Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Tony Ryall Speech: Getting tough on crime

Tony Ryall Speech: Getting tough on crime

Address to National Party Annual Conference, Duxton Hotel, Wellington.

Check against delivery

Helen Clark came to power promising to be “tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime”. After six years of her rule, crime is out of control. People feel less safe on the streets of our cities and towns. Drugs are now rife in many of the nation’s schools.

Today, a violent crime is reported every eleven minutes[1]. Drug crimes are escalating in every part of the country.

Young people roam the streets of our towns and cities every night. Many of their parents don’t care. Nor are they ever held accountable.

Labour’s liberal policy now sees the worst criminals in this country qualifying for parole after only one third of their sentence. Most of those on parole will be re-convicted within 24 months of release.

When criminals are caught, they should be dealt with quickly and receive their punishment. But in New Zealand today it is taking longer and longer for cases to come to court. This isn’t fair on the victim or the offender.

Last week after postponing five criminal cases because of various delays, a Wellington District Court judge in desperation asked why he should even bother turning up![2]

Community sentences are not working, and fewer than half the people fined are actually paying anything![3]

It doesn’t have to be this way. Crime can be cut. The drug dealing gangs can be confronted. Our country can be made safe again.

It is time to change direction. It is time to end Labour’s liberal experiment with our justice system.


Just after midnight one night last month[4], Dorothy Symes of Wanganui woke to find her husband lying in a pool of blood, the victim of a vicious home invasion. As she ran towards her husband, she too was bashed repeatedly before the attacker fled.

In dreadful pain and fearing for her husband’s life, Mrs Symes made it to the telephone. And who did she call first? She dialled her daughter before she called the police; Mrs Symes told me that she did not trust the 111 system to work for her when she needed it most.

The biggest challenge facing the new Minister of Police will be restoring public confidence in the New Zealand Police.

And restoring confidence within the Police.

This week we revealed that 180,000 calls to the Police communications centres went unanswered in the last 12 months[5]. No wonder New Zealanders are losing faith.

As I travel around this country, New Zealanders are saying the same thing: crime is rampant and out of control, but Labour has the police focused on filling their ‘revenue gathering’ ticket quotas rather than tackling the real issues of crime and drugs.

George Hawkins told Parliament that the police have all the resources they need. He says there are now 10,000 police for the first time.

The truth is this number includes both sworn and back-office staff. In fact sworn staff numbers have only just kept pace with our population growth. Our country’s population has grown 6%. And sworn officer numbers have grown 6%. But only a handful are on the frontline.

Labour loves distorting statistics. Like they did the last election when Labour released crime statistics a week before polling day that were proven completely wrong only a few weeks after the election.

Mark my words -- they will try it again. The fact is that Police crime stats are no longer giving a true picture of crime. People have given up reporting petty crime because they know the police are too busy. And no crime is recorded when no one answers those 180,000 phone calls I spoke about earlier.

High crime rates are not inevitable. A well-resourced and managed police force can get crime under control. You know what stops crime: police on the street, who know their communities, and will not tolerate disorder.

Here is our pledge: National will put more frontline police on the beat.

Under National, you will dial 111 for cops.


On Thursday Notorious Mongrel Mob leader John Gillies – the man who brutally stabbed Gisborne police sergeant Nigel Hendrikse with a screwdriver -- was sentenced to seven years' prison for supplying cocaine and methamphetamine and for assaulting two Hastings police officers during a violent struggle[6].

Gillies with his 106 previous convictions….was on parole.

You have been very generous to Gillies: you paid for his laser surgery to remove a distinctive "Mongrel Mob Forever" tattoo on his left cheek. And you paid him $40,000 prisoner compensation in the year 2000.

Nineteen year old Thomas Sieber saved for years to come to New Zealand as part of a world trip. The German student was playing pool at a Nelson backpackers when he heard screaming. Thomas turned around, saw a man rushing towards him and was hit repeatedly by the man with something black in his hand.

Thomas stumbled out of the backpackers and onto a nearby road. He felt life flow from his body as he saw three gaping stab wounds. Only four days after arriving in our country, Thomas Sieber found himself fighting for his life in Nelson hospital[7].

He had been stabbed by Arthur Gray. With 45 criminal convictions dating back to 1976, Arthur Gray …. Was on parole.

He had been released from prison only 11 days earlier.

Don Brash is right: Parole is a failed experiment. And under National … it will go.

One of the Labour Government’s earliest actions was to legislate for New Zealand’s worst career criminals to get parole after only one third of their sentence.

Then they repealed National’s tough home invasion laws.

Victims tell me they are angry that their attackers or violators can be sent to jail and be out after serving as little as one-third of their sentence.

And they are angry when they find out that most of the people committing crime are career criminals, and most of them are on parole.

Of all those released from jail, around 40% will be re-convicted within one year and more than 55% will be re-convicted within two years. And an astounding 86% will be caught re-offending within 5 years[8].

Under Labour, prison sentences have become a deliberate deception. Virtually no criminal ever serves their full sentence. And everyone knows it.

Under Labour, a rapist sentenced to nine years can be out in three.

Under National, a rapist sentenced to nine years will do nine years.

Here is our pledge: National will abolish parole for repeat and violent offenders.

If they are behind bars then they not on the streets committing crime.

For first time, non-violent low-level offenders we will offer a small discount for good behaviour and rehabilitation. But it’s a once-only offer.

And when they are behind bars, National will require inmates to work and to study. We want to instil the values of work and self-improvement. Labour has cut the budget for prison work.

Right now -- on average -- a prison inmate will do less than two hours work a day, and education and training for … 40 minutes a week![9]

But there’s plenty of time for tennis and sunbathing! Which is hardly rehabilitation.

Under National, we will need new prisons to accommodate a short to medium-term spike in prisoner numbers. In the longer term those numbers will decline. The new prisons will be built by private enterprise, and we will measure their success by how much they can reduce re-offending.

The one certainty about prison is that most prisoners will eventually be released, so we must do more to manage the return of inmates into our community.

The best way to stop re-offending is to enforce post-release monitoring by way of a "prison to work" policy. We will use the successful programme being run by the Prison Fellowship of New Zealand.

Youth Crime

In Kaiapoi, a 14 year-old-boy brutally attacked and raped a young girl after he had lured her into a nearby cemetery. The judge described this case as the darkest day of his judicial career. Yet it was later revealed that the boy had attacked another girl a year earlier, when he was 13. And the police were powerless to charge him[10].

According to Police 1,264 violent offences were committed by under 14 year olds last year[11]. The police apprehend an offender under the age of 14, every 48 minutes of every hour of every day. Youth crime is becoming more violent and is being committed at younger and younger ages.

If these young people are capable of committing adult crimes, then they should be dealt with by the Courts.

This is our pledge: National will lower the age of criminal responsibility for all crimes from 14 to 12.

We will expand the powers of the Youth Court to deal with the hardcore group of young offenders. We will stop the endless roundabout of family group conferences, and put young repeat offenders before judges much sooner.

On Thursday I visited the Northern Youth Justice facility in Manurewa, south Auckland. This is where 46 of the country’s most hardened teenage offenders are being housed. I wanted to find out why these young people ended up there, and what was being done to stop them coming back.

These young people are career criminals. Most have long records of offending. They end up at the Manurewa facility because it’s the top of the tariff…it’s the last response from a system has tried everything else.

They have families, but no one seems to have paid much attention to them. In fact, a few family members attempt to smuggle in contraband!

These young people have chequered school attendance. Many have gang connections. Most have some sort of drug and alcohol problem.

I could see the staff at Manurewa are dedicated and committed. They are determined to make a difference. But with an average stay of only 61 days for these kids[12], I couldn’t help but think their efforts will be quickly eroded.

61 days: it's not long enough to provide discipline, learn respect, accept personal responsibility or improve literacy. It’s not long enough to make a lasting difference.

As I looked beyond the chain mesh fencing, surrounded by concrete and steel, it struck me so strongly that we must do more to save the next generation from a life behind bars.

We must do more to love our children. And we must do more to stamp out truancy, and the low expectations that breed low results. Labour’s liberal approach is failing.

That’s why we will expect more from the parents of persistent young offenders. They must do more to save their young people. We can no longer absolve their parents of any responsibility.

Make no mistake. We hold the young people accountable for their actions. They can’t blame anyone else but themselves. But we do think families have a role in preventing such behavior.

Parents of children persistently involved in offending, anti-social behaviour or truancy will be required to attend guidance courses on parenting skills lasting up to three months. And they will be required to enforce curfews, controls over association with others, and school attendance.

In Britain, re-offending by children of parents subject to parenting orders dropped by 50%. Of those parents subject to such a parenting order, 90% would recommend the programme[13].

And this policy will work here. Ask Marama Day, a social worker and counsellor of 40 years experience. Her Wai Ora Community Trust in Wanganui has previously been involved in such parenting programmes.

When I visited her earlier this year, Marama told me that such courses do make a difference.


Drugs are triggering much of the violent crime in New Zealand today.

Antonie Dixon grew up in a narrow religious sect with tales of devils and demons, of Armageddon and how the sinners of the world would be wiped out.

At the age of 34, after a month-long binge on methamphetamine P, all the devils and demons he had been taught about came into his head and he started his own Armageddon, as the New Zealand Herald put it so well[14].

He sliced off the right hand of his girlfriend and the left hand of a former girlfriend with a samurai sword in the Hauraki Plains village of Pipiroa. He then shot dead a stranger in Pakuranga, later raving to police that the women were immoral and man was the devil.

That’s the effect methamphetamine has.

If you think crime has become more violent and more random, you are right. The cause: mostly methamphetamine.

Sadly, synthetic drugs continue their unrelenting flood across the streets of New Zealand. The drug dealing gangs are stronger than ever.

Many of these gangs were sworn enemies only a decade ago. Today they are close and powerful business associates. They are co-operating; dividing our suburbs and countryside up into franchise areas.

The amount of the drug methamphetamine being smuggled into New Zealand is skyrocketing. Last year Customs seized 23 times the amount seized the year before[15].

Methamphetamine is now driving most violent crime in this country. Users are committing theft and assault to pay for their drugs. Dealers use violence and intimidation to get paid.

To stop the drug dealing gangs we must remove their life-blood; their wealth and influence. I have been to Western Australia and seen what they have done there to tackle the drug dealing gangs.

That is what should be done here.

We must confiscate the assets of the drug dealing gangs, and lock away their leaders for a very long time. We will toughen criminal non-association laws. We will enhance intelligence gathering.

As I warned you last year, Labour is doing far too little to tackle this crisis. Our children are daily at risk from this drug and it’s pushers.

Here is National’s pledge: We will make the war on drugs and crime our top priority.

We care about the next generation of young New Zealanders so we will not legalise cannabis.


Most criminals are not fools. When they think about committing a crime, they make a risk/reward trade off. If a crook think the rewards are worth it and they can get away with it, then they will do it.

We have spent the past six years in Opposition, listening, learning and working on our alternatives. We have looked overseas and we have listened to experts and victims here at home. And we have a plan that will reduce crime.

National’s plan is simple. And will work.

Put more police on the street and they will catch more criminals.

Abolish parole and fewer criminals will be free to commit crime.

Under Don Brash, that is what we will deliver.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government


Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election