Home > The Body Politic > Nats ‘Get Tough on Crime’ – NZ First alleges theft of favourite policy!

Nats ‘Get Tough on Crime’ – NZ First alleges theft of favourite policy!



“Getting tough on crime” – that has to be one of the most worn out, cliched “policy” which any Party can announce at Election time,


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I mean, really?

Despite Dear Leader admitting that “the Government’s proposed crackdown on bail will affect only about 50 offenders a year” and “there was already a reverse onus of proof for offenders seeking bail“?

It occurs to me that when a political party is not confident of public support, it will resort to “dog whistle politics“, or scare-mongering populism, to attract votes.

If, as John Key admits, such a policy would affect only a possible 50 offenders per year – it seems an awful lot of effort to be spending on such a small number of people. Especially, when, it is already within Police powers to oppose bail.

Why  spend so much time campaigning on issues of such little substance? If 50 offenders can attract National’s policy-wonks, then surely, 58,000 unemployed young people should be worthy of considerable more attention?


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Or, put another way that we can understand,


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What does National offer as a solution?


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Food stamps for young beneficiaries?! “Clamping down” on youth? “Money for basic living costs like food loaded on to a new payment card that could not be used for things like alcohol or cigarettes“? (When it’s already illegal for retailers to sell these items to 16 and 17 year olds.)

What about something more constructive, like skills training?

Nope. Can’t have that: National has actually cut $146 million on skills training.

It quickly becomes apparent that National has no real policies or ideas how to address a growing crisis of 58,000 unemployed young people. That seems to have been consigned to the Too Hard Basket.

Instead, National is fixated with 50 offenders. Cost: $4.5 million, to ” be funded out of existing budgets”.

(Which begs the question; how can Government use money to pay for one thing, that has already been committed to pay for something else? Anyone for a game of sleight-of-hand tricks?)

“Getting tough on crime” used to be the policy-of-choice of small parties such as the near-dead ACT, and the zombie-like, refuses-to-stay-dead, New Zealand First. It was their preferred  method of attracting votes from low-information voters, for whom “getting tough on crime” was a panacea for society’s ills.

For National to use this tactic – including on one of their billboards – suggests to me that they are worried about maintaining public support. A recent Horizon poll put National at 36.8% – hardly the 50%-plus that other pollsters give them.

My suspicion is that National’s own private polling has produced similar outcomes. National is more vulnerable than we, the public, realise.

Why else engage in populist issues that are suggestive of vulnerable, small-party,  desperation?

Why indeed.



  1. 29 October 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Exploitation of young workers is National’s policy – the same as the 1990’s!!

  2. 30 October 2011 at 11:35 am

    Peter Petterson :

    Exploitation of young workers is National’s policy – the same as the 1990′s!!

    I agree, Peter. National’s policy of returning to Youth Rates won’t create any new jobs – it will simply shuffle the jobless around, from young to old. This is definitly the “soft option” on youth unemployment.

    Much like the “bene card” for 16 and 17 year olds. No new jobs, just tinkering.

    Compare National’s current do-nothing position, with Key’s bold statement in July 2008: http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?ArticleId=28239

    Lots of rhetoric and hot air – but very little action.

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