To summarize the situation, this offenders' levy is a $50 fee charged to all convicted offenders at time of sentencing. National introduced it (it was in their 2008 campaign) and considers it a significant and worthwhile source of new income for their victim support scheme, while Labour considers it a "gimmick" which will not raise significant new income because of the cost of collecting it. From here, it is one big argument about the numbers.
From Simon Power's announcement:
The levy is collected after reparation and before fines, and is in addition to any sentence or court order.
This is the main point that i feel Kiwiblog has willfully ignored. How many of the 55% of offenders from which the levy has been collected have outstanding fines? In my view, any money raised from such people is not new income and should not be included in the figures when working out whether the levy raises enough to cover it's own set-up and administration costs. Rather, since the offender has not earned an extra $50 anywhere, it will mean he will pay $50 less off his fines. It is simply a transfer of funds from the account to which the fines are due into the levy account.
It is the same smoke and mirrors as when Kiwiblog says things like "The government has saved $X Million in spending cuts and redirected them into higher priority areas." This is looking at a spending reshuffle and trying to sell it as a spending cut, which it is not. With the offenders' levy, DPF is looking at (specifically in the case of offenders with outstanding fines) a spending reshuffle, and trying to sell it as a revenue increase, which it is not.
Discussion on the numbers coming soon. [EDIT: or maybe not]