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?