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Governor General Risks Demeaning Office

Governor General Risks Demeaning Office

Tuesday 13 Aug 2002 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice -- Zero Tolerance for Crime

Governor General Sylvia Cartwright will demean her office and her good points will be dismissed if she keeps wading into political debates ducked by more experienced and cunning Labour politicians throughout the election campaign, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"If the Governor General engages in political debate, she will be treated as a politician.

"Labour politicians did not try to justify the loopy theories behind their new sentencing and parole laws that have taken our violent crime figures to record highs. Instead they stuck doggedly to the false claim that their new laws were toughening up. Then in case that wasn't believed, Prime Minister Helen Clark put a promise to get tougher in her 2002 credit card list of promises.

"Of course Ms Clark and Mr Goff really despise the ordinary common sense that has most New Zealanders calling for tougher sentencing. But they are too cunning to say so. They may have appointed their Governor General to say the political things they really think but do not dare to say - such as ignoring the 92% Withers referendum for tougher punishment - but that does not mean they will protect her when she is then challenged as a politician. She should have learned from the justified public outrage when she called for a ban on smacking.

"The Governor General judges prisons to fail because they do not rehabilitate. Only her fellow anointed intellectuals ever expected prison to rehabilitate. Sadly, their futile insistence on focussing prisons around rehabilitation has ensured prisons no longer work for the traditional purposes they can achieve - preventing crime while the bad guys are locked up for a certain period, deterring prospective criminals, and most important of all, ensuring that victims know a price will be collected for crime - that the thug will not be left better off then his victim.

"Governor General Sylvia Cartwright plainly felt she was among intellectual friends when she "opened" Victoria University's rebranded criminology team as a 'Crime and Justice Research Centre'. Without giving references she mentioned research as if it supported theories that more time in prison would increase crime, not reduce it.

"Early in the election campaign I queried an earlier statement along those lines from one of the Victoria University academics. Gabrielle Maxwell could quote no specific research or give me other conclusive evidence. I don't believe there is any. I challenged her to a public debate, but she said she was too busy.

"Will the Victoria University centre now find 'research' to justify the Governor General's sorry assertions? And will they have the intellectual discipline to explain how their theories fit with the stunning and sustained eight-year drop in crime in the United States? President Clinton overrode the academics and reformed the federal justice system to ensure truth in sentencing. ACT campaigned for it here, and will keep doing so.

"If the government wants the Governor General to bail them out on criminal justice she will end up with a reputation as tatty as theirs," Stephen Franks said.


For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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