It could be years before the three strikes law repeal is reconsidered, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.
New Zealand First MPs will meet today to consider their position on repealing the controversial law, but Justice Minister Andrew Little yesterday announced he had dropped a plan to take a paper to Cabinet seeking to repeal the law.
Ardern told RNZ today that New Zealand First had made its position clear, that they would not entertain repealing the law at present.
"Down the track, who knows what could happen in three or four years' time, but for now New Zealand First aren't supporting it," she said.
Little called the law the "high watermark of policy stupidity", but it would stay for now.
"When you change laws you've got to have the numbers to do so, that's the nature of parliamentary politics, and in a coalition government it is even more so," he told RNZ.
Little indicated he had the support of New Zealand First while the paper was being prepared, but the government coalition partner had changed its mind.
"In order to get a proposal ready to go to Cabinet you go through a variety of hoops ... I'd gone through every one of those hoops. More recently New Zealand First had reconsidered their position, which they're quite entitled to do."
The party had told him last week it would prefer to consider a broader justice reform package together, and not individual elements.
He said pushing the proposal back a few years did not mean it was off the table.
Little said yesterday that New Zealand First was nervous about repealing three strikes but "they're not saying never, ever. They've said to me, 'we want a comprehensive package of reform, let's look at everything together as opposed to just these handful of bids'."
Little said publicly last week he would take a paper to Cabinet today on the repeal but announced on Monday he had ditched it because of a lack of support from New Zealand First.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters issued a brief statement yesterday welcoming Little's decision not to proceed with his recommendation to Cabinet.
"The caucus looks forward to working with him on achieving a balanced reform package," Peters said.
Under the law, which was passed by the National-led government in 2010, a person with three warnings after serious violent, sexual or drugs convictions must be sentenced to the maximum jail time without parole unless the sentencing judge believed it would be manifestly unjust.
National leader Simon Bridges said Little's backtrack on Monday showed incompetence from an amateur Government and had "underlined cracks in the coalition".