Christopher Luxon slams Prime Minister after revelations support scheme helping more alleged perpetrators than victims

Christopher Luxon is accusing the Government of failing to deliver "across the board" after Newshub revealed a $20 million fund meant to support victims of non-fatal strangulation has actually helped more alleged perpetrators. 

A Newshub investigation also found despite promising to have specific staff in the country's courts trained to recognise the signs of family or sexual violence, the Government's failed to introduce a single one.

The National Strategy and Action Plan to Eliminate Family and Sexual Violence was launched in December 2021, with Jacinda Ardern at the time saying: "As Prime Minister I take responsibility of lifting the wellbeing of our tamariki and their whanau."

But Newshub can reveal two Government initiatives meant to help victims of family and sexual violence in our courts are falling way short of their targets.

In 2020, the Government earmarked $20 million to support victims of non-fatal strangulation in court. The cash was meant to fund 870 expert medical witnesses per year who'd testify in court in order to "prosecute perpetrators" and "secure earlier guilty pleas".

But so far they've only been used in 86 cases and more than half of which were used by the defence to support alleged perpetrators.

Speaking with AM on Wednesday, National leader Christopher Luxon said the revelations are just another example of the Government's failure to deliver on its promises. 

"I have to say, this is classic Jacinda Ardern. It's maybe from good intentions, a big splashy announcement over a year ago and the money hasn't got to where it's supposed to get to and the outcome hasn't been delivered," Luxon told AM's Melissa Chan-Green. 

"And frankly, we are seeing that across the board with this Government. Big announcements, poor follow through, no delivery, and as a result, the outcome not being achieved."

The National leader said his party supports the initiative but is disappointed it hasn't actually been implemented properly.

"We support making sure we can get support to people going through what is an incredibly traumatic process and making sure we get the education right around strangulation and we support all that. We think it's a good idea as well, we think it's good intentions but again, it's a government that doesn't get things done. 

"Whether it's this, whether it's actually the support they promised ram-raided victims in terms of shops and that… there's only 6 to 11 people who have actually received support after six months. This Government doesn't get things done. That's what New Zealanders are sick of," he said. 

It was a sentiment shared by National's justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith who criticised the Government's lack of follow through on Tuesday. 

"For particularly our young women, we want to see the justice sector working effectively," Goldsmith said.

"It is important when schemes are announced and plans are announced to help that they're followed through."

In Budget 2021, $200,000 was put towards having 'sexual violence champions' across all district courts whose jobs were to recognise the signs of sexual and family violence and step in to help. But not a single role has been established. 

Despite the severity of the issues revealed by Newshub, no one from the Government would speak on camera.

Justice Minister Kiri Allan eventually provided a statement which said the logistics of having specific people trained up and assigned as sexual violence champions wasn't going to work so the Government decided to train all court staff in the area instead.

"The establishment of the roles was paused due to the impact of COVID-19 on the operation of the courts," said Allan.

"This was due to registry staff experiencing increased workloads and pressures during the pandemic, which meant it wasn't appropriate to release them for training and introduce a new initiative.

"There are currently 55 navigators working across the country who provide guidance and information about the resolution and support options available to parents, caregivers and whānau who are considering applying to the Family Court."

Allan didn't provide an explanation for why more defendants are accessing experts in non-fatal strangulation cases than victims.  

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