Key Points:

Criminals will soon find it harder to get bail as the National Government moves immediately to get tough on law and order.

Justice Minister Simon Power said repealing bail laws passed by the Labour-led Government would be a priority when Parliament sat next month.

National will return to a law that says bail will not be given if there is any risk to the public, rather than the more qualified "real or substantial risk" of Labour's legislation.

The tougher definition is likely to result in an increase in the number of people being remanded in prison after being charged with criminal offences.

Mr Power said the bail amendment would be put through Parliament under urgency when MPs returned on December 9 for a two-week sitting.

The aim was to reverse the bail changes by Christmas.

"It is extremely important that we send an early signal that public safety is the number-one issue on our minds in the law and order area," he said.

"The previous Government had lowering the prison population as their primary concern. We believe that should be a secondary consideration."

A new prison, in a yet-to-be-revealed location, was also being planned to cope with the extra prisoners.

Mr Power said National's next two priorities would be to introduce legislation providing harsher sentences for crimes against children and allowing police to issue on-the-spot protection orders in cases of domestic violence.

He said other legislation that was "ready to go" and could be introduced in National's first 100 days in office included:

* Increasing police powers to investigate gangs, and making gang membership an aggravating factor to be considered at sentencing.

* Bolstering the Youth Court's powers.

* Allowing police to take DNA samples from everyone arrested for an offence for which they could be sentenced to jail.

* Setting up a victim compensation scheme, paid for by a levy of $50 on every person who commits a crime.

Longer term, National also wants to remove offenders' right to parole if they commit a second serious offence, and allowing judges to imprison the worst murderers for life without parole.

A new men's prison with room for 572 inmates will be needed by 2011 to house the extra prisoners expected to be created by National's tough policies.

Mr Power would not say where the prison will be built, but he said the Government was "well organised" for its establishment.

It was logical that the new prison would be the first to be tendered out for private management.

National will have almost unfettered power to introduce its law and order policies, as its governing partner Act is even more hardline.

National's only law and order concession to Act in the agreement between the two parties was to let Act's "three strikes" policy, under which offenders would be jailed for 25 years after a third violent offence, go through to the select committee stage.

Mr Power said this would enable National to see how three strikes could "clip together" with its policy.

The minister said National was acting to remedy the "fractured response" to law and order under Labour.

He wanted to make sure justice-related changes had a relevant effect, citing the Labour Government's $12 million spending on landscaping at new prisons, which could have instead gone towards drug and alcohol rehabilitation or work programmes.

"It is about how you spend those dollars that matter. Ultimately you are trying to get the crime rate down and the reoffending rate down but the real goal is fewer victims."