Opposition reheats old policy on gangs and fraud

  • Hon Stuart Nash

The Minister of Police Stuart Nash says National has just reheated old ideas with its latest policy release.

“The social services discussion document released today spells out the problems they created after nine years of neglect but is devoid of solutions,” Stuart Nash said.

“National has no new ideas around either gangs or benefit fraud. This is more desperate political grandstanding by Mr Bridges who seems to have only just realised that gangs have a presence here.

“Gang numbers started growing when the Rebels Motorcycle Club from Australia established a foothold in 2011, under the previous government. The following year, Police numbers fell by 150. Criminals began to be deported from Australia in even greater numbers in 2015. His government responded by freezing spending on Police.

“This document is a mish-mash of reheated policies that didn’t work for a decade and concessions that our Government’s investment in children and families is the way to go.

“He also seems to be trumpeting the suggestion that benefit fraud should be prosecuted. Sanctions against those with undeclared income are already enforced now. Police, Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Social Development go hard after benefit fraud and tax fraud, whether or not someone has a patch on their back.

“In the last financial year MSD completed 5,385 fraud investigations, the highest in five years. Systems are already in place to either prosecute fraudsters or to intervene earlier to make sure beneficiaries are on their correct entitlements. 

“Enforcement agencies don’t get at criminal offending by going after little children in beneficiary households. We are going after gangs and organised crime with increased investment in new Police. We have deployed 1745 new Police since taking office. Another 300 Police recruits are currently in training.

“Since 2017 Police have seized more than $100 million in assets from gangs and organised crime networks. They are also prosecuting white collar professionals like lawyers, accountants and real estate agents who support gangs with money laundering.

“We are tackling the drug trade on two fronts by disrupting the demand for methamphetamine through investment in mental health and addiction services.

“I challenge Mr Bridges to prove he is about more than cheap slogans. So far this year he has voted against tougher penalties on gun crime and tougher controls on returning terrorists. He seems to be all talk, vague detail and no action.

“Meanwhile the Government is making progress on breaking the cycle of homelessness, helping people into sustainable long-term work with record employment levels, boosting incomes through the $5.5 billion Families Package and helping young families with the Best Start payment,” Stuart Nash says.