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Labour's bill gathered dust while gangs marched on

Simon Power MP National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

24 June 2008

Labour's bill gathered dust while gangs marched on

More evidence has emerged to show that the Labour Government has stalled for years on the fight against gangs, says National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

"Three years ago, Ministry of Justice officials tried to set up a workshop with other government agencies involved with gangs, with the aim of establishing an organised crime taskforce, but this workshop and the inter-agency taskforce were canned.

"No one knows why. All Justice Minister Annette King can say is 'the proposal was not taken up and a taskforce was not established at that time.'

"No reason, no urgency, no concern, nothing. That doesn't sound much like a Government that's keen to deal to gangs.

"In fact, Labour did nothing until the drive-by shooting of Wanganui toddler Jhia Te Tua in May last year stung them into action.

"They wrote a bill in July last year to increase sentences for gangs, but left it gathering dust for 11 months until recent gang flare-ups.

"If Labour had acted at the time, every gang member who has offended since - like those in Hawke's Bay and Invercargill at the weekend - could be facing sentences twice the length. But Labour did nothing.

"In fact, one media report quoted Annette King's office as saying that the previous Minister of Justice, Mark Burton, 'had been busy that year and unable to find the time to table the bill in Parliament' because 'the Electoral Finance Act took up a lot of his time'.

"What an astounding admission.

"What should New Zealanders think of a Government that puts dreaming up undemocratic campaign finance laws ahead of dealing to people who commit violent crime and make and distribute 'P'?

"This is a perfect example of how Labour has failed to address the gang problem.

"They took their foot off the pedal because their hearts were never in it."

ENDS


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