Paula Bennett should resign. Not only from her post as Deputy Prime Minister, from which she should have been removed by Bill English. Not only from her role as Police Minister. She should resign from Parliament.

Her statement in defence of National's dangerous plan for the introduction of warrantless searches is indefensible in a democracy, and so is the whole plan.

First, the idea of warrantless searches is being proposed as a method of curbing drug abuse, in particular the illegal amphetamines. This disregard of the protections spelled out in our Bill of Rights Act (1990) might be justified in the face of an existential threat to national security but, even in such cases there would need to be a debate as to the necessity of elimination of judicial oversight.

That can hardly be the case here as the imminence of any danger is highly questionable. The amphetamine ("P") issue has been with us for years. If it's now more serious, providing a rationale for no-knock entry to gang members' homes, why has Jonathan Coleman resisted an inquiry into this mental-health problem?


It is all too easy for politicians near election time to look as if they're doing something serious to decrease crime, emulating Donald Trump by enlarging police powers with no evidence that such action does anything but appeal to those voters likely to be swayed by fear.

The entire policy proposed by National to deal with our drug problem should provoke vigorous debate. It's an $82 million proposal that has no elements of prevention but has every element of potential failure.

The emphasis on policing for this public health and social problem looks very much like a continuation of the War on Drugs. That's a policy begun by President Richard Nixon in the United States which has done nothing to ameliorate the drug problem there but has proved highly beneficial to the interests of private prisons and Big Pharma.

We already have an incarceration rate twice that of the OECD. With 220 prisoners per 100,000 population, we're playing catch-up with the 680 per 100,000 rate of the US. Surely we need to debate whether entering our own War on Drugs is worth it.

What's not debatable is whether we should erode the protections of our Bill of Rights Act to arbitrary search in the service of a losing war. It's entirely of a piece with an infamous line from the US's Vietnam hamlet programme: "We had to burn down the village in order to save it."

If National's drug proposal is deplorable, what about Ms Bennett's defence of it. Her words say it all. Serious criminals, she said, had "fewer human rights than others".

What rights is she referring to? "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are the inalienable human rights described by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, starting a war which, among other things, was about unreasonable searches.

I'm guessing it's liberty of which Bennett would deprive gangs she deems "serious criminals" because she's unlikely to be asking for the death penalty. Though, in fact, the death penalty is not beyond scope when alleged offenders are without "human rights".

I submit that her sentiments are incompatible with democracy; incompatible with the Bill of Rights Act; incompatible with the spirit and traditions of New Zealand.

Bennett apologised ... to Bill English, for inconveniencing him. In reality, it was an apology for exposing the true sentiments that underpin National's policy for the country where all of us are equal but some are more equal than others. Small wonder that no one from National, including the PM, has censured her.

It's too late for apologies but it's not too late to express with the ballot the words of Donald Trump, whose similar actions English and Bennett emulate: "You're fired."

-Jay Kuten is an American-trained forensic psychiatrist who emigrated to New Zealand for the fly fishing. He spent 40 years comforting the afflicted and intends to spend the rest afflicting the comfortable.