PATCH-WORK: Offenders face a $2000 fine
if the bill becomes law.
The Government is
backing a nationwide ban on gang patches at all
buildings and property its departments own or
National MP Todd
McClay is behind the private members' bill,
which he intends to place in the Parliamentary
ballot this week.
If it is drawn,
its introduction is a formality. The Rotorua MP
has the numbers to vote it into law, via
National's 58-strong caucus and several MPs from
coalition partner Act.
"This is one more
step towards finding a way of getting rid of
gangs from New Zealand society," McClay told the
criminal organisations ... full-stop as far as I
legislation has been 18 months in the making.
Those who try to flout it would be stung with a
fine of up to $2000. Police officers would also
have the right to confiscate and destroy gang
patches and other insignia.
comes three months after the High Court ruled a
gang patch ban in Whanganui was unlawful.
That by-law, which
had been introduced by the district council, had
been in place for 18 months before it was struck
out when the court decided it covered too much
of the city.
McClay said his
own legislation had been in written in a way
where it could not be the subject of legal
challenges, clearly stating which government-run
buildings and property – including carparks – it
would apply to.
That includes all
the country's state-funded schools, hospitals,
airports and government departments such as Winz,
ACC, Housing New Zealand, Sport and Recreation
NZ, the IRD and the Ministry of Maori
Development. It would not apply to the 66,000
state houses owned or managed by Housing New
staff told him it was common for gang members to
wear their patches in wards when visiting family
"They may not
necessarily have any intent while visiting,"
McClay said. "But it must be very uncomfortable
for parents or staff caring for other sick
children to see that."
He was also aware
of "intimidation" inflicted on workers in a
range of government departments when
patch-wearing gang members turned up.
Opponents of the
ill-fated Whanganui by-law had argued it was a
breach of civil rights and freedom of
But McClay said he
had no sympathy for those who were offended by
his proposed legislation.
"I will put the
rights of law-abiding citizens before criminals
every single day of the week.
"There will be
people who will say this is an infringement on
civil rights. But these are members of gangs;
people who attack old ladies in the streets or
sell drugs to their grandchildren. Those are
bigger violations of human rights than a law
that says if you want support from a government
department, you must not wear gang insignia."