Our Terms of Reference directed us to make recommendations on what improvements should be made to the way Public sector agencies gather, share and analyse information, how Public sector agencies or operational practices could be improved to prevent future terrorist attacks and any other matters to provide a complete report.
This Part sets out our recommendations in four key areas:
- Improving New Zealand’s counter-terrorism effort (chapter 2).
- Improving New Zealand’s firearms licensing system (chapter 3).
- Supporting the ongoing recovery needs of affected whānau, survivors and witnesses of the 15 March 2019 terrorist attack (chapter 4).
- Improving New Zealand’s response to our increasingly diverse population (chapter 5).
We deal with implementation of the recommendations in chapter 6.
Our recommendations are mutually reinforcing – they provide benefits that support one another. They have been designed to achieve system and social change, with many of the recommendations underpinned by the principle of continuous improvement. The recommendations should be read in the context of the whole report. We see them as a package and not suitable for piecemeal implementation.
In the chapters that follow we explore four themes.
The threat of terrorism is continuing to evolve. We need to understand the threat and be ready to mitigate the risks. Strong government leadership and direction are required to provide effective oversight and accountability of the counter-terrorism effort. It is also necessary to ensure the counter-terrorism effort is well-resourced, that roles and responsibilities are well understood across Reduction, Readiness, Response and Recovery at the national, regional and local levels, and resources are appropriately focused to support a safe New Zealand.
New Zealand’s population is becoming increasingly ethnically and religiously diverse (see Part 2, chapter 2). Strong government leadership and direction are required to position New Zealand (and in particular the Public sector) to respond and adapt to our increasingly diverse population. Leadership is necessary to effect the social shift that over time will help to achieve a safe and inclusive New Zealand.
Implementation of our recommendations will also require strong government leadership.
Engaged and accountable government decision-making will improve the quality of decisions and enable Public sector policies, programmes and services to be designed and delivered for the requirements of New Zealand’s increasingly diverse society. This will require a change in the way the Public sector (and in particular the agencies involved in the counter-terrorism effort) engages with communities. The Public sector mindset must shift to value communities’ input into decisions, transparency and engaging in a robust debate.
Having a common understanding of roles and responsibilities is critical to achieving change and maintaining the benefits of that change. Everyone in society has a role in making New Zealand safe and inclusive. But it is apparent that there is no common understanding of what those roles are, how they relate to each other and what they should be seeking to achieve. Clarity of roles and responsibilities is particularly critical as New Zealand’s demographics will continue to change over the next 20 years. The New Zealand government should make sure every New Zealander can feel welcome, contribute and belong. To do this, the Public sector needs to work with all communities to understand the complex dynamics at play and ensure that its policies, practices and services respond to those dynamics and embrace the value of diversity.
Diversity can contribute a range of social and economic benefits. Diversity enriches us all. It brings new ideas, extends our skills, attracts businesses and creates new jobs. Diversity also brings challenges. Not everyone responds well to diversity (see Part 9, chapter 2). We heard experiences of racism, hate, prejudice, fear and discrimination and that some communities do not always feel protected or understood by Public sector agencies (Part 3: What communities told us).
The government needs to take the lead on two fronts to ensure that everyone is aware of their role in making New Zealand safe and inclusive. First, the government (and agencies involved in the counter-terrorism effort) will have to ensure that New Zealand’s counter-terrorism effort is valued by the people it seeks to protect. It will take time to enhance public trust and confidence in New Zealand’s counter-terrorism effort, so work to do so should begin urgently.
Second, it must understand what New Zealand’s changing demographics mean for New Zealand as a society and promote consistent messages about the benefits of diversity and an inclusive society. Social cohesion is important in itself and has wider benefits and should be pursued on its own terms (Part 9: Social cohesion and embracing diversity). This is why we have made separate recommendations with respect to the counter-terrorism effort and social cohesion and embracing diversity. However, the benefits of some of our recommendations will be realised with respect to both areas. Over time, government leadership on the benefits of diversity should bring about changes in New Zealand and reduce the incidence of hate-based crime.
Underpinning all of this, New Zealand needs fit for purpose laws and policies. Keeping pace with New Zealand’s evolving context will not be sufficient. Laws and policies need to be practical for the future as New Zealand continues to change. They also need to be relevant and effective as the threats New Zealand faces continue to evolve. This extends to ensuring the Intelligence and Security Act 2017 and Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 are both fit for purpose and providing for hate crime offences, creating a workable approach to hate speech and encouraging the better recording of reports of hate crime. Also important is the need for New Zealand Police to improve their administration of the firearms licensing system.