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Liberty Belle 11 February 2005

Thu, 10 Feb 2005

Deborah Coddington - Liberty Belle 11 February 2005

A break from Lunacy Sightings today – here are some edited extracts from my speech in the debate on the Prime Minister's Statement.

"It was typical of the Prime Minister's speech that she absolutely ignored the biggest problem facing women in this country today. If the Prime Minister really wanted to make this country one where women can feel safe and confident, she would have stood up and said that the No. 1 problem facing women in this country - facing mothers and their children - is violent crime. She would have said that she was as mad as hell and that she would not take it any more. What has happened to this country's safety and security when an 83-year-old woman can spend the autumn years of her life travelling all around the world, only to return to her home town of Marton - a small town where she had lived for 45 years - to be stabbed to death in her own home?

The committed and outstanding detectives we have in our police force are hugely under-resourced. They are stretched to the limit every time two or more homicides occur. Our defence is so under-resourced that violent criminals literally get away with murder. Crime pays, because police resources are directed at handing out traffic fines. As we heard earlier, when the Minister of Police, George Hawkins, received a complaint about this he told the constituent not to worry, that crims were bad drivers too, and that in one way or other they get caught. That is a disgrace. There are killers on the loose in this country, and that is not an overdramatic statement. Families are shattered. Loved grandmothers and daughters are murdered in towns with tiny populations. Government after Government utters words about getting tough on crime.

What would a visitor to this country have thought had they turned on the television the other night and seen that so-called demonstration against the Waitangi Tribunal led by Tame Iti, where cars were burnt on the side of the road and demonstrators with ash all over their faces rode horses and brandished shotguns? The next day we heard Tama Iti on radio saying that he did not care if it delayed Tuhoe's claims another 20 years. That is an insult to Sir John Turei, who worked for years to get those claims before the Waitangi Tribunal. If I had gone down and demonstrated like that outside the District Court, I would have been arrested.

How tough is it on crime in this country when from 1999 to 2003, 1,262 adults who were so sick that they had to live on a sickness benefit committed a violent crime? Those adults were not so sick that they could not go out and commit a violent crime. How tough is it when in the same period 624 solo parents who were on the domestic purposes benefit, which is meant to be for those parents who cannot manage and is a safety net - and nobody disagrees with that; this country is generally quite happy that their taxes help those who are truly in need of some help - went out and committed a crime while we were paying them to look after their children?

Getting tough on crime means spending much more money on training and on paying top rates to detectives who can bring these people to court, so that the trail does not go cold and we do not have so many unsolved murders in this country. In the 1950s when Mrs Mona Morris was bathing her children and pushing the home-grown vegetables through the Mouli, murder was so outrageous that it was on the front page of every newspaper. There were nine murders a year. Now in 2005, it is only February and already there have been nine murders. I cannot bear the apathetic sort of attitude that permeates through this country, whereby we are now so inured that a murder becomes just another murder.

We need tough love in this country, with heaps of intervention for those dysfunctional families where the children are in contact again and again with the authorities. We need some stern mentoring, with sticks and carrots so that those abused children whom we feel sorry for will not one day turn into criminals that we fear and loathe.

I will tell members why our women are not safe on the streets or in their homes anymore: it is because we have gone soft on crime in this country and because criminals matter more than victims when it comes to rights. At present the Government spends about 18 times more on welfare than on the police. The ultimate insult to a life-long worker like Mrs Morris and to young Tania McKenzie beginning her career in the hospitality industry will be if their killers turn out to be beneficiaries."

Yours in liberty Deborah Coddington


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