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A Wee Note from Damien O'Connor


A Wee Note from Damien.

You do have to wonder about the value for money we get from providing taxes from our beloved leaders in Wellington. Every early childhood centre has by now received a letter from Damien O¹Connor, Minister of Racing telling us what an excellent opportunity they have provided in ensuring early childhood centres are now smoke fee.

Specifically he tells us, as a result of recent revised legislation which he has shepherded through parliament, children will be now protected Œfrom exposure from second hand smoke¹ and will enable Œthe modelling of positive behaviour to be exhibited¹.

Damien, perhaps because he represents the West Coast, is not apparently aware that all ece centre buildings and outdoor play areas all around New Zealand have been smoke free for at least 15 years and that centre managers already have full control over whether smoking can occur in carparks and offices.

In essence Damien brings us a change (for which comprehensive guidelines are being developed and will be sent shortly) that requires all centres to display on every entry gate to the grounds or building entrance a smoke-free notice.

Of course this new legislation will now prevent staff from sneaking off to their cars in your carpark (if you allowed it anyway), but it wont stop them from driving 1 metre down the road and doing the same in perhaps a more public modelling of their unsanctioned addiction.

I personally don¹t smoke and don¹t like it, but I have found most smokers understanding. But I have a suspicion our beloved leaders are moving towards a regime of a national smokers register, whereby early childhood employers may be required to first check to see if staff applicants are smokers. How lucky we would be if Teacher Council were asked to administer it; they would have developed emphysema by the time it was processed.

Another two terms of this type of politics and one has to believe it will be legal to hunt smokers, although of course there will be quotas.

It occurs to me, to be complete (and because they clearly have found nothing else useful to do), I hope they will be thinking about how we could also have a range of other useful signs along the street frontage such as Œno alcohol¹, Œno drugs¹, Œno hitting¹, Œno animal droppings¹, Œno swearing¹, Œno hugging¹ and possibly at the current rate, Œreduced funding¹ and Œno staff¹. All these could be of different sizes and colours and of course it would be appropriate to have them in range of languages, including some in Braille. I doubt we will need a fence.

Of course the week before, to balance things out, all early childhood centres (in the northern regions at least) got a nice Xmas card from John Tamihere and family, paid for on parliamentary postage. John, I liked that. Thank you. At least you know how to waste our tax money with style.

Damien, I hope returns to the West Coast to reflect on his glorious initiative and enjoys his Xmas, possibly to the sound of duelling banjos: Take as long as you like off Damien.

Please Santa, I want for Christmas some sensible politicians and legislation that solves real problems.

Ross Penman President Early Childhood Council

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