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Malaysian diplomat inquiry WILL look into McCully's actions — Collins

Murray McCully announced an inquiry of the Malaysian diplomat scandal Friday afternoon, with terms of reference that did not explicity include his own actions.

Opposition parties were quick to jump on the ommission, claiming the Immigration Minister was tring to wriggle out of direct scrutiny.

The inquiry will look at the way the Ministry of Foreign affairs handled the case.

This morning, on TVNZ's Q+A programme, Ms Collins was asked if she thought the inquiry should look at Mr McCully's actions as well.

She replied, "Well they will of course ... You shouldn’t believe everything the Labour Party tells you. He'll be interviewed. He's expecting to be interviewed, and also any communications through to his office will be obviously shown."

Ms Collins said Prime Minister John Key and Mr McCully are ‘very angry’ over the handling of the Malaysian diplomat and allegations of sexual assault.

“I don’t think there's a New Zealander who is proud of the way in which this matter was handled, and certainly the Minister and the Prime Minister are ropeable about what has occurred to the victim and they are also extremely concerned that this has not been dealt with in the way that it should have been," she said.

The woman at the centre of the allegations, Tania Billingsley, has called on Mr McCully to resign.

Looking at law around domestic violence
Separately, Ms Collins was asked if the penalties for domestic violence are tough enough. The Minister said she is looking at another law around ‘attempted strangulation.’

“So when we've got people who are being strangled, and partly strangled in their home that is an indicator that the person who's doing it is actually going to go on and kill them, and we need to treat that much more seriously than we do.”

Watch the full interview here.


RAW DATA: Q+A transcript: JUDITH COLLINS interviewed by RACHEL SMALLEY

SUSAN WOOD        Over the past week both National and Labour have launched new initiatives to tackle domestic violence.  The stats say it all.  Half of all our homicides are related to domestic violence.  That is 14 women, 7 men and 8 children killed by a member of their family every year.  Half of all violent offences in our courts relate to domestic violence.  Three out of five victims are threatened by their partner more than once.  So National has a new plan, will it work?  Rachel's with Justice Minister, Judith Collins.

RACHEL SMALLEY       Justice Minister, Judith Collins, thank you for joining us this morning.  So the stats are out there.  Half of all homicides are the result of domestic violence.  Are you shocked, surprised, disappointed, that you're most likely if you're going to be murdered in this country, you're most likely to be murdered in your own home?

JUDITH COLLINS      Well I'm not shocked by it, because I have been previously a Minister of Police, and I'm fully aware of what Police have to face whenever they deal with domestic violence.  So they're dealing with a very volatile situation where there are weapons available in the kitchen and elsewhere, and they know that half of all homicides will be from domestic violence.  And that is not a new statistic, it has been around for a very long time.

RACHEL       So that said are you disappointed that in six years of government National hasn’t been able to bring about change with regards to this?

JUDITH        Well I think what we do know is this, is that domestic violence is something which we used to not talk about.  When I was growing up nobody talked about it, now at least we do talk about it.  But I'd also say too is that quite a lot of this domestic violence is in families where it is repeat domestic violence and that’s the hardest to deal with.  So we've got 6% of victims experience 54% of the crimes, and that’s the toughest.

RACHEL       Are you disappointed the government hasn’t brought about change?

JUDITH        Well we are bringing about change, for instance …

RACHEL       The figures don’t suggest that.

JUDITH        Well actually it takes a while to bring about cultural change, and what we're seeing is a tremendous amount of work that’s going on between the Ministry of Social Development, Justice and Police.

RACHEL       There are some 2000 breaches of protection orders, and I think one of the most horrific that springs to mind is that of Edward Livingstone in Dunedin who killed his own two children.  Are they worth the paper they're written on, Protection Orders, they're not are they?

JUDITH        They are if the person who's subject to them respects court orders.

RACHEL       There are 2000 breaches.

JUDITH        Well actually the vast majority of people who are subject to protection orders will respect them, and having said that Rachel, a protection order is given on the papers so that the person who's subject to it doesn’t even get to defend themselves in the first instance.  But they will not stop someone who is determined to kill and what they do need to do is get jail time, and a third of them are now getting jail time, and half of them are getting some custodial sentence.

RACHEL       Part of your Preventing Family Violence package focuses on making high risk victims safer.  So putting locks on doors, reinforcing window locks, putting alarms on women.  In effect you're caging these women, and the men who are beating them up walk around fearless and in public.

JUDITH        No, not at all, in fact the men in those cases are quite often themselves caged in prison.  But in these circumstances we think it is really important for women to be able to live their lives with their families.

RACHEL       Well they can't if they're having to put extreme locks on their windows and doors...

JUDITH        Actually Rachel I don’t know about you but I live in a home with locks on my doors and with a monitored burglar alarm.  That’s the sort of thing technology…

RACHEL       This is New Zealand though Minister, we shouldn’t have to be doing that from people that we know.  Locking people we know out of our homes.

JUDITH        Actually Rachel I thought that in the late 80s until we got burgled three times.  So these days that’s what we do, and that’s the sort of technology that can give people a tremendous amount of comfort.  Now you and I can afford to do that ourselves, but actually many of the women we're talking about they can't afford to, and this is …

RACHEL       That doesn’t stop violence though does it?

JUDITH        Well it actually stops someone coming in, and the other thing is alarms for women, GPS monitoring alarms for victims, to be able to choose to be part of that sort of trial, so that wherever they are they can set off an alarm and the Police know exactly where they are.

RACHEL       But there's a man in front of them who's about to beat them again.

JUDITH        Well actually what it means is that that man's going to end up being arrested and hopefully put in jail.

RACHEL       Does this justice system get domestic violence?  You know judges, they're largely men, do they understand domestic violence?

JUDITH        Well actually in my experience the judges in New Zealand try very very hard to deal with this issue.  But let's put it this way, judges don’t cause domestic violence, Police don’t cause domestic violence.  Violent offenders cause domestic violence, and if you're going to look at some of the worst offenders in domestic violence you start looking at those involved in the gang culture.  Which is why we have 6% of victims getting 54% of the crime.

RACHEL       But we also have 34% of Pakeha committing this, white middle class men.  This is not an ethnic issue.

JUDITH        Well actually Rachel I have to tell you, is that gangs are not just an ethnic issue, and if you thought that then I'm sorry …

RACHEL       No I'm not suggesting that is, but there's 36% Maori, there's 34% Pakeha commit domestic violence.  It's not an ethnic or socio economic issue, it's a middle class issue as well.

JUDITH        Actually domestic violence goes right throughout society.  And as I've said before is that when I was growing up and when you were growing up people didn’t talk about it, and now they do know about it.

RACHEL       Are the penalties tough enough?

JUDITH        I think they are in terms of things like if someone is murdered they end up with the same penalty as anybody else.  Serious domestic violence includes things like grievous bodily harm, attempted murder.  All those things the same penalties.  But if you're looking at whether or not male assaults female, which is the normal charge on a normal sort of – I hate to say it mid-level domestic violence charge, I don’t know that is taken seriously enough, which is why I'm looking at another crime around attempted strangulation.  Because that seems to be one of the biggest predicators of what actually is going to happen next…

RACHEL       What do you mean, so that there's a lot of women men attempt to strangle them?

JUDITH        They do.

RACHEL       And so you want to bring in a new law?

JUDITH        Well at the moment that’s only treated as either – as normally as a male assaults female, and it doesn’t give judges who are looking at these cases…

RACHEL       So what are you going to do about it?

JUDITH        Well what's one of the suggestions from the Family Violence Group that’s been looking at it, is that we actually bring in a new law around crime around attempted strangulation.  So when we've got people who are being strangled, and partly strangled in their home that is an indicator that the person who's doing it is actually going to go on and kill them, and we need to treat that much more seriously than we do.

RACHEL       Why hasn’t the National government given more money to Women's Refuge?

JUDITH        Well Women's Refuge is one of the NGOs that deal with women's…

RACHEL       It's THE …

JUDITH        Well actually Rachel you're wrong.

RACHEL       There's a vast number of women who go to Women's Refuge.

JUDITH        Actually Rachel you're wrong.

RACHEL       No I'm not Minister.

JUDITH        You are wrong.

RACHEL       When women don’t have faith in the justice system they go to Women's Refuge, they turn up on the front door know that they're going to let them in.

JUDITH        Rachel, only some women go to Women's Refuge.  A lot of women actually seek protection orders and they have the partner excluded…

JUDITH        But Rachel that’s not true.  What we have is quite a lot of people who are out there working in this area.  We gave 70 million dollars last year to domestic violence in the NGO sector.  That’s in addition to pretty much half of police resources to a whole range of people.  Now I'm not going to give you the whole list cos it came through MSD but there's about there's about 40 different providers.

RACHEL       Why did you freeze the funding though for Women's Rfuge, it doesn’t make sense, they are an organisation that is on the coal face.

JUDITH        Well Rachel, Women's Refuges, there are many of them in New Zealand.  Some of them about 42 of them, are with the collective which is the one that’s saying its funds are being frozen.  Quite a few refuges have left that collective because of various reasons, and actually I think you need to understand that the collective is not the only provider of services in this area.

RACHEL       Have you consulted them at all?  Have you spoken with them before you…

JUDITH        Actually I spoke with Women's Refuge, Heather Henare, a few weeks ago, when she told me that their situation was, they had a lot of gang women coming to them, and that they’ve been able to organise some sort of arrangement with the President of the local Mongrel Mob to allow their women to come to the Refuge when the violence got too bad.  But there's a lot of women who are going to say that they don’t want to go to that sort of place, and they need to have options.  That’s why there's lots of options out there.

RACHEL       What message has MFAT sent to young men do you think when they have dealt with serious allegations here with such flippancy.  What message does that send do you think to New Zealand men in this country?

JUDITH        Well actually the person we're talking about, the alleged offender, is  not a New Zealand man for a start.

RACHEL       We're not talking about him, we're talking about the way the government dealt with it.

JUDITH        Certainly he's not young.  Well I think that the inquiry will start to show us quite a lot about what's been going on, and I'd also say this, is that for us to try and predict what the inquiry's going to show would be quite unfair.

RACHEL       I'm just suggesting the flippancy with which this was dealt with.  If that’s happening at the top of the pyramid is it any surprise that at the bottom you get cases like Roast Busters?  You know the trickle-down effect.

JUDITH        Well Roast Busters happened before this, so it's hard to say that it's the result of it.

RACHEL       No I'm not saying it's the result, I'm saying the trickle-down message to society.

JUDITH        But Rachel, I don’t think there's a New Zealander who is proud of the way in which this matter was handled, and certainly the Minister and the Prime Minister are ropeable about what has occurred to the victim and they are also extremely concerned that this has not been dealt with in the way that it should have been.

RACHEL       Accountable too?  You said they're ropeable.

JUDITH        Well they're certainly very angry about it.

RACHEL       Do you think the inquiry should actually look at Murray McCully's actions as well?

JUDITH        Well they will of course because … actually Rachel you shouldn’t believe everything the Labour Party tells you.  Of course it's going to, he'll be interviewed, he's expecting to be interviewed, and also any communications through to his office will be obviously shown.

RACHEL       Are you still interested in the leadership of the party?

JUDITH        Oh look I'm not interested in anything other than helping the current government get through to the next election, and getting past it.

RACHEL       The last time I spoke to you and you said to me Rachel I don’t go to parliament just to eat my lunch.

JUDITH        Well I certainly don’t, I'm here to work and work very hard for the people of New Zealand, and that’s what I do.

RACHEL       Alright, Justice Minister, Judith Collins, thank you.

Comments and questions
6

So its a given then that the chances of the accused arriving back to face justice is not going to happen and all the citizens will have to occupy ourselves with is a political circus of smoke and mirrors and belief that Collins will "work and work very hard for the people of New Zealand".
I'm so reassured.

Ms Collins

The public of NZ aren't all idiots and believe this PR tripe - pre election.

This is looking even worse now that you have trumped up - there is actually no need for an enquiry to sort this mess out and it should definitely only take a week or two to undertake

The facts are the facts and arranging an old Govt crony to undertake a Claytons enquiry is not sharp - the only enquiry needed is a firing squad and working out who gets the first bullet and who gets the second and third - McCully and John Allan are definitely in the mix for two of the bullets.

McCully has to go for the Govt to retain any credibility
Labour have made some errors recently and been caned for them but Nationals have been far worse - not just because National is the Govt either.

The Govt is not immune from these major errors and should show some integrity and make those responsible face the consequences.

Why is it always an "ERROR" when labour do something wrong. It's people that do these crimes, not the Government. The solution is - no people, no problems. Unless you have everybody living in dormitories under constant supervision these things will unfortunately continue to happen.

"Actually Rachel........"

You can always tell when Ms Collins is getting just a little rattled :)

Why did the Malaysian not realise he had diplomatic immunity when he was arrested by the police? Either he was very forgetful or NZ decided to assign him diplomatic immunity afterwards.

So this is to be an enquiry into whether Ministers are responsible for their ministerial portfolios or not.

If McCully stays, I guess not.