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Paula Bennett plans legislative witch hunt

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 am, August 18th, 2013 - 86 comments
Categories: child welfare, national, paula bennett, same old national - Tags:


The SST is reporting this morning that the Government intends that any public servant who refuses to take the proposed anti child abuse screening test will be summarily sacked.

From the article:

The new child-protection laws will trump existing employment legislation, removing the need for bosses to go through a fair process of verbal and written warnings to dump anyone suspected of sexually preying on children.

Screening of all government employees working with children is one of the main planks of Bennett’s incoming child protection regime, unveiled last week.

All staff working with children in schools, hospitals, government agencies and organisations that get government funding must submit to security screening every three years. It is estimated to affect 376,000 people.

Anyone who fails the test would be dumped. The details of the screening tests are yet to be revealed, but police will be in charge of the vetting procedures.

“The advice I have had so far is that they could be instantly dismissed,” Bennett told the Sunday Star-Times yesterday.

Currently workers cannot normally be summarily dismissed although Parliament has the power to pretty well do whatever it wants with the law.  It would take an Act of Parliament to remove the need for an employer to respect an employee’s rights of natural justice before terminating their employment.  Natural justice requires an employer to tell an employee that they are considering disciplinary action, providing the employee with the information the employer is relying on and allowing them the opportunity to respond before making a responsible decision.

The PPTA response is measured in the extreme by comparison.

Angela Roberts, the president of the Post Primary Teachers’ Association, said she had no problem with efforts to weed out potential predators and protecting children was “paramount”, but she was concerned the regime would trap innocent adults.

“How do you get screened? The devil will be in the detail. It’s always easy for someone in her position to take the moral high ground by saying it’s about protecting children – nobody is arguing against that.

“But there are ways of protecting children without stomping all over human rights and workers’ rights.”

Brenda Pilott of the PSA described the plan as “undercooked” and said it raised more questions than answers.

The only phrase that I can think of to describe this policy is “witch hunt” where in pursuit of a probably mythological child abuser people’s lives will be upset because they cannot or will not subject to a test the details of which have not even been revealed worked out yet.

There is no evidence to suggest that the screening test will work.   Insisting that fundamental rights be sacrificed to force people to take a test we do not even know will work is just weird.

And you have to wonder how far they will go?  If the wholesale removal of our rights is justified in the hunt for child abusers then what about drug dealers, copyright protection breakers or jaywalkers?

Is this yet another nail in the coffin containing our rights of privacy?

86 comments on “Paula Bennett plans legislative witch hunt”

  1. One Anonymous Knucklehead 1

    This government is ideologically incapable of even acknowledging the cause of the problem, let alone tackling it. Weird authoritarian posturing is all they have left.

  2. dv 2

    I assume the screening will extend to mps and potential mps, and if they dont pass they will be sacked.

    • Hone 2.1

      Yes lets start with mp’s.
      Test Bennett first lets see how she raised her kid and if she ever made any kids cry anywhere ever.

    • Mary 2.2

      Bennett won’t know the answer to that question about her policy she’s responsible for and is introducing as minister. To answer that question about what her own policy will do she will have to seek advice:

      “The advice I have had so far is that they could be instantly dismissed,” Bennett told the Sunday Star-Times yesterday.”

      So Bennett has to get advice to find out about her own policy. If I were her employer I’d sack her instantly just for that. Unbelievable.

  3. just saying 3

    The workforce is increasingly being divided into ‘the screened’ and the ‘unscreened’.
    These two groups will be, and are, the relatively powerless and the powerful. The extension of screening further and further into the lives of the less powerful, must further empower the powerful.

    Some groups will garner some protection from who else the screening net may unintentionally cover. In the example above, I can’t see that the medical profession would allow any major invasions of privacy such as drug screening of their members. The most intrusive and unjust measures will always be taken to keep the working class and the precariat in line.

  4. North 4

    In a society which vaunts itself as democratic it is repugnant that this issue, viz. child abuse, facilitates Bennett (read Key) establishing a new, much reduced threshold in governance and in the relationship between citizen and state.

    The new threshold is “suspicion”. Has anyone real confidence that the threshold of “suspicion” will not be extended at the will of the powerful who behave as if the state is their personal fiefdom ?

    I fear that those who presently control the state are themselves guilty of “grooming” for their own disgusting ends.


  5. RedLogix 5

    Why stop at just government employees? Why not everyone who comes into contact with children. That’s where the real risk lies surely?

    • dv 5.1

      In the report in the herald, which I cant find now, cabinet rejected making screening compulsory for other groups such as guides, scouts etc.
      The rationale was that the group could ask.
      Thats what I recall. Did alone else note it?

      • dv 5.1.1

        Found it
        It was stuff
        She revealed there was debate at the Cabinet table about whether others such as Scout troop leaders, dance teachers and sports coaches should have been included in the law.

        In the end they were not, but Bennett believed such groups will ask to be voluntarily included to give parents peace of mind, and the law will allow that to happen.

        • northshoredoc

          We screen all employees at both schools at which I’ve sat on BoT.

          All parents who take kids on school camps or overnight sports etc also have to agree to a police screen – no ones ever had a problem doing it.

          I would’ve thought that scouts etc would now be doing this as well ?

          • North

            Northshoredoc@ – what is your reference to an extant scenario meant to say ?

            That we DO NOT NEED the altered statutorily imposed threshold because we’re already observing it ?

            Or that we NEED NOT WORRY about the altered statutorily imposed threshold because we’re already observing it ?

            The difference is crucial. Please tell.

            • northshoredoc

              Hi North

              As I said the schools I am involved with (state primary and secondary) both have these provisions written into our procedures, while BoTs have authority to change these as they see fit I’d expect that most would have similar clauses and rules within their procedure and policy manuals. It’s also i think important to note all of our teachers and parents are very supportive of this policy.

          • RJL

            Yes, if Bennett is just talking about police screening for those who interact with children in their jobs, then yes, this usually happens already. This would mean that Bennett’s “new” legislation is fundamentally just the old legislation with a new name, no additional funding, but a new exciting headline at a time when the government is under pressure elsewhere. This is, of course, very typical of her/National.

            On the other hand, Bennett seems to be talking about something substantially different from a mere police screening. She seems to be talking about a mechanism that allows instant dismissal based on mere suspicion, without allowing the employee to question that evidence. This is something quite new. One danger of course, being that it has the potential to destroy peoples lives based on incorrect evidence. Another danger is that the power will not be used equitably. If your manager does not want to fire you, then she likely will give you an opportunity to explain the suspicion/evidence away. On the other hand, if your manager wants to get rid of you for some other reason, either because your workplace is being restructured, or you are a problematic employee (a union leader, for example), then she will cheerfully search for and use the slightest suspicion to instantly dismiss you without appeal. Why? Because it will be much easier than dismissing you for other reasons, and she will save having to make redundancy payments.

            As ever, it is impossible to say exactly what Bennett is proposing, because she hasn’t provided the details.

            • RedLogix


              Exactly. I was more or less thinking along the same lines, but you have expressed it very coherently.

              If you go looking hard enough there is always something they can find which can be selectively twisted or deemed suspicious. This is true for everyone.

              No exceptions. Everyone has something to be afraid of.

              • RJL


                Also, if this really is legislation to enable dismissal based on suspicion, it will only be a matter of time before an employee is offered a deal like “you can retain your redundancy payment, if you confess and name five other child abusers”. Then the witch hunt will really have begun!

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          Just the job for the GCSB, after they are allready ‘screening, just like Norton ‘ anyway

        • weka


        • Ed

          As far as I am aware all leaders in Scouting (whether for a Scout Troop, Cub Pack, Kea Club, Venturer Unit or Group or other Leader, and whether male or female) are required to agree to authorising a police check – of existing police records – before a warrant as a leader is issued. There has from time to time been talk of a fee for this but past governments have backed off when they realise the unpopularity of such a charge. I am not surprised that Bennett would be unaware of such existing arrangements, but surely her advisers would be – or perhaps the new test involves a psychological evaluation and a more intrusive search. . .

        • RedLogix

          I was thinking about everyone who comes into contact with children. But maybe that’s just taking it too far. After all the vast majority of child abuse occurs within the family context and there’s no way politically they could tolerate lifting the lid off that can of worms. That would be Nanny Statism after all.

          Besides so far we’ve got no details at all about this new screening. What if it entailed trolling through all your web browsing behavior over the last decade? Or interviewing any and all your ex-partners? Or checking up on your work colleauges for off-colour jokes you might have told, or any nagging bad feelings they might harbour about you?

          It’s could so easily end up an open season to go on fishing expeditions for old Suspicions, Innuendos, Accusations, Affidavits and Statements.

          But at least the little children will be safe at last…

    • weka 5.2

      She revealed there was debate at the Cabinet table about whether others such as Scout troop leaders, dance teachers and sports coaches should have been included in the law.

      In the end they were not, but Bennett believed such groups will ask to be voluntarily included to give parents peace of mind, and the law will allow that to happen.

      The other thing that really bothers me about this whole thing is that it misleads society about why child sexual abuse happens and what can be done about it. I think there is a case to be made that convicted offenders are placed on a register that is available via due process to school principals etc, but think it should probably only be a register of offenders deemed still at risk of offending. eg someone with a 20 year old conviction for statuatory rape shouldn’t be there as a matter of course.

      But really, most child sexual abuse happens in the home, by a relative*. Screening all adults who have professional/volunteer contact with children obscures this fact. If parents want peace of mind re the actual safety of their children (as opposed to peace of mind that comes from hiding a problem), then society needs to start talking about how prevalent child sexual abuse is, and the fact that most of it is done by people we know and are related to. If we can start to have that conversation, we might actually get to talk about prevention.

      *it’s been a while since I looked at the figures on this, but this is still true for girls afaik. I do wonder if the focus on first priests and now school teachers is because their victims are more likely to be boys. It’s been interesting and sad to watch how society has handled the gender differences in child sexual abuse in the last 20 or 30 years. Women who were victimised as children went primarly to therapists and then suffered the ‘false memory’ backlash in the late 90s where their processes were largely denied by society. Men who were victimised as children have largely been believed (as a class) and eventually given recourse. I’m not saying that men don’t have particular issues themselves (esp re speaking out in this macho culture), but just watching how that has played out is a reminder yet again how deeply misogyny is entrenched.

  6. dumrse 6

    “This government is ideologically incapable of even acknowledging the cause of the problem, let alone tackling it.”

    The only ideological issue here is the writers inability to read into the intent of the legislation. The Govt has identified the possibility that kiddie fiddlers are working in close proximity to children. IMHO, that seems to be the PROBLEM. As for TACKLING it, they intend to implement a process of screening. That’s not hard to understand is it?

    • weka 6.1

      As for TACKLING it, they intend to implement a process of screening, by removing a class of workers’ basic employment rights.


      That’s not hard to understand is it?

      • Bob 6.1.1

        Oh boo hoo. Instead of defending the employment rights workers how about defending the right of children not to be sexually or physically abused.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead

          Sure. According to medical research, this abuse is one of the symptoms of income inequality, the elephant in the room that the Right will do anything to avoid.

          • Bob

            Quite frankly there is not one excuse in the world that I can accept as to why people choose to abuse kids including the good old favorite lawyers and offenders like to throw out “they were abused as kids themselves and the simply continuing the cycle of abuse”.

            As for suggesting that abuse is a symptom of income inequality I think you’re showing a personal bias rather than a reasoned thought. Poor people are no more/less likely to abuse their kids that a multi-millionaire. I would suggest the only difference is that the multi-millionaire is more likely to be able to avoid getting into trouble for it by being able to buy their way out of it eg Michael Jackson.

            • Foreign Waka

              Bob, I do agree with your comment. Certainly true that excuses are being made. However, in many, many cases the child is being put into care with a relative who is collecting money on behalf of the child. Many children are being well looked after but there is a relative high percentage (by international standard) that are being abused. I believe the number was around 28-29000 last year. Horrific!
              What will not change this is a screening program of government employees.
              If it wouldn’t be so sad I would think this is a Buster Keaton joke.
              What needs to be done is a program similar like the one Plunket is/was visiting toddlers. A nurse should be visiting foster and in care children checking on there general health and nutrition, arranging for an appointment with no more than 12 hours notice.
              This would be practical, due-able and will most likely show more results then having desk jockeys filling in test papers. As to the right of any employee, no one should loose a fundamental right because the mob is in a hurry to lynch someone. This is retrograde.

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead

              Bob, do you understand English or are you just incapable of addressing my comment? Where did I say that income inequality excuses abuse and violence? Where did I say it is the exclusive preserve of the poor?

              It isn’t bias, it’s Epidemiology, and hey, you just learned a new word.

              We need better wingnuts.

        • Rhinocrates


          It’s not protection of rights of workers versus Bennett’s proposal exactly as worded. Are you the only one not to realise this?

          Your insinuation that people who oppose Bennett in particular are therefore on the side of the paedophiles is both as dumb as W Bush and as dishonest.

          • Bob

            Rhinocrate, Garbage.

            New Zealanders are fed up of reading about a new case of some poor kid being killed at the hands of a family member of sexually abused by a teacher or some other adult every other week followed on by the head shaking, declarations of “never again” or “we have to do something”.

            Well hats off to the National party instead of sitting on the sidelines and saying how terriable the situation is they’re doing something. Its not often that I think that they get things right but on this I believe they have and based on last weeks “water cooler chats” most others seem to agree.

            • Aotearoean

              How does taking away teachers rights stop child abuse Bob?

              • leftbutnotdeluded

                Which teachers’ rights are being taken away ?

                • karol

                  The teachers who get falsely accused of child abuse, an lose their jobs without any rights to challenge the false accusation.

                  • Rhinocrates

                    It never ceases to amaze me that there is an inexhaustible supply of idiots who will say, “X piece of legislation will do exactly what they will say it will do, no more and no less and there is no other agenda because I trust them absolutely perfectly, and nothing will go wrong, ever, at all!” Or “at least, they won’t come for me, even after they’ve come for everyone else!”

                    I don’t know if “Bob” or “leftbutnotdeluded” are trolls or fools. The first can be dismissed, but the latter are very depressing, because they hint at something prevalent.

                    Let me propose a rule, related to Murphy’s Law (“anything that can go wrong will”): Where a power exists, it will be abused.

                    The corollary to this is: In the end, they will come for you too, and you’ll have no idea why.

                    • RJL

                      Where a power exists, it will be abused.

                      Also, the person saying “trust me” is always the least trustworthy person in the room.

            • Rhinocrates

              Again, how does Bennett’s “proposal” (to put it politely) suffice as the only possible alternative. Sure we all oppose child abuse, but why does opposition to child abuse necessitate worker abuse? You yourself say in presenting a binary or either/or say it must be either worker abuse OR child abuse.

              based on last weeks “water cooler chats”

              OMFG. That is the basis of your reasoning?

              Instead of defending the employment rights

              How does defending worker rights promote child abuse and vice versa?

              Can only one of these goals be achieved?

              instead of sitting on the sidelines a… they’re doing something.

              Ooh look, people have cancer, let’s burn witches and rub peanut butter in our hair. There, that’s doing something!

              However, is that actually what would work?

              Are you really as stupid as fungus?

    • mickysavage 6.2

      If you read the post more carefully you will see that I am not criticising screening per se, just the fact that someone will lose their job without recourse if they fail the test the details of which we have not been told about.

      This failure could be as simple as someone refusing to answer a question on, for instance, past drug usage. It could be barely related to the subject but still cause someone to lose their job.

      The question could be about their sexuality. A homosexual primary teacher may not want to disclose this.

      Do you want to live in a world where suspicion alone is sufficient for people to lose their job without any recourse to see if what has happened was fair?

      • vto 6.2.1

        Yep, turning neighbours into each state snoops on each other.

        All the more reason to turn off and drop out. Drug tests for beneficiaries when such tests have nothing to do with employment.

        Guilty until proven innocent.

        The state recording all communications

        societal breakdown continues….

      • karol 6.2.2

        A homosexual primary teacher may not want to disclose this.

        Yes – some people still associate child abuse with homosexuality.

        When I was a teacher int he UK, I had a few standard police checks – I think with each time I started in another job. I knew exactly what was being checked for – a criminal record. Eventually I’d get a letter saying the check hadn’t been completed and they were informing me I didn’t have a criminal record…. as if that was news to me?

        Still, it gives teachers an idea of what will impact on their teaching career. And the criminal record test is clear.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.3

      Dumb Arse, violence and abuse strongly correlate to economic inequality. Bennett’s fiddling won’t do shit to combat it. Her other policies will make it worse. Therefore Paula Bennett causes child abuse. That’s not hard to understand is it?

    • North 6.4

      Dumrse@6 – how utterly predictable that you should respond in the way you have. You’re one step away from making the accusation that those conscious of and concerned about “intent” going all awry don’t give a stuff, or at least are not sufficiently concerned, about child abuse.

      The same implied defamation utilised by this government re opposition to GCSB. And in relation to those having the status of “beneficiary”. Watch them use it in this issue.

      Meanwhile we have a new dangerously low threshold in the relationship between citizen and state. Suspicion.

  7. weka 7

    The Stuff headline Sex-pest test means instant dismissal

    Sorry to get in the way of an alliterative headline Stuff sub-editor, but we’re talking about rape, not sex.

  8. ghostwhowalksnz 8

    How will CYPS manage this, they struggle to find caregivers as it is.
    Having a black list will probably wipe another 50% off the numbers are willing to be comprehensively vetted

  9. red blooded 9

    Bennett seems unaware that teachers are already screened by the police every 3 years, as part of the registration process (which was trashed by the last National government in the belief that cheaper is always better and schools shod be “free” to put just anyone in front of a class – an ideogy that is now driving their abhorrent push for Charter Schools).

    Teachers who fail to meet the criteria for reregistration have some legal recourse, but not a heck of a lot.

    What’s different this time is the idea that a suspicion is enough. Along with the increased powers of government surveillance, there are decidedly Orwellian undertones. The “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” mantra wears pretty thin over time. People wring their hands about boys with no male role models, accuse the education system of becoming “overly feminised” and make distorted claims that NZ schools are “failing boys”…. It’s hardly surprising that so few men enter teaching when the default position is suspicion (& when the wages are so far behind other professions).

    • RedLogix 9.1

      Of course Charter School teachers will probably be exempt. Not being State employees.

      • northshoredoc 9.1.1

        No I doubt it, the default position would be to test as is the case in most private institutions as the liability falls squarely on the institution and Board without any ability to hide behind the MoE.

  10. chrissy 10

    Is this a smokescreen for something?

  11. Sable 11

    Lets be honest, this has nothing to do with protecting anyone. Its all about justifying robbing people of their rights using “child abuse” as a smokescreen now the old “terrorist” chestnut is looking a bit stale.

    Its all about government intimidation, trying to cow the population. Based on the comments here and elsewhere however, its not making people afraid its making them angry.

    • vto 11.1

      Yes it is not making them afraid, if anything it is making them confront the government and its officers personally e.g. protest at the homes of Dunne and Key.


      More is needed.

  12. mac1 12

    376,000 employees over three years is 125,333 per annum. Assuming one hour per screening, and 2000 hours work per annum per screener, this means 62 employees at $45,000 totalling $28,000,000 in wages plus their bosses, support staff, plus their accommodation, plus their computers, desks, filing cabinets , smoko ladies, cleaners. All probably very under-costed.

    Not a bad wee business to put out into the private sector. Theory number one as to why this being mooted.

    Then there are the people who will have to decide who is “dangerous to employ”. Then there will be the appeal system to litigate the decisions of the decision makers, for whom we do not yet even have a basic check list. Theory number two. This is to keep us Kiwis fearful of the undiscovered predator in our midst, as part of a larger fear campaign. Sort of adult versions of cautionary children’s fairy tales.

    Theory number three makes me look elsewhere that the Government might be in trouble and trying to provide distraction material for the media and civil libertarians.

    Theory number four is that Nanny State is alive and well, rather scary and wolf-like underneath the frilly nightie and sweet trust me smile.

    Any further theories, for we have little in fact and argument for such a course of action by Minister Bennett?

    • Anne 12.1

      I think you have covered it nicely and there will be some truth at the least in all your theories mac1.

      Oh, and the next move will be to set up a hotline so that colleagues, bosses, associates etc. can anonymously ring with information. It could be called: the “dob a public servant in a day” scheme.

      • Rodel 12.1.1

        I’m assuming the tests will be mandatory for all clerics?

      • Anne 12.1.2

        Btw, the last anonymous hotline set up by Christine Rankin (Bennett’s acknowledged mentor) proved to be an abject failure. After spending god only knows how many millions of dollars setting up the Benefit Fraud Squad and investigating all the information guess what… 72% of the claims made turned out to be wrong – they were malicious hoaxes designed to get innocent people into trouble.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 12.2

      Sexual abuse is a very expensive crime. Better spend it prior to abuse happening than across the lifetime of those affected.

      • RJL 12.2.1

        Absolutely true.

        Which bits of this particular policy will be effective at preventing abuse from happening?

        • Colonial Viper

          So they’re going to make child abusers wear armbands, right? Otherwise how will we be able to keep our children safe from them?

    • Murray Olsen 12.3

      I think it’s also an attack on the public sector unions, some of which have stood up against this government as much as anyone else. It won’t be hard at all to find cops who are prepared to classify any work place militants as suspect.

      If Bennett cared one bit about kids, she would be running her portfolio very, very differently. She cares about the pats on the bum she gets from Key. Full stop.

      • karol 12.3.1

        I think it’s also an attack on the public sector unions,

        Yep. That’s my take – actually an attack on the state sector as a whole – way to undermine the trust in public sector workers!

    • GregJ 12.4

      I agree with you focus here Mac1 & I think your figures are probably really optimistic – out of a 2000 hours a year job you have to take out 25% for training, leave, meetings & other down time so that makes it 1500 screenings a year per employee so you are up to about 85 just doing the actual work (plus you management & support staff as you noted) and that is assuming 1 hour is the average length of a screening check.

      Frankly I estimated it at more like 150 staff just to do the checking – so probably looking at about 200 staff in total.

      Perhaps it is some sort of Government job creation scheme?

      They could even call this large new organisation the: GEneral STate Anti Pervert Organisation.

  13. AsleepWhileWalking 13

    “But there are ways of protecting children without stomping all over human rights and workers’ rights.”

    Children are humans too and deserve their human right to be free from exploitation (sexual or otherwise) upheld.

    And why the hell should the state be paying predators to work with children?? And then have ACC, + CYFS pay to fix the abuse child up, then Work and Income pay when they can’t work or need additional disability costs due to abuse, then have the courts/police/prison system pay to prosecute + legal aid to defend the abuser who could have been weeded out early on.

    I think Paula Bennett has this one right.

    • RedLogix 13.1

      Umm yes. It’s very easy to take the moral high ground if your target is child abuse. No-one will argue against you.

      But it’s far too easy to then exploit that position to start pissing all over other principles, like the need for fair process and natural justice. Like not punishing people just because you suspect them of something. Or heading down the path of thought crimes. (And in case you think that’s a straw-man … it’s already happening in this country.)

      • Colonial Viper 13.1.1

        Seems like people have forgotten the ugliness of the Peter Ellis witch hunt already.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 13.1.2

        There’s an easy response to Bennett’s invocation. When she claims she’s doing something point out that her party’s policies are directly responsible for the worsening of the the problem and keep on saying so until the words Paula Bennett are synonymous with violence and poverty, as in truth they are.

        If the leader is too gutless to say so change him for one who isn’t.

    • vto 13.2

      asleep while walking: “And why the hell should the state be paying predators to work with children?? ”

      You are indeed living up to your moniker. You have fallen straight into the trap in describing this proposal in that manner..

      It is in fact the exact same trap the left laid in the anti-smacking law and debate, wherein all smacking was deemed violent beating.

      I expect the exact same bullshit from the next left government that gets in too. Together with the deception and lies and comspiratorial behaviour to achieve ends not disclosed.

  14. ak 14

    And on another lovely Sunday in the south pacific, a Natsy gummint-by-talkback swaggers on…

    The beast of Blenheim still echoes as a child molester teacher dominates headlines, so another easy swipe at the evil teacher unions presents itself on a platter…

    Whatever it takes and explaining is losing, so divide and conquer cruises merrily along on dob-in road to suspicion is enough….

    “Paula bangs the scum” blares from the speakers, Brown Benny Do-gooders take another hit, just another bully day on the road to Nazville…

  15. red-blooded 15

    CV is right to remind us of the scare-mongering that went on about Peter Ellis. Gay teachers and other state employees deemed to have contact with children have extra reason to be concerned.

    And nobody is arguing that child abuse issues should be left unaddressed; just that these issues tend to be more complicated than you r average soundbite. After all, there were a number of levels of failure that allowed the situation in the school up north to occur. (Sorry, no disrespect – the name of the school simply escapes me.) It seems that the principal was lax, the police (who did investigate a prior complaint, but didn’t prosecute) felt unable to do anything more than write a letter to the Board, the Board didn’t follow through on restricting the man later proven to be an abuser, the principal continued to sign his registration papers, there were no performance reviews and ERO did not open the police letter that was with the Board reports. It would be easy to use this case to argue that our procedures are too slack and that this is why the suspicion of abuse should be enough, but let’s step back a bit and consider:
    1) The guy was not have been caught by the police check prior to entering te profession, because he had no police record.
    2) The boy who made the original complain later retracted it. What if the had been no abuse and a man’s life had been torn apart based upon an unfounded suspicion?
    3) There were in fact a number of mechanisms that would in most cases have discovered and shut down the abuse. The fact is that this was a series of failures by individuals, who must examine their own roles in the damage done to the children.

    Policy this far-reaching needs to be carefully considered and based upon significant consultation, not reactive and emotive. This might catch the headlines, but how many actual (or even potential) abusers will it catch?

  16. BrucetheMoose 16

    I’m starting to prefer the bygone days of the old Nanny State than the new Natzi State. Compared to the current regime, it just seemed that much brighter for some reason. Snapper were more plentiful too.

  17. tracey 17

    I was a victim of child abuser. An abuser never held to account. I am a fervent supporter of protecting our children. But this is pure politiking. Otherwise how cld the same minister have cut funding to a high school girls programme which increased girls self confidence and increased reporting of abuse?

    • Anne 17.1

      … and she cut funding to beneficiaries (many of whom were/are in that position due to sustaining physical and mental abuse of one sort or another) that helped them gain qualifications – and their self esteem – so they could become useful members of society once again.

      Yes, tracey I was a victim of abuse too, only in my case it was as an adult. It didn’t include sexual abuse but it was something equally as damaging. The perpetrators were allowed to get away with it too. Friends in high places sort of thing.

  18. Rhinocrates 18

    Geoffrey Palmer right a long time ago in his book Unbridled Power. New Zealand needs a firm and dominating constitutional structure. Currently the Bill of Rights is mere normal legislation that can be overridden, as in this case.

    This is something that transcends party opposition in importance and is desperately necessary when we have a government that clearly acknowledges no fundamental rights.

    You might think that we’re coming more like America. Very likely, but look to Putin’s Russia and learn too.

    National obviously won’t do it, the likely dying Act party are naked plutocrats and anyone who sees hope in such an obvious whore (sorry to any real sex worker) as Dunne is overdosing on wishful thinking*, but Labour and the Greens can be pressured to strive for a clear constitution that protects us from obscenities like Bennett’s hysterical diversion and the creeping totalitarianism represented by the GCSB Bill.

    Well, Labour could be pressured if it were purged of jellyfish like Shearer and leeches like Goff.

    *Still, since the Hairdo is so weak, maybe one can exploit his weakness rather than his nonexistant virtues? Fear, venality? Does Key have photos of him engaged in an unnatural act with a goat and a jar of marmalade or the promise of an ambassadorship? What could also be thrown at him?

    • Rhinocrates 18.1

      Quoting myself…

      Putin’s Russia

      Oh no, I’m thinking of photos of Key with his shirt off, flabby torso exposed, piloting a helicopter to rescue kittens stranded at the top of an erupting Mount Cook, which had previously never thought to have been a volcano….

      I need brain bleach.

    • Sable 18.2

      Don’t tempt me with that last question (wink).

  19. tc 19

    A predictable sunday diversion to take up the weeks breaktime discussions while they attempt to bury GCSB probably by extending that snapper issue and chucking a few more public servants under the bus.

    The pattern is consistent, maybe they can hussle some controversial comments from somewhere also to smoke up that diversion real good.

  20. Tanz 20

    Yes, it is a bit over the top, just like the spy law nonsense. Bring on the general election!!

  21. xtasy 21

    “Brenda Pilott of the PSA described the plan as “undercooked” and said it raised more questions than answers.

    The only phrase that I can think of to describe this policy is “witch hunt” where in pursuit of a probably mythological child abuser people’s lives will be upset because they cannot or will not subject to a test the details of which have not even been revealed worked out yet.”

    Nothing new from Bennett’s “Fuehrer Haupt Quartier” – as for transparent, clear and detailed criteria for testing or screening, we are still waiting on such details re how MSD and WINZ are exactly going to assess “work capability” of sick and disabled with incapacities on the welfare front!

    Nothing of substance has been presented, and the new regime has been in force over a month now.

    I suspect the same will apply to the screening for potential child abusers in state and other services. The law will be brought in, and much will be ambiguous and otherwise “discretionary” – “on the balance of probabilities”.

    This Minister is the greatest idiot and the most mischievous one in her portfolio that I have ever heard of!

  22. tracey 23

    Those supporting this have yet to say how this will stop abuse.

    one answer is building confidence in children to resist and tell and parents to listen.

  23. Aotearoean 24

    The Hungarian Army tested tendencies for sexual deviations by having electrodes attached to ones sexual organs.Then the particapant viewed errotic photographs of children and any arousal activity was recorded.We have a lot to forward to.

    • Murray Olsen 24.1

      Did they test the person applying the electrodes for arousal? Or the person who wrote the law in the first place? It’s not hard to think of Tories becoming sexually aroused at the thought of sacking workers without due process. Maybe they should all be wired up inside Parliament?

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