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Celebrating Families 14 June 2004

Celebrating Families 14 June 2004

Judith Collins
14 June 2004
National Party Family Spokesperson

Lack of emphasis on family The only word I can think of to describe the budget was disappointing. Having been told that the budget would be called working for families, I held out some hope that there really would be an emphasis on supporting the family unit.

Minister Steve Maharey, however, summed up the emphasis on family by writing in his press release that "parenting is society's most important job". Statements like that show how out of touch the government is. Parenting is the role of parents, not something called society. It certainly is not the role of the State unless all else fails.

On a positive note, I was pleased that there was recognition of the mentoring role for older New Zealanders to help support struggling younger families.

Free early childhood education provision a farce Indications are that 25,000 young children will be automatically excluded from an "entitlement" of 20 hours free attendance at early childhood centres. Children will only receive the free childhood education if they attend community-owned centres. This cuts out 1,000 privately run childhood education centres.

The centres favoured by the Government are kindergartens, kohanga reo and the ethnically based centres. The problem is that for many young families in my electorate, there is no kindergarten available anywhere near them and for many others the kindergartens are full and won't take children until they are 4 years old. The reality is that many parents - particularly those who are in the paid workforce - will get no help with the cost of early childhood education. They can't get their children into the kindergartens and even if they are able, the hours offered make it impossible to hold down a job.

Having received complaints that some kindergartens will not allow children to celebrate Christmas or Easter - it's too politically incorrect - I'm sure that many parents will prefer the freedom to choose that the private providers are able to give even if they have to pay for this themselves.

Charter of Parental Rights and Responsibilities Like many other parents, I'm tired of being told by Government ministers that parents don't have rights, just responsibilities. The emphasis on children's rights over the last 30 years doesn't seem to have led to a dramatic drop in children being killed by so called parental substitutes. The way I see the situation, a child is not able to enforce "rights" so that means that the State takes on the role instead, forcing parents into some kind of parental wilderness.

When I hear of Schools refusing to discuss a child's progress with his parents, that a girl aged 12 can have an abortion without her parents even knowing, I believe that it is time for a charter of Parents' rights and responsibilities. Feedback and ideas from frustrated parents will be gratefully received.

ENDS

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