ACT Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman congratulated Peter Douglas, recently appointed to the new position of
general manager of Maori strategy at Child, Youth and Family Services, for his “courageous” views expressed in an
article in today’s Dominion newspaper.
“It is not politically correct to suggest that the domestic purposes benefit is damaging, as Mr Douglas has done, nor
that the right people to protect an at-risk Maori child might not be the whanau, iwi, or hapu. But what Mr Douglas is
doing is raising crucial issues which for too long have been swept under the carpet, and opening them up for public
“ACT has been saying for a long time that the DPB needs looking at. The original intention was that this benefit would
be temporary, providing support for a sole parent while they got back on their feet. It was never meant to be a life
option. Nor was it meant to provide an incentive for increasing numbers of young teenage girls to get pregnant and gain
a secure income, which they could boost by having more babies.
“ACT also totally agrees with Mr Douglas that children are not given nearly enough priority in this country. Every child
born in this country should be a wanted child. The DPB has ensured, however, that some children are used as a meal
ticket, and that is not good enough.
“A country can be judged by how well it looks after its future generation, and in this regard, the growing numbers of
cases of infant mortality and child abuse show that we are failing. At-risk children must be given the best possible
support. In the case of Maori children, this might well be through the whanau – but it might not too. The individual
circumstances of each child need to be properly assessed to determine what is best for them.
“I welcome the positive approach Mr Douglas is taking and challenge the Government to listen to what he is saying and to
start discussing meaningful solutions to these problem issues,” Dr Newman said.
For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at