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Boot camp bill passes first reading

Published: 6:45AM Thursday February 19, 2009 Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

The government's bill providing for military-style "boot camps" on Wednesday night passed its first reading in Parliament.

It is been called the Freshstart legislation and would see 40 of the country's worst youth offenders put into a military-style camp.

MPs voted 69 to 53 in favour after the first reading.

The government bill also aims to see 12 and 13 year olds added to the youth court jurisdiction.

The Maori Party is throwing its support behind the plan despite so far opposing most of National's crime legislation.

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says while the jury is still out on how effective these types of boot camps are, he has seen at-risk youth benefit from similar courses.

The legislation was also supported by ACT, National and UnitedFuture.

However, the Greens say the idea of sending youth offenders to military-style boot camps will unfairly discriminate against Maori.

New Green MP Kevin Hague believes the boot camps will actually encourage a greater chance of re-offending.

A parliamentary select committee will now debate the issue.