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ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte, ACT Headquarters

ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte, ACT Headquarters, Newmarket

ACT to Strengthen Rights to Self Defence and Introduce a New Crime for Home Invasion

The following is the speech given by Dr Jamie Whyte at this morning's media conference

***

It is core ACT Party policy that the first duty of the state is to protect the citizen. Successive governments have failed to protect us from violence and property theft.

Other parties are this election attempting take credit for the dramatic fall in violent crime but they can give no reasons for the decline.

This is because the fall in violent crime is due to the success for ACT’s 3 strikes for violent crime policy. Labour and the Greens predicted the policy would result in our prisons being full and they said it would make no difference to the incidence of violence.

Not one person has committed a third violent crime.

The success of 3 strikes proves we can take measures to reduce crime. Even hardened criminals respond to incentives.

Labour and the Greens have announced they will repeal 3 strikes so we can predict the election of the Labour/Green government will result in a dramatic increase in violent crime.

ACT has already announced our policy to reduce burglary by at least a third by setting up a three strikes for burglary crime policy.

We have also announced we want the media to be able to report what is happening in the secretive Youth Court. Justice should not only be done but seen to be done. ACT supports giving name suppression to young offenders but the details of youth justice need to be known.

***

Today I wish to announce two more ACT crime policies that will tackle two serious issues.

ACT will introduce a crime of Home Invasion.

Today, New Zealand has no dedicated home invasion law. ACT recognises the need for such a law because of the sanctity of the home, and the need for New Zealanders to feel especially safe in their own home. Burglary is an invasive crime from which many never fully recover the lost sense of security that should be synonymous with being at home. The crime of Home Invasion is at another level to this and it is hard to imagine how anyone can recover the emotional harm this causes.

Home invasion provisions were legislated for in 1999 by the National Government. However they lasted only a couple of years before the incoming Helen Clark Labour Government repealed them in 2002.

Nothing has changed since then, except for home invasions continuing unabated and seemingly becoming more prevalent. John Key said yesterday that he believes National is on the right track in regard to crime, but ACT is more ambitious for New Zealand than this. We will take New Zealand on a new track.

Anyone convicted of home invasion will face a maximum sentence of twenty five years in prison which will be a separate offence to any others committed during the home invasion.

***

The second policy we are announcing today is to:

Strengthen the rights of New Zealanders to defend themselves.

ACT wants people to feel safer in their own homes and will change the law so that anyone in their own home who fears for their safety at the hands of someone unlawfully in their home will have full rights to defend themselves. They need have no concern that the actions they take during the dreadful moments when they were fearing attack or being attacked will be second guessed in the cool light of the next day by the police or the courts as unreasonable and so face prosecution for defending themselves.

This is a version of the ‘Castle Doctrine’ but is not a blank license to kill or cause serious harm. There will always be the possibility of charges being laid in cases of extreme action, but the onus of proof will be on the police to prove the person who defended themselves did not believe, in their own mind and given the circumstances they were in, that they had to take whatever action they did to defend themselves.

Shop keepers, especially in Auckland, are being subjected to increasing violent robbery. ACT will also strengthen their rights to defend themselves, but the right to defend yourself in a public space or a shop or place of business will be different. There has to be a distinction because the sanctity of the home is deserving of a higher right. Criminals are well aware that shop keepers are defenceless and are taking advantage of this in brutal robberies. What ACT proposes here should reassure the shopkeepers of New Zealand.

ACT says it will not be illegal for a shopkeeper to keep a weapon in their own shop. ACT will only strengthen the law for self-defence and laws relating to protection of property will remain unchanged.

Shopkeepers will enjoy the presumption that the right to defend themselves is paramount and be reassured by the law requiring any decision of the police to prosecute to be automatically reviewed by the Solicitor General before proceeding. Both the decision of the Police and the Solicitor-General to be subject to a specific ‘public interest’ test. This should have a chilling effect on the enthusiasm of the police to prosecute in anything but the most obviously extreme cases.

Successive governments have failed to protect us from violence and property theft. ACT has made a difference with our three strikes for violent offences but more needs to be done and ACT wants to do more now for people who should feel safer in their own home or business premises.

ends


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