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High level of interest in Families Commission

12 December 2003 Media Statement

High level of interest in Families Commission

Nearly 200 people have applied to be appointed to the Families Commission, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Parliament passed legislation setting up the Commission this afternoon. It will act as an advocate for the interests of families within the government and in the public arena, as well as commissioning research into family issues and parenting support programmes. A total of 186 formal expressions of interest have been received from people seeking appointment to the Commission. Up to three full-time and three part-time commissioners will be appointed.

Steve Maharey said the level of interest mirrors increased public debate lately about the important roles families fulfil in our society.

“The Labour, Progressive and United Future parties all campaigned on raising the importance of parenting and family issues which this Commission is to be charged with doing.

“Family issues are now being widely debated as a result of this legislation which is very welcome. We can’t expect young people to grow up with aspirations and dreams if they come from homes where parents do not provide a nurturing environment.

“But equally, we also need to get real about modern families. Opposition MPs have sought to privilege one type of family over others throughout debate on this legislation. Not surprisingly they have been less keen to explain that the ‘traditional nuclear family’ being promoted is comprised of a mother at home looking after the children, with the father as the sole wage earner. This is neither the reality of a large number of New Zealand families, nor a practical option for them.

“I am confident that the Families Commission will provide a strong voice for all families and assist future governments to offer better practical support to what is the most fundamental insitution in our country.

“The Commission is to be formally established on 1 July 2004. Interviews with short-listed candidates will be undertaken by an independent interview panel in the New Year, with appointments expected in May 2004,” Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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