Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Question No. 1—Prime Minister
1. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s statements and actions regarding gangs?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.
Hon Paula Bennett: Why are there 1,600 extra patched gang members on our streets since her Government took office?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Could I just say that one of those is because of the deportation policies from Australia. The other is the environment that was allowed to grow that ensures that gangs do thrive in this country, under the previous administration. The third one is the gangs have not got it through their heads that this Government means to deal to that sort of behaviour, because they’re used to a party saying, “The day after the election we’ll bulldoze the headquarters down.” They said that and did nothing about it.
Hon Paula Bennett: How many of the 20,000 extra victims last year were victims of gang crime?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, that is not known. As to whether there was a partial association, a full association, intermediary association, or a historical association, that sort of information we don’t have. What we do have, and very shortly, is not 1,000 or 1,500 but 2,000 new front-line police being deployed to take on this area. That means boots on the ground not dinosaur footprints.
Hon Paula Bennett: How many of the more than 51,000 victims of burglaries and almost 18,000 victims of serious assault were victims due to the actions of gangs?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I say to that member, she can make out that sort of construction as though it’s somehow a new feature of our society, when we know that under her administration, 90-plus percent of such crimes were not solved. We’ve got the front-line police to ensure today they are, and that’s why we’ve gone way beyond our commitment for 1,800 new front-line police. We have given a commitment to go to 2,000 by March of this year. That’s the greatest number ever, and 700 of them are going to be consigned to taking on the gangs in this country.
Hon Paula Bennett: Is her Government’s greatest achievement increasing the number of patched gang members by 1,594?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Again, holding up a chart like that is actually rather sad because what that chart represented yesterday was the highest house building rate in this country since 1973. This fantastic news, that should be celebrated, has been—like the number one lemon suckers in the country—turned around now to a chart about gangs. The problem is that we have got ourselves ready to deal to the gangs in this country. We’ve changed the laws, and there are laws we have changed with respect to the use of guns, which, dear I say it, is being supported over here but not by them. So let’s have a little less of the crocodile tears and a bit of on-the-ground common sense.
Hon Paula Bennett: Does she agree with the Tauranga mayor, who said “Countries who are soft on crime tend to have crime escalate.” following the double gang-shooting in Tauranga?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I say again, Tenby Powell had a call from the Minister of Police this morning. That’s the first thing. The second thing is he has been assured of the number of people we are putting on the ground and that the police will be provisioned with the utilities to do their job. The third thing is that quote could have been said by me—it sounds so original.
Hon Paula Bennett: Well, is she satisfied with the response from New Zealand Police that they can’t do much and they can’t arrest their way out of increased gang violence?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, the police in this country may have had that sentiment at one time, but now there’ll be no excuse because they will have the resources, they’ll have the men and women and the front power on the front line. In contrast, we saw the previous administration run the police numbers down—not going up, going down. If I had that record, I’d keep my mouth shut.
Hon Stuart Nash: Has she seen a report from Jarrod Gilbert that stated “When Australian gangs became established in New Zealand in 2011, the next year, police numbers fell by 150.”?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I want to thank the Minister of Police for reminding us of the fact—not just allegations. But can I just say police will be on the ground. Expect to see more armed police on the streets of Hawke’s Bay and the Bay of Plenty in response to this gang tension. Expect to see police openly carrying their rifles and pistols where it’s required. Expect to see police wearing new body armour. Expect to see the Eagle helicopter in the air, and expect to see police executing search warrants at gang properties. Expect them also to be enforcing the new laws that we are about to pass with respect to their gang access or the provisioning of gangs with guns, which that Opposition party there is opposing.
Hon Stuart Nash: Has she seen reports that in the last five years of the previous Government, police numbers actually fell?
SPEAKER: No. That’s not an area that the Prime Minister is responsible for.