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NICOLE McKEE: ACT Conference Speech, June 9, 2024

I’d like to speak today about the very basics you expect, and deserve, from your taxes.

The politicians elected to solve all your problems have, over many decades, increased the size of the bureaucracy that reaches into every area of your life and consumes more than a third of what you, collectively, work to produce.

But ironically, it’s the champions of big intrusive government who have neglected the essentials you actually expect in return for your efforts.

You see that neglect on our potholed roads. You experience it waiting hours at your emergency department. And you suffer from it when you and your family are impacted by crime.

Here in ACT we give careful thought to the role of the state. And we understand that the first, most fundamental, job of the government is to protect your rights. To keep you safe from those who would do you harm.

Because you can’t be the change in your life if you don’t feel safe and secure building a livelihood. A family. Building a community.

Under Labour and the Greens there was plenty of focus on the rights of criminals. And hey, criminals do have rights. They also have obligations, just like we all do. So I say if the criminals want the same rights as everyone else, then perhaps they can start upholding their obligations like everyone else. To be good members of our society, the community and their own families. Grown adults, even those with tough upbringings, actually do have a choice about whether to nick that Mazda Demio, or rob that next dairy, or commit that third assault. It is not their right.

So in Government ACT is rebalancing the scales of justice away from the excuses of criminals and back towards your rights as a citizen, trying to get ahead in life through your own honest efforts.

You’re no longer forced to pay lawyers, activists, and failed journalists to write sob stories for hardened offenders, because we scrapped funding for so-called cultural reports.

We’ve abolished Labour’s prisoner reduction target, because a self-imposed limit on our capacity to lock up people who would do you harm was madness. In fact at the latest Budget we prioritised funding for more than 800 additional prison beds.

In six years under Labour, gang membership on the National List increased by over 92%. The known gang members now number just under 10,000. Within ACT’s first hundred days in government we ensured that if someone who victimises you is found to be a member of a gang, that membership will become an aggravating factor at their sentencing.

And if you’re victimised while working sole charge, or in a shop attached to the family home, we’ll soon be making that an aggravating factor too.

As the Minister responsible for Courts, I’m working on timely access to justice and easing the burden on the victims of crime by giving you more options to participate in court proceedings remotely.

We’re bringing back Three Strikes for serious violent and sexual offenders, and this time it’s here to stay. The latest version of the policy, as approved by my Cabinet colleagues, will prevent minor offences from being caught up in the Three Strikes system -- which means we’re denying any future Labour-led government their favourite excuse to repeal it.

Labour’s rushed response to the Christchurch shootings punished every responsible licenced firearms owner in New Zealand for the evil actions of one Australian who never should have been given a firearms licence in the first place. And it didn’t work. Last year, New Zealand experienced half its yearly average gun deaths in a period of just 17 days.

With ACT in Government, we are shifting the focus onto the criminal misuse of firearms that Labour failed to address by increasing police powers to search gangs for guns. We are consulting now on removing red tape and unnecessary repetitive burden on the volunteers that run our clubs and operate our ranges in the best interests of public safety. We have launched a review of Labour’s firearms registry to ascertain whether it actually is contributing to public safety, is cost effective, and is secure around the data collected. Firearm owners are legitimately concerned about their and their family’s safety, should they become the target of a home invasion based on leaked registry information.

We are also committed to re-writing the Arms Act during this term of Government and aim to create an enduring regime that our country can be proud of once again.

In the youth justice space, our fantastic Children’s Minister Karen Chhour is establishing military-style academies for serious young offenders, while also bringing order and structure back to youth care facilities.

Even from the backbench, ACT is fighting for common sense in the justice system. My colleague Todd Stephenson is the sponsor of a private member’s bill that would require any prisoner applying for parole to first undertake rehab or education courses. That bill has passed its first reading with support from those in Parliament. Shout out to Te Pāti Māori, who forgot to cast their vote on that one.

In fact, Te Pāti Māori campaigned on abolishing prisons and introducing a tikanga-based justice system. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s the natural conclusion of an increasingly mainstreamed claim that prisons are somehow anti-Māori.

I’d like to address that claim. The latest New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey shows that Māori - more than any other ethnicity – make up a large number of the victims of crime. We make up 37 per cent of victims. And the figure is even higher for Māori women. I believe the rights of those victims matter. That’s what I’m fighting for. So they dare not tell me that any part of ACT’s mission is anti-Māori. Not once have I heard Te Pāti Māori stand up for Māori victims of crime – for any victims of crime. Not once.

I’d like to finish with a message for anyone who’s thinking of joining a gang or ram-raiding a petrol station or intimidating their community. Okay, they’re probably not in this crowd, but they might be watching anyway.

Your protectors in Labour and the Greens have been turfed out of government. Now that ACT has its hands on the levers of justice we will not use a light touch when it comes to protecting the rights of peaceful, productive New Zealanders. We threw out the wet bus tickets.

The joyride is over. ACT’s road-spikes are permanently deployed. Actions have consequences now, and it is time to make a positive change in your life.

Your decisions matter. Your efforts matter. And that happens to be ACT’s universal promise, for every New Zealander.

If you can get out of bed each day and make a positive contribution to your own future, you’ll be rewarded, and your rights will be protected.

Thank you.

Nicole McKee is an ACT MP and Associate Minister for Justice (Firearms)

2,316 views116 comments


Well spoken young lady . As a recipient of home burglary and violence , I need , like most homeowners and renters alike , to be able to defend myself with whatever it takes . Criminals can wield weapons with no cosequences : I , on the other hand would suffer terribly if I so much as picked up a hammer , or stick or whatever to fend off a criminal in MY OWM home I would be charged . No matter that I am 84 and the criminal is 23 and under the influence of drugs (and doesnt CARE ) I am not ALLOWED , by law (crimes act 1961) to defend myself nor my family . We al…

Jun 16
Replying to

Yes. Being ex-Ambo, I've witnessed quite a bit over the years.



I just read a comment below and wrote a reply to the fellow. Then I thought "Bugger it, I'll put it up for general consumption!"

Bradfordir345 is obviously a caring fellow with a social justice conscience - I don't knock him for that!

"Bradfordir345, mate. Please let's have less emotion and more rational thought!

I suggest that a fair trial, lawyer representation, innocent until proven guilty etc. are rights of ordinary people not criminals. You're not a criminal until convicted so those "rights" you mention don't apply. Humane treatment etc is a basic human right irrespective of where you are on the spectrum. Excuses for a lack of personal responsibility are unacceptable. There are no rights without responsibility.

Replying to

I think the fact that the average number of convictions for those facing incaceration is over 60 there is little likelihood of many innocent people being in prison in New Zealand.

When we have 35 convicted rapists on home detention the likelihood is even less likely..... In my opinion.


Brilliant! Paul Henry's speech at that conference is well worth listening to as well. ACT seem to be the light at the end of the tunnel! Even though I'm an optimist I wait eagerly for the ACTions to these words!


We need more people like Nicole McKee in positions of authority. She, along with Brooke Van Velden and Karen Chour, all ACT MP's, are 3 of the best female MP's in Parliament presently.

And then you're getting that slimeball "journalist" Tova O'Brien doing a hit piece on the party saying they don't treat women fairly!

I went to see Nicole speak at a meeting in my hometown a couple of years ago, just a relatively small gathering, but was very impressed by her eloquence, everything off the cuff, no notes, no ums and ah's punctuating the talk, very clear diction and put her points across in a clear, no nonsense fashion. Wouldn't it be great if all politicians were like…


Commenting as Johanna

What has happened to the selection of New Zealand's judiciary? Why does the punishment no longer fit the crime?

In the District Court in particular, impartiality appears to have gone out the window. Judgments too often consider the 'court reports' of the social dysfunction and 'recovery' needs of the perpetrator, bizarrely forgetting/ignoring the serious lifetime impact upon the victims. Sentencing offenders to home detention for serious crimes of domestic violence, rape, ram raids and robbery, along with random unprovoked violent attacks on people in public places, not to mention the ever increasing violence by 'urban terrorists' and gang prospects, the unprovoked physical abuse of people living in the offender's neighbourhood, all while under the influence of d…

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