Bridges’ speech to his old college

An interesting speech from Simon Bridges to his old college – Rutherford College.

Some extracts:

As Leader of the Opposition there is a view that I’m supposed to be grouchy and always complaining about things.

But that’s not me.

For a start, we live in the best country in the world.

OK, I am biased, but there’s evidence.

Of 200 countries, New Zealand is ranked first for overall prosperity, first for personal freedom and first for civil rights. You live in the least corrupt country in the world, and the easiest to do business in.

Good to see Bridges not doing what Labour always did in Opposition, and say how terrible things are in NZ.

My career in the law led me to become a Crown prosecutor.

I was responsible for making the case to a judge or jury in court that someone was guilty and should go to jail. …

One particular case will be with me forever.

One morning, outside a Tauranga school, a guy called Tony Robertson, who already had a string of convictions, managed to convince a 5-year-old girl to get in a car with him.

He pretended to talk to her mum on the phone, and promised the girl Christmas presents.

Thank God, her brother, who was seven, went in to school and told the teachers what had just happened. They called the Police.

Immediately, Police organised a district-wide manhunt. One officer – Sergeant Dave Thompson – had a hunch on where such an offender might go.

He drove way out of town to Kaiate Falls.

There he found Robertson and the girl still in his car, crying. To this day, I believe Sergeant Thompson saved her life.

Like so many of our Police, he is a true hero.

For him, it must have been as rewarding as policing gets.

For me, my job was to prosecute Robertson. I tried to get him the strongest sentence New Zealand has, which is preventive detention. It means a person can be kept in prison their whole life.

Instead he was given seven and a half years in jail, and was let out in December 2013 because he’d done his time.

Less than six months later, he abducted a woman. This time there was no heroic police officer to save her.

Her name was Blessie Gotinco and Robertson raped and murdered her.

After that, he got preventive detention.

Some people like Robertson can’t be rehabilitated or let out.

I believe in most people getting another chance, and I am a strong believer in rehabilitation to help people move away from a life of desperation and crime.

But I also believe that jail is absolutely the right place for some offenders.

It bothers me that the Government is talking about lowering the prison population, without explaining how it will lower the crime rate first.

The way to lower the prison population is to lower reofffending. It isn’t to let recidivist criminals out early on parole and give them bail.

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