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Youth Plan to target crime, education

John Key MP
National Party Leader

29 January 2008

Youth Plan to target crime, education

National Party Leader John Key today announced policies to fight a growing youth crime wave and ensure young people get into education or training.

In a speech in Auckland, he outlined National’s Youth Plan, which consists of a Youth Guarantee and tough new law & order initiatives to combat youth crime.

“Last year, in my underclass speech I warned that New Zealand was seeing a dangerous drift toward social and economic separatism. Helen Clark denied the problem existed, yet nobody can deny its fruits, which are seen daily in the media.

“The truth is that after nine years, Labour’s economic underperformance hasn’t delivered the social dividend they promised.

“Far too many young people are not in education, training, or work – more than 25,000 in fact aged 15 to 19. Far too many kids leave school with no qualifications.

“Under the Youth Guarantee, National will provide a universal, no-cost education entitlement for all 16- and 17-year-olds so they can access school-level educational study at approved institutions. Most will remain at school, but some won’t.

“Those not in work and who fail to take up the entitlement will get no state income support, although special circumstances will be taken into account.

“I am extremely worried about the youth crime problem, with senseless violence and killings seemingly occurring on a daily basis. Good, law-abiding Kiwis end up paying the price.

“We must act now to defuse these unexploded human time-bombs, who are on the fast-track to Paremoremo.

“Just at the weekend, a 14-year-old was arrested after a fatal stabbing of a man in Tokoroa. Last Friday, a 16-year-old was arrested after the senseless slaying of a student working in his family’s Manurewa dairy.

“The violence perpetrated by young criminals is escalating, and we simply must act.

“National will introduce “Fresh Start Programmes” as a Youth Court sentence for those on the road to serious offending. These revolutionary, year-long intensive programmes aim to instil discipline and address underlying causes of offending, and will include up to three months training at, for example, an army facility.

“Fresh Start Programmes aren’t going to be some sort of short-term camp which attempts to scare kids straight. What I’m talking about is a much more modern approach that tackles the underlying causes of criminal offending.

“I want to take the effective elements of army-type training and combine them with the most advanced expertise in youth offending and rehabilitation that New Zealand has to offer,” Mr Key says.

“National will also double maximum residential Youth Justice facility sentences from three to six months, and electronically monitor youths by way of ankle bracelets if they breach court-ordered supervision contracts.

“In addition, the Youth Court will be given powers to issue a range of new compulsory orders like parenting orders, mentoring programmes, and drug and alcohol rehab. National will back up these orders with funding.

“And we will extend the Youth Court’s jurisdiction so it can deal with 12 and 13-year-olds accused of serious crimes.”

National estimates that the Youth Plan will cost about $100 million annually when fully implemented - $65 million for the Youth Guarantee and $35 million for the youth justice initiatives.

“Under Helen Clark and Labour, our country has become a story of lost opportunities,” says Mr Key.

“National knows New Zealand has a great future if we embrace good ideas and put them into action.

“My sense is that in 2008, New Zealand is ready for those ideas; ready for a fresh start. The Youth Plan is part of that fresh start.”

ENDS

Policy Summary
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