Mike Yardley: Anti-gangs policy shows why Act is growing in popularity

Author
Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Mon, 13 Jul 2020, 10:24AM
Act leader David Seymour. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Mike Yardley: Anti-gangs policy shows why Act is growing in popularity

Author
Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Mon, 13 Jul 2020, 10:24AM

Isn’t it interesting that organised crime, gangland, is being lined up by a swathe of political parties for special attention this election?

National set the stage in its discussion document late last year, with the big splash on Strikeforce Raptor. Whether that policy idea has survived the leadership change remains to be seen, but National is sure to go after the gangs.

Ditto for New Zealand First. Shane Jones particularly only too well knows what a venomous, life-destroying cancer on Northland communities the gangs and their drug trade is.

But the surprise package is ACT. David Seymour and Nicole McKee have unveiled a targeted policy that seeks to smash the gangs by seizing all of their assets.

There’s no question that ACT is gunning for New Zealand First’s vote, particularly on the back of the fury over illegal firearms, the buyback and the ongoing reforms affecting licensed owners.

And they have tapped into that vein of discontent by taking aim at gangs.

Under the ACT Party’s new policy, the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act would be dramatically changed to make life decidedly easier for the police. If the police find illegal firearms at an unlawful gang-run operation, that would be sufficient to seize all of the assets, under court order.

Currently, the Recovery Act requires a vast range of tests to be met including proving a link between illicit money and the purchasing of assets. But the biggest hurdle the police must cross is proving that the drugs for supply, for example, carry a value of more than thirty thousand dollars.

Gangs aren’t dumb and this prompted many organised criminals to decentralise their operations into a vast array of subsidiary satellites, to try and keep the street value of their product per site, below the threshold, to avert seizure proceedings against their loot and gold-rimmed motorbikes.

It may strike some libertarians as a little too invasive, but this is smart, surgical policy by ACT. And it’s another reason why this niche party is enjoying real and sustained voter traction.