Hamilton West will be decided on crime - National

By James Perry

National leader Christopher Luxon says crime will be the biggest issue on the minds of Hamilton West voters at next week's byelection.

"The Labour Party has a massive majority as a party vote but also as a candidate vote and, when you think of other Labour party strongholds, this seat is a very strong stronghold for Labour.

"But I'm telling you now the No. 1 issue that people in Hamilton West are concerned about is crime. What we have is a  government that is soft on crime, that actually hasn't shown enough care for victims and hasn't got serious consequences for serious, repeat offenders."

"People of Hamilton West are over it and sick of it."

Luxon told media today that the government has been too slow to act to curb the rise in serious crimes such as ram-raiding and armed robberies.

"Six months ago they announced their crime prevention policy under political pressure and only eight businesses' [added protections] have actually been completed.

Will National take the vacant Hamilton West seat?

"Strong voice' for Hamilton West

"We would love to see a 30% reduction in the prison population if we had 30% reduction in crime, but the reality is we don't."

Tama Potaka, the National candidate in the by-election triggered by the resignation of Labour MP Gaurav Sharma, says he has resigned from his role as chief executive of Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki. 

"I think I'm a halfback and there's a whole team, not of 15, maybe 1500, maybe five million people who want National back in government and that starts right here in Hamilton West with hard-working people."

Potaka and Labour candidate Georgie Dansey are positioning themselves as the "strong voice in parliament for Hamilton West."

At a debate hosted by the Waikato Chamber of Commerce this week, Dansey said National's policy of bringing back military-style boot camps for repeat youth offenders had been tried and had failed.

'Community approach'

"Yes, this is a policing issue and we do need to ensure we are enforcing our law and people are held accountable for these crimes. You'll know that in Hamilton 1200 people have been prosecuted associated with ram-raids and 200 people have been arrested.

"So, yes, we need to do that but we also need to take a community approach and we need wraparound services so these people aren't feeling as if they need to commit these crimes in the first place.

"Eighty-five percent of people [who have done bootcamps] have reoffended. It is not effective and it is not a good solution."

ACT candidate James McDowall, the only current MP standing in the by-election, reiterated his party's policy of reintroducing the Three Strikes Law, which the Labour government repealed. 

"The reality is aggravated burglary was a strike offence. So by abolishing that there was another tool in the tool kit to get some serious consequences and that is now gone."

The Hamilton West byelection will take place next weekend, although early voting opened this week. The Electoral Commission says as of Wednesday more than 2,000 votes have been cast in advance. A total 24,595 votes were cast at the 2020 general election.