Such is the paucity of talent in National’s ranks that its decidedly most junior member, Simeon Brown, has been making a few splashes recently.
This week, by National standards, he has done quite well. He managed to persuade the media that a new scandal was happening and it was a doozie. Not only was the Government wasting money on drug addicts, but he struck what he thought was gold. Because according to Simeon Government money was making its way into the Mongrel Mob’s coffers.
From his press release:
I will be introducing a private member’s bill to prevent future Government funding from being granted to organised crime units, National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.
“The Gang Funding Prohibition Bill will ensure that any person responsible for the expenditure of public money must take reasonable steps to ensure that the public money under their control is not used directly or indirectly for the purposes of making payment to gangs.
“This will likely seem self-evident to some and yes, it should be reasonable to expect that public officials and elected representatives would use their common sense and good judgement to not allocate public funds to gangs.
“This Labour Government has shown that we cannot simply expect that our public funds do not go to gangs, we will have to legislate it.
“Any New Zealander who needs drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation should be able to access such treatment. It is vital that rehabilitation is funded and effective. A gang which imports, makes, and deals drugs itself, is not an effective organisation for rehabilitation.
“There is no justification for the Government funding the Mongrel Mob at what works out to be $275,000 per participant when, as I understand it, Victim Support receives about $400 per person to support the victims that gang crime creates.
The reality is more complex. Marty Sharpe has this article in Stuff that provides the details but essentially:
This application jumped through more hoops than a professional hula hoop dancer. But yet Simeon saw a chance to stir up a bit of anti gang prejudice and waded in.
He shows a disturbing inability to do basic maths. He thought that the program would cost $275,000 per participant which it would if there were only ten participants in total. But there are ten participants per eight week course, of which there could be six a year or 24 over the four year period the funding relates to. So a total of 240 participants, and when you factor in accommodation costs, food, counselling and professional support, and the adminisitrative costs relating to review and management of the project you do get the feeling that not much would be left.
He also shows a vivid imagination. There is no proof that any of the funds will reach the Mongrel Mob, let alone all $2.75 million of it.
Simeon’s attempted smear is full of hyperbole and terribly short of fact based reality. Which is not unusual. But rather dispiriting. Can’t the opposition do better than this?