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NZ must not go back to failed pro-violence policy

15 February 2008 Media Statement

NZ must not go back to failed pro-violence policies of the past

The launch of a new campaign against family violence and more high profile tragedies involving teenagers this week highlights the importance of not going back to failed policies that resulted in massive increases in violence, Progressive leader Jim Anderton says.

The new campaign against family violence was launched at Parliament on Thursday.

"New Zealand is only just beginning to recover from increases in family violence that resulted from failed policies in the 80s and 90s. If National were re-elected and went back to the policies of the 80s and 90s, we would again have increases in violence."

As a result of assault or intentional injury, 279 people died in the last five years for which figures are available. That was down from 293 in the late nineties and 347 for the early nineties.

Homicide rates came down from two out of every 100,000 in the late eighties, to 1.2 per hundred thousand today. Our suicide rate peaked at 16.7 deaths per 100,000 population between 1996 and 1998, higher than at any time since the late twenties (which also happened to be a time of great economic hardship).

"New Zealand is still a violent place for young people because we are still seeing the effects on the families of people who were the economic victims of the failed policies of the past.

"It's no coincidence that violence peaked at a time when unemployment and economic victimisation peaked. In 1991 one in four Maori were unemployed. The same year in which the National government delivered its ‘Mother of All Budgets’, which slashed income support for the unemployed even further.

"Since that peak in the nineties, unemployment rates have fallen to their lowest level in decades and Maori especially are achieving considerable economic successes.

"Now, National wants to take us back to the failed policies of the past. There is a direct motorway from economic carnage to violent crime. If we want a safer, less violent community, then we can't throw people on the scrapheap and we can't tolerate high unemployment. A stronger, more caring New Zealand is a safer one," Jim Anderton says.

ENDS

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