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Burglars would be sent to prison for a minimum of three years without parole on the third burglary conviction, says new ACT leader Jamie Whyte.
Dr Whyte announced the new crime policy the party's conference, being held this weekend in Auckland.
"If you can repeatedly commit a crime and get relatively small imprisonment sentences afterward, that's not a sufficient deterrent," he says. "We need a much more serious deterrent, and the three-strikes policy is a good way of achieving that."
Dr Whyte said burglary is a serious violation of personal property and has major emotional effects.
On TV3' The Nation, host Simon Shepherd challenged Mr Whyte, saying buglary is one of our most common crimes. The three strikes policy "is not one of the original core beliefs of ACT, that is a popular crime policy of the sort introduced under the regime of Rodney Hide."
Mr Whyte replied, “Being tough on crime is completely consistent with the free market, liberal kind of ideas of the ACT Party.”
The ACT leader suggested a third strike could mean life imprisonment, but was vague on how the policy would work.
“We haven’t yet worked out the tariffs we would be in favour of for the crime but there will be a three strike policy." He was happy with increased government spending to pay for it.
Political commentator David Farrar said ACT deserved criticism for failing to detail the cost of its policy but "the UK experience suggests it may not be that great."
In 2012 there were 2,693 convictions for burglary (as the primary offence). Around 40% of them or 1,055 received a custodial sentence. That suggests repeat burglars are already mainly getting prison sentences, Farrar says.
Banks wrong to vote for GCSB BIll
The new ACT leader was also asked if he would have voted for the GSCB Bill, which made it legal for the agency to spy on NZ residents and citizen.
Here, Dr Whyte took a libertarian bent.
National squeaked the controversial legislation through with the support of ACT's sole MP (and then leader) John Banks, plus UnitedFuture's Peter Dunne.
Mr Whyte said he would not have supported the legislation.
Asked if he would have buckled under intense political pressure of the sort applied by the goverment over the GCSB Bill, the ACT leader went on one of his philosophical tangents, telling Mr Shepherd, "I hope I wouldn't. How could I possibility know?"
The TV3 interviewer attempted to bait Dr White over polygamy, but the new ACT leader dodged the attack.
Mr Shepherd said that given the ACT leader had no issue with incest between two consenting adults, from a classical liberal point of view did it also follow that he supported polygamy.
"There is no demand for this. It' not ACT policy. It's just not something I want to even talk about and I was foolish to let myself get sidetracked," Dr White said
On Colin Craig
When Mr Shepherd said, "Let's talk about being flexible - coalition partners. Let's say I say Colin Craig to you. What do you say?
"I laugh a little," replied Dr Whyte before recovering to add, "You know, I wouldn't rule out working in a coalition with Colin Craig. I've been catching up with him and he's a decent guy. I disagree with him on several things, but I think there are far wore politicians in New Zealand."
Asked about working with the Maori Party, Dr Whyte said, "The Maori Party has worked well with us on Partnership Schools, so that's worked well."
RAW DATA: Transcript of Jamie Whyte's interview on The Nation (PDF)