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Alexander unveils gang-busting Bill

Wednesday, 9 February 2005

Alexander unveils gang-busting Bill

New Zealand is a sitting duck for the new more potent methamphetamine being distributed by gangs because the Government pays lip service to fighting drugs, United Future's Marc Alexander said today in unveiling a Member's Bill "that will do what the Government won't".

"As we anticipate the full impact of the more potent crystal rock form of methamphetamine, let's remember we have a government that took nearly five years in power to upgrade P from class B to class A.

"That pretty well sums up the urgency that it gives to such issues. The horse will have well and truly bolted before this Government shuts the stable door," Mr Alexander, United Future's law and order spokesman, said in announcing his Criminal Assets Confiscation Bill.

He said his Bill would in all likelihood go further than the Government's proposed but as yet unseen civil forfeiture regime by reversing the onus of proof and meaning gang members would have to prove that their assets were the result of legal income. If they could not do so, then those assets would be forfeited.

"Yes, it's tough, but anyone who thinks we are not a war with drug-dealing criminal gangs is in la-la land. This is a war and the casualties of it are our young people whose lives are being laid waste by drugs pushed by the gangs.

"So I make no apologies for saying that it's time the Government seriously went after these criminals," he said.

Mr Alexander said his Bill would also: * Not require a criminal conviction - the Crown just need to show good cause to suspect assets were derived from crime within the previous six years. The Crown can then apply to freeze the assets and have six months to bring a case. * Set up a Criminal Assets Recovery Agency to work with the police on proceedings brought by the Solicitor-General on behalf of the Crown.

Last week Mr Alexander embarrassed the Government into queue-jumping the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Amendment Bill, which had disappeared into the political ether. It will now come before Parliament this week, and will allow longer jail sentences for child pornographers.

"Again with the drugs and crime issue, you can't help but think that it all comes second to Labour's pet projects such as gay marriages and smoking bans." "New Zealanders want real law to make this country stronger and safer, not more social engineering," he said.


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