Another report of gang violence this morning is the sad reality of gang numbers increasing by 1400 under this Government, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“A child was almost run over by a fleeing vehicle after shots were fired in Ruatoria, residents have been told to stay in their houses in an incident some media have reported as a gang confrontation.
"With gunshots, violence and speeding vehicles it’s lucky nobody was hurt. Communities shouldn’t have to be worried about their children playing in the street or be forced to stay in their homes because of thugs.
“Since this Labour-led Government came into office, gang membership has increased by 26 per cent and their presence is being increasingly felt in communities across the country, with 1400 new patched gang members.
“The Police are doing all that they can with the resources they have but the Government has no plan for how to deal with gangs or stop them recruiting more members.
“National is the party of law and order. We have proposed a designated Police unit, similar to Strike Force Raptor in New South Wales which would harass and disrupt gangs and we’ll be releasing a comprehensive Gang Plan this year setting out how we will crack down on gangs under a National Government.
“Kiwis deserve safety and security. Gangs peddle misery and perpetrate violence in our communities, and there’s no clearer evidence of that than families being forced to hide in their homes and innocent children nearly being run down amidst gang violence.”
This Labour-led Government’s soft on crime approach has emboldened gangs and news of the Mongrel Mob intimidating holidaymakers at a popular campground in Kawerau is further proof that something needs to be done, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“It’s disgraceful that the Department of Conservation has had to shut down the campground because of the Mongrel Mob’s threatening tactics. Forcing out families who’ve been going camping there for decades is completely unacceptable.
“New Zealanders should be able to go camping and enjoy their summer break in peace, without having to worry about being harassed by gang members.
“But we know that, since this Labour-led Government came into office, gang membership has increased by 26 per cent and their presence is being increasingly felt in communities across the country, with 1400 new patched gang members.
“They’re now ruining the Kiwi summer holiday, but still this Government has no plan for how to deal with gangs or stop them recruiting more members.
“National is the party of law and order. We’ll be releasing a comprehensive Gang Plan this year setting out how we will crack down on gangs under a National Government.
“Kiwis deserve safety and security. Gangs peddle misery and perpetrate violence in our communities, and there’s no clearer evidence of that than a family holiday spot having to be shut down because of their shameful intimidation tactics.”
New Zealand should emulate our friends Britain and Australia by keeping troops on the ground in Iraq but with contingency plans to move them quickly if required, National’s Defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee say.
“We do not want to cut and run unduly, leaving others to shoulder our responsibilities,” Mr Mitchell says.
“We have a proud history of operating in the Middle East to keep the peace and it’s important that we are not distracted from our continued efforts to stabilise Iraq.
“We would expect the Iraqi government to take all steps necessary to control the security situation and ensure all coalition bases are protected from attack.
“There needs to be strong contingency plans in place to get our people out of the country if the Iraqi government loses control of the situation.”
Mr Brownlee said the Government briefed the Opposition on the situation in Iraq earlier this week.
“We share the Government’s concern over the recent escalation of hostilities. Now is the time for cool heads.
“We would urge all parties to move forward with meaningful dialogue rather than tit for tat retaliation.”
The gun buy-back scheme has been a failure and the blame for that is squarely on the Government, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“The gun buy-back amnesty closes today and the Government hasn’t even managed to buy back anywhere near the number of firearms it was aiming for.
“Advice from Police and independent experts KPMG pointed to the number of banned firearms in New Zealand as high as between 170,000-240,000 firearms. This matches commentary from firearm stakeholders as well.
“The only people who argue against this information are Government Ministers desperate to make their rushed job look like a success.
“As of today, Police estimate they have received over 50,000 firearms, but this is less than a third of what Police advised could be out there.
“I’d like to acknowledge the work of the Police. It’s clear why only a small number of firearms have been handed back and it’s on the Government that rushed the process, wasn’t clear on requirements, changed the prohibited list during the programme and failed to engage with the firearms community.
“The Government made a mistake in targeting law-abiding firearms owners when they should’ve targeted the gangs who peddle misery in communities across New Zealand.
“The result is a lot of confusion and lack of engagement. The buy-back has arguably been one of the Government’s most important policies. This is yet another failure to deliver.”
The Government has put the safety of New Zealanders at risk by forging ahead with a weak Terrorism Suppression Bill and voting down National’s proposed amendments, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“The safety of New Zealanders is paramount to National, and this Bill does not go far enough. The purpose of the sensible changes we put forward is to keep New Zealanders safe.
“Labour and New Zealand First have sold out to the Green Party. Justice Minister Andrew Little had the opportunity to work with the National Party in good faith to put forward a strong Bill, but instead he chose to placate the Green Party with weak provisions that do not provide optimal protection for New Zealanders’ safety.
“The current Bill completely fails at its first test of being able to detain someone at our border long enough until a control order has been issued by the High Court.
“If you’ve been in or around the business of terror you deserve to be monitored for the protection of everyone. There are no exceptions.
“National will not support a Bill where the Government, led by the Green Party, are trying to fool Kiwis into believing they will be protected. Under this Bill they will not.
“New Zealand should be sending a strong message that terrorism won’t be tolerated and that we will protect our communities at all costs. Instead what we’ve got is a weak Bill that will see the hand of our intelligence agencies weakened and will bog any proposed suppression orders down in the Courts.
“It was especially disappointing that despite the seriousness of the Bill no Government members bothered to speak about it in Parliament last night.
“In short the Government has put the safety of New Zealanders seriously at risk all because it refused to work constructively with the National Party. New Zealanders don’t deserve that.”
National is proposing banning gang patches and insignia in public so we can take back control from the gangs, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“Gangs are growing at the fastest rate since the 1970s. There have been 1400 new gang members or prospects in the past two years. That’s a 26 per cent increase since this soft on crime Government came into power. Gangs have grown at almost twice the rate of new Police recruits. Since the election gang membership has increased by 1,400. The number of frontline Police officers has increased by around 850.
“Gangs peddle misery in our communities, manufacturing and dealing drugs and carrying out violence. As a former Police officer, I’ve seen first-hand the harm they cause and National won’t stand for it.
“This year alone we’ve seen patched Mongrel Mob members carry out initiation ceremonies on Te Mata Peak – a popular destination for families and tourists. Patched Mongrel Mob members took over the town centre in Opotiki and raised their flag at the war memorial and patched gang members blocked families from leaving the Wellington ferry terminal.
“Gang patches and insignia are intimidating. We believe New Zealanders should be able to go about their lives without fear and intimidation. Gangs have no regard for the rest of society. They thrive on fear and intimidation. It’s time we put a stop to that.
“National is the party of law and order. We will always put the safety of New Zealanders before the rights of dangerous criminals. We’re doing the work in Opposition so we’re ready to hit the ground running in 2020.”
National is reviewing whether you should do additional time if you carry out multiple crimes, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“National believes victims should be at the heart of the justice system. Victims often report feeling let down at sentencing when the person who committed multiple crimes against them only has to do the time for one offence.
“Concurrent sentencing still has a place, but for multiple serious offences like murder, manslaughter, rape and sexual violation the offender should have to serve each sentence cumulatively. This should also happen if criminals offend while on bail, in custody, or on parole as a disincentive for further offences.
“We know the cycle of crime usually starts at a young age. That’s why we’ve made youth offending a high priority.
“We want to incentivise young people who make a silly mistake to get their lives back on track. We’ll give them a second chance by wiping their conviction if they have been charged with one offence with a sentence of less than two years by doing community work, passing NCEA Level 2, looking for work and not offending again.
“There is a small group of young people who are hardened, dangerous criminals. We will create a new category of offender known as Young Serious Offenders (YSOs). Police tell us there are about 150 of them. For that groups we’re proposing more powers for police to detain YSOs, removing bail in favour of monitored release, removing warnings and increasing sentences.
“We believe communities should be kept safe from the most dangerous criminals so there are fewer victims of crime.
“National is doing the work in Opposition so we’re ready to hit the ground running. We are the Party of law and order and all of our justice policies put victims at the heart of the justice system.”
Changes to the proposed Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill reflect the Greens’ mistrust of New Zealand’s intelligence agencies and place unnecessary hurdles in the way of ensuring New Zealanders’ safety, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“Labour and New Zealand First should have swallowed their pride, shunned the Greens and come back to National for a grown up discussion about keeping New Zealanders safe.
“Plain and simple this law is supposed to be about is protecting New Zealanders from terrorists or known terrorist associates who return to this country.
“If you’ve been in or around the business of terror you deserve to be monitored for the protection of everyone.
“The Green amendments agreed to by Andrew Little call into question the basis of any proposed protection orders from the outset by requiring the courts to pay extra scrutiny to ‘the validity, authenticity, and reliability’ of evidence the intelligence agencies deem appropriate to require someone to be subject to the law.
“The amendments also increase the threshold for imposition of an order by having the courts take regard of ‘a real risk to any identifiable person or people.’
“That is a significant raising of the threshold.
“We are talking about people who have been on the radar of the intelligence agencies for some time, who everyday New Zealanders would expect to be subject to a higher degree of scrutiny and oversight when they return to this country.
“These changes will weaken the hand of our intelligence agencies and bog proposed suppression orders down in the courts.
“It will be a field day for activist lawyers and seriously risks New Zealanders’ safety.”
The Green Party, who have historically opposed every measure to keep New Zealanders safe, are now supporting the Government’s Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill, proving just how weak this Bill is, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“The safety of New Zealanders is paramount to National, and this Bill does not go far enough.
“National will not support the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill at first reading. We made it very clear from the outset it should be stronger and more closely aligned with other jurisdictions.
“The sensible changes we put forward are to keep New Zealanders safe from terrorists.
“We will lodge these as amendments, pushing for the changes needed to strengthen the Bill.
“Our amendments reflect the serious risk posed by terrorist activity. We want to send the strong message that terrorism won’t be tolerated and that we need to protect our communities at all costs.
“The Government has shown it’s satisfied with a weak response.
“Justice Minister Andrew Little has let his ego get in the way of the safety of New Zealanders. Dismissing National and our changes is arrogant and is putting the lives of New Zealanders at risk.
“We want Kiwis to be safe. Andrew Little now has a choice whether to make this Bill stronger or not.”
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has failed to learn from his very public mistake of granting residency to a convicted drug-dealer, this time granting residency to a convicted drink driver, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“Serious questions need to be answered by the Minister about what appears to be another decision to grant residency to a person convicted of drink driving six times, and driving without a licence twice.
“While we don’t know all the details, we know we can’t trust Iain Lees-Galloway.
“This is the Minister who has never explained why he gave residency to convicted drug dealer Karel Sroubek, and now he won’t say why he has given residency to this person. We hope he spent more than 45 minutes reviewing the case, and that he read the case file entirely this time.
“What steps did the Minister take to ensure New Zealanders are being kept safe from this person, or did he just sign the file and not take any steps to ensure the safety of New Zealanders.
“The Minister must release more information on why he has chosen to grant residency to a recidivist drunk driver. New Zealanders need to know they won’t pose a threat to the public.
“This Government has promised to clamp down on immigration, making it harder for Kiwi employers to fill skills shortages, yet it allows criminals to stay here.
“New Zealanders deserve to be safe on our roads – they won’t be as long as this recidivist drink driver is allowed to keep offending.”