to benefit news firms by increasing their reach than they might do to harm news firms when some platform users substitute platforms’ snippets of news rather than paying for the newspaper.
  • When those who want news decide which outlets to support with their subscription dollars, news outlets face a market test. If the test instead depends on a political or bureaucratic allocation process, worse outcomes may be obtained
  • As in Canada, small and independent outlets are likely to be most harmed if Meta blocked links to news rather than be subject to compelled bargaining
  • Entrenching existing players and business models by throttling smaller independent outlets would stifle innovation and new entrants in the media market
  • Forcing payments for links and snippets undermines the open nature of the web
  • If there is a public interest case for supporting journalism, it would be more transparent and economically efficient to do so through direct subsidies rather than forced transfers from one sector to another.

It’s a bad bill that should not be progressed.

Has the Mexico sugar tax worked?

Stuff reports:

A professor in population health has told Stuff’s daily podcast Newsable the government is “ignoring the facts” when it comes to policies that could tackle the country’s shocking obesity rates.

“New Zealand is falling behind,” Boyd Swinburn, from the University of Auckland, said, pointing to Latin America as a leading example.

“They have [a] sugary drinks tax, they have junk food taxes, they have marketing restrictions to children – they’re taking the problem seriously. We just don’t care about it. If you look at our policies, we’re doing nothing.”

But has the policies in Mexico for example worked? Sure they reduce the product being taxed, but do people just substitute? The public health activists cite models of reduced obesity but almost never refer at actual real obesity data. So I checked the OECD data.

What a huge success. Gone from a 34% obesity rate to 45%.

Local democracy saved

Simeon Brown announced:

Local Government Minister Simeon Brown has concluded the Future for Local Government Review and confirmed that the Coalition Government will not be responding to the review’s recommendations.

Good. The Nannie Mahuta hand picked review team managed to come up with an appalling set of recommendations. They included:

  • mana whenua appointments to Councils to “supplement” elected members
  • Pay rises for Councillors
  • Forcing STV on all Councils even where residents have overwhelmingly voted against it
  • To force Councils to adopt tikanga standing orders binding on Councillors
  • embed social/progressive procurement and supplier diversity
  • lower voting age to 16

So basically they wanted to end equality of suffrage in NZ. It is good the Government has binned the report.

Time for Labour and Greens to take a stand against violent rhetoric from TPM

As the United States reels from an attempted assassination of a presidential candidate, the focus in on the need for those involved in politics to be more moderate in their discourse.

The same weekend, Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said on Q+A:

We’ve got a Government that is genocidal, ecocide, we know that they are white supremacists

(If they’re a genocidal government) There’s no if, they are.

This is violent extremist language and it is time for media (huge credit to Jack Tame for pushing back on it) to scrutinise TPM to the same degree any other party saying such stuff would be. If the co-leader of a centre right political party accused the previous Government of waging genocide against whites, then it would be the lead story for days, with demands that such extremism be condemned.

And this is extremism, that promotes violence. If you keep telling 20% of the population that the Government wants to commit genocide and exterminate them, then of course that will lead to extremism and violence. It is beyond the realm of acceptable discourse from an MP, let alone a co-leader. It is far more extreme than anything Trump or the most left representative in the US says.

Ultimately Labour and the Greens need to step up, to stop this. This is not the type of language that you can just say “I wouldn’t express it like this” in response to. Labour and Greens should rule out Te Pati Maori playing any role in a future Government, unless they drop their violent extremist language.

If they don’t, then NZ will follow the US down its current trajectory. You will encourage more politicians on both the left and right to use violent extremist language as a way to build support, and it will end with someone wounded or dead.

A polite term for liar

Radio NZ reports:

Burt said the investigation took longer than anticipated due to a broadened scope, the late arrival of extensive evidence from a complainant and the “lengthy and often unclear” evidence from Tana and her husband Christian Hoff-Nielsen.

“The owner of the business did not provide a coherent or consistent verbal account and his evidence both oral and documentary tended to obfuscate rather than elucidate,” Burt wrote of Hoff-Nielsen.

“The respondent’s evidence shifted over the investigation with different explanations as to why that was so, requiring significant cross referencing to earlier accounts and documentation to come to findings,” Burt wrote of Tana.

This is a polite lawyerly way of saying they lied.

“Christian set out responses to me that were plainly wrong and not corroborated by evidence. Throughout our interview he also changed or adjusted his answers and so lacked consistency of account, meaning I found him unreliable.

“Darleen’s credibility was significantly compromised too, because she initially told me she had nothing to do with Green Wheels Blenheim Limited and it was purely Christian’s business and quite separate from E Cycles.

“When I asked her if she had been a director she responded, no. However, eventually when I noted the Companies Office data, she conceded she had been a director, but it was only for a short time, and she was not operationally involved.”

They didn’t just lie, they lied badly.

Burt wrote Tana’s evidence in connection with this case was “particularly inconsistent and often shown to be factually incorrect.”

So the Greens have managed to select bullies, shoplifters and liars all in one go!

Universities and the Treaty

Grant Duncan writes:

University management should take note of that, as there have been unrealistic efforts to force poorly defined “Treaty obligations” into teaching and research. For example, one university is now telling its academic staff that all curricula should, as a high priority, be “designed, developed and delivered in authentic partnerships with Māori [and] uphold provisions of Te Tiriti o Waitangi”. It’s not clear how so many authentic partnerships can be achieved across all disciplines, from chemistry to ancient history. The 1840 text of te Tiriti gives no guidance on advanced learning in the twenty-first century. A parochial requirement to “honour the Treaty as a partnership between iwi and the Crown” has little relevance to, or recognition in, the competitive international world of academic disciplines. 

These top-down Tiriti-led strategies have lost any emancipatory or decolonising effect and instead they’re now having an oppressive and chilling effect on academic freedom, not least within law schools, as the learned judge may be aware.

It would be good to be able to have a nuanced debate on this, but sadly it is near impossible.

One cm difference

The attempted assassination of Donald Trump is going to be one of those moments where decades later you can remember what you were doing when you heard the news. I was at the Southern Cross bar with the kids and followed it almost in real time on Twitter where initial reports were hazy as to what had happened.

All attempted assassinations are poignant. I recall Reagan’s shooting. But there is something about a bullet that clips an ear that makes you realise how a minute difference in wind or aim could have resulted in a JFK type assasination.

There is still uncertainty over the shooter’s motives. Not that he wanted to kill Trump, but why? The reports of him being bullied at school, might make this a case where he just wanted to be (in)famous, and if not Trump, then maybe a school. Or it may be Occam’s razor – he wanted to stop Trump.

I have reflected on the what if scenario, if Trump had been killed. It would have deprived tens of millions of Americans from their democratic right to vote for him. You defeat politicians with votes, not bullets.

If Trump had been killed, then my best guess is Donald Trump Jr would have replaced him on the ticker, rather than Trump’s yet unannounced VP pick. Trump Jr would probably run a much darker campaign based on vengeance for his father.

Would Biden still stand? I suspect not, as he says he is only in it to stop Trump. He is also probably unelectable. So if he went, then Gavin Newsom is as likely as anyone else to have become the Democratic nominee.

That would be a rather bizarre what if scenario, as Newsom’s ex wife, Kimberly Guilfoyle, is now engaged to Donald Trump Jr. Newsom was cheating on her with the wife of his campaign manager, which seems very ungracious thing to do!

But fortunately Trump was not killed. I remain someone who does not want him to win the presidency, but it will be fascinating to see what he does in his second term.

NZ Initiative on road pricing

The NZ Initiative has a report concluding:

  1. The report proposes a new “Smart Road User Charges” (Smart RUC) system to replace the current fuel excise duty.
  2. Under Smart RUC, all vehicles would be charged based on actual road usage, time of day, and vehicle type.
  3. The proposed system aims to reduce congestion, improve road maintenance, and ensure a fairer distribution of costs.
  4. A five-year implementation plan is outlined, allowing for a gradual transition.

The benefits are:

Smart RUC implements variable pricing based on time of day and location. This reduces traffic in urban areas during peak hours. Commuters save time, and decreased traffic leads to lower emissions and improved air quality.

For road maintenance, Smart RUC provides a stable and sustainable funding source. Charges are directly linked to road use, generating revenue for infrastructure improvements. This allows for timely and effective road maintenance. As a result, road quality is preserved and long-term maintenance costs are reduced.

It’s definitely the way to go. The major challenge is dealing with the privacy issues.

UK voting by education and class

Interesting data in UK exit poll.

  • Brits with degrees voted 66% left and 26% right
  • Brits with just GCSE voted 41% left and 54% right
  • High social class voted 57% left and 36% right
  • Low social class voted 50% left and 43% right
  • Students voted 78% left and 13% right
  • Retired voted 37% left and 57% right
  • Top income quintile voted 62% left and 32% right
  • Bottom income quintile voted 52% left and 41% right
  • 25% of 2019 Conservative voters voted Reform

Like in NZ the left does worse with the working class!