Last year, the Wanganui District Council floated a plan for a bylaw to ban gang patches in an effort to force gang-members out of the city. The plan was quickly shot down on the basis that, human rights concerns aside, they simply did not have the legal power to do so - but now its back, in the form of a Local Bill to be brought by National MP Chester Borrows. The bill has already been "looked at by police national headquarters" and is expected to be brought before the House in the next couple of months, with the full support of the National Party.
There are obvious problems with such a bill. Firstly, it would clearly violate the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association affirmed in the BORA. But by creating an essentially local offence of "wearing a gang patch in Wanganui", it would also undermine the certainty people could place in the criminal law. When considering the recent Manukau Prostitution and Manukau Graffiti bills, the Local Government and Environment Committee expressed a strong preference against the creation of this sort of local offence, raising the spectre of a patchwork of local jurisdictions, with different criminal law in each. Parliament clearly does not want such a situation, and hopefully they'll say so clearly at the bill's first reading.