Curious as to why Simon Power suddenly stopped being lead minister on the ‘three strikes’ legislation, we sent off an Official Information Act request to his office. When the deadline for that request was extended beyond the usual 20 working days, we knew something was up.
This is not some minor piece of scandal, or some breach of good process to shake our heads at. It’s much worse.
The following passage is from Ministry of Justice advice marked ‘sensitive’ that Power received on December 16th last year – Power was replaced as lead minister by Judith Collins soon after and the Ministry of Justice, incredibly, was prevented from giving evidence to the select committee.
Now, you’ll see what National was so desperate to keep secret:
We don’t need to tell you how serious this is.
While they have been telling us that three strikes will reduce serious offending, the Government has been warned by its own officials that its three strikes policy may lead to people being murdered. Its reaction was not to drop the policy but to muzzle the officials and try to keep this secret from New Zealand.
We are sickened.
The revelation that three strikes may increase the homicide rate was contained in the last paper Simon Power received as minister responsible for the policy before it was handed over to Judith Collins.
We have no doubt that this is the reason that Power refused to be lead minister on this policy any longer. For his faults, he is basically a decent man and there is no way he would have been able to face championing a policy. Collins appears to have no such moral qualms.
Three strikes must be abandoned now before it gets anyone killed.
And Collins and John Key have the most serious of questions to answer.
What kind of government, what kind of people, are they to try to put into place a law that may lead to more murders?
How many lives are they willing to gamble with to appear tough on crime and win a few more votes?