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.”
A report released today following the decision to let Karel Sroubek have residency in New Zealand shows what we knew all along, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway shouldn’t have let him stay, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“The report into how Immigration New Zealand prepares case files says the ‘grounds were sufficiently powerful that the decision of the Minister was unexpected.’
“The reality is the Minister was presented with a compelling case from his officials that Karel Sroubek should be deported but he went against their advice. The system works but Iain Lees-Galloway stuffed up. This report cost taxpayers $155,000, more than most New Zealanders earn a year to tell us what we already knew.
“What we still don’t have is a clear explanation from Iain Lees-Galloway about why he made this decision.
“Mr Lees-Galloway didn’t read the file in full, he spent just 45 minutes skimming it. He accepted a convicted criminal at his word that he couldn’t go back to his home country because of concerns for his safety despite the fact he had gone back for visits.
“It’s a shame that so much time and money has gone into this report just to tell us that Iain Lees-Galloway isn’t up to the job. This is yet another working group that could have been avoided.”
The Parole Board’s decision to keep drug smuggler Karel Sroubek behind bars was the right one, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“While Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway had no regard for public safety when he granted Karel Sroubek residency, it’s clear the Parole Board has public safety in mind.
“Karel Sroubek remains in New Zealand, but keeping him in prison is one of the few decisions that has made sense during this fiasco that has dragged on for more than a year.
“It’s clear from reading the Parole Board’s decision that it believes Sroubek poses a high risk. The Board questioned whether Sroubek was simply spinning whatever story was necessary to get out of jail.
“This confirms what National has said all along; that a convicted drug smuggler with a history of fraud, identity theft, and serious assault should never have been granted New Zealand residency.
“This is the third time Sroubek has been declined Parole. The risk he poses to the New Zealand public is seemingly obvious to everyone except Iain Lees-Galloway.
“Sroubek is the headache this Government cannot shake off. He will appear before the Parole Board again in four months, and the Minister will be hoping the IPT hearing has been resolved by then so Sroubek can be deported.
“Despite the Government's best efforts to sweep this under the carpet, New Zealanders won't forget that the Minister granted residency to a convicted drug smuggler.”
The Government’s intention to exempt the Pike River Mine re-entry team from safety laws and regulations is concerning and inappropriate, National’s Pike River Re-entry spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“One of the most important failures identified by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Pike River was the unsafe design of the mine in not having two means of egress.
“The regulations were re-written in 2016 to specifically address this. It is unacceptable for the Government to now consider bypassing the very laws and regulations that were put in place to prevent a repeat of this awful tragedy. This shows a complete lack of leadership.
“The Minister for Pike River Re-entry, Andrew Little, has confirmed in Parliament that the Pike River Agency is seeking exemptions from the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and its regulations, to allow the re-entry to continue.
“It was disappointing to see a Minister of the Crown, under Parliamentary Privilege, mocking long-time mining journalist Mr Gerry Morris, a proud West Coaster with a long history of involvement in mining.
“The Minister should have fronted up and explained to New Zealanders why the Government has decided to not adopt new safety regulations that were put in place to prevent any further loss of life at Pike River.
“The advice that National had in Government was that it was always too dangerous to re-enter the mine. Our position has always been that we’re not against a safe re-entry of the drift provided it is done well within new safety guidelines.
“I am extremely disappointed and have lost all confidence in the Government, which now appears to be prioritising an entry at all costs, rather than a safety first approach.”
The Government’s rejection of National’s requested inquiry into the release of inciting letters from the alleged Christchurch Mosque killer is inexcusable, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“Today National called for an inquiry at the Justice Select Committee into the failure of the Corrections Department to stop letters being sent by the alleged Christchurch killer from behind bars.
“The Government has played politics by unreasonably rejecting the request, which would have had questions answered about how this failure was possible.
“The victims of the March 15 shooting, and the recipients of unwanted letters, deserve answers on what systems the Government put in place for managing the person accused of the worst premeditated mass murder in our nation’s history.
“It is not good enough for the Minister to sweep this under the rug with an apology.
“Labour’s committee members – Meka Whaitiri, Clare Curran and Greg O’Connor – along with Jami-Lee Ross have shown they are more interested in covering up the Government’s failure than respecting the independence of the committee to undertake an inquiry.
“They must explain to the victims and the wider public why they don’t agree this is a matter worthy of parliamentary scrutiny.
“National believes we owe it to the victims to get to the bottom of Kelvin Davis’ unacceptable failure.”