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People-Smuggling Bill Shows Hypocrisy On Crime

Tuesday 26 Feb 2002

The 20- year term for people-smuggling is a punch in the face for victims' groups who have been struggling to get the Government to toughen up on crime says ACT's Justice spokesman Stephen Franks

"They see the Government taking only six months to get out a bill setting a 20-year sentence to deter anyone from helping a willing person to beat NZ immigration rules. Perhaps that is fair enough, though there has not yet been any flood of offenders.

"But contrast that with the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill. In the face of a torrent of vicious crime it sets lower penalties for deliberately killing New Zealanders. Ten years (perhaps) for ordinary murder and 17 years for the most callous and brutal murderers. And it took two-and-a-half years since the 92% Withers' referendum.

"Phil Goff's people smuggling bill shows a Minister who seems to believe in deterrence. Why else threaten employers with huge penalties for offences that could be as non-violent as not demanding citizenship papers from a job seeker with a pommy accent.

"Yet the same Minister seems not to believe in deterrence for other criminals. Why else omit deterrence as a sentencing principle in his Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill. Judges can't fix a deterrent sentence on criminals as a warning to others. And the Parole Board must let criminals out at one third if they are not a danger to the community whatever the message it sends to people thinking about crime.

For foreign people-smugglers Minister's other Bill means the 20 year-sentence threat will mean in practice no more than seven years. The Parole Board can't possibly hold them as a danger to our community when they will be deported on release anyway. And what will seven years in a cosy New Zealand jail mean to someone from a poverty-rocked country?

Ends

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