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Hide: ACT - the toughest party on crime

ACT - the toughest party on crime

Rodney Hide Friday, 10 June 2005 Speeches - Crime & Justice

Speech to ACT Crime and Justice policy launch; Parliament House grounds; Friday, 10 June 2005; 1pm

Two months ago I visited a South Auckland Dairy owner who was under siege from young criminals and the police were too busy to do anything about it.

Here was an honest, hardworking family working long days, seven days a week. A family who provides for themselves and pays their taxes. Their only ask from the Government is that some of their taxes pay for the protection of the family and their property.

The thieves walk in at will and take what they want. The dairy owner knows who they are.

He knows where they live. But still the police do nothing. The thieves know the police won’t chase them and they rob the dairy owner and his neighbouring shops for whatever they need, safe in the knowledge that they will never be chased.

The police wrote to the dairy owner saying they were too busy and that his complaint was filed. His neighbouring store owners gave up complaining to the police long ago.

Our South Auckland dairy owner was new to New Zealand from India and had expected that the police would do something. They didn’t.

Never mind that the dairy owner had supplied police camera footage of the offender and names and addresses.

Never mind that a Sunday Star-Times reporter tracked down the thief in under 30 minutes.

What shocked me was when the police contacted me to say that they were just pleased they had managed to write the letter. They had rape cases they couldn’t investigate.

That’s a disgrace. We all know it’s a disgrace.

Yet we see it happening time and time again.

The truth is that crime is as big an issue now as ever. Police are overworked, often catching the same crooks time after time, because the revolving door justice system spits them back onto the streets sometimes quicker than it takes police to secure a conviction.

ACT has always been the toughest party on law and order.

We’ve always had the hardest policies on dealing with criminals.

We’ve always backed longer sentences and an end to parole.

And we make no apologies for being the toughest party.

There are other parties that pretend to be tough. They talk tough. They sound tough.

But you’ve got to look closer. Don’t take them at face value. Examine their record.

I’m not going to talk about Labour. We all know they are the softest on crime.

I want to look at National’s record. When in government they passed a gutless victims' rights law. It actually did nothing for victims’ rights at all.

And remember, it was successive National governments who have watered down the length of time offenders must serve. Under the National government automatic parole was used as a way to clear out prisons and save money.

And look at National’s record on violent crime.

At the start of the 1990s, there were around 6 violent offences for every 1000 New Zealanders.

By the end of the 1990s, it was 10.

In the eight years 1990 until 1998, recorded violent crime jumped by 81% in New Zealand.

You can check this on the police website. In 1990 there were 22,391 violent offences. In 1998, there were 40,441.

There was a 50% jump in two years alone - between 1992 and 1994.

It almost makes the 14% jump under Labour since 1999 look good.

National has been part of the problem. Not part of the solution.

When they merged the police and traffic department, they thought it an easy way to deliver on their promise of 1000 more police.

No-one dreamed that it would mean a decade later that police would be ignoring crime to focus on writing out traffic tickets.

Hiding in the bushes to ticket someone doing 62 kmh.

Stopping mums dropping kids off at school and giving tickets for not carrying licences.

Issuing a million tickets a year and collecting over $100 million in revenue.

National started the soft on crime experiment. Labour has picked it up.

Both these old parties have failed New Zealanders. It is the victims of crime who have paid the price, not the politicians. Some victims have paid a high price indeed. Many have paid with their lives.

And the tragedy is, that the evidence internationally is so abundantly clear as to what works and what doesn’t.

Why is it when voters say they want money spent on law and order, politicians instead throw money at stupid stuff. At hip hop tours. At braying toilets in the name of art. At poor quality wananga courses. At giving grants to millionaire businessmen who don’t need it. The list is endless. Everything under the sun, except where the money is actually needed and where people want it.

ACT will put an end to all that wasteful spending. It’s easy. No- one will really miss it.

We’re going to put the money where it is needed and I’m going to be up front about the cost.

ACT is the toughest party on crime, with the toughest policies. And that comes with a price tag. ACT’s policies will add around $400 million in annual operational costs to government spending. Half for police. Half for jails.

But we say protecting New Zealanders is the Government’s number one job.

An extra $400 million is a price we are prepared to pay.

And let me put that in context.

It is less than 1% of core crown spending.

It is just 5% of this year’s surplus.

It is not even double what the Labour Government gave Te Wananga o Aotearoa last year to provide rubbish courses.

I’ll leave it to ACT’s spokesmen to outline the detail of ACT’s policies and the costs.

But I do want to say a bit more about costs.

Our critics are hung up on the costs of more police. On the costs of locking up scumbags for longer.

They are missing the point that the costs to the Government are vastly outweighed by the costs of crime to the community.

In 1995 a Ministry of Justice study carried out by NZIER calculated the cost of crime in New Zealand.

They found the fiscal cost was just a small portion. They found total costs of crime amounted to 5% of GDP. In today’s terms, that’s almost $8 billion.

When the Government adds up its fiscal costs of police, courts and prisons, it stops there, at $2 billion.

To get the true cost of crime to the community you need to add in much more.

You need to add in the cost of security precautions. The cost of repairing property damage and insurance claims. The cost of shoplifting and the value of stolen goods. The cost of benefit fraud and the black economy.

You need to add the cost of all the injuries. The costs of treating victims of crime. Costs of counselling and rehabilitation. The cost of lost days of work. The cost of lost lives. Transit puts the value of a lost life at $2.55 million.

But really, how can you put a price on losing a loved one? Even adding up all these costs to get 5% of GDP, the cost of crime is so much more.

ACT wants to cut crime in half.

We do not need to lead the world in crime levels.

Crime does not need to exact such a heavy toll from our communities.

ACT makes no apology for having the toughest policies on crime.

We make no apology for adding to the $2 billion cost to the government, so we can reduce the $8 billion cost of crime to the community.

And we make no apology for putting spending on police ahead of spending on treaty training courses, hip hop tours and grants to business.

ACT makes no apology for putting the rights of victims ahead of the rights of criminals.

This election, law and order will again be a big issue.

This election, ACT will again be the toughest party on law and order.

There’s one thing that voters can be sure about this election. The other parties will talk about getting tough on crime - it’s the ACT party that will deliver.


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