Comparisons by some observers have been made between the Australian and New Zealand Governments since Friday's terrorist attack at the LynnMall Countdown.
Would Australia have handled things differently, particularly during the two months of around-the-clock surveillance of the terrorist, leading up to the attack? I know little about Australia's anti-terrorist laws but when carrying out law enforcement in Australia, the Aussies act decisively. So they may well have handled things differently.
They don't appear to ask permission and don't mess around when confronted with individuals who have broken the law or who are intent on doing harm to law-abiding citizens. And as soon as criminals have served their time they are quickly booted out of the country if they're not a bona fide Australian.
Look at how New Zealanders are treated who have been convicted of a crime. They no longer meet the good character threshold to remain in Australia so are deported to New Zealand.
In the past six years about 2350 kiwis have been returned to New Zealand. Even during lockdown periods in Australia in the past 12 months, 381 have been deported. They don't let a pandemic stop them doing what they think is best for Australia.
An Australian commentator said it would be unlikely the Australian Government would agree to deploy specialist police officers, using precious resources, to keep a potential terrorist under surveillance 24/7.
Is that because they're ahead of the game; their anti-terrorist laws sanctioning acting, even when they only suspect there is a terrorism act in the planning? Not like New Zealand, where we have the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 not fit for purpose.
After Friday's attack, the Government is moving quickly to amend the Act to criminalise terrorist weapons and combat training, create a new offence for travelling overseas to engage in terrorism, and expand the ability to crackdown on people supporting terror.
Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said the changes would broaden the scope of what has been considered terrorist activity, allowing law enforcement agencies to consider the planning or training for an attack as a terrorist activity.
This was recommended by the Royal Commission into the Christchurch Mosque shooting in 2015. Why wasn't it given urgency then?
These are the changes that would have allowed our police, courts and immigration to be proactive in monitoring and addressing actions and behaviours to prevent a terrorist attack.
I understand the need for the Government to act now to make these changes but making laws under pressure is never ideal. Robust discussion must occur with those who know this area of law intimately. There are sections of New Zealand society who know all too well how unevenly the hand of the law is applied.
I was reminded this weekend: that the Tuhoe raids, in Taneatua and Ruatoki in 2007, took place because it was alleged there was a paramilitary training camp deep in Urewera.
On hearsay they invaded the small Tuhoe settlements with weapons, jack boots et al. The police later admitted breaching sections of the anti-terrorism legislation. Members of the armed offenders squad also raided homes around the country looking for terrorists – people they claimed wanted to hurt New Zealand politicians and bomb parliament.
We know 17 people were arrested facing a total of 291 charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act. In the end, none of the 17 were charged, with only four found guilty in 2012 of illegally possessing firearms.
When finally amended, the Terrorism Suppression Act must be used wisely. The Tuhoe raids is an example of legislation being abused by government.
There is disquiet in some quarters that the Government might use the LynnMall act of terrorism to shorten the consultation period normally required to produce legislation fit for purpose.
Terrorism acts are finding their way into New Zealand, our legislation must help keep New Zealand citizens safe. When systems are poor, greater legislative power can lead to the risk of greater harm.
- Merepeka Raukawa-Tait is chairwoman of the Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency, a Lakes District Health Board member and Rotorua District councillor.