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Labour ignores gangs till election looms

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice Spokesman

15 September 2008

Labour ignores gangs till election looms

The Labour Government has virtually ignored gangs and the mayhem and drugs they spread until 54 days before an election when they are trailing in the polls, says National’s Justice spokesman, Simon Power.

“Phil Goff’s desperate effort today to show that Labour is all of a sudden apparently prepared to do something about the gangs is breathtakingly cynical and what we have come to expect from Labour.

“Where have they been for the past nine years on gangs?

“They have had plenty of chances to move on this scourge – to attack methamphetamine at its source – but they’ve done nothing. Their policy is to set and forget.

“Three years ago, the Justice Ministry tried to set up a workshop with other agencies to establish an organised crime taskforce, but the workshop and the taskforce were canned.

“And in March this year, Annette King recommended to Cabinet there be no further changes to the law, and proposals to crack down on gangs further were either rejected or deferred.

“No reason, no urgency, no concern – nothing. That doesn’t sound much like a Government that’s ready to take the really hard decisions on gangs.

“Only when Wanganui toddler Jhia Te Tua was killed last year did Labour do anything. They wrote a bill to increase sentences for gangs – but left it gathering dust for 11 months until gang flare-ups in Hawke’s Bay and Invercargill. And they still haven’t passed it.

“And last year, when National announced its gangs policy, all Labour could do was criticise us – for wanting to strengthen the law that makes it illegal to be a member of a criminal gang, make it easier to conduct surveillance, give police more powers to remove forts, and make gang membership an aggravating factor in sentencing.

“We are prepared to do what it takes to deal to gangs, and will keep a close watch on what happens in South Australia.

“And why is it that Corrections Minister Phil Goff is now doing the talking about gangs, and not Police and Justice Minister Annette King? Phil Goff has no responsibility for gang laws – it's not his decision to make.

“So has Annette King been rolled on this? After all, she told Parliament on three occasions that she did not believe it was ‘feasible or possible to outlaw them’, that ‘to outlaw something completely would be very difficult’, and that ‘just banning something does not mean it will not exist in some other form’.

“This has all the hallmarks of cynical, desperate Labour electioneering.”


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