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Labour’s record: inaction on gangs

Labour’s record: inaction on gangs

National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power, wants to know where Labour’s long-promised gang-busting legislation is.

“Justice Minister Annette King said last month that she would be releasing the proposed legislation alongside the Organised Crime Strategy and details about the Organised and Financial Crime Agency (OFCA), which she announced three weeks ago.

“But since then the silence has been deafening.

“We know Cabinet approved amended sentences for gang members last July, and that a bill has been awaiting introduction since November.

“But what legislation could be more important than one that supposedly cracks down on gangs?

“Cabinet papers also say legislation to establish the OFCA must be passed by July 1, but there are only five sitting weeks before then, including the Budget debate, with no bill in sight.

“Does that mean the law will be pushed through under urgency?

“Labour’s approach to organised crime can be characterised as a long period of inaction, followed by a much shorter period of half-baked announcements since the shooting of Jhia Te Tua in May last year:

Despite being a ‘priority for 2004’, the strategy was launched only earlier this month. Helen Clark said in May last year that it would be brought forward to last October, but that never happened.

The idea of an organised crime agency arose only after Jhia Te Tua was killed, with Annette King announcing it in September. But Cabinet told her in December to do more work on it, leading it to be 're-announced' earlier this month. Officials noted that ‘the nature of the process since the initial announcement has contributed to uncertainties for SFO staff’.

“Even their recent announcement of changes to police search and surveillance powers is not gang-specific, and in any event they will not come into effect until late next year.

“This further delay in dealing to gangs is yet another example of Labour taking its foot off the crime-fighting pedal.

“A National Government will make tackling gangs a priority.”


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