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Police Cells Will Fill With Mallard's Children

Thousands more children will clog police cells as a result of Labour's decision to break a pre-election promise, ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata revealed today.

"Education Minister Mr Mallard has admitted in a letter to me that he will not deliver on his 1999 promise to establish a database that will identify long-term truants and get them back to school. His promise was neither vague nor equivocal:

Labour will establish a central records database which will be used for schools to pass information on as children move around. It will be able to show quickly when a child leaves a school without re-enrolling at another. (Labour Press Release, November 1999)

"I wrote to Mr Mallard last month to remind him he made this promise repeatedly in Opposition. His written reply is an insult to New Zealand's educators and parents. He raises spurious matters that have nothing to do with long term truancy, and invents nonsensical arguments against the implementation of a database.

"Long term truancy and youth crime are intrinsically linked. Crimes committed by children have jumped by 4,000 in just twenty-four months. Youth crime is going to rise further as a result of Mr Mallard's refusal to own up to this problem.

"Mr Mallard has sought no advice or research on establishing a database, yet has chosen to ignore the findings of the 1995 Children at Risk Report along with the opinions of many respected child educators. The only conclusion I can draw is that he is scared of the political ramifications of taking any action: somebody has talked him out of it.



"Over four thousand young children managed to drop out of school completely last year - nine hundred of them were under the age of nine. Those children belong to Mr Mallard.

"Labour has not introduced a single scheme designed to get long term truants back in school. Funding to the only service that looks for long term truants has remained stagnant for five years, despite referrals increasing by 1,000 in that time. Mr Mallard refuses to provide a guarantee that funding will increase next year.

"The Minister who grandiosely claimed on appointment that he would 'close the gaps in educational achievement' can't even find the resources to make sure our kids are in school. Sadly, it will be the children that suffer because of this politician's broken promise. Mr Mallard's kids are going to clog our police cells," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

ENDS


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