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Justice Minister Plays 'Yes Minister' With Himself

Justice Minister Plays 'Yes Minister' With Himself

Friday 6 Sep 2002 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

Phil Goff's announcement that the Ministry of Justice has sole leadership in the area of youth justice takes spin and cynicism to new heights, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

Mr Goff's comments accompanied the release of Ministry of Justice briefing papers today.

"Mr Goff said this move "would improve clarity over lines of accountability, responsibility for leadership and effective project implementation". This follows his admission to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee on Wednesday that the new youth justice co-ordination "teams" are being led by his Ministry.

"The Committee was surprised to hear of an operational function for a 186 person Ministry solely focused at the moment on theorising, policy analysis and advice. The surprise turned to derision when Mr Goff admitted that these new "teams" had no operational role, no new funding, no resource or premises requirements, and no front-line people.

"Instead it seems they are all that is emerging from the much vaunted and long postponed Youth Justice Report issued in April. The report concluded that nearly everything the Government was doing in Youth justice was hunky dory - but we just need to do more, and co-ordinate more.

"The report obfuscated the reality that on-the-ground co-ordination in a few areas works well because dedicated and focused individual police and welfare and youth work officers make it happen, but in most places bureaucratic obstruction frustrates everyone. Meanwhile serious youth crime mushrooms. The youth justice report was held up for nearly six months while the authors tried to get clear sole budget authority for one agency. They failed.

"The talkative Mr Goff did not manage to persuade the Committee that his "senior level" policy wonks from Justice would make any difference to the tensions at the coal face. Nevertheless seemingly without embarrassment he issues his spin with the briefing papers. These elusive new management committees do not represent the leadership and co-ordination promised by the youth justice report. These are political candyfloss for public consumption.

"This is just the Minister playing Yes Minister with himself," Stephen Franks said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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