Decision 17: National announces $82m to expand police powers to fight meth

The National Party has announced it will invest $82 million over four years to fight methamphetamine if re-elected in September.

The majority of the money would go towards a crackdown on gangs and drug dealers, who National police spokesperson Paula Bennett said have "fewer human rights than others."

The policy has been labeled a possible "step backwards" for drug policy by National's former support partner, UnitedFuture's Peter Dunne.

Mr Dunne tweeted "Drug reform may have taken a step backwards today", but didn't wish to comment further.

The rest of the funding would be used for drug treatment and education services.

"Gangs are increasingly pushing dangerous drugs into our communities and we are committed to stopping them, locking them up and seizing their ill-gotten gains," Ms Bennett said.

In the press conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Bill English said it was helpful that New Zealand lacked a written constitution because it allows the Government flexibility to "deal with issues in a practical way."

The party plans to invest $42 million in a number of new measures to expand police power.

New Firearm Protection Orders (FPOs) would allow police to search the cars and houses of known gang members with a previous serious violent conviction at any time without a warrant to ensure they don't have firearms.

"It probably does breach the rights of some of those criminals but they have to have had a serious violent offense behind them already and a firearm charge and on the basis of that we are going ahead with it," Ms Bennett said.

When asked if she believed criminals had human rights, Ms Bennett said "some have fewer human rights than others when they are creating a string of victims behind them."

New Zealand Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford tweeted in response to Ms Bennett's statement, writing "'All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights' What we fought WW2 to preserve. What NZ declared in 1948."

The policy would see the number of drug dog teams doubled and introduced in domestic airports, ferries, and mail centres.

Penalties for manufacturing and distributing synthetic cannabis would be increased from a maximum of two years imprisonment to eight years. No changes would be made to charges for possession.

New obligations would be imposed on the 5000 people on the gang register, meaning they would have to prove any "expensive asset" they owned was obtained legally. If they couldn't, they could have their benefit cancelled or declined. 

A new charge of "wilful contamination" would be introduced for people who contaminate rental properties.

Police vetting would become compulsory for anyone working at ports, mail centres, or airport baggage centres, including contractors.

The remaining $40 million would be used for 1500 additional in-patient drug treatment centres and community based treatment, prevention, and education services provided by NGOs and iwi.

"These measures come on top of the $503 million announced earlier this year for 1125 more police staff, which included 80 police to target organised crime and drugs," Ms Bennett said.

The fund will be made up of $40 million from the proceeds of crime ad $42 million of new funding.

Newshub.

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