National will work with Police Minister Stuart Nash and the Government to ensure our Firearm Prohibition Orders are included in the new gun laws, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“It’s great Stuart Nash is finally going to take National’s Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs) to Cabinet, despite initially rejecting a request from National to include this in our new gun laws.
“National campaigned on introducing FPOs in 2017, and we had a Bill before Parliament last year that the Government voted down. We’ve also included FPOs in our proposed 13 changes to the Government’s gun law reforms, but again it wasn’t picked up.
“It’s great Stuart Nash has changed his mind, and we have a Bill ready to go which I will move to introduce to Parliament on Tuesday. All the Government needs to do is support it.
“FPOs give Police more powers to search and take firearms off gang members. They apply to the most dangerous gang offenders who have convictions for firearms offences or serious violence.
“When Police have reason to believe an FPO has been breached or an offence has occurred, they will be able to search the gang member, their vehicles or premises to look for illegal firearms.
“Right now gang membership is growing rapidly, there has been a 26 per cent increase in patched and prospect gang members since this Government took office.
“Gangs have publicly said they won’t hand in their illegal firearms, showing why National’s FPOs are needed. We’re reaching out to the Government to ensure they are passed.
“National will work with the Government to ensure our FPOs become law. Gangs do nothing but peddle misery and create more victims. This is just one way we can crack down on gangs, and ensure New Zealanders’ safety.”
The Government has overseen a rapid increase in the number of people joining gangs since it took office, but it’s no closer to achieving its promise of 1800 extra police on the beat, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Just released figures show it’s taken the Government more than two years to add only 747 new police officers. Police Minister Stuart Nash has no chance of reaching his target of 1800 Police by July 2020 and keeping his commitment to New Zealanders.
“We’ve seen this week there are more gang members peddling misery and violence in our communities since this Government took office.
“Now more than ever the Government should be focused on ensuring there are enough police officers to stop criminals offending. Patched and prospect gang members are up 26 per cent since the election, there is more recorded crime and New Zealanders are feeling less safe.
“But this Government has no plan to keep New Zealanders safe.
“It wants to clear out prisons, but has no plan to reduce crime. It refused to pick up National’s Firearms Prohibition Orders which would have given Police more powers to search gang members for illegal firearms. It’s also dropped National’s target of 95 per cent of New Zealanders living within 25 kilometres of an on duty police officer.
“And now it’s set to fail to deliver 1800 more police in our communities.
“Stuart Nash claiming his Government is ‘winning’ when it comes to reducing crime and cracking down on gangs, but that’s a slap in the face to the New Zealanders who can see more gang members and crime occurring, and not enough Police on the streets to stop criminals offending.
“National is the party of law and order and our priority is keeping New Zealanders safe. All this Government is delivering is more gang members, more crime, and not enough Police officers.”
A graphic from Police showing their progress on the promised 1800 increase to constabulary staff can be found HERE.
Police Minister Stuart Nash has mislead New Zealanders by saying a huge increase in gang members is because of criminals deported from Australia, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“According to figures released by the Police Minister, only 22 people deported from Australia since November 2017 are gang members. But since the soft on crime Labour Government took office there are an additional 1386 gang members in New Zealand.
“Mr Nash’s office pointed to the 1200 offenders who have been deported to New Zealand from Australia as the reason for the huge increase, even though his own data indicates that isn’t the case.
“Mr Nash told reporters that the Government is ‘winning the war on gangs’. An increase of nearly 1400 gang members under his watch is not winning. He’s making excuses that he knows don’t stack up, and he has no plan to reduce gang members to keep our communities safe.
“Labour want to reduce prison numbers at any cost and has opposed strong measures such as National’s Firearms Prohibition Orders which would take guns off gangs.
“Gangs do nothing but peddle misery and create more victims. National is the party of law and order and will ensure there are fewer victims of crime. We will release a comprehensive Gang Plan in 2020 that will crack down hard on gangs.
“Just this weekend gangs were openly brawling in Huntly. National’s Gang Plan is badly needed.”
The Government’s soft on crime approach has led to almost 1400 more people joining gangs since it took office and is deeply concerning, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Since October 2017, the number of patched gang members has increased by 26 per cent. Gang membership in the Bay of Plenty and Eastern districts has increased by more than 200 members and in the Tasman district it has almost doubled.
“The latest female extension of the Mongrel Mob, gang members refusing to hand in illegal firearms and brazen gang meetings happening in public places like Te Mata Peak shows how emboldened the gangs have become.
“The Government’s focus has been on reducing prison numbers at any cost, but it has no plan to reduce crime. An increase in gang membership means an increase in crime in our communities and more victims. It’s as simple as that.
“National tried to introduce Firearms Prohibition Orders which would have meant police had more powers to search gang members for illegal firearms but the Government voted down our Bill.
“Gangs do nothing but peddle misery and create more victims. National is the party of law and order and will ensure that there are fewer victims of crime. We will release a comprehensive Gang Plan in 2020 which will crack down hard on gangs.”
The Minister of Agriculture telling hundreds of farmers to simply ‘get over it’ in response to valid questions about the equity in their farms shows Labour doesn’t understand the role farming plays in our economy, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Four hundred farmers turned out to the Freshwater consultation meeting in Gore wanting real answers to how the policy will affect them, but instead were fobbed off by a Minister who appears to be wilfully ignorant.
“The Government has released no economic modelling on the proposals put forward, and farmers are rightfully concerned about what the cost will be on their businesses.
“Our farmers produce enough food to feed 40 million people worldwide and their products account for 60 per cent of our goods exports. It is important that policy does not stifle productivity, otherwise the whole country will feel the impact.
“Farmers work their whole lives on the land for the equity at the end, and this Government is undermining that nest egg - the fruit of farmers’ labour.
“No wonder business confidence is worse than ever.”
Action is needed over health standards for vaping and National will work with the Government to give parents greater certainty with some urgency, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“We want to ensure that vaping is a tool to help smokers quit and doesn’t become an easily accessible habit for young teens.
“With vaping companies coming together to stop restrictions, it’s important Parliament comes together too.
“Consumers also need to an assurance on standards around vaping and that these products will not be harmful to their health.
“Parents are becoming increasingly concerned that vapes are being marketed at children. They come in bright colours, have fruity flavours and being advertised liberally.
“There are concerns those who wouldn’t have taken up smoking are taking up vaping and schools are struggling to stop the growing trend.
“National will work with the Government to get clear and considered rules in place for vaping but this must be done quickly.
“While it may be too late in other countries, we have a chance to deal with this in New Zealand before it gets too big.
“There are still serious health concerns that come with vaping including pneumonia, heart disorders and lung disease. National will work constructively with Government to ensure that we’re striking the right balance around this important issue.”
It is pleasing to see the hundreds of New Zealanders who were blocked from having their say on Labour’s car tax will now have their submissions counted, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
About 1600 people submitted on the Government’s feebate through National’s website, but the Transport Ministry considered these submissions to be spam and blocked them after receiving about 500. Those 500 submissions were then treated as one submission.
“It’s disappointing that we ended up in this situation to begin with, but credit to the Ministry of Transport for acknowledging its error and taking steps to correct it,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Government cannot ignore the fact its proposed car tax is a bad idea. It will increase the price of some of New Zealand’s most popular vehicles by up to $3000.
“This policy will hurt farmers, tradespeople and low-income earners for whom low-emission vehicles will still be too expensive, and it will only reduce emissions by 0.09 per cent over 20 years, according to Treasury.
“National has said all along that it’s not fair to make families pay thousands more for a used seven-seater van while wealthy executives get discounts on a Tesla Model 3.
“Given the large number of submissions through our website and the 14,060 signatures we collected to stop Labour’s car tax, a lot of New Zealanders feel the same way.
“We hope Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter will take all of this feedback on board and do the right thing by scrapping the car tax.”
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care and the Police have serious questions to answer about how a paedophile who was allowed to attend Royal Commission meetings was placed in a motel next to an intermediate school, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“The Royal Commission knew in May that this person had a criminal conviction that required him to inform Police of his whereabouts but they didn’t ask any questions for three months about what those convictions were.
“In the meantime the Commission allowed him to go to meetings with victims of sexual assault. Despite knowing his conviction was serious enough to have to inform Police where he was, they still booked him into accommodation next to a school.
“How did the Police approve a paedophile staying so close to a school? And why didn’t the Royal Commission ask questions sooner about what his convictions were for?
“Minister Tracey Martin has refused to express confidence in the Commission but hasn’t taken any decisive action. Given these latest revelations, it’s time for her actually do something. Police Minister Stuart Nash must also ask Police to explain. If they won’t act, the Prime Minister should.”
In an affront to democracy, the Associate Transport Minister has discarded public submissions from at least 1000 people who don’t support her Government’s car tax proposal, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
Documents released under the Official Information Act reveal Julie Anne Genter’s ministry blocked New Zealanders from submitting on the vehicle feebate proposal via a website set up by National because it considered their contributions to be “spam”.
A total of 1594 people made formal submissions on the proposal through National’s website while another 14,060 people signed a petition to stop Labour’s car tax.
It is unclear clear whether any of the submissions that made it through to the ministry before it moved to block them were even counted as part of the public consultation.
National is now calling on the Associate Transport Minister to reopen public consultation so that all New Zealanders who want to participate in this important debate can do so.
“It is utterly unacceptable for a Minister to ignore submissions from people who don’t agree with her, and to even go as far as blocking opposing views,” Mr Bridges says.
“It’s hypocritical for the Government to block submissions on forms supplied by National when it had no problem accepting 4190 submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill that were based on forms supplied by the likes of Generation Zero, Greenpeace and Forest & Bird.
“We now know Julie Anne Genter was being liberal with the truth when she said in August that about 80 per cent of online responses supported the car tax.
“She was ignoring the thousands who spoke out against the proposal through submissions and National’s petition. The reality is most New Zealanders do not support Labour’s car tax.
“National didn’t bend anyone’s arm to speak up. These people did so out of genuine concern about being stung up to $3000 for not buying a low-emission vehicle.
“This is yet more evidence that this Government can’t be trusted on transport and Julie Anne Genter cannot be trusted to operate in a fair, open and transparent manner.
“She must now do the right thing and reopen public submissions, as well as explain to New Zealanders why she will only entertain people who share her way of looking at things.”
The National Party will not take down our social media videos following a ruling yesterday by the Speaker of the House, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Freedom of speech is of fundamental importance to our Parliamentary democracy and to New Zealanders.
“Yesterday’s Speaker’s ruling has regrettably put the National Party in the worst of all positions. The Speaker has neither referred the matter to the Privileges Committee for a definitive public hearing, nor ruled in our favour as we believe he should.
“Instead he has attempted to stop us from holding the Government to account by drawing attention to Parliamentary proceedings. He has pushed the matter to a process which effectively gags us for a significant period of time.
“After the National Party pointed out that this would also include hundreds of videos from Labour, The Greens and NZ First when they were in Opposition, he made an amended ruling that this only applies to videos posted this year, therefore this only really affects the National Party.
“We have the highest respect for the role of the Speaker and his Office. But in the interests of freedom of expression and against censorship, we will keep the videos up to decisively bring this to a head.”