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Nash, Stuart: Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Bill — In Committee, Third Reading


STUART NASH (Labour) : As mentioned, Labour does agree with this measure. We are not opposed to further DNA testing. But, alluding to what Ms Moana Mackey talked about, it is unclear whether the legislation will have a significant impact on serious crime, compared with the many significant changes the Labour Government made in important areas of the law and order debate.

National is proposing to test all of those who are arrested, not just those who are charged. The reason there is a slight problem with that is that a large number of people are arrested but not many are charged, which means that under National’s proposed system many tests may well be thrown out, resulting in poor use of money and police resources. I suppose that is why Treasury has stated that a lack of clarity around the problems with the current DNA testing regime, along with the anecdotal and empirical evidence to support that, is an issue with this bill.

I would like to talk about two very high-profile cases in the area I come from, which is Napier. A woman called Kirsa Jensen was found murdered on a beach in Napier. She was last seen riding her horse. The killer of Kirsa Jensen was never ever found. This was a case of national significance. It was widely profiled. The police believed that they knew who did it, but they could never prove it, because they did not have the evidence. This case tore apart families and in some cases it tore apart communities. It was a dreadful case and a dastardly crime. I believe that with the sorts of tools we have today the Kirsa Jensen case probably would have been solved. Her family would not have been spared their anguish, but at least there would have been some closure. There was no closure for that family whatsoever, and the case is still a festering sore in Hawke’s Bay.

The other case is that of Teresa Cormack. We often hear about stranger danger. The one case in the last 20 years of a young girl being raped and murdered by a stranger was actually that of Teresa Cormack. It was a dreadful case of a young girl, I think she was aged only 7, who was snatched on the streets of Napier and raped and buried. Again, it was a dastardly crime. It was the sort of crime that does not bear thinking about. I believe that her killer was caught in the end, many years later, through DNA profiling.

One of the big benefits of this legislation is that it may well help solve a lot of crimes that have gone unsolved. I can imagine nothing worse for the family of a victim than not knowing what happened or why, and, certainly, not having anyone to answer for the crime perpetrated against a family member, a friend, or a person in the community. As I said, I believe that the Kirsa Jensen case probably would have been solved with the use of DNA profiling and collection. The police believed they knew who the person who did it was, but they did not have the evidence. With DNA profiling and DNA collection, they probably would have had the evidence to enable them to catch Kirsa Jensen’s killer. Therefore, a very, very dangerous man would have been taken off our streets, taken out of our community, and put where he belonged. We know of other dastardly, high-profile cases that are unsolved at the moment that could well be solved due to DNA profiling.

One of my Labour colleagues, who spoke very well on this bill, Moana Mackey, alluded to the fact that this bill will not allow repeat offenders, like the “Parnell Panther”, to continue offending. He went for months raping woman after woman, creating fear in communities and fear amongst the female population. That insidious creep went around communities committing the most heinous of crimes. With this sort of DNA profiling, that sort of monster may well be caught a lot earlier. The technology did not exist back then, and therefore he was able to go on and on, but he was finally caught.

This bill provides a very valuable tool in the police tool box that I think will make a big difference. It not only sends a very important message to the criminal element that this offending will not be tolerated but also sends a very important message to the people of New Zealand that we are prepared to go out there and protect their rights and put in place laws that will ensure that crimes are solved as soon as they possibly can be. As mentioned, there are the rights of the individual, but I firmly believe that the rights of the community and the rights of the country must come first. We must get these monsters off the street, and if this bill helps then that is fantastic.

  • The question was put that the following amendment in the name of Charles Chauvel to Part 2 be agreed to:

to insert the following clause:

48Independent review of changes

The following new section is inserted after section 84:

“85Review of operation of certain provisions of this Act

“(1)This section applies to the provisions of this Act inserted by the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Act 2009 (the provisions).

“(2)The House of Representatives must, as soon as practicable after 1 December 2014, refer to a select committee for consideration the following matters:

“(a)the operation of the provisions since the date of the commencement of this section:

“(b)whether the provisions should be retained or repealed:

“(c)if they should be retained, whether any further statutory amendments are necessary or desirable.

“(3)The select committee to which these matters are referred must report its view on them to the House of Representatives before 1 December 2015.”