'The meth problem is massive, it's very hard to crack' - Labour MP Duncan Webb on Mongrel Mob's Kahukura rehab scheme

Labour MP Duncan Webb is defending the Government signing off on millions of dollars to fund a Mongrel Mob-led meth rehab programme.

The Government has repeatedly been targeted by the Opposition on the matter in recent weeks, after it was revealed earlier this month almost $3 million in funding taken under Proceeds of Crime was being used to fund the Mongrel Mob's Kahukura drug and trauma rehabilitation scheme. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed she signed off on the programme, saying it was supported by Corrections, police and the Ministry of Social Development.

Christchurch Central MP Webb says he supports that decision.

"The meth problem is massive, right? And it's very hard to crack - no pun intended," he told Magic Talk's Sunday Cafe. "The fact is that we're going to try things like this and if we can get some people off meth and being good members of the community - with jobs, looking after their families - they'll be a lot better for it.

"Sending them to prison and throwing away the key and lengthening their sentences hasn't worked - it hasn't worked for 100 years so let's try something new."

National MP David Bennett, appearing on Magic Talk with Webb, described the Government's decision as "crazy".

"We shouldn't be glorifying gangs… they're criminals and they should be treated that way, and we shouldn't be having ministers going to their gang pads and meeting with them."

But Webb told Bennett he needed to "get your facts right and do some research".

David Bennett.
David Bennett. Photo credit: File

"We're not giving gangs money - we're giving money to an agency and they are using the gangs to access those communities," Webb said.

"The National Party does think that there should be a war on gangs and that, essentially, the gangs are 'them' and that all the good people of New Zealand are on the other side of the fence. We've got to recognise that this is a broad community and we need to work with everyone.

"Some people are problematic and we need to deal with them and they should be in jail - that's a very small fraction of the community.

"What we also need to do is work with social agencies to make people want to lead better lives and sometimes that means helping them up from a very low place," Webb added.

Earlier this month, Ardern also defended the scheme - saying it "showed signs of success".