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National talks tough …. again


National talks tough …. again

National's new law and order policy recycles the same old rhetoric that they never deliver on in government, says Corrections Minister Paul Swain.

"National always talks tough but does nothing," Mr Swain said. "The law and order referendum in 1999 was a reflection of the fact that National talked tough on crime but did nothing for nine years in office.

"It took a Labour-led government to introduce longer sentences, tougher bail and parole laws, victims' rights legislation, record police numbers, record police budget, and tough new DNA laws. As a result, the prison population is rising and the crime rate is falling.

"Under the parole laws introduced in 2002, public safety is the overriding factor, and offenders considered a risk must be denied parole. Judges can also set long minimum non-parole periods and inmates can be kept in prison until the very last day of their sentence if they pose a risk to public safety.

"Re-offending rates on parole are also much lower than re-offending rates of people who are just turned out on the streets when they complete their sentences.

"Existing laws are far better at protecting the public than National's old sentencing and parole laws. It's ironic that the offenders that Dr Brash highlighted in his speech today – William Bell and Taffy Hotene – re-offended after being released under National's inadequate laws.

"Under this government's legislation, Bell is now serving a minimum non-parole period of at least 30 years – the longest ever handed down in New Zealand.

"This government has delivered on its promises but you just can't trust National. 'Abolish parole' will probably turn out to be like 'abolish the surcharge' or 'abolish student fees'. It makes you wonder if their policy of abolishing parole will be gone by lunchtime, just like their nuclear policy."

Mr Swain said National was promising to spend billions of dollars building a whole lot of new prisons.

"National needs to front up and tell people where they plan to build them. Will they be built in Kaipara, North Shore, Bay of Plenty, Nelson, and Southland? "New Zealanders should also be worried that Dr Brash is now indicating that he will slash government social services to find the billions he will need to pay for, and run, all these prisons.

"National have also been banging on about police numbers, but when they had the opportunity to spell out their policy today, all we heard was a whole lot of weasel words and no commitment.

"In contrast, this Government has already added more than 450 police. We now have a record number of police and a record police Budget of $1.06 billion."

Mr Swain said that while the government had toughened up on sentencing, building new prisons was only part of the answer.

"We need to make sure that fewer people go to prison in the first place, through early intervention, and that fewer return after they are released, through better rehabilitation and reintegration. We think we have the approach about right.

"Rhetoric from National simply will not do," Mr Swain said.

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