Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Isn't it funny how National only seems to care about child abuse in an election year? And isn't it funny how Paula Bennett keeps insisting it is a "Maori problem", despite the evidence to the contrary? You'd almost think that it was an election-year Othering exercise, designed to whip up hatred of the "underclass" among decent, right-voting New Zealanders. Just like Jenny Shipley's pre-election "Code of Social Responsibility"...

It doesn't help that the policy proposals suggested are so vacuous and transparently vote-grubbing. National is not interested in reducing the poverty and economic and social stress which leads to child abuse. They're not interested in making the lot of New Zealand kids better. Instead, they're interested in "cracking down", in an effort to win the "tough on crime" vote. And their policies reflect that. Mandatory reporting? All that does is deter people from seeking help while producing masses of false positives (which CYFS will of course be unresourced to deal with). Greater information sharing? Ditto. Prioritisation of resources towards families with young children? Quite apart from being unjustifiably discriminatory, this simply moves problems elsewhere (while of course preserving the rich's tax cuts). These are the sorts of policy prescriptions you suggest when you don't have any answers, only a desire to divide and blame. Which is Paula Bennett to a "t", isn't it?

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the timing is just a coincidence. Maybe Bennett, having sat on her hands for three years, has suddenly decided - just in time for the election - that she cares about child abuse. And maybe she's stupid enough to think these policies will work, and to have ignored all advice from her department to the contrary. In which case she's merely stunningly incompetent. Either way, I think its clear that this is not a policy area we can trust her to be in charge of.