Gang patch ban 'hiding the problem'
Where should people be banned from wearing gang patches?
Gang patches look set to be banned from schools, hospitals and other government and local government buildings.
The Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premise Bill began its first reading in Parliament last night.
The bill’s sponsor, Rotorua-based National MP Todd McClay, said gangs caused harm and misery and people felt intimidated by their presence.
"They feel intimidated by what they stand for and they feel intimidated every time they see them in their WINZ office, in council offices and in schools and hospitals around this country," Mr McClay told Parliament.
"To gang members I say this - if you go to government premises with a patch, your government will not serve you. Instead, a policeman will and he will want to talk to you about all the nasty things you and your criminal mates have been involved in."
The bill would ban gang patches or insignia on all government premises. Breaches would be punished by a "summary conviction" and a fine of up to $2,000.
The bill specified gangs that would be covered by the ban - including the Hells Angels, Mongrel Mob and Killerbeez - and said others that emerged with "a common name or common identifying signs" that ‘"collectively promote, encourage, or engage in criminal activity" could be added.
MPs did not get time to vote on the first reading of the bill last night, which was interrupted when the House rose for the day at 10pm. However, the bill will pass at least its first reading with the support of National, New Zealand First and the two votes of Act’s John Banks and UnitedFuture MP Peter Dunne.
NZ First MP Richard Prosser described gang members as "weak, sick, fat, unfit, drug-addled retards".
However, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira said the bill would not reduce crime and was ‘‘an attempt to be seen to be doing the right thing, rather than actually doing the right thing”.
‘‘If you want people to move away from gangs then you provide pathways that make gangs an option people won’t want to choose, you give families a signal that you care, and you eliminate the poverty,’’ Mr Harawira said.
Instead, Government policies were encouraging more people in to gangs.
“This bill may hide the problem but it sure won’t solve it,’’ Mr Harawira said.
Labour MP Charles Chauvel said the law already had remedies for people who did things on Government premises that were intimidating.
‘‘This bill merely duplicates existing law and is a waste of Parliament’s time,’’ Mr Chauvel said.
It was ‘‘window dressing masquerading as legislation’’ and Labour would not support it.
Parliament last night also passed one other member’s bill and voted down two others.
The Habeus Corpus Amendment Bill, led by National MP Chris Auchinvole, passed unanimously. The bill makes some minor adjustments to legal processes recommended by the Law Commission.
A bill further restricting the sale of farmland to foreigners, led by Green Party co-leader Russel Norman, was narrowly defeated by 61 votes to 59.
Labour MP Annette King also had her bill for further checks on the pay and conditions of local government chief executives defeated by the same margin.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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