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Labour is releasing Charles Te Kahu from Jail

Labour is releasing Charles Te Kahu from Jail next Month

Thursday 18 Jul 2002

Speech by Hon Richard Prebble, leader ACT New Zealand

To the Wellington Rotary Club

Duxton Hotel, Wakefield Street, Wellington

On Wednesday 17^th July 2002 at 6.30pm

ACT's daily tracking polls reveal that Labour is recording just 38 percent - 7 percent below the lowest official poll. I believe there is a reason for this.

First, Helen Clark's strategy of scaring centre/right voters into voting Labour to stop the Greens has failed. Once Labour fell below 50 percent, there was no point in centre/right voters voting Labour.

Second, Labour has no fall back strategy. I ask you a single question. What are three policies Labour is seeking a new mandate for? Tony Blair in Britain won a second mandate by fighting a very positive, policy-based campaign. Helen Clark in 1999 copied the UK Labour Party. But in 2002 Labour is fighting a negative campaign.

The third issue is crime. I believe Labour strategists have completely failed to realise the depth of public concern over the rising tide of violent crime. Ninety-two percent of the electorate voted for Norm Withers' petition calling for tougher sentences. Labour's new law means that Haden Brown, sentenced recently to nine years for the violent bashing with a hammer of his mother, will be out in just three years, as Justice Salmon said from the bench.. Haden Brown's mother's injuries will be with her all her life.

I heard the Minister of Justice, Phil goff, claim today at the Sensible Sentencing rally that he had toughened parole. He has done the opposite. Let me prove it to you. Last election I made longer sentences for criminals a `bottom line' policy for ACT. In the election campaign I raised the case of Mongrel Mob member Charles Te Kahu.

I remind you of who he is. He terrorised the Lawton family. The Lawtons experienced everyone's nightmare - the Mongrel Mob moved next door. Most of the Lawtons' neighbours moved, but they stayed. They were subjected to constant abuse, threats to kill, vicious dogs and foul language. Charles Te Kahu threw two Molotov cocktails through the Lawtons' kitchen window. Mr Lawton did what most people are too scared to do - he went to court and gave evidence so Charles Te Kahu was convicted of arson.

Shortly afterwards, Charles' brother Sean, on TV One's 60 Minutes, threatened the Lawtons. His words were: "This country is not big enough to be messing with the Mob. We're just too big and too crazy and we've got evil minds." The Lawtons went into hiding.

Why I commented on the case, was that I saw Mr Lawton saying on TV that at least his family was safe for six years. Mr Lawton thought that Charles Te Kahu would be in jail until February 2005. A source within the prison service has told ACT that Charles Te Kahu is up for parole next month. Charles Te Kahu will be out of jail in three weeks.

If we had truth-in-sentencing, if the government had tightened up, Charles Te Kahu would be in jail for three more years. Instead, the Lawtons' worst nightmare is coming out of jail.

ACT is leading on this issue. I introduced my Truth-in-Sentencing bill, requiring violent offenders to serve their full court imposed sentence, before the Norm Withers' referendum.

I told a reporter today that I have received 78,000 letters in the last three months on crime. My staff remind me that does not include a further 20,000 who just sent me their views, without including an address. That's 5 percent of the electorate.

I notice that National and New Zealand First now say `me too'. ACT leads, the others follow.

When Helen Clark says on TV that crime is falling, on the same day three Mongrel Mob members walk out of court through what appears to be witness intimidation, I can hear the air going out of Labour's lead.

I have been predicting for over a year that law and order will prove to be Labour's downfall. Even those who did not rate law and order as an issue are offended that a government ignores a referendum result that three times more voters voted for, than voted Labour. ACT is going to receive many party votes just on our consistent stand on the law and order issue.


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