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Turner slams 'wilfully blind' Govt

Wednesday, 9 February 2005

Turner slams 'wilfully blind' Govt on vision testing sham

United Future deputy leader Judy Turner today slammed the Government for showing no concern for the health of children after it opposed her bid for an inquiry into the flawed school vision testing programme that a recent trial showed falsely cleared 40 percent of children.

"This is lowest level political rubbish. It is clear the programme is failing huge numbers of children and leaving them in the classroom with undetected vision problems," she said.

"For the Government to not back an inquiry into this is simply disgraceful and makes a total mockery of its alleged concern for the welfare of children.

"You expect opposition for the sake of opposition from ACT and NZ First - that is what they do - but it is utterly inexcusable for a Government that only last week was talking about the welfare of families to so blatantly put the lie to its propaganda.

"If this Government actually gave a damn about children, it would have delivered for them today. It failed New Zealand's children and is clearly quite happy to leave them with a vision-testing programme that doesn't work."

The two-year trial carried out independently by Wanganui's Castlecliff School involved 71 children who had been cleared by the screening programme. They were then assessed by an optometrist, with the result that 28 of them (40 percent) needed glasses immediately and a further 16 (23%) were asked to return in 12 months for further tests.

New Zealand's screening programme does not test for long-sightedness or eye co-ordination problems and one Australian study indicated that the tests carried out here detect less than 10% of vision problems in children, Mrs Turner said.

ENDS

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