ACT proposes policy to track gang members' spending to protect their children

Source: 1News

ACT wants to track gang members' spending in an effort to protect their children, with a policy the party says will "tip the balance towards the child and away from crime".

In a statement this morning, ACT’s social development spokesperson Karen Chhour said the announcement comes as the Ministry of Social Development reports a high proportion of gang members’ children experiencing multiple incidents of abuse or neglect .

Of the nearly 4000 known gang members, 27 per cent were recorded by Oranga Tamariki as being the alleged perpetrators of substantiated abuse or neglect of children, with MSD also noting limitations around the completeness of historical data.

Preliminary results reveal nearly two-thirds voted in favour of the End of Life Choice Act.

"The children affected by gang criminality are not at fault and deserve support. This policy tips the balance towards the child and away from crime," she said.

"Gang members would receive their benefit in the form of an electronic card that would track and restrict spending on alcohol, gambling, and tobacco. The money provided by taxpayers will need to go towards food and other essentials."

According to MSD, nine out of every ten gang members have received main benefits.

Chhour said the Government had a "soft on crime" approach, claiming it had led to an increase in gang numbers in New Zealand.

"Gangs peddle misery through our community and in their own households. Almost half of the serious offences committed by gang members are family violence related."

Police Minister Poto Williams has previously said the national gang list, which has been used by ACT and National to illustrate a rise in members, was for intelligence purposes, not to give a picture of gang membership or activity.

"It is not an accurate measure of gang numbers in New Zealand."

She has also said the Police Commissioner had doubts over the accuracy of the numbers. 

Chhour said ACT would introduce electronic income management alongside Gang Injunction Orders, support for police resourcing, and sensible reform of New Zealand's corrections system to crack down on gangs.

"Ensuring there is a standard for responsibility with the benefit provided by hardworking taxpayers and removing substances that fuel harm in these families is just common sense and will help support some of the most vulnerable victims of gang crime," she said.

Green Party's Ricardo Menéndez March said compulsory money management for people on the benefit "creates harm and hardship", calling ACT's proposal dogwhistle attacks on beneficiaries. 

"ACT’s logic of wanting people to make 'good decisions' with their money while at the same time taking away agency by expanding compulsory money management for low income people deemed gang affiliated is trash, disempowering, racist and will increase poverty."