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Graffiti moves election-year hypocrisy

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice Spokesman

John Carter MP
National Party Local Government Spokesman

15 February 2008

Graffiti moves election-year hypocrisy

Helen Clark’s announcement of tougher action on graffiti smacks of hypocrisy and election-year opportunism, says National’s Justice spokesman, Simon Power.

“While honest citizens have been putting up with this scourge for eight years, Labour has done nothing – until election year.

“In her 1999 election manifesto, Helen Clark promised a programme of restorative justice “in which young offenders and their families can opt for community work, e.g. cleaning up graffiti, as an alternative to prosecution.” Nothing happened.

“Then, in November 2005, one of Labour’s own MPs promoted the Manukau City Council (Control of Graffiti) Bill aimed at banning the sale of spray cans to under 18s, but the Labour-dominated Local Government and Environment Select Committee voted that it should not proceed.

“At that time, Minister Phil Goff said there were ‘Bill of Rights issues in terms of some provisions in the bill’.”

National’s Local Government spokesman, John Carter, says the Labour MPs argued that restricting the sale of spray paint would ‘encourage the use of alternative graffiti implements’.

“What’s more, those MPs doubted that measures to restrict the sale of spray paint and to impose harsher penalties would work, saying ‘there is little evidence that the measures proposed would actually reduce the incidence of graffiti’, and that ‘the Government’s position is that there is no need for legislative change’.

“National supported the Hawkins Bill, and will look at carefully at Labour’s proposals.”

Mr Power says Labour’s trumpeting of an increase in penalties is disingenuous, considering there is already provision for a $2,000 fine or three months imprisonment for wilful damage under Section 11 of the Summary Offences Act, and seven years imprisonment under the Crimes Act, according to Ministry of Justice advice.

“I am sure the public will see this announcement for what it is – election-year hypocrisy.

“All of a sudden, at the beginning of election year and after several highly publicised incidents involving graffiti, there is need for legislative change, and Labour’s defence of the so-called rights of taggers don’t matter any more.

“They’re down in the polls and now they decide to do something about youth crime.”

ENDS

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