Nats promise crackdown on gangs

Last updated 00:00 04/08/2007

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A National-led government would give police greater powers to electronically snoop on gangs, as well as storm and remove their headquarters.

Law and order spokesman Simon Power today outlined National's planned crackdown at the party's annual conference, which took place at Auckland's five-star Langham Hotel under a heavy cloak of security.

As National MPs delivered their speeches inside the venue, about 30 police were stationed outside as about 40 activists gathered across the road to protest the presence of Australia's foreign minister Alexander Downer at the conference dinner tonight.

The groups were protesting the Australian government's planned intervention in Northern Territory aboriginal communities.

Inside Mr Power told the 600-plus delegates that National would take "the status, the money and the power off the gangs".

"Gangs, it seems, exist to plan and commit crime and New Zealanders have had a gutsful."

He said National would:

  • Strengthen the ability of the police to remove and storm gang fortifications;

  • Make it easier for police to intercept gang communications;

  • Strengthen the law that makes it an offence to be a member of a criminal organisation;

  • Nominate gang membership as a factor in sentencing.

    Mr Power also said he was appalled by the death of Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie and said National would review the Sentencing Act to see whether judges should have to place additional emphasis on a victim's age in sentencing.

    Mr Power reiterated National's policies of allowing private sector competition into the prison system and abolishing parole for all serious offenders.

    Earlier National's finance spokesman Bill English said a National-led government would choke interest rates by reigning in state spending and boosting productive parts of the economy.

    He blamed a government spending binge for the four recent hikes in the Official Cash Rate.

    He did not say how much the party would limit the growth of new government spending, but said it would release an outline of its fiscal settings before the election.

    National leader John Key said he believed it was possible to balance National's policies of tax cuts and partly debt-funded infrastructure spending - both of which inject extra money into the economy - and still keep interest rates down, but provided few details.

    In his opening comments to the conference - his first as leader - Mr Key warned members they could not afford to be complacent if they wanted to unseat Labour, which would fight tooth and nail to hold on to power.

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    Mr English stressed the party could not afford to make extravagant promises it could not keep, or it risked getting into government only to be turfed out at the next election.

    Mr Key will deliver his speech as leader tomorrow morning.

    - NZPA

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