By John Tamihere
This was an interesting week for two Cabinet Ministers with delegations over two huge Ministries, The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development.
You will recall Saddam Hussein’s Minister of Information, known as Chemical Ali, standing on a pedestal broadcasting to the Iraqi people that the Iraqi military was, at this time, destroying American forces. He did not realise that American tanks were screaming past him as he spoke.
On Tuesday of last week, Minister of Education Hekia Parata advised education groups she would not meet them and nor would she change the thrust of her policy regarding less teachers, more students in classes. She did not see the teacher tanks screaming past her. Like Chemical Ali, Hekya Piranha did not have a clue. By Thursday afternoon the Education Minister had surrendered in absolute terms. She is a very capable person and this back down shows that this Government will listen if enough people rise up and object.
Chemical Ali and Hekya Piranha were joined by the Minister of Social Welfare, Paula Bennett. The Minister of Social Development considered the possibility of sterilisation of people that abuse their children.
In the event that you oppose this policy, the notion that you must support child abusers is always put to you. It is a bit like the smacking debate. In the event you oppose the State entering your lounge and determining how you discipline your children, you are then a child basher if you opposed the smacking legislation.
The problem with bumper sticker, shock jock politics is that when you peel the little sticker off there is no substance underneath it. We all agree that we have to do something about child abuse. We all agree there have to be significant sanctions or punishments for those that abuse children. Right now we have laws that allow us to immediately, in the name of the State, uplift at risk children without notice to parents we allege are abusers. In fact over the last two years, under 200 children have been removed from family or custodians where the State believes children are at risk. Sterilise Me Benefit knows and I know where 90% of all at-risk children reside right now in this country. If you want to fix the families that produce these children you have to micro manage, budget manage and weekly manage these families to some form of independent, well-functioning parents and families. Waving the stick and pretending this will cure it is an absolute nonsense.
The benefit in these families must be managed by a independent budget holder. A family health, education and housing programme needs to be wrapped around each family. There must be an incentive to head towards independence expressed by being able to manage yourself, your house and then your children independently. Screening sterilisation is a bumper sticker for the stupid.
Sunday News, 10th June 2012