I can appreciate the anger, the frustration, the despair and the high levels of emotion. We’ve seen it happen before. Adults who are responsible for the care of their children, clamming up and en masse refusing to provide information to police that to all intents and purposes, would result in the culprits being brought to justice.
Nobody should be allowed to get away with that. Nobody.
I say above “to all intents and purposes” because we’re all resident experts on everything until we have to actually find workable solutions. Suddenly, the many potential unintended consequences of hasty, well-intended changes begin to appear.
The Magic Talk petition to “do something” (what – isn’t exactly clear yet and should NOT be confused with mandatory reporting of abuse which is a quite separate issue), will appeal to most caring New Zealanders, and in simple terms, it’s not difficult to understand those strong feelings. The Prime Minister did, after all, change the gun legislation on a whim, on a stage in Christchurch following the shooting tragedy. She did change the rules in Taranaki literally overnight and with no tragedy to be seen, except the one her “captain’s call” caused for the people of Taranaki. Unintended consequences. Should have thought of the outcomes.
They’ve legislated for a $20.00 an hour minimum wage. An excellent principle to provide a living wage for workers. Not so excellent when the increase puts up the costs of their everyday essentials like groceries. Unintended consequences.
This government has also made a whole heap of promises which they’re never going to be able to keep. The sensible among us knew it as soon as they proposed them and we nodded to ourselves wisely and none was more obvious than Kiwibuild. Having failed with that, they interfered in individual property rights requiring landlords to bring rental accommodations up to a legislated standard. An excellent idea in principle. Except, they’ll have to pay more for what little is available. Again, unintended consequences.
The police already have powers to interview people, get search warrants and subpoena witnesses. There are existing penalties for misleading the police and for perjury. It’s hard to see how a law change would suddenly improve anything.
If somebody chooses not to speak, they will choose not to speak. If they simply don’t know, there’s nothing they can say. And there’s really little anybody can do about it. Sure, lock them up. Threaten them. Fine them. But then, we already can.
Just what we need: More powers for the police and fewer rights for citizens. Of course, the police would never abuse such powers but meanwhile, the kids we so desperately want to protect will be no better off. Actually, change that, the protection horse has long since bolted, we’re talking justice (or revenge) after the event. It’s not like prosecuting offenders will suddenly make everything OK or even better. It won’t.
Changing the law will make no difference to anything. Unless of course the intent is to give the police unlimited powers to torture those who won’t answer (waterboarding springs to mind) and we can have our own little Guantanamo Bay somewhere near Gisborne perhaps.
Read this article by Ward Kamo. You’ll find some sound answers there.
A knee jerk, emotive change of law will achieve exactly what the existing law achieves. Nothing new – unless people are willing to talk, legislating by the stroke of a pen is nothing more than wishful thinking.
But here’s a thought: Just how much power do we really want to put in the hands of the police?
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