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Mallard Plays Truant - Again

Mallard Plays Truant - Again

ACT New Zealand Associate Education Spokesman Stephen Franks today said he was dismayed that Education Minister Trevor Mallard had told the Education and Science Select Committee at its meeting to discuss Vote Education, that a pilot project for a truancy database would not be established for at least another two years.

"For over a year the Minister has been promising to extend the national student index system that had been developed in the tertiary sector," Mr Franks said

"This is the Minister who, as Opposition spokesman for education in 1996, pledged to establish a truancy database.

"When stories like that of Bailey Junior Kurariki - the 12-year-old truant who was present at the murder of Michael Choy - became news, the Minister just repeated his empty promises.

"But now Mr Mallard cites financial and logistical difficulties as the reasons why he cannot even establish a pilot programme to trial the system before 2005. That is a pathetic excuse.

"The Minister has had three long years to sort out logistics. He claims cost is a major factor - but surely, compared with early intervention in the lives of would-be criminals, the cost of doing nothing is far greater. Let's not forget, this is the same Minister who managed to find $30 million to fund an America's Cup challenge.

"With long-term truancy soaring, the Minister must stop making empty promises to address this problem and work to establish a database immediately," Mr Franks said.

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