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Social Security Bill Passes Second Reading

Media Release – Social Security Bill Passes Second Reading


March 22, 2013

Palmerston North, NZ – Minister for Social Development Paula Bennet’s Social Security Bill passed its second reading on Wednesday by a narrow one-vote margin and will soon progress to a third reading vote. While amendments to the Bill have made some concessions to parental choice in education, says Home Education Foundation director Barbara Smith, the social obligations contained in it will still put unacceptable restrictions on parental choice in health and education.

In her Second Reading speech, Ms Bennet stated that certain approved home-based early childhood programmes will be available to parents who prefer their preschoolers to remain at home under the amended Bill.

“This is about parental choices and decision-making,” says Mrs Smith. “Parents have the right to make decisions about where, and how, their children will be educated, with or without an approved programme. Restricting those choices for beneficiaries makes it clear that the government wants this right for itself.

“It also sends a clear message that no beneficiaries can be trusted to make responsible decisions for their children. And it opens the door to further government coercion of parental choices. We all know that beneficiaries are no less well-educated and responsible than everyone else. Will the government’s next step be to extend the same control to the employed?”

Debate at the Second Reading recognised this problem. According to Greens MP Metiria Turei, the government is removing from ordinary New Zealand parents the right to decide what is in their child’s best interests.

“The fact is that not all parents want their 3-year-olds to spend 15 hours—that is, nearly 3 school days—at the local early childhood education centre, at the creche, at the local kindy, or even, as is now revealed, with the lady down the road, who might be employed as a home carer, looking after kids of her own.”

Asenati Lole-Taylor of New Zealand First also stood against the Bill, saying that the government should not dictate to “dedicated parents who passionately believe in quality home education that they themselves are more than capable of providing.”

“I have gone through the submissions, and an overwhelming majority of parents want to decide for themselves how they raise their children and when the appropriate time would be for them to be enrolled in early childhood education.”

The Social Obligation compelling children to attend Well Child/Tamariki Ora checks also came under scrutiny during the debate. Metiria Turei highlighted the Minister for Social Development’s suggestion that these checks be used for “surveillance”. “Paula Bennett intends to use the Well Child programme to investigate families, simply because those families have to rely on a benefit to pay their rent and put food on the table.”

She says this will result in fewer families attending the health checks. “The Ministry of Health says that making Well Child checks compulsory, under the threat of losing the benefit, will put children at risk of worsening health and more presentations at the emergency department.”

Mrs Smith encourages concerned New Zealanders to write, call, and ring their MPs before the Bill’s Third Reading within the next week or two.

“The Bill passed its Second Reading by only one vote, 61-60,” she says.

“We particularly need to contact the Honourable Members for Epsom and Ohariu, John Banks and Peter Dunne, who have the option of changing their votes.

“We only need one more vote to make history.”

More information on the bill, together with contact details for MPs, can be found at www.hef.org.nz.

About the Home Education Foundation

The Home Education Foundation has been informing parents for 27 years about the fantastic opportunity to de-institutionalise our sons and daughters and to embrace the spiritual, intellectual and academic freedom that is ours for the taking. Through conferences, journals, newsletters and all kinds of personal communications, we explain the vision of handcrafting each child into a unique individual, complete with virtuous character, a hunger for service to others, academic acumen and a strong work ethic. For more information, please visit www.hef.org.nz or more specifically hef.org.nz/2012/make-a-submission-reject-compulsory-early-education-for-3-year-olds/

ENDS

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