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“For Far Too Long”: Gangs Crackdown Offers Hope For Justice

ACT leader David Seymour. (Supplied photo)

In the ongoing battle against crime, New Zealand has reached a critical juncture. With the  government's recent crackdown on gangs and the implementation of ACT's policies, there's renewed hope for justice and safety in our communities. 

For far too long, gangs have wreaked havoc, peddling drugs, perpetrating violence, and instilling fear. It's time they face the consequences of their actions. 

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ACT's stance on imposing tougher sentences on gang members, considering their membership as an aggravating factor, marks a pivotal shift. By discouraging individuals from pursuing a life of  crime within gangs, we aim to stem the tide of misery they inflict upon our society. 

Additionally, ACT's advocacy for dispersal notices and non-consorting orders underscores our commitment to restoring peace and security. The ramifications of these policies are clear: gang members will no longer operate with impunity.

ACT's coalition document, in its rejection of Labour's lenient measures, prioritises the safety of  New Zealanders. With the removal of Labour's misguided prisoner reduction target, the  introduction of Firearms Prohibition Orders, and the reinstatement of Three Strikes, we are sending a resounding message: crime will not be tolerated, and victims will be at the forefront of our justice system. 

Turning to matters of education, recent revelations about Labour's fees-free scheme are troubling. Despite its lofty promises, there is scant evidence to suggest it has achieved its intended goals. In fact, according to the Tertiary Education Commission, there is "no discernible  evidence" that the scheme has increased participation from low socio-economic groups or improved tertiary education completion rates. 

This revelation is not just disappointing; it's a colossal waste of taxpayer money. At a staggering  cost of over $340 million annually, Labour's programme has failed to deliver meaningful public  benefits. While individual students may benefit, the broader societal impact is negligible, if not  regressive. 

It's working New Zealanders who bear the burden, subsidising a programme that primarily benefits the middle and upper class. Considering these findings, ACT advocates for a complete overhaul of the fees-free scheme. Our proposal, supported in coalition with National, seeks to replace first-year fees-free with final year fees-free. 

This strategic shift not only incentivises course completion but also alleviates the financial strain on taxpayers. 

The testimony provided by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) underscores the urgent need for reform. As CEO Tim Fowler candidly admits, the lack of evidence regarding the scheme's efficacy raises serious questions about its viability. It's imperative that we redirect our resources towards initiatives that yield tangible results and serve the interests of all New Zealanders. 

Initiatives undertaken by ACT reflect our commitment to justice, safety, and fiscal responsibility. By confronting the scourge of gang violence and advocating for sensible education policies, we strive to build a stronger, more prosperous New Zealand for generations to come. Now is the time for decisive action, and ACT stands ready to lead the charge towards a brighter future.

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(Rahul Chopra is ACT's Mt Roskill candidate and works closely with leader David Seymour)

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