SunLive         

 It’s become clear that the government doesn’t see the seriousness of New Zealand’s gang problem.

Since Labour took office in 2017 we’ve seen an almost 50 per cent increase in the number of gang members nationwide. As I’ve said here recently, Tauranga is now the crime capital of New Zealand - our region has more gang members and meth than anywhere else in New Zealand. More gang members means more crime. It’s that simple.

Worried constituents are regularly raising this with me. Whether it is intimidation by drug dealing gang members outside their homes, or parents concerned about letting their children walk to school, gangs are making our community a more unsafe place to raise our children.

So what’s Labour doing about this? Instead of cracking down on gangs, it’s giving handouts to the Mongrel Mob.

That’s right. More than just standing by, the government has given the Mongrel Mob - an organised criminal group - $2.75 million out of the Proceeds of Crime Fund to run a drug rehabilitation programme for those addicted to meth.

The irony is tragic. Labour is giving a gang millions of taxpayer dollars to manage a problem the gang plays a huge role in creating. And the Prime Minister continues to stand by her decision to sign off on the funding.

That’s not $2.75 million to a charitable organisation that provides free mental health counselling for children; nor is it $2.75 million towards building houses so that we don’t have kids being raised in motels; and it’s not even $2.75 million to the drug and alcohol rehab programmes in prisons (which Labour cancelled).

Police are understandably outraged. They see first-hand the harm caused by gangs, and work each day to loosen the grip gangs have on our society.

Some police have aptly labelled the funding “the most successful money laundering scheme”, given police recently seized $2 million dollars’ worth of the Notorious Hawke’s Bay Mongrel Mob chapter’s cash and assets. Labour has handed this back to them with interest.

National has written to the Auditor-General requesting an investigation into this payment, as well as the Chief Human Rights Commissioner’s $200 donation to the Waikato Mongrel Mob.

If we want to get Kiwis off drugs we should be funding organisations such as the Salvation Army, which has a track record of helping gang members off meth - not the Mongrel Mob, which has a track record of peddling drugs, misery and violence.

Simon Bridges
National Party MP
simonbridges.co.nz