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Moves To Make Both Life And Politics Safer

Media Release

17 December 2001


New Zealand First Leader, Rt Hon Winston Peters, today confirmed that NZ First has reached an agreement with the Government to facilitate the passing of two very important Bills.

“The Government needed the support of NZ First for urgency, which we agreed to on the condition that two Bills would be passed through all stages this week,” Mr Peters confirmed.

“These are two matters of major concern to New Zealanders which in our view deserve to be dealt with as expeditiously as possible,” said Mr Peters. “They are the Electoral (Integrity) Bill and the Local Government (Prohibition of Liquor in Public Places) Amendment Bill 2001, each of which in their own way will contribute to a better life for New Zealanders, “ he explained.

“New Zealand First has for a long time promoted the need for an Electoral Integrity Bill to prevent party hopping by individuals who, having been given a seat in the Parliament through the effort and hard work of a party and its members, abandon their pre-election commitment in pursuit of self interest thereby bringing into disrepute MMP. The Labour party also campaigned on this issue in the 1999 general election and as this is the last opportunity to secure this legislation before it becomes yet another election year promise, the chance to put this measure in place has to be taken now,” Mr Peters said.

“New Zealand First, along with the Alliance, has experienced first hand the imbalance in party representation caused by MPs shifting allegiances without consideration to the political expression of voters and such an unsafe and dishonest political loophole has to be remedied without further delay. NZ first amendments have given the party hopping Bill real teeth in contrast to the unworkable initial proposal put up by Government,” said Mr Peters.

“This practice of party hopping took an even more bizarre turn for the worse when the Green party left the Alliance to strike out on their on after having used the Alliance party to

achieve political representation to build a network, and to establish a taxpayer funded resource base of the nature provided to parties represented in the Parliament. MMP took an undeserved beating because of the actions of some individuals and the Electoral (Integrity) Bill will see major improvements made to discourage such antics in the future. Members of Parliament who set out to deceive voters and political parties having gained a seat only to gift it to another party, will in future, be required to face a by-election if they wish to continue in politics. This can only be seen as a significant improvement and will make for a far more democratic and safer process for those wishing to represent New Zealanders at the highest possible level,” said Mr Peters.

“ The other piece of legislation involved in the urgency arrangement is NZ First’s Local Government (Prohibition of Liquor in Public Places) Bill 2001. This bill, seeks to ensure that New Zealanders are able to enjoy their holidays and family time without the disruption, fear or anxiety caused by a minority hell bent on disrupting activities with displays of offensive behaviour, violence, and destruction carried out in the frenzied state of intoxication which in many parts of the country, and for so many young people, has become so commonplace in recent years,” Mr Peters said.

In areas such as Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, Timaru, Nelson, Paihia, Corromandel and Queenstown drunkenness, in tandem with quite serious levels of criminal offending, results in serious upheaval for those communities, and sees families caught up in the mayhem and the Police and other agencies stretched to breaking point attempting to bring about control and order. There is no need for such anti-social behaviour and we owe it to the communities and agencies such as the Police, to do everything in our powers to stamp out lawlessness,” Mr Peters said.

“ Councils have attempted to impose conditions on public gatherings in order to delimit the negative effects of loutish and criminal behaviour so frequently associated with liquor consumption, but with varying degrees of success. Courts have generally not given the support required to encourage Councils to use their power of imposing by-laws either. We need to ensure Councils have the required Legislation to give them the authority to impose effective liquor restrictions and the Police the widest powers possible to deal with those who seek to disrupt and spoil the fun of others. This long overdue Bill gives expression to that need, said Mr Peters.

“In this Bill, Councils are to be given the right to define specific areas within their jurisdiction as liquor free, and Police given the power of search, seizure, and arrest for offenders. In the main, Councils are likely to impose these restrictions on traditional trouble spots but will not be restricted to such locations and can determine at will, where they wish to prevent trouble which invariably arises through the unrestricted access and consumption of alcohol at public events,” Mr Peters said.

“Offenders who do not pay heed to the powers contained in the new Legislation, could now face serious charges with the possibility of significant prison sentences for their offending whilst under the influence of alcohol. The spectre of being charged with an offense such as riotous behaviour should cause many to stop and reflect upon the outcome before setting out to spoil the fun of the majority, said Mr Peters.

“It is now up to the Government to ensure Police are given the resources to back up these measures with the police numbers and equipment necessary to implement the improvements brought about by this Legislation and for the Courts to give effect to the will of the Parliament in passing the legislation. The message will be very clear, misbehave and you risk imprisonment,” concluded Mr Peters.


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