Politics | Three Strikes law

Luxon believes new Three Strikes law will benefit Māori

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon had a novel spin on today’s announcement of the return of the Three Strikes law .

Asked if the the legislation disproportionately impacted Māori and Pasifika, Luxon said the legislation would target serious harm repeat offenders regardless of ethnicity and the legislation would end up benefiting Māori who were overly represented as victims.

Both Luxon and Associate Justice minister Nicole McKee McKee emphasised the legislation would only impact repeat serious harm offenders and said they had revised the previous law (dumped by the last Labour government).

The new regime will have increasingly tough penalties for repeat offences where on the second strike, offenders will face no parole, and for the third repeat offence, offenders can expect a maximum sentence with no parole.

The previous legislation didn’t consider the length of a sentence or whether the offense was minor or serious. The new regime ensures the legislation will target serious offences that were eligible for more than 24 months of a sentence.

McKee said there would be narrow exceptions to allow for judicial discretion and the government would provide guiding principles so decisions could be make in alignment with parliament’s intent. She cited an early guilty plea whereby, if offenders pled guilty on the third strike, they would be eligible for an up to 20% reduction in sentencing as victims wouldn’t have to be retraumatised in the courtroom.

McKee aims to take the draft bill and paper to the cabinet by end of June and will recommend the bill come into effect six months after the bill is passed to allow for implementation of changes such as IT systems and training.

With the changes comes an estimate of 45 to 90 additional prisoners over the next 10 years at a cost between $4-11 million. Questioned on the costs, Luxon said it was a worthy investment.

“I think about the pain and suffering that’s caused by those violent offenders and the trauma it causes those families and those victims.”

Once the bill is produced, the Attorney General will consider it and provide advice on any issues but Luxon and McKee were confident there won’t be breaches of the Bill of Rights Acts or international human rights obligations.