ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden praises Government for going after gangs

The ACT Party is praising the Government for cracking down on gang crime by proposing a ban on high-risk convicts from owning firearms.

Earlier this week, Police Minister Poto Williams announced the Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPO) to combat the influence of gangs and organised crime. 

The Opposition ACT Party, the main critic of the Government's firearm reforms in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings, has welcomed the latest legislation. ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden cited her colleague Nicole McKee's Member's Bill, which proposed to increase the power of police to seize assets connected with significant criminal activity. 

Van Velden told Magic Talk's Sunday Cafe New Zealand had to hit the gangs where it hurt to look after its citizens.

"I actually agree with what the Government has come out with, in this last week, because it was practically ACT Party policy," she told host Carly Flynn.

Van Velden said she wanted to see children growing up in a country where they can safely walk down the street.

"This law, if we take it at its inherent value, says, 'if a crime is being committed, and then we've found illegal firearms and they've been in the position of someone who's on that gang register, we'd be able to take their assets.'

"I think that's important because it tells a young person who might be getting recruited by a gang, 'hey, there is actually a high likelihood that flash motorcycle, that house that's yours, that's all been taken by criminal money - the Government can take that away from you.'

"There is no benefit to being in a gang."

But Green Party MP Jan Logie, appearing on Magic Talk with van Velden, said the police gang register was based on "quite loose intelligence".

"What we're saying is the definition for 'gang associate' needs to be really tight and, also, that we need to be confident that we are targeting and preventing people from acquiring gun licenses where there is a relevant, serious conviction - and not based on a broad-reaching, not very specific categorisation."

As well as the FPO, the amendment to the Criminal Proceeds ACT will be made - as suggested in ACT's Member's Bill. Both Bills will be presented to Parliament before the end of 2021.

Williams said earlier this week gun crime was an increasing concern for New Zealand communities.

"It is a privilege, not a right, to own or use a gun in this country and we need to take that ability out of the hands of people who pose a threat to our communities."