Friday, 27 April 2018

Naive Leftist Politicians

Crime and Punishment

The new leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition is Simon Bridges.  He has been moving around New Zealand introducing himself to the country.  As part of "the tour" he visited his old secondary school, Rutherford College.

Here are some excerpts from his speech.

Because I will be asking for your vote in 2020, I believe you have the right to know who I am. You should know what drives me and what I stand for.  I grew up a Westie – one with a blended background.  My mum is Pakeha and Dad is Māori.  We lived near enough to here that I walked to school. As a family, we weren’t well off, but we never went without.  I am the youngest of six children. . . .  
Growing up, my parents instilled in me a strong sense of right and wrong.  Dad was a Baptist minister at the church around the corner from here, so as well as being a supportive family we were taught the value of serving the community.  . . .

But even those who have tough childhoods do not need to be defined or limited by that. All of us have the ability to better ourselves, and improve our lot in life.  That belief is part of what drew me to the National Party.  I am ambitious for New Zealanders.  I back New Zealanders to succeed on their own two feet.  I back enterprise, and I think that people who take a risk and do well, and those who work hard, and who contribute to their communities, should be celebrated.  I also have a fundamental belief in personal responsibility. You can take pride in doing well, but you should take responsibility if you do harm.

As I said, I studied law. First, in Auckland, then at Oxford University, in England. . . .  My career in the law led me to become a Crown prosecutor.  I was responsible for making the case to a judge or jury in court that someone was guilty and should go to jail.  Over time, I was in charge of hundreds of trials, sometimes dealing with the worst things one person can do to another.

Assaults, rapes and murders.  It was a role of huge contrasts. Many days I was depressed by the dark side of human behaviour.  But other times I was inspired by the resilience of victims, and sometimes by previous offenders who were gradually putting their lives back together.  One particular case will be with me forever.

One morning, outside a Tauranga school, a guy called Tony Robertson, who already had a string of convictions, managed to convince a 5-year-old girl to get in a car with him.  He pretended to talk to her mum on the phone, and promised the girl Christmas presents.  Thank God, her brother, who was seven, went in to school and told the teachers what had just happened. They called the Police.

Immediately, Police organised a district-wide manhunt. One officer – Sergeant Dave Thompson - had a hunch on where such an offender might go.  He drove way out of town to Kaiate Falls.  There he found Robertson and the girl still in his car, crying. To this day, I believe Sergeant Thompson saved her life.  Like so many of our Police, he is a true hero.  For him, it must have been as rewarding as policing gets.  For me, my job was to prosecute Robertson. I tried to get him the strongest sentence New Zealand has, which is preventive detention. It means a person can be kept in prison their whole life.

Instead he was given seven and a half years in jail, and was let out in December 2013 because he’d done his time.  Less than six months later, he abducted a woman. This time there was no heroic police officer to save her.  Her name was Blessie Gotinco and Robertson raped and murdered her.

After that, he got preventive detention.

I’m sorry to relate to you such an upsetting case but it’s one reason why, as Leader of the Opposition, one of my priorities is law and order.  I don’t apologise for that. The lives of New Zealanders depend on it.  I believe in most people getting another chance, and I am a strong believer in rehabilitation to help people move away from a life of desperation and crime.  But I also believe that jail is absolutely the right place for some offenders.

It bothers me that the Government is talking about lowering the prison population, without explaining how it will lower the crime rate first. . . . 
This case still haunts us.  The  Blessie Gotinco murder happened in our neighbourhood.

We are thankful that Simon Bridges holds these convictions about crime and punishment.  Rehabilitation and restoration wherever possible.  Implacable justice where impossible.

We find ourselves cringing at the vacuous ineptitude of our present Minister of Justice, Andrew Little who professes to be deeply disturbed at the number of people held in our prisons.  He wants to reduce the prison population by relaxing our bail laws.  Solve the "prison problem" by removing the prisons.  How fundamentally short-sighted, stupid, myopic and naive.  How does such a man, crowned with idealistic ineptitude, get to hold such high office in New Zealand?

Judith Collins explains why she introduced tougher bail conditions in the first place:
Collins said yesterday that any reversal of her reforms would be a mistake. They were driven by the "very real concerns" that people charged with violent, sexual and drug offences were getting bailed and reoffending, she said.  In particular, there was a concern that methamphetamine manufacturers and domestic abusers were getting bail and reoffending or intimidating their accusers while they awaited trial.  "The public at the time were very pleased that we were taking that step. And the public today will be very unhappy to think that Labour is considering undoing what was an incredibly important step for families of domestic violence in particular."

National's bail reforms occurred against the backdrop of the Christie's Law campaign, named after Auckland teenager Christie Marceau. Marceau was killed by Akshay Chand, who was on bail for kidnapping and assaulting Marceau.  Tracey Marceau, Christie's mother, said she would be "extremely concerned" by any review of National's bail changes, describing them as a "great step forward".

She said they could be more defined, rather than softened, and education could be increased for departments associated with bail decisions.  The unexpected impact of bail laws is one of the factors behind the rising prison population, which has defied official predictions.

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