A judge who jailed a tagger was described as a "dickhead" in Parliament today when the Maori Party opposed a bill that strengthens graffiti penalties.
MP Hone Harawira said he wasn't a fan of tagging but it was the reaction of the poor to alienation, boredom, anger, frustration and low self-esteem.
He said tougher sentencing was "a path to nowhere" and there should be programmes that tackled the causes of crime.
"Look at that dickhead of a judge who sent that kid to jail for tagging because the judge thought it was culturally offensive," he said.
"Is that part of the law now? What a bloody joke."
There was only a handful of MPs in the debating chamber when he made his remark, and no one called a point of order to ask for it to be withdrawn.
Mr Harawira did not say who he was referring to, but it was apparently Gisborne Judge Tony Adeane who has jailed two taggers in the last two months and has been widely acclaimed for doing so.
The MP said the Summary Offences (Tagging and Graffiti Vandalism) Amendment Bill was an example of the Government's "knee-jerk policy making that's taking us all to hell in a handbasket".
"That's where this whole thing has gone haywire," he said.
"Here we are about to criminalise taggers for what's called environmental pollution while allowing the real polluters of society to bypass paying the cost of their carbon emissions."
The bill is supported by all the parties in Parliament except the Maori Party and the Greens.
It passed its second reading today on a 109-10 vote. It still has to pass its committee and third reading stage before becoming law.