MP wants ban on public money going to gangs

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown is sponsoring a bill that would ban the Crown and its agencies from providing public money to gangs. Photo supplied

A proposed law change sponsored by an east Auckland politician would prohibit the Government and its agencies from providing funding to organisations run or administered by, or associated to, gangs.

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown’s Public Finance (Prohibition on Providing Public Funds to Gangs) Amendment Bill had its first reading in Parliament on April 6.

The bill’s general policy statement says: “The need for this bill arises out of a concern that public funds could directly or indirectly end up in the hands of gangs by way of entities that are run by or associated with gangs being able to legitimately access funds through the Proceeds of Crime Fund.

“The law does not prohibit currently an organisation that is run, administered or associated with a gang from receiving funds from the Crown.

“The decision to grant funds to an organisation that has the involvement of a gang or gangs is unconscionable.

“The absence of a prohibition in the law on this matter has meant funding can be given to gangs to run programmes through organisations.”

Brown’s bill would amend the Public Finance Act 1989 and insert a new section into it to prohibit the payment of public money to a gang.

The issue of public money being given to gangs arose in July last year when it was revealed a North Island chapter of the Mongrel Mob received $2.75 million from the Proceeds of Crime Fund to run a methamphetamine rehabilitation programme.

The move was criticised by the National and ACT parties.

The NZ Police Association also condemned the funding, saying: “It is difficult to understand how those who promote the need for drug rehabilitation seem blind to the dreadful optics of this Mongrel Mob scenario, let alone have faith in this multi-million-dollar scheme to do anything but line the pockets of key gang leaders.”

Speaking to the bill during its first reading in Parliament on April 6, Brown said it’s “unfortunately needed in New Zealand”.

“It should be a clear principal that taxpayers’ funds are not to be provided to gangs who perpetrate violence and misery in our community.

“The reality is we have a gang problem here in New Zealand.

“We’ve had a 40 per cent increase in gang membership under this Government’s watch and we see it every single day on the streets.

“We see the violence they perpetrate, we see the misery they create, the meth they peddle, and we see the harm they are causing.”

Speaking in reply, Labour Government MP Dr Duncan Webb said Brown’s bill was “nasty, vile, small-minded, smug, and insincere”.

“This is a nasty little bill that ‘others’ an entire section of our community and absolutely prevents agencies that want to help from doing what is best.

“It is the broken National Party approach of yesteryear, and if we want to try to do things better, we will continue to try and we will make progress, because for 100 years we haven’t, and we will try new things.”