Thursday, June 16, 2022

Wendy Geus: Gang Rights Interfere with Our Right to a Safe Community

At the weekend Christopher Luxon unveiled National’s anti-gang policies, including banning gang patches in public areas and on social media sites, stopping gangs gathering in public and associating with each other and prohibiting them from accessing guns.

During his interview with their police spokesperson Mark Mitchell on Q&A, Jack Tame quoted the 2013 Bill of Rights (freedom of expression) as a reason National’s banning insignia in public places wouldn’t work. This was used by the High Court in 2011 to overturn Michael Laws’s 2009 legislation in Whanganui which banned insignia in public places.

Ardern says there is no ‘evidence base’ for banning insignia in public, forgetting perhaps, like Jack Tame, that in 2013 National successfully reversed the High Court’s ruling and brought in the law nationwide to prevent gang patches in government buildings.

It is but a short step from that to banning them in all public buildings and other places. This would be welcomed by the public as patches are a toxic symbol and hardly conducive to Ardern’s ‘social cohesion’.

In order to ‘earn’ their patch a crime must be committed and the more heinous, the better. A gang member cannot wear a patch unless they have committed a crime. That alone is good reason for banning them.

The other freedom from the Bill of Rights is that of ‘association’. This is where responsibility comes in. When a group of people is constantly making people feel unsafe with threatening or abusive behaviour, that is not associating responsibly. The public of New Zealand also have rights and recently their rights have been stolen from them as the gangs take over the streets making them unsafe for them to go about their daily lives.

The Bill of Rights is oft-quoted; however, what people forget, particularly those quoting it in order to engage in yet more undisciplined behaviour, is the consideration of whether it interferes with others’ rights.

When I was a teacher I had on my classroom wall a chart headed Rights and Responsibilities. It came in very handy when settling small disputes both in and outside the classroom and when discussing more worldly topics in the daily news.

The children enjoyed this exercise of considering whether a person’s (so-called) ‘rights’ trumped others’ rights and came to the conclusion that we must behave responsibly so that others are not impeded or threatened by our behaviour and we could live harmoniously. They realised that not all ‘rights’ were legitimate as some came from a selfish perspective.

The children got it, so why hasn’t this Government? Ardern is going full steam ahead with her radical agenda to ‘enhance democracy’ which goes against the Bill of Rights that applies to all New Zealanders.

I am heartened to hear Chris Luxon quote the Rights and Responsibilities mantra, which is based on common sense, logic and reason in relation to his proposed bill to reduce gang activity. That resonates with me and I am sure with thousands of New Zealanders.

I am hoping he keeps doing so ad nauseam until the next election. In health and education in particular his party’s policy decisions must be based on the needs and rights of all New Zealanders, not just a select few, as is the habit of the current Prime Minister.

Wendy Geus is a former speechwriter and generalist communications advisor in local government. She now writes for the pure love of it. This article was originally published HERE

1 comment:

Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

There is also the duty of care of the govt to provide its citizens with a safe environment.