Editorial: McVicar's views damaging to trust

WARWICK RASMUSSEN DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 22/01/2013

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OPINION: Garth McVicar needs to step down from his role with the Sensible Sentencing Trust if it wants any chance of surviving as a viable lobby group.

For more than 15 years Mr McVicar has been a prominent voice for the victims of violent crime, and a popular go-to person for media wanting a contrary point of view.

The Hawke's Bay farmer built a reputation as a straight-talking campaigner, whose message was crystal clear. Stay tough on the criminals and remember the victims.

He needed to stick to that brief.

Over the weekend, his submission to MP Louisa Wall's Marriage Amendment Bill caused a furore when he suggested that allowing same-sex marriages would result in the erosion of basic morals and values in society and an increase in crime "on all levels".

His submission - it was not in his capacity as a Sensible Sentencing Trust member - was one of more than 20,000 lodged.

His claims will have supporters and he is entitled to express those views, but they are demonstrably incorrect and seem to be based in speculation rather than any real data.

The problem for the trust is that Mr McVicar is so closely aligned to it that those views overshadow its work and erode its reputation.

Rather than be perceived as campaigners for victims' rights and tougher sentences, Mr McVicar's personal views on marriage equality have blurred the line.

For most New Zealanders Garth McVicar is the Sensible Sentencing Trust. He is so ubiquitous that it is difficult to disassociate his own comments and those of the trust.

Ruth Money even issued a brief statement, distancing the trust from the submission by saying, "it was in a personal capacity and does not represent the view of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, or the wide range of views our members will no doubt have on the issue".

Mr McVicar has done a lot of good work in the crime area, but perhaps he has done his dash and needs to pass the torch on to someone else, with less baggage and controversy surrounding them.

ONE MORE THING

The idea to move traditional summer holidays to February may make a lot of sense and have some momentum, but it is simply not ever going to happen.

UnitedFuture MP Peter Dunne has backed the idea and says any obstacles, such as school holidays, can be overcome to take advantage of more settled, warmer weather.

It may be a good idea, but there's no way it will fly. People are too used to their routines, and while that's not a great excuse it is the truth.

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- Manawatu Standard

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