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Outrage at manager's sacking for telling truth

Nick Smith National MP

20 April 2001

Outrage at manager's sacking for telling truth

"The sacking of Nelson Special Education Service Manager, Celia Lashlie because she dared state some home truths about the plight of children in New Zealand is an outrageous example of the Government shooting the messenger," says Nelson MP Nick Smith.

On Wednesday Celia Lashlie (crrt) highlighted the plight of young children in the education system with the case of an anonymous five-year-old boy outlining his difficult family circumstances and the high risk of him later in life becoming involved in criminal activity. She also expressed frustration about how difficult it was to find the $13 per hour for a teacher aid when it could prevent $85,000 a year in costs on imprisonment.

"Yesterday Ms Lashlie's contract was terminated because of her comments. Sources within the Ministry have advised me the Minister's office was upset by her comments and demanded action. Ms Lashlie has long spoken out about preventative initiatives to reduce crime during her long career as Christchurch Women's Prison manager, and more recently with the Special Education Service.

"This sacking is political correctness over privacy gone mad. The concerns Ms Lashlie expressed are the sort of wake up call politicians and public officials need about the plight of some children in New Zealand. We have no hope of addressing these serious issues if the Government stomps out the debate from well-informed professionals. "This Government is shutting down free speech. First we had Kit Richards in Timberlands, Merepeka Ruakawa-Tait from Women's Refuge and more recently retired Defence Chiefs. If anyone dares question their policy they silence the criticism by sacking or resorting to personal attack. The Government has got to learn to tolerate open debate.

Dr Smith called on the Government to immediately re-instate Ms Lashlie. "Ms Lashlie is the type of talented reformer and fresh thinker we need in agencies like the Special Education Service. The dangerous signal this sends to all public servants in the social policy area is to fudge their comments rather than tell it the way it is," Dr Smith said.

Ends

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