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Alexander: Labour logs off on truancy

Alexander: Labour logs off on truancy

United Future's Marc Alexander today slammed Government priorities that effectively meant stopping old soldiers smoking in the nation's RSAs was more important than a national student database to fight truancy.

It was revealed recently that the first trial of a database to keep track of truants and school-swappers was at least two years away - "meaning literally hundreds and hundreds of kids are not being kept in the school system and having their lives and their potential waste away," Mr Alexander said.

Meanwhile the Government is moving full steam ahead to ban smoking in every public nook and cranny, he said.

"But never mind, we can all sleep sound tonight in the knowledge that our old diggers won't be lighting up with their mates down at the RSA for much longer, if the Government has its way."

Taking the issue up in Parliament today, Mr Alexander criticised the ongoing delays, symbolised by Labour having the database pledge in its manifesto for the past three election campaigns.

"And it really isn't very impressive to hear Education Minister Trevor Mallard say that they've only just realised that something like 700 schools couldn't tap into a database," he said.

"Precisely how serious has Labour's approach to this issue been all these years if they've only just worked that out?"

Mr Alexander pointed to the recent comments of Principal Youth Court judge Andrew Becroft that up to 30 percent of youth crime was committed while the perpetrators were supposed to be in school.

"So let's get the kids back into schools and let the old boys have a quiet fag with their beer if they want to. I think they've earned it," he said.

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