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Monday, October 19

Victim levy largely about window-dressing for National

The so-called Sentencing (Offender Levy) Bill provides nothing more than lip service to victims, and represents gross government hypocrisy given its cutbacks to ACC entitlements, says Labour justice spokesperson Lianne Dalziel.

Lianne Dalziel said that Justice Minister Simon Power’s Bill, which passed the committee stage in Parliament last night, was largely about window-dressing.

“National made a big deal in election year of being on the side of victims. This Bill, which levies all offenders regardless of their offence a paltry $50, is the upshot. The worst offenders, who get jail sentences, will be unable to pay the levy anyway,” she said.

“That’s sad enough, but what really makes me angry is that this inadequate legislation is being introduced at the same time as the Government cuts ACC entitlements and burdens families with increased costs.

“The Minister’s announcements today allocate this small levy to things like covering fares for some victims to go to a parole hearing, or providing information about how the justice system works.

“That’s fine, but this is happening at the same time as National’s cuts to ACC are impacting on the victims of serious crime. This doesn’t add up,” Lianne Dalziel said.

“The reality for victims is that their plight is getting worse, not better, and I am astounded Mr Power can keep a straight face when he says that the negative impact of crime on victims is a priority for this Government.”

Lianne Dalziel said the levy system provided by the Sentencing (Offender Levy) Amendment Bill lacked substance and commitment. “The levy will be the same, whatever the offence. The person committing a less serious offence, and who has a job, will probably be able to pay. The serious offender in jail won’t be paying.

“If we were looking at two sides of a balance sheet, victims would be clearly in deficit.”