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Collins Comments - 23 April 2008

Collins Comments
23 April 2008

23 April 2008

My heartfelt sympathy goes to the parents and families of the students and teacher who died in the recent Mangatepopo River tragedy. I have been impressed by how these parents, the school and community have handled themselves in the face of extreme grief and pain of loss. Without seeking retribution and without blaming anybody, they have celebrated the lives of their loved ones. These families are incredibly strong and good people. The media has also been sensitive and respectful and I congratulate them for this.

As usual, I will be attending the Anzac Day Dawn Parade at the Cenotaph on Great South Road, Papakura at 6am on Friday and later the Papakura Civic commemorative Anzac service. At 11am I am representing the leader of the opposition, John Key, at the Auckland Civic service at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. As National’s spokesperson on Veteran’s Affairs, I encourage others to be present at these events which recognise and hold in high esteem the valiant efforts of our servicemen and women who fought for this country. Without them, we would not have democracy.

On April 27 I will travel to Sydney as the National Party’s representative to attend the dedication of the statue of a New Zealand soldier at Anzac Bridge. The statue is at the opposite end of the bridge to a similar statue of an Australian soldier which has been in place since 2000.

Last week, my colleague Dr Wayne Mapp and I attended a presentation to representatives of our Defence force and Police of the New Zealand General Service Medal (NZGSM) (Timor-Leste) for involvement with peacekeeping efforts in East Timor from April 28, 2006.

Tough Tagging Stance Applauded. A Hastings District Court judge has taken a tough stance on tagging, sending one tagger to jail for 28 days. Judge Tony Adeane made reference to the fact that some people such as Children’s Commissioner Dr Cindy Kiro believe graffiti and tagging is seen as legitimate art. Instead the judge labeled the actions of orchard worker Ford Randell, 18, “covert criminal behaviour”. This is not the first time Judge Adeane has handed down such tough penalties and good on him for doing so. This is a strong warning for taggers in Papakura and all over the country that people are not happy with soft stances on vandalism. It is also an example that the graffiti laws might suggest penalties for courts to impose but judges can see that in a community context and determine appropriate punishment.

George Hawkins has done a great job bringing the Summary Offences (Tagging and Graffiti Vandalism) Amendment Bill to Parliament. The National Party supported the Bill from the first. George persevered and by getting support from smaller parties, was able to force the issue.

Judith Collins
MP for Clevedon


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