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Tuesday, September 30

Labour's broken promise on law & order No 1: Sentencing for gangs

Today's escalating gang problems and the burgeoning manufacture and trade in the evil drug methamphetamine can be laid fairly and squarely at the feet of a lazy Labour Government, says National Party Justice spokesman Simon Power.

"Labour's claim today that they are planning three strikes against P and gangs is a sick joke when two of those 'strikes' are laws it has drafted but failed to pass.

"Labour has promised long but delivered short when it comes to gangs.

"We've seen mayhem and a massive and insidious increase in the prevalence of methamphetamine and all the misery and violence that brings – and still Labour has dragged its feet.

"Where are the tougher sentences for gang members who break the law – sentences Labour has been promising since last year?

"It was only after National announced its plans in August last year to clamp down on gangs did Labour claim they had been working on very similar proposals.

"Cabinet approved the legislation in July last year, but nothing happened until June this year – 11 months later – and even then the bill they produced still had the previous Minister's name on it. They hadn't even bothered to dust it off properly.

"One media report quoted Annette King's office as saying the previous Minister of Justice, Mark Burton, 'had been busy that year and unable to find the time to table the bill in Parliament' because 'the Electoral Finance Act took up a lot of his time'.

"That's a disgrace.

"Labour put all their efforts into producing a law that's designed to keep them in power, but failed to pass a law that reduces the gangs' power. That says a lot about their priorities.

"So where are the Organised Crime (Penalties and Sentencing) Bill and the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Bill now? They're still on Parliament's Order Paper. Labour couldn't even push them through under urgency last week, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of Parliament were in favour of them.

"It says a lot about their priorities that they can put a bill such as the Public Lending Right for NZ Authors Bill under urgency on Parliament's Order Paper ahead of a bill that increases sentences for criminal gangs.

"How can the public believe Labour's cynical use of 'three strikes' language to combat gangs, when the record shows that they've already struck out twice?"

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