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Another Labour U-Turn: Law Policy A Shambles

Media Statement By
Tony Ryall
Minister of Justice

21 June, 1999

Another Labour U-Turn: Law and Order Policy a shambles

"Labour Justice Spokesperson, Phil Goff, is darting from one headline to the other, seemingly unable to contain himself", Justice Minister, Tony Ryall, said today.

"Mr Goff initially opposed the Government's home-invasion legislation using the excuses that judges already had discretion to sentence violent home-invaders for longer and that tougher sentences would not work anyway.

"Next, Mr Goff put out a statement promising that "higher penalties should be set in law for all serious violent offenders, not just when the offence is committed in a house" (statement dated 13 June 1999).

"Now, after a backlash from New Zealanders upset at Labour's opposition to tougher penalties for home-invaders, Mr Goff is hedging his bets with an ambiguous 'sentencing guideline'.

"Labour's policy would tell judges they should consider giving home-invaders longer sentences but gives no indication how much longer.

"The Government considered this option, which was originally put forward by Ministry of Justice officials, but rejected it, opting instead for legislative amendment that sent a clearer and firmer message to the judiciary that sentences should be increased.

"We know that increasing maximum penalties increases the length of sentences imposed, as happened when the penalty for sexual violation was increased from 14 to 20 years.

"The Government's legislation is simple and clear enough that even violent home-invaders should get the message.

"Mr Goff, has been rolled by his politically correct Caucus. His promise that higher penalties should be set in law for all serious violent offenders has disappeared, and he is now trying to save face with fancy words.


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