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Labour's justice response is to form a committee

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

13 February

Labour's justice response is to form a committee

National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power, wants to know why the Government's only response to the Ombudsman's report into the criminal justice sector, released in December, is to form another committee.

"Where is the Prime Minister's response to the many concerns of the Ombudsman? Where is the Justice Minister's response to many of the practical issues he raised?

"All we have heard from Justice Minister Annette King is that they 'will consider all the issues in the report in due course.' She said that way back on December 5.

"Helen Clark called for this report but she has not responded, other than to appoint yet another committee of 'highly qualified and eminent people' to advise justice sector ministers.

"And why should the public feel any safer with the appointment of such a group to meet regularly with ministers, when the Ministers Group on the Youth Offending Strategy did not meet for three years and the Crime Reduction Ministers Group has not meet for five?

"The Ombudsman highlights some extremely important issues, but no one from Labour has seen fit to respond in a way that indicates they are taking those issues seriously.

"Of particular concern is the lack of Labour's response to the Ombudsman's comments around youth justice. He said: 'I want to express my disappointment at a lack of emphasis on youth justice and the low priority given to addressing the precursors of crime.'

"Is their silence because the report was so critical of their management - saying the sector is suffering from a loss of public and political confidence that is putting the system at 'serious risk' - that they are still trying to find something good in it?

"Or is it because, when Helen Clark called for the report after the Graeme Burton fiasco, it was a matter of convenience which suited her then but doesn't now?

"In the absence of any credible leadership on law and order, the Ombudsman was forced to suggest a Commission of Inquiry 'to investigate not only the operations of the entire criminal justice system, but to put forward explicitly the philosophies and values which should guide its policies and practices in the future'.

"That sort of suggestion demands a firm response from the Government.

"It's clear there is little confidence in Labour's ability to lead the sector into the future, and their silence indicates they are having trouble explaining how that could still be the case after eight years."


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