I remember the first time I met Simon Power, when he had just come into Parliament. He struck me as a man who would be a future leader of National and an excellent one at that – articulate, informed, and moderate. Oh, what he has let himself become over 9 years in opposition – just another proponent of National’s ‘New Zealand sucks’ campaign
Today, Power says “Labour should be ashamed that they’ve left it till six weeks before the election at the end of their third term to do anything much for the victims of crime”. He disses the new Victims’ Charter, website, and 0800 number but what does he propose in addition? Oh yeah, the Victim Compensation Levy that is somehow meant to collect $50 from every convicted criminal and distribute it to help victims with their costs. Yeah, that’s really great; a paltry sum that wil probably cost more to administer than it will raise, that’ll make victims feel better.
The fact is the best thing we can do for the victims of crime is reduce the conditions that lead to crime in the first place. The best things that Labour has done for victims is lead the creation of 350,000 new jobs. Unemployment has dropped by 100,000. Wages, particularly, at the low end, are up sharply. That has seen a huge drop in theft and injected money into depressed communities. More money for education and training has seen more young people with positive options in life. Reducing poverty, economic and social, is the best way to reduce crime.
Labour has done that and crime has come down. Despite the population growing 10% , better Police recording practice, and evidence of higher reporting of crimes, the number of recorded crimes in New Zealand last year was actually 12,000 fewer than in 1999 (and 14,000 more were resolved). Recorded crimes per capita are down 10% since 1999, 25% since the dark days of the early 1990s. [stats 1, 2]
Campaigning for ineffectual charters and impractical levies is all well and good but building a healthier soceity where fewer people choose to commit crimes is what really matters. Labour can be proud of their record, which is based on the ideal that New Zealand can be a kinder, better place to live; would that the Nats believed in this country, rather than always talking it down.
[Update: Turns out an international survey rates NZ the best country in the world for victim support. Power’s claims don’t stack up; it’s just more ‘NZ sucks’. Hat-tip, Russell Brown]