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Govt moves to gag Children's Commissioner

Govt moves to gag Children's Commissioner

"An 11th hour bid to change the Commissioner for Children's Bill would give the Government the power to gag the person charged with speaking for our most vulnerable kids," says National Party Family spokeswoman Judith Collins.

"How ironic it is that the move to change the rules was brought before Parliament on the eve of a damning report by the Children's Commissioner into the deaths of Masterton girls Saliel and Olympia Aplin," she says.

A Supplementary Order Paper has been introduced by the Minister giving the Minister the power to review the work of the Commissioner and require any information from the Commissioner.

"Essentially the Government's plan is to rope in the Children's Commissioner, ending the independence that office previously enjoyed," says Ms Collins.

"The Commissioner will be forced to have their work reviewed by Government officials, and it's hard to see how this kind of political interference is in the best interests of our children.

"It's yet another example of a spin-focussed Government, that wants to gag anyone speaking out against it - just ask Bruce Twaddle.

Ms Collins is also raising the alarm on section 7(3)(d) of the Commissioner for Children's Bill, that allows a convicted criminal to be appointed to the office so long as they have either been pardoned, or have served their sentence.

"The public of New Zealand has every right to expect their Children's Commissioner to be of the highest calibre - many would argue this clause sets the bar far too low," Ms Collins says.

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