INDEPENDENT NEWS

Collins Comments

Published: Tue 16 Dec 2003 09:47 AM
Collins Comments
Judith Collins MP for Clevedon
Police clean up Papakura Papakura Police have been under the spotlight recently for their scheme letting young lawbreakers carry out monitored community work, such as picking up rubbish, instead of going to court. Youth offenders are required to wear orange jackets. One non-resident lawyer has opposed the scheme, saying that making them wear the jackets is humiliating and a violation of their human rights. The orange jackets are required by OSH rules! The Papakura youth diversion scheme was voluntary and run with the full co-operation and permission of the parents of the youths. In my opinion, the police should be congratulated for trying to think outside the square and help those who might otherwise become another statistic in our over-burdened youth court system Early intervention can sometimes make a huge difference for young offenders, and the short, sharp attention tha
Website On my website, http://www.judithcollins.co.nz is a survey asking for feedback on several issues that are important to my new role within the National Party. These include crime, the Treaty of Waitangi, immigration and defence. Please take the time to visit my website and answer the brief questions.
Agent Orange Late November and this month saw a Parliamentary Health Select Committee finally address the issue of Agent Orange. This is an issue that I have worked for since I was given an original US Army map that Colonel John Masters brought back from Vietnam. The map indicated some areas of defoliation - or spraying with Agent Orange, Blue or White. The committee heard submissions from veterans giving evidence that New Zealand defence personnel were exposed to Agent Orange and other defoliants during the Vietnam War. This followed the Reeves Inquiry and the McLeod Inquiry which were set up to look at the health effects of Agent Orange on our Vietnam Veterans and their children. The most damning indictment of those reports has come from the Ministry of Defence files. The files show that there were well over 300 incidences of our troops being in areas that had recently bee
It was particularly disturbing for the veterans to hear the Ministry of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs still standing by the reports although Veterans Affairs did acknowledge concerns. The McLeod report, in particular infuriated veterans. It was completed in 2001 and held by the government for 14 months before it was released - causing many to speculate on why it was released at all. Last week the Ministry of Defence told the Select Committee that the information had been in two unclassified files all along and that they could find no evidence that these files had ever been reviewed. All these years, the Veterans and their families have virtually been told that they were lying. It's very clear that they weren't.
I asked many veterans about their experiences in Vietnam and also on their return to New Zealand. Overwhelmingly, the behaviour of those protesters who spat at them and called them "baby killers", "murderers" and the negative attitude of many civilians had the most lasting psychological effects. One man struggled to tell us of his parents receiving a dead rat in the mail - with a note suggesting that that was to be their son's fate. I think it is about time that the Prime Minister, who is always so keen on apologizing for past wrongs, apologized to our Vietnam veterans for some of the past wrongs done to them. It wasn't until 1998 that the Veterans were officially welcomed home - and that meant a lot to many.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. I trust that you will all have a wonderful holiday break, take some time to relax and spend lots of time with your family - I certainly intend to do just that.

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