INDEPENDENT NEWS

Newman Renews Call For Inquiry - More Gagging

Published: Wed 23 Aug 2000 09:44 AM
The Commissioner for Children’s confirmation today that he was told to “tone down” and “be more culturally appropriate” on the subject of child abuse among Maori, raises questions about our fundamental right to free speech, ACT Welfare Spokesman, Dr Muriel Newman said today.
“The disclosure by Roger McClay comes hard on the heels of allegations made by the Chief Executive of Women’s Refuge, who last week was told by Government Ministers to pull her head in”, Dr Newman said.
“Gagging child advocates amounts to a total abuse of Ministerial authority by the Minister of Maori Affairs and his Associate. It is unacceptable in a free and open democracy.
“The revelation that the people who have been speaking out about child abuse are being silenced, renews my determination to seek a parliamentary select committee inquiry into child abuse.”
Dr Newman said it was now quite clear that because of the actions of government ministers, the findings of any Ministerial inquiry into the issue “cannot be trusted.”
“With child and family advocates being gagged, those who speak out will need the protection that a Select Committee Inquiry can provide,” she said.
“The Government’s desire to close down the debate over child abuse will make it even more difficult to encourage those who know that crimes are being committed to come forward.”
Dr Newman said the police were already having trouble pinning down the killer of Carterton toddler Hinewaoriki Karaitana-Matiaha.
“This Government’s attempt to silence those who care will make the problem worse,” she said.
“As I have said before when the Government ignores child abuse it is no better than those families whose children are being abused and who fail to speak out – it is simply shameful.
“I will not be ‘gagged’ by the this Government and will encourage the CEO of Women’s Refuge, the Commissioner for Children and all other child and family advocates, not only to speak out loud and clear about child abuse, but to support my call for a select committee inquiry as well”, Dr Newman said.
ENDS
For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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