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Government actions against gangs inconsistent

Government actions against gangs full of inconsistencies – Maori Party

Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader

18 September 2008

Government measures to combat gangs are riddled with inconsistencies and will prove to be quite ineffective, says the Maori Party.

Mrs Turia was responding to comments from Government Ministers Dr Michael Cullen, Phil Goff and Shane Jones; who have all chosen to up the ante on gang-related issues as a key focus of their electioneering.

"As we all know, talking about gangs is bound to get the press interested," said Mrs Turia. "For a population that Annette King described as being only 3500 members, it's amazing how this sector of our society gets so much attention.”

“This government’s actions against gangs will not work is because they are seriously confused, reactionary and inconsistent,” said Mrs Turia.

“Phil Goff said in Whanganui that anyone in New Zealand has the right to come together and call themselves what they like – and the government is targeting the crime, not the gang. Meanwhile Dr Cullen and Mr Jones rejected out of hand a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal on behalf of Black Power.

“If anyone has a right to come together, as Phil Goff asserts, then why is the government talking about banning gangs by using Australian-style non-association orders?” asked Mrs Turia, MP for Te Tai Hauauru.

“And why does the government support Chester Borrows’ Bill to ban gang patches from Whanganui? The Maori Party opposed the Bill for the very reason that it targets the patch, not the behaviour. Phil Goff’s statement is directly contradictory to the government’s actions,” she said.

“We had another example, with government reactions to Black Power’s claim to the Waitangi Tribunal.

“Dr Cullen, the Attorney-General and Minister for Treaty Negotiations, says there is no legal basis for Black Power to lodge a claim. Actually, that is not for him to say. It is up to the Tribunal to determine whether or not the claim meets the criteria set out in the Treaty of Waitangi Act.

“Shane Jones says Treaty claims belong with the iwi. Dr Cullen and Mr Jones are quite wrong on that - the right to lodge claims is not restricted to iwi or hapu, or to groups who signed the Treaty, or who existed in 1840. Any Maori or group of Maori can lodge a claim, presumably including Eugene Ryder, and possibly Black Power.

“Many of the really historic Treaty claims were brought by the New Zealand Maori Council, which is obviously not an iwi,” said Mrs Turia.

“We have not seen the claim, and cannot comment on the merits. But claimants have to establish that they have been prejudiced, as a result of any Act, policy or act by the Crown, or a lack of any of those; and that the principles of the Treaty were breached in the process.

“I am sure the Tribunal will protect the integrity of its process from politicians who would like to use it as a forum for electioneering and gang-bashing,” she said.

ENDS

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