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Labour's answer to gangs: form a committee

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

29 October 2008

Labour's answer to gangs: form a committee

New Zealanders will be offended by Labour's announcement today that its only response to the scourge of gangs is to form a committee, says National's Justice and Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

"This is the only law and order policy that Labour have announced in this entire campaign, and it turns out to be a 'Commission of Inquiry into Organised Criminal Gangs as a means of establishing the extent of gang involvement in organised crime.'

"Well, I've got news for Annette King: gangs = organised crime.

"Why should the public believe this is anything other than a way of avoiding any real action on gangs?

"Labour have the gall to say they are 'committed to passing a number of Bills', yet those six pieces of legislation were already before Parliament and they had every opportunity to get them through during the last term.

"National, on the other hand, more than a year ago announced a number of concrete steps to clamp down on gangs, including plans to:

* Make it easier for police to conduct surveillance on gang communications.

* Give police more power to storm and remove gang fortifications

* Strengthen the law that makes it illegal to be a member of a gang.

* Make gang membership an aggravating factor in sentencing.

"Compare those frontline actions to Labour's musings that 'the commission's findings would provide an excellent stocktake of the level of organised criminal activity in New Zealand.'

"Would that be the same kind of document that the Ministry of Justice produced in March 2005, entitled 'Stocktake on what we know about Organised Crime in New Zealand'? A document that led to no action from the Labour Government until Jhia Te Tua was killed in May 2007?

"And then a bill was finally drafted to increase sentences for gang members, only to sit in the Minister's drawer for a year because they were too busy with the Electoral Finance Bill.

"A bill that was never passed."


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