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Mike King slams PM's 'silly' decision to fund gang programme over mental health

Mike King is slamming Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for what he described as "silly" decision-making around choosing to fund a Mongrel Mob-led methemphetamine rehab programme and cameras on fishing vessels over his mental health charity.

In a scathing Facebook video yesterday, a pained King said Ardern and her Government was being made a fool of and that she would look back in decades and come and regret her decisions as leader of New Zealand.

"I know your future is secure, everyone knows that. Once you're voted out by the people of New Zealand you're gonna go overseas and you're gonna be the head of some major corporate and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in speeches and be on boards and make millions and millions and millions of dollars and good for you, well done," King said.

"But you are going to look back on this time and you are going to deeply regret that you didn't take action to prevent the greatest epidemic, the biggest epidemic the world has ever seen and it's not Covid, it's mental health and you're not doing enough."

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The Prime Minister is receiving criticism from both National and mental health advocate Mike King. Source: 1 NEWS

His comments come after Ardern yesterday defended the $2.75 million used from proceeds of crime funding that was given to a Mongrel Mob-led meth rehabilitation programme. 

She admitted during yesterday afternoon's post-Cabinet briefing she had been one of the ministers involved in making the decision to fund it and was "comfortable" with this.

"We have to make a decision in New Zealand. We either want to fund programmes that, yes, will have people involved in them who have a criminal history but who are determined to address the meth addiction, or we exclude people with criminal histories from meth programmes.

"I for one wanted to stop victimisation and so that means we will be offering programmes to people who have a criminal past."

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PM 'comfortable' using millions from crime proceeds to fund gang-led meth rehab

King acknowledged that methamphetamine in New Zealand was an important issue, but said he was confused the Prime Minister was defending that spending but wouldn't have a conversation with him about supporting Gumboot Friday.

Every cent donated into the Kiwibank Gumboot Friday account goes to counselling for young people by registered mental health practitioners. In 2019/2020, Gumboot Friday raised $2 million and funded 15,500 counselling sessions for young people in New Zealand.

"You looked me in the eye and you said 'Mike, I cannot get involved in this, I cannot get involved this. We have a fair and equitable system and I cannot be involved in funding decisions'," King recalled from a conversation with Ardern.

"Yet today (yesterday) you stood at the press conference and you took credit for signing off $2.75 million to the Mongrel Mob. I don't get it. Where is the fair and equitable process there? Where is the honesty and the transparency there?

Jacinda Ardern and Mike King. Source: Getty/1 NEWS

"You've been making these silly decisions for a long time now," King said, citing both the gang rehab programme and funding for cameras on fishing vessels to support sustainability and protect marine life.

"You keep telling us that this is the fairest, most caring Govenment that we have ever had yet we can't get an honest answer out of you guys. Some of the decisions you guys are making are just beyond belief."

National Party police spokesperson Simeon Brown said the funding of the meth rehab programme "sends all the wrong messages".

"The Government is giving millions of dollars to the people who import drugs into New Zealand and infect our communities with their scourge with the purpose that they get people off drugs. Where is the logic?

"The Mongrel Mob has zero credibility and before they can be taken seriously as anything but an organised crime organisation they need to stop all drug importing and dealing, hand over their illegal weapons, and stop committing crime.

"The Government needs to front up and explain how on earth they justified the decision to give millions to an active organised crime group," Brown said.

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Jacinda Ardern says she's "comfortable" $2.75 million from the Proceeds of Crime fund was used and she was one of the ministers who approved it. Source: 1 NEWS

Ardern today criticised National for playing politics, adding that the programme has been around since 2010 when the then-National Government was "happy to support" it.

"It does look obviously like a political manoeuvre when you have a programme from 2010 of a very similar nature that was funded and supported and yet we see National in Opposition taking a very different view," she told media today.

"Our position is fund what works, fund what makes a difference and we know we have to address methamphetamine as a scourge in New Zealand."

When asked by 1 NEWS about King's upset, Ardern said both issues needed to be addressed.

"Everyone who works across mental health and addiction knows that we need to both address the need in our mental health system and also addiction because of course those in the sector recognise that so often we see both issues arising time and time again in our communities. We need to do both."