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Parliament Sends Warning To Home Invaders

Media Statement By Tony Ryall Minister of Justice

3 July, 1999

"Parliament has sent a clear and strong warning to violent criminals to keep away from the sanctuary of the home or face the consequences", Justice Minister, Tony Ryall, said today.

"I welcome Parliament's decision to pass the home-invasion legislation this week. Violent home-invaders will now face higher penalties of another 3 to 5 years in prison", said Mr Ryall.

"I deeply regret that the Labour-Alliance bloc opposed and stalled the passing of these tougher sentences.

"Had they supported them then the attacker of a 92 year old Gisborne woman, who was sexually assaulted in her home on Wednesday, would be facing a tougher penalty for their actions.

"But Labour always cops out when it comes to sending crooks away for longer. The Left voted against increasing the penalties for rape when National increased them from 14 years to 20 years in 1993. Labour talks tough but votes soft on crime.

"Labour-Alliance, under the spokesmanship of Phil Goff, showed just how flaky it is on law and order issues. They have more positions on the home-invasion legislation than the Karma Sutra.

"Mr Goff initially told The Press on 12 January this year that 'home invasions destroyed the fundamental right of people to be safe in their own homes, and he supported tougher punishment'".

"Mr Goff then 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)."

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

"George Hawkins said in a statement on 3 February "Get Tough On Home-Invaders Says Labour". But, this week he, and rest of his mob, voted against the Government's plan to do just that.

"George Hawkins then said that it didn't matter where an attack occurred it was the level of violence that was important.

"Next, apparently without realising the contradiction, he said he supported Mr Goff's Bill which would have told judges that location was important and should be considered an 'aggravating factor', whatever that means.

"Phil Goff said he opposed the Government's legislation because it 'created anomalies'. Then he put forward a Bill that would have created untold anomalies".

"For example, a person shot through their front door by an offender standing on the footpath was not be covered by Mr Goff's Bill.

"The terrible beating of Nan Withers, which Mr Goff regularly cites, was not covered under Mr Goff's proposal either. Guests and visitors to your home, such as children at a birthday party, were not covered.

"And, children abused in the home may have been covered, but if a parent abused a child in the car after picking them up from school, that wasn't covered by the Goff Bill either.

"Confused?

"The new laws are very simple.

"If someone invades the home, and commits serious violence, then the maximum sentence they face has increased by 3 or 5 years depending on the serious of the offence", concluded Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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