31 March 2008
NEWS: National to put victims of crime first
Victims of crime will have their rights and support greatly expanded under a National Government, says National Party Leader John Key.
Mr Key today announced policies that will put victims' rights first. These policies are part of National's comprehensive law & order policy package.
"Victims of crime have been neglected for too long," says Mr Key. "It's time we gave them the support they deserve. A National Government will re-empower victims of crime."
· Establish a Victim Compensation Scheme (VCS), which will be funded by a levy on all offenders at sentencing. It is envisaged the levy be $50. The scheme will help victims with one-off expenses not covered by ACC or other state help, such as travel to court and additional counselling.
· Direct compensation paid to prisoners into the VCS. Offenders continue to benefit from compensation payouts because the Labour Government still allows them to, and because there is reluctance on the part of victims to make claims. National will put any money left in the Victims Claims Trust Account after victims have been paid out into the VCS.
· Establish a Victims Services Centre within the Ministry of Justice to co-ordinate all agencies that deal with victims and support the work of Victim Support, provide an initial point of contact for victims, and receive and address victim complaints. It will also administer the VCS.
· Upgrade the Victim Notification Register to allow victims to be on an "active" register, which will notify them of developments relating to their case, or on a "silent" register, for those who don't want to be involved any further, but which will record only their contact details so agencies can ensure offenders are not paroled to live near them. The registers will be maintained by the Victims Services Centre, which will update them through information sharing with other agencies and ensure victims get the support they need.
· Review the Victims Rights Act 2002 to ensure victims' rights are recognised across the justice system. It is envisaged this review will result in concrete amendments to the Victims Rights Act 2002 that will enhance victims' rights and access to support services, such as strengthening the ability to make a victim impact statement without censorship.
Mr Key wants victims of crime to feel supported after years of lost promises and neglect by Labour, which has a record of failure in this area.
"Helen Clark promised to look at a compensation fund for victims, among other things, as far back as 1994, but she has done nothing. Now she's saying she'll look at it again.
"I want to eliminate the all-too-frequent horror stories where victims are forced to re-live a traumatic event simply because the system has been deficient or has let them down, and where it seems offenders are getting a better deal than victims.
"These policies will help put a stop to all that.
"Late last year I released National's policing policies. Earlier in the year we outlined our four-point approach to dealing with gangs, in January I released youth justice policies and in early February I pledged that National would axe Labour's dangerous bail law amendments.
"Today we are releasing policies on victims of crime, and we will have more to say on this issue before election."Tweet
26 March 2008
NEWS: Aust audience hears message of optimism
National Party Leader John Key has told a business audience in Sydney that he is optimistic New Zealand is well positioned over the next 20 years to benefit from its position with Australia as a gateway to Asia.
Mr Key spoke to the CEO Forum in Sydney today.
"An incoming National Government will tackle the issue of productivity growth and work on narrowing the wage gap between New Zealand and Australian workers," says Mr Key.
"We want to lift after-tax incomes in New Zealand and narrow the wage gap, which has been steadily increasing over the past decade.
"We will resolutely tackle areas that have hampered productivity growth like personal tax reform, the Resource Management Act, business and compliance costs, substantial infrastructure investment including the introduction of public private partnerships, national standards in education, and a commitment to improving the connectivity of the country through greater broadband penetration.
"National will also be heavily engaged in developing an emissions trading system, and ensuring our policies properly balance our environment responsibilities with our economic opportunities."
Mr Key also used the speech to emphasise the importance of the relationship with Australia, reaffirming that Australia remains the most important relationship New Zealand has in the world.
"An incoming National government will be committed to maintaining and developing that already-strong relationship."
Mr Key is in Australia today and tomorrow for a series of meetings and speeches to the CEO Forum, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. Tomorrow he will meet the Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, in Melbourne.
Earlier this week I said I was not going to run a Government with a radical right wing agenda. I intend to run a moderate, pragmatic Government that will serve the interests of all New Zealanders.
Today Roger Douglas outlined policies which do not fit with the agenda of a moderate, pragmatic Government I hope to lead.
Post-election, if National is in a position to put together a government, we will only work with parties that can work with our moderate, pragmatic agenda.
I am not going to campaign to New Zealanders on one agenda, and sell them out after the election on a radical right wing agenda.
National is not saying it cannot work on some issues with Act where we have agreement - like tax -but National is not going to sign up to the policy prescription outlined today by Sir Roger.
Below: Press standup with John Key.
18 March 2008
VIDEO: Question Time with the PM on the economy
Heated exchange in the House during Question Time between the Prime Minister and National Party leader John Key over the economic health of the country.
All New Zealanders want, John says, "is a fair go. They're sick of seeing their money wasted on a massive buildup in the bureaucracy, they're sick of seeing a government that puts pressure on interest rates, and all they want is enough money to be able to pay the mortgage, to pay for a block of cheese and to fill up the car. And sadly, they'll have to wait a long time under a Labour Government to be able to do that."
Interjections from Winston Peters and others have been edited out of this video to provide viewers with continuity in the exchange.
18 March 2008
SPECIAL: Statement on Tibet
This afternoon, John rose in support of a motion to formally express the concern of the House over the situation in Tibet. The motion read:
'That this House express its deep concern at reports of violence and riots in Tibet and subsequently elsewhere in China; call on all sides to show restraint; express its strong support for the right of people to protest peacefully; urge the Chinese authorities to react carefully and proportionately to protest; and urge China to engage in meaningful dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan people in order to achieve a lasting resolution of problems in Tibet.'
In his speech, John said:
On behalf of the National Party, I join with the Government in voicing concern at the violence and loss of life in Tibet over recent days.
While the official reports are not yet clear as to the level of casualties, or, indeed, the precise origins of some of the conflict, what is clear is that the Chinese Government has engaged in a substantial imposition of military force in Tibet on a scale and in a manner that is unacceptable to the vast majority of New Zealanders.
In supporting this motion today I want to make it very clear that the National Party supports the rights of the citizens of Tibet to peaceful protests and calls upon the Government of China to respect that right.
It has been a matter of some comment that these unfortunate events occur as New Zealand concludes negotiations for a free trade arrangement with China.
The National Party supports those negotiations, as it supports free trade negotiations generally, because they can only advance New Zealand's interests as a small nation very dependent on its capacity to trade.
Nothing we have seen in Tibet in recent days affects that bipartisan support for the free trade agreement, but neither do the free trade agreement negotiations affect our right -- indeed, our obligation -- to speak up when we see a small group of people substantially unable to defend themselves and treated in a manner that we find totally reprehensible by our standards.
Today I urge the Chinese Government to heed the expressions of alarm in this country and many others.
I urge it to respect the human rights of the citizens of Tibet and to seek dialogue rather than the imposition of force as the path towards solving the long-standing disputes in Tibet.Tweet