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Ministers Trying To Stifle Child Abuse Debate

Bob Simcock

National Social Services Spokesperson

Tuesday 22 August 2000

Ministers' Obscene Refusal To Listen To Experts On Child Abuse

"The Minister of Maori Affairs and one of his Associate Ministers are intent on stifling debate about the abuse of Maori children, in an obscene attempt to deny the problem exists," National's Bob Simcock said today.

Children's Commissioner Roger McClay today revealed that Parekura Horomia and Tariana Turia forced him to edit Maori child abuse statistics out of his report into the death of James Whakaruru.

"The same two Ministers have already been exposed as having bullied and threatened Women's Refuge chief executive Merepeka Raukawa-Tait for her comment that Maori must stop "pussyfooting" around the issues of violence and child abuse.

"While these Ministers believe it is okay to threaten and abuse family advocates parents will continue to beat and abuse children," Bob Simcock said

"For too long we have watched the effects of abuse and violence on Maori children. And for too long we have waited for Maori leaders to stand up and say 'It has to stop'. But when Ms Raukawa-Tait did that, she herself became the subject of abuse. Parekura Horomia and Tariana Turia's efforts to gag her show that they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

"All children need adults to speak up for them. In effect Mr Horomia and Ms Turia are trying to silence the children's voices. But pretending a problem doesn't exist won't make it go away."

"The solution lies in understanding the issues, not trying to censor discussion of them. Only then can the factors contributing to child abuse; such as the high levels of teenage pregnancy and violence within Maori communities; be addressed.

"The Government has said little of substance about those factors. People are getting heartily sick of watching Ministers of the Crown behaving like ostriches burying their heads in the sand," Bob Simcock said.

Ends

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