National Party announces $82 million crackdown on methamphetamine use, supply

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett: "Gangs are increasingly pushing dangerous drugs into our communities and we are ...
MURRAY WILSON/STUFF

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett: "Gangs are increasingly pushing dangerous drugs into our communities and we are committed to stopping them, locking them up, and seizing their ill-gotten gains."

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has promised an $82 million methamphetamine and gang crackdown if National is re-elected.

The funding - spread over four years - would go towards "tough measures" towards some drug dealers that Bennett believes have "fewer human rights than others", as well as more drug rehabilitation places.

The enforcement measures, costing $42 million, would give police new powers to search cars and houses of "serious criminal" gang members at any time with no warrant to ensure they don't have firearms, double the number of drug dog teams, increase penalties for synthetic cannabis, put new restrictions on gang members on benefits, and introduce a new charge for those who damage a property with meth production or consumption.

RNZ

Sociologist Jarrod Gilbert who studies gangs says human rights belong to everyone, and if Paula Bennett doesn't appreciate that, she's not fit to be Police Minister.

$40 million would go toward 1500 additional drug treatment places and community treatment.

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In an extraordinary press conference following the announcement at the Higher Ground drug rehabilitation centre in West Auckland, Bennett said some gang members had "fewer" human rights than others and Prime Minister Bill English said it was good that New Zealand lacked a written constitution as it gave governments flexibility.

Police would be able to search the houses and cars of known gang members with a previous serious violent conviction at any time with no warrant under the new law, which Bennett admitted presented a human rights issue.

"It probably does breach the rights of some of those criminals but they have to have had a serious violent offence behind them already and a firearm charge and on the basis of that we are going ahead with it," Bennett said.

Asked point blank whether she believed criminals had human rights, Bennett replied "some have fewer human rights than others when they are creating a string of victims behind them."

"There is a different standard."

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New Zealand is a somewhat unique democracy in that it lacks a written constitution which entrenches the human rights of its citizens in law.

Asked if the Government would be able to create a law like this in a country with a written constitution, the Prime Minister refused to address a "hypothetical," but did note that "it's good that we don't have a written constitution it's enabled the country to deal with all sorts of issues in a practical effective way."

Anyone working at ports, mail centres, and airport baggage centres - including contractors - would require police vetting. 

Drugs dogs would also be introduced at domestic airports.

Anyone on the gang register of around 5000 people who was on a benefit or applied for a benefit would have to prove that any expensive asset they owned was obtained legally.

If they couldn't they could have their benefit cut or refused.

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 - Stuff

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