Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Dunne Speaks: Nothing Much Has Changed Since March 15

The first anniversary this coming weekend of the brutal, tragic Christchurch mosque slayings will be a difficult and bitterly sad occasion for so many people – the families of the victims, obviously, but also the recovery and medical teams involved, the Police and the other community leaders who played their part on that fateful day. For most of us, it is still hard to imagine events like that taking place in New Zealand, even though they were now nearly a year ago.
 

In the immediate aftermath, the country seemed to come together as one, with the near universal vow that something like that should never be allowed to happen here again. Much was said at the time about how we needed to unite as never before to make that a reality, and there seemed to be a genuine spirit about doing so.

Now, as we mark that first anniversary, it is worth looking at the progress made, and how we as a society may have changed to prevent a repetition of such awful events in the future. Sadly, despite the bold proclamations of the time, the resulting scorecard has been somewhat mixed.

The most dramatic commitment made was to clean up New Zealand’s cumbersome and lax firearms laws, to prevent dangerous weapons falling into the hands of cold-blooded terrorists like the Christchurch attacker ever again. A ban on semi-automatic weapons – the easiest bit of the jigsaw – was quickly achieved, but the rest of the package has struggled somewhat. The weapons buyback scheme appears to have had mixed results – a significant number of weapons have been handed in, but the suspicion remains that a large of numbers of weapons and components are still out there, unaccounted for. The next phase, the firearms register, has gone nowhere. Proposals to establish the register have stalled and are unlikely to be passed through Parliament any time soon, if at all. So, at best, the promised bold firearms policy gets a bare pass mark, and is unlikely to deter a determined terrorist from a similar attack in the future.

Next was the promise of a comprehensive Royal Commission of Inquiry to examine all aspects of the tragedy, including the performance of the security and intelligence services and whether they were paying sufficient attention to the presence and activities of extremist right-wing groups. Because of the perceived urgency, the Royal Commission was told to report back its findings by the end of last year. However, not surprisingly, the enormity of the task has proved impossible to achieve according to the original timeframe and the deadline for its report has now been extended to April 2020. To use NCEA parlance, the Royal Commission gets a “Not Achieved” at this point.

Meantime, disturbing claims have emerged from the Islamic Women’s Council about how various concerns of rising Islamophobia and the risks it posed they had been raising with the State Services Commission and other official agencies have been ignored. This, and the lack of apparent change in the way the intelligence services are now going about their business, raises important questions about official attitudes before and after the attacks. This in turn puts further pressure on the Royal Commission.

Another element that was focused on immediately after the attacks was the role of online communications and websites. While the Christchurch Call has made some progress on the international front in drawing attention to the concern and seeking the engagement of the likes of Google and Facebook to better moderate the content on their platforms, there still remain too many instances where objectionable online material has been able to be streamed in exactly the same way as before. So, while the Christchurch Call probably rates at least a B+ for its intent, the unsatisfactory practical consequences rate at around a D, leaving the overall rating on this score at about C to C+.

On top of this, and despite the pious good intent of the time, it is now clear that not a lot has changed in terms of improving public tolerance and respect for diversity over the last year. This week alone there have been reports of neo-Nazi groups becoming more active, and there was the incident of alleged homophobic conduct by a police officer in the wake of Wellington’s Pride Parade. Last week, there was the Court case involving the person who had made fresh threats against the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch. Over the course of the last year there have been a number of incidents reported across the country of racial slurs being cast, or discrimination made against people on ethnic grounds. And there has even been the case of a senior Cabinet Minister making racist and inflammatory comments on a number of occasions and suffering no sanction for his remarks.

Our society still seems to be as challenged as it ever was in terms of accepting the need for tolerance and diversity, with the brief coming together after Christchurch being clearly no more than a mere blip.
So, it will be another D on that account.

Overall, then as we reflect upon last year’s horrific attacks, the scoresheet is not especially promising, barely a pass mark and probably a fail on the commitments made a year ago. As we recall the events of March 15 2019, we should also realise that collectively we have so far failed the memory of all those who were killed, wounded and otherwise scarred for life. For the second anniversary in 2021 to prove worthy and pay true tribute to them, we all need to improve our response considerably. More action, less pontification would be a good starting point.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On What Leadership (And The Lack Of It) Looks Like

Leadership is an intangible quality, but most New Zealanders will be thanking their lucky stars for what’s being provided by PM Jacinda Ardern and Ministry of Health Director-General Ashley Bloomfield. On a daily basis, both have been clear and decisive about the rationale for the policies they’re pursuing and - by and large - they’re managing to re-assure the public, and yet prepare them gradually for the bad times and challenges to come...More>>

 


Police Commissioner: Christchurch Terrorist Pleads Guilty

Police acknowledge the guilty pleas in the Christchurch Mosque attacks prosecution that were entered in the Christchurch High Court today. The guilty pleas to 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of engaging in a terrorist ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: Nation Steps Up To COVID-19 Alert Level 2

New Zealand has been moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2, Reduce Contact, in an escalation of efforts to reduce the spread of the virus in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today... More>>

ALSO:

COVID-19: Business Response Package

Cabinet today approved the development of a Business Continuity Package to help support the economy through the disruption caused by COVID-19. “New Zealand is well-placed to respond to COVID-19. More>>

ALSO:


Transport: $54 billion Investment In Draft GPS 2021

The Draft Government Policy Statement (GPS) 2021 on land transport confirms that the Government will invest a record $54 billion in its balanced transport policy over the next decade. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Loss Of Abortion Safe Zones

No doubt, last night’s defeat of abortion law reform provisions that would have created safe zones around abortion clinics will be portrayed, by some, as a victory for free speech. It isn’t. It was a victory for bigotry and intimidation directed ... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On National's Regulation Crusade

Lets step back in time now, to simpler days and to simple-minded solutions. So…. if National gets elected, landlords will once again be able to evict tenants at will, raise rents anytime they like, and ignore the need to install a healthy standard of heating in the homes they put out to rent. This promised ‘bonfire of regulations’ is being done in the name of cutting red tape... More>>

ALSO:

SMC - Expert Reaction: PF2050 Strategy

DOC has released a strategy to reach Predator Free 2050, along with an action plan through to 2025. The predator-free goal focuses on three groups of mammals: possums, three species of rats, plus stoats, ferrets and weasels... More>>

ALSO:


Land, Air And Sea: Regions To Benefit From NZ Upgrade

Regional New Zealand will be a hive of activity in the coming months as the New Zealand Upgrade Programme delivers on its promise to modernise our infrastructure, prepare for climate change and help grow our economy. As part of the $12 billion ... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 


 

InfoPages News Channels