Nine Years And No New Ideas Sums Up Labour’s Justice Policy

  • Tony Ryall
Justice

Nine years and no new ideas sums up Labour's Justice policy according to Justice Minister, Tony Ryall, today. "It's little wonder Labour chose to announce their policy on a Friday afternoon," said Mr Ryall.

"National on the other hand has brought new energy to law and order in New Zealand, building on a record of reducing crime, more police, and tougher penalties.

"During the passage of the Government's Home-Invasion legislation Labour's Justice Spokesman, Phil Goff, screamed at me from the Opposition benches that Labour supported tougher sentences for violent criminals. Labour's policy has no mention of tougher sentences.

"Then two weeks ago the Government introduced legislation to give victims new undeniable rights in the justice system. Suddenly the Opposition came out of their cryogenic freeze and realised victims were important. Up until then I don't recall a single mention of victims' rights from Mr Goff.

"Labour's new policy for victims follows the same line Mr Goff thought up in the House two weeks ago. Labour is saying the Government's Victims Rights Bill does not go far enough because it does not make the ‘principles' contained in the old Act mandatory rather than discretionary.

"But it is not a question of simply changing "should" to "must" when it comes to principles of victims' rights. It is unclear which agency or agencies is/are responsible for complying with each of these principles. More work needs to be done on how to define responsibilities and enforce obligations to victims and their families under these principles.

"In April I directed the Ministry of Justice to begin this work and I expect a report in December. Further legislation can be expected late next year.

"However I was not prepared to delay the new statutory rights until this work is completed.

"Labour also talks of toughening bail conditions. The National-led Government introduced new bail laws on 1 June this year. These new laws will be far more effective at reducing offending while on bail than Labour's unworkable alternative.

"Like so much from this tired Opposition, the bits of their policy that are not copied directly from National, are ill-conceived, illogical or unnecessary," said Mr Ryall.