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Key Notes - Putting Victims First

04 April 2008

Key Notes - Putting Victims First

Too often, victims of crime don't get justice. Too often, they are forced to re-live a traumatic event because the system doesn't meet their needs or lets them down. Too often, victims seem to get a worse deal than offenders.

National wants to change that. We want to improve victims' rights and make sure they get the support they need. That's why, on Monday, I announced several policies to put victims first. These include:

- Establishing a Victim Compensation Scheme (VCS). This will be funded by a levy on all offenders at sentencing. It will help victims with one-off expenses not covered by ACC or other state help.

- Directing prisoner compensation into the VCS. Offenders benefit from compensation payouts because the Labour Government lets them, and because victims are often reluctant to make claims. National will redirect any unclaimed money in the Victims Claims Trust Account into the VCS.

- Establishing a Victims Services Centre. The centre will work within the Ministry of Justice to co-ordinate agencies that deal with victims and help Victim Support, and provide an initial point of contact for victims. It will also administer the VCS.

- Upgrading the Victim Notification Register to better inform and protect victims. This will allow victims to be on an "active" register, which will notify them of developments relating to their case, or on a "silent" register, for those who don't want further involvement, but which will ensure offenders are not paroled to live nearby. The registers will be maintained by the Victims Services Centre.

- Reviewing the Victims' Rights Act 2002. National will ensure that victims' rights are recognised across the justice system. The review will result in amendments to the Victims' Rights Act to enhance victims' rights and access to support services, such as strengthening the ability to make a victim impact statement without censorship.

These policies to put victims first are the latest part of National's law & order policy package. Last year we announced how we will upgrade police tools and clamp down on gangs. So far this year we have unveiled our youth justice policy and explained how National will axe Labour's dangerous bail law amendments.

There is more to come. In coming months we'll be unveiling the rest of our law and order package so you can see where we stand, and how National will help build a safer future for all New Zealanders.

ACROSS THE DITCH

Last week I spent some time in Australia, speaking at CEO forums about New Zealand's prospects, and meeting business leaders and members of the Federal Government and Opposition, including the Hon Simon Crean, Minister of Trade, and Malcolm Turnbull, the Shadow Treasurer.

I spoke about how I am optimistic for New Zealand's future, and how we need to put the right policies in place to make the most of our opportunities, such as:

- Reducing personal taxes and narrowing the wage gap with Australian workers.
- Reforming the Resource Management Act.
- Cutting red tape and reducing business compliance costs.
- Boosting infrastructure investment - including the introduction of public-private partnerships.
- Lifting education standards.
- Improving the connectivity of the country through greater broadband penetration.

I also talked about how we need to balance our economy with our environment, and how National will develop an emissions trading system in co-operation with Australia.

CALLING OVERSEAS KIWIS

Hundreds of thousands of Kiwis live overseas, many of whom are entitled to vote, but only 45,000 are on the electoral roll. At the 2005 election, only 27,000 votes were cast from overseas.

So this year I'm launching a campaign aimed at overseas voters. You care deeply about this country and its future. You can make a difference. Here are a couple of things you can do:

1. Enrol to vote and make sure your voice is heard. Voting from overseas is easier than many people realise. The Electoral Commission website www.elections.org.nz has all the details about how. It also has a dedicated email address for any questions on how to vote from overseas: overseas@elections.org.nz.

2. Join Facebook www.facebook.com, become a John Key supporter http://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Key/12635800428, and sign up to the group "I'll be voting from overseas in NZ's General Election".

Remember, if you are overseas or you will be out of the country later in the year, make sure you enrol to vote so you can have your say.


John Key MP
Leader of the National Party

 
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