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Gerry In The House 3 June - Prisoners Benefit

3 June 2005

Prisoners set to benefit from being prisoners

Yesterday saw the passing under urgency of the prisoners compensation legislation with the help of the Greens. This liberal bill will see prisoners still pocketing the cash from their compensation claims. What it does is make the victims re-live their ordeal while compensation claims continue. This is not justice.

Under this bill, if the victims don't lodge a claim, are not identifiable, or are judged not to have suffered enough, then the prisoner will be able to keep some or all of the money. This is not justice.

This bill shows just how out of touch Labour is with ordinary New Zealanders. Many have told me they are outraged at the thought of someone in prison, who gets themselves in a tangle with the authorities responsible for their incarceration, somehow being able to go to a court and get a monetary payment for hurt feelings or for other damage. It is just abhorrent.

We live in a country where, sadly, there is violent crime committed every nine minutes. That's a 15% rise under Labour! Now we have a piece of legislation that looks after the interests of prisoners who might get on the wrong side of their keepers, while we are doing little for the victims of crime. Even Keith Locke, one of the Green MPs who helped this bill through it's final stages, admitted to the House that he thought the bill was bad, but that he would vote for it anyway.

National offered to help speed through legislation in September that would see an end to the compensation claims, but Labour refused to take the offer up. National will stop, block, and wipe any compensation claims. And if any prison officer commits a crime against a prisoner they should be prosecuted - but don't give taxpayers' money to the worst of our society.

Labour looks more shaky

The New Zealand Herald this week released its latest survey results which showed that very few people believed that education or hospital services had improved despite Labour spending billions of extra dollars.

Health rated as the issue of greatest concern of those surveyed, with almost 74% of respondents saying that they thought health services had either gotten worse or had not changed under Labour. This is despite an extra $3.3 billion being spent on health since they came to office. And when you realise that the number of operations fell from 160,574 in 1999/00 to 157,754 in 2002/03, you can understand why people feel this way. Labour have been throwing money at the problem without actually addressing the underlying issues of how to improve efficiency.

The other issue of importance to voters in the coming election, and which must be of great concern to Labour, is our education system. Perhaps the most alarming thing is that nearly 44% of those polled thought education had got worse under Labour's stewardship.

This result was backed up by another survey released earlier in the week that found that only 31% of parents surveyed had any confidence in the values of NCEA and only 27% thought NCEA provided a clear measure of students' abilities. The interesting thing to note in this result is that the survey was done in August last year, before all the fuss started over NCEA results and the scholarship debacle.

Part of the problem with both health and education is that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of bureaucrats sitting in Wellington dreaming up things to do and creating a burden for those on the frontline.

There has got to be a better way to deliver such essential services, and a change to a National government at the election will go a long way to improving health and education outcomes.

Teflon Helen strikes again

This week it came out that the prosecution in the case of the Prime Minister's speeding motorcade is not planning to call Helen Clark or Jim Sutton to the witness stand. It is highly unusual for material witnesses not to be called to give evidence.

But never fear, the defence has indicated that it may yet call Clark and Sutton to the stand. So keep an eye out on 1 August when the case is due before the courts.

Billboard campaign

Popping up all over the country this week were a series of eight billboards highlighting the difference between the Labour Government and what National stands for on various issues such as tax, race relations, education and so on.

I'm sure these will become a talking point, so keep an eye out for them.


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