There were fiery clashes at a Parliamentary committee this morning as the Mongrel Mob gave a submission on Firearms Prohibition Orders.
The Justice Select Committee is considering National MP Simeon Brown’s bill seeking to give police powers to ensure gang members do not have guns.
Waikato Mongrel Mob Kingdom public relations advisor Louise Hutchinson told MPs the bill was racist, dog-whistle politics.
She gave a long opening statement laying out her views, and taking aim at National’s tough-on-crime rhetoric.
“We believe without doubt that this was a politically motivated bill … purely to gain votes.
“There is no doubt that this bill is racist in its intent and it clearly targets Māori, Pasifika, and ethnic minorities who already are disproportionately affected by crime and criminalisation,” she said.
Hutchinson said New Zealand had a “warped” perception of ethnic gangs, and her chapter led by Sonny Fatupaito was proof that not all gang members were criminals.
“There has been a turn of the tide in the Waikato Mongrel Mob Kingdom. You only have to become aware of our statistics to realise this. We’re the least incarcerated in New Zealand. We have zero suicide, zero homicide, we have educational and awareness programmes to ensure our members are educated to become positive, constructive and contributing members of society.”
Rather than focusing on policies like Firearms Prohibition Orders, politicians should focus on addressing the drivers of crime, such as poverty, she said.
Brown challenged her on the facts of gang gun and drug crime in the Waikato.
“Why am I reading in the papers that your members are still selling meth? Why am I hearing in the papers that your members are still being arrested and having illegal firearms found on your property?
“I can listen to everything you’ve said, which is about how you’re changing, but until you stop selling meth to the community across New Zealand and you hand in your guns, I’m not going to believe it,” he said.
Hutchinson dismissed the allegations, saying her members were not responsible.
“Don’t believe what the media puts out there … put up the proof, Simeon, that we have guns. That’s not us,” she said.
National MP Simon Bridges also grilled Hutchinson on Fatupaito’s reported comments that his chapter would not be handing back firearms.
“I’m just asking you straight, why should we take anything you say seriously, when he [Fatupaito] doesn’t take the laws of this land seriously? It’s what the media reported, are they making it up?,” he said.
Hutchinson replied that Bridges should not believe what he read in the “mainstream media”.
“Is this a PR stunt for you, Simeon? Where’s your proof? If the police had proof that there are guns in our organisation do you not think that people would have been arrested by now?,” she said.
ACT MP Nicole McKee said while what the Waikato Mongrel Mob was doing “sounds exceptional”, there was no denying the link between gangs and escalating gun violence.
She challenged Hutchinson to “take what Waikato Mongrel Mob Kingdom is doing and get it out there to the other gangs”.
Hutchinson said that was Fatupaito’s “life mission” but they faced barriers in achieving this.