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Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe has condemned Justice Minister Andrew Little's "incomprehensible and pig-headed obsession with reinstating prisoner voting as a matter of urgency".

“While the whole country is in lockdown, tens of thousands of businesses and jobs are at risk, and families are under unprecedented pressure, Mr Little’s determination to rush his Bill through its remaining stages directly contradicts the Prime Minister’s public assurance when Parliament was shut down that only genuinely urgent matters would be progressed.

“Not a single constituent in Hamilton West has told me that they support this Bill, let alone that it should be rushed through when MPs are shut out of Wellington and the nation is in a state of emergency.”

Mr Macindoe sits on the Justice Select Committee in his capacity as Shadow Attorney-General.

“When the House last sat before the country moved to Covid-19 Alert Level 4, Mr Little and his New Zealand First and Green colleagues used their majority to force the Justice Select Committee to truncate the usual process for hearing submissions on the Bill and report back to Parliament in half the time usually provided for such work to be undertaken.

“National MPs strongly opposed that proposal and do so even more vigorously given what has happened since. However, last week Mr Little refused to support any extension of time, despite telling the Committee that officials would not be able to provide the usual quality of departmental report, nor be able to respond fully to information requests on the Bill from committee members.

“My electorate agents and I are flat out working to support Hamilton West residents during this time when so many of my constituents are desperate for help with a staggering array of challenges, including: support for our most vulnerable people; accessing wage subsidies; repatriating Hamiltonians trapped overseas; accessing personal protective equipment, Covid-19 testing, flu vaccines for seniors, online shopping, and so on. It’s a humbling responsibility to help people in such stressful times, but being told to drop everything to rush through prisoner voting is an insult to every law-abiding Kiwi.  

"My National colleagues and I are calling on the Justice Minister to listen to reason and defer this Bill until New Zealand is through this national emergency and Parliament is back to normal," says Mr Macindoe.

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