Years ago, when there were a cluster of high profile crimes committed in a relatively short period of time, when the victims were asked by the media as it invariably happens, for their side of the story, an organisation called the Sensible Sentencing Trust would speak for them. Garth McVicar began to form a name for himself as a crusader for justice on behalf of victims of violent crimes. As chairman of the S.S.T. he began making submissions on sentencing law changes going through Parliament and he began to connect with the families of high profile crime victims. But in recent recent years some unfortunate incidents have done much to undermine a lobby that many including myself had come to respect.
Some time ago, before he entered Parliament, former A.C.T. Party M.P. David Garrett made contact with the Sensible Sentencing Trust whilst on the A.C.T. party candidate list. As A.C.T.’s law and order platform was agreeable with the Sensible Sentencing Trust a deal was established where Mr Garrett could give them free legal advice in return for access to the database of S.S.T. members.
Mr Garrett was outed from Parliament after questions were raised about his conduct and past, where it twas found out that he had stolen the identity of a dead baby, and had then used the identity he stole to forge a passport. A few days earlier he had been forced to acknowledge an assault conviction stemming from a fight outside a bar in Tonga. As an M.P., his career was so badly wrecked that he was a pariah with the confidence of nobody in the House of Representatives. The A.C.T. Party suffered badly from that and other non-related incidents involving its Members of Parliament and was reduced from 5 M.P.’s to just one after the 2011 election.
Despite the fallout and the links back to the Sensible Sentencing Trust, Garth McVicar elected to defend the character of Mr Garrett. The result was that Mr McVicar and the S.S.T. were rounded on by an angry public, angry that he was defending an M.P. who had disgraced himself, angry at the hypocrisy of an organisation that made a name defending the rights of crime victims. Mr McVicar did not help the situation by failing to show any remorse for his actions.
But now the Sensible Sentencing Trust has shown itself to have an agenda that goes beyond protecting dodgy M.P.’s who bring the House of Representatives into disgrace. In a submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee listening to submissions on the same sex marriage bill being advanced by Labour M.P. Louisa Wall, the S.S.T. attempts to draw links between same sex marriage and criminal offending. In a statement to media, Mr McVicar goes on the record as saying that:
- The Bill is an erosion of supposed moral standards that have stood the test of time.
- The Bill is an erosion of traditional family structures.
- Crime will increase should the Bill become law.
Mr McVicar and the Sensible Sentencing Trust are entitled their opinion, him as an individual, and the S.S.T. as an organisation. However, one that acts as an advocate for all crime victims is over stepping the mark when it decides to take a biased stance on one groups rights over another to marry whomever they wish.
Given Mr McVicar and the Sensible Sentencing Trust have already soiled their reputation with the David Garrett affair, they would do well to butt out of this. Their failure to do so suggests there is an agenda at play.