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Collins Comments - 21 April 2006

Collins Comments - 21 April 2006

Judith Collins Clevedon MP 21 April 2006

RACIAL POLITICS Manukau City Council's new Treaty of Waitangi standing committee hasn't had its first meeting but controversy already surrounds the way members are to be appointed.

The Te Tiriti o Waitangi Committee is to be made up of either councillors or Maori members of the community. However being Maori is simply not good enough when it comes to representing Maori on the committee. Maori members also have to be on the Maori Electoral Roll. This excludes 13,500 or 40% of Maori who are on the General Electoral Roll in Manukau City. I can't see the reason for the committee in the first place. All councillors should be as concerned for Manukau residents whatever their ethnicities. If Manukau wants to have such a committee then at least make sure it doesn't discriminate on political grounds.

PROSTITUTION "The wardens tell me of the night one of the prostitutes brought her baby with her and gave the child to another street worker while she went off with a customer." The above is an excerpt from Manurewa councillor Colleen Brown's night out with the Maori wardens where she saw firsthand the major problem that is prostitution in Manukau City. I commend Colleen on getting out there to see the full extent of the issue we're dealing with. I've also been out with the Police one night to see for myself.

I urge other MP's and Councillors to go to Papatoetoe or Manurewa's Northcrest shops and see exactly what we're talking about. At the beginning of this month MP's heard public submissions on prostitution and graffiti. Local residents expressed frustration at how street prostitution is affecting the lives and businesses of people in the community. As you probably know I strongly opposed the Prostitution Reform legislation which legalised solicitation, brothel keeping and pimping in 2003. If Manukau City gets its way, the new bill will make it an offence for prostitutes to solicit in a public place in Manukau.

NO BOUQUET FOR MINISTER A big thank you to Manukau Councillor Dick Quax for reminding me that last year Dick and I were at a meeting with the previous Minister of Police George Hawkins.

Dick remembers Mr Hawkins said that the ratio of sworn police officers per head of population in the Eastern Police District (which incorporates Pakuranga, Howick, Clevedon, Botany, Otara) was only one officer per every 1300 residents. The national average is much better than this with 1/554. It was said that the profile of the District was considered when it came to ratios, suggesting that our area has a lower crime rate compared to the average of the rest of the country. However, when Mr Quax asked Mr Hawkins to compare our Eastern Police District with a similar area such as Wanganui he was told that Wanganui has one officer per every 420 local residents. How come George knew the figures but the current Minister, Annette King, doesn't know? Perhaps it's like the Health waiting lists.

SURGICAL WAITING LISTS What's the point in having hospital waiting lists if over 8,000 patients get cut from the lists? The Health Ministry says patients should only be on waiting lists if they'll receive treatment within 6 months. However, many patients have been knocked off lists after waiting years to be seen. It's just not fair with many patients been mis-led into believing they will be seen sometime soon. If our public hospitals do not have the ability to deal with patients on waiting lists, why not contract the private health sector to do them like ACC does? Just more slight of hand under the former Health Minister, Annette King, or ideology getting in the way of good outcomes for patients. Patients should come first.

ANZAC DAY I'll be attending the Dawn Service at Papakura and representing the Leader of the Opposition at the Auckland Civic Service later in the morning. ANZAC Day is, in my opinion, the most important day of the year for New Zealand. As the National Party's Veterans' Affairs spokeswoman, it concerns me that as a country we seem not to be prepared to live up to our commitments to veterans and their families. We are all awaiting the release of the Joint Working Group report on Agent Orange. The Minister has promised me that it will be released unedited. I hope this Minister keeps his word.


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