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Three Strikes Could Become No Strikes, Warn Dairy Owners

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Small business owners are warning the three strikes law the government is reinstating is too weak and could easily end up being a “no strikes” law. 

Last month, the National-led government said it will bring back the three-stage system that the Labour government axed on the grounds it disproportionately affected Maori and prevented judges from taking individual circumstances into account. 

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The system–first introduced by National and ACT in 2010–required judges to hand down the maximum sentence if an offender is convicted of three qualifying offences.

Small business owners, already riled by rising retail crime, are picking on a provision in the revised version that requires three strikes to be applied only to sentences more than 24 months. 

“All we see is something that sounds good but will give criminals a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Chair of the Dairy and Business Owners Group Incorporated Sunny Kaushal said on May 21. 

“The government doesn’t seem to grasp that there are two sentences. There’s a starting point sentence but then there’s the end point after the judge considers discounts. So, what sentence does the government actually mean?”

Kaushal says business owners are also peeved at a new provision that allows judges to have discretion where a strike is “manifestly unjust”. That, he says, leaves a lot of room for discretion, and therefore casts doubts over achieving what he describes as real consequences for actions.

“We’ll tell you what is manifestly unjust. That’s 298 thefts and 17 burglaries every day last year in a record year for retail crime. Something that officials, judges and, sadly now, ministers don’t want to face up to.”

Kaushal points to an incident this February to illustrate his frustration. “In February, a person was finally sent to prison but only after 105 convictions over many years including ‘intensive supervision for burglary’.  They got 14 months.”

The dairy owners association is now calling on the coalition government to toughen Three Strikes 2.0. “In Opposition, the new government talked a great game so we’re guttered to see Three Strikes 2.0 turn into no strikes,” says Kaushal.

He says the small businesses his group represents want that – 


  1. After the first strike, the second strike to be for any crime, with the final third strike upon conviction where the starting point sentence is 24 months or more
  2. It includes all burglary offences, not just aggravated burglary.  Homes and home businesses like dairies or farms are the most personal of spaces. With dairies and farms, there is greater risk a burglary could go wrong.  This crime needs to be treated seriously.
  3. The “manifestly unjust” exception is removed.  This will make it almost impossible to land a third strike. With a 24-month starting point sentence for the third-strike, the bar is set higher while the Royal prerogative of Mercy exists for true miscarriages of justice
  4. “Attempted murder” is added to a proposal that those who commit murder at second or third strike go down for an appropriately lengthy non-parole period
  5. All ‘strikes’ to those who were on them before the old law was repealed are reinstated, and only apply new strike(s) to crimes committed after this new law comes into effect.
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