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Simcock Playing Politics With Child Abuse

Attempts by National to rebrand its mandatory reporting conference as a non-political forum have no credibility, says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

Claims by Opposition social services spokesperson Bob Simcock this week that a mandatory reporting conference being held today is not a political event must be contrasted with his intention at the time it was announced as a forum to assist the National party to develop its policy in the area. Mr Maharey said that the issue of mandatory reporting is being actively considered at present, but that advice he had received to date did not convince him that the Government's current opposition to it should be changed.

"To call today's forum non-political is not credible. Mr Simcock is doing as Labour regularly did in Opposition: seeking the views of specialists as part of developing party policy. It is simply not appropriate for public servants to be involved in such an exercise, and Government Ministers have no desire to write National's policy for them.

"Comments on radio this morning by Mr Simcock disparaging the very successful Business-Government forum held earlier this week because it was conducted away from the media spotlight, and his cheap-shot that child specialists are attending the forum because they aren’t listened to by the Government clearly indicate that today's conference is a party political event - pure and simple.

"I am interested that National now appears to be backing mandatory reporting, because in Government since 1992 they have opposed it.

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"We are opposed to mandatory reporting because all the international evidence shows that while it leads to an increase in suspected reporting, which over-stretched social workers must then follow up, the number of established cases of abuse does not rise. Mandatory reporting also acts as a deterent for parents and others to seek medical care for their children for fear of being investigated as suspected abusers.

"I expect to receive further advice on the mandatory reporting issues later this year from the former Principal Youth Court Judge Mick Brown who is enquiring into abuse notification and referral issues for the Government," Steve Maharey said.

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