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Labour’s broken promise 4: domestic violence law

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

2 October 2008

Labour’s broken promise No 4 on law and order: changes to domestic violence law

The Labour Government failed to progress legislation that would have gone a long way to tackling domestic violence, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

“Labour’s failure to push ahead with law changes that they promised three years ago has let down countless victims of domestic violence.

“Statistics yesterday show that domestic violence jumped by 29% in just the past year, and that is of great concern.

“It’s also of concern that Labour had part of the solution in their hands, in the form of changes to the Domestic Violence Act, but chose to do nothing.

“Like many of their law and order promises, Labour’s slow path to legislation is bordering on negligence:

• 2005 election: Labour promises to ‘evaluate amendments to [the Act] to ensure its effectiveness, for example through considering whether greater flexibility is necessary in the types and coverage of protection orders. Greater flexibility might allow for interim protection orders to be granted, and for coverage of orders to be varied where that is in the interests of dependent children.’

• December 2007: A month after National announces its on-the-spot protection orders, Justice Minister Annette King releases a discussion document proposing changes to the Act, including protection orders very similar to National’s.

• June 2008: Annette King says changes will be introduced by July.

• September: Annette King says: ‘We undertook a major review of the Domestic Violence Act, we consulted widely, the legislation has recently gone through Cabinet, and it will be in this House in due course.’

“Then, two days after the Parliament is adjourned and one day before the crime statistics are released, Annette King, in one of her Government’s most cynical moves, finally tables changes to Act.

"She as good as admitted that the increase in domestic violence is real and not just a matter of more reporting, when she said on radio this morning that in 1998, 11% of homicides were domestic violence – and now it's 35%.

“Though it may be true that the 'It's not OK' campaign is leading to more reporting of violence, and that is to be encouraged, that campaign started just last year – so how does she explain the steady increase since 1999?

"It’s time Labour realised this is not just about an increase in reporting – it’s about an increase in violence, full-stop.

“They think they are the only ones concerned about domestic violence, when the fact is that as the Government they had part of the solution in their hands – and they dropped it.”


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