After going onto TV and suggesting sterilisation was needed for those parents who repeatedly abused their children, the Minister has quickly come out and stated that we need to talk and that it might get uncomfortable.
This may be the first time I have ever agreed with Anne Tolley, but I suspect it’s what we have to say back that she won’t be comfortable with.
Let’s remind people about the context in which Anne Tolley was making the sterilisation comments. They were in the wake of a terrible report into CYFS and the high level of sexual and violent abuse children in state care suffer from.
Suggesting sterilisation as the solution to children being sexually abused and beaten while in state care is throwing the baby out with bathwater after drowning the baby first in the bathwater.
Not pleasant imagery, but almost as ugly as the Minister’s own answer to the question of why women who had children taken into state care were still having babies – which, according to the Minister, was because those women enjoyed having sex.
That’s the intellectual bankruptcy of what we are facing here.
The sterilisation debate is of course just a smoke screen. Sadly many NZers will be nodding their head in agreement at beneficiaries being sterilised and that’s the point. The real agenda National are trying to push through is the privatisation of welfare. The Minister claims that is not true, yet National have pushed privatisation into housing, education, prisons, job seeking and the disability sector so the idea that CYFS is suddenly sacrosanct is absurd.
National have run down the revenue streams and borrowed billions for tax cuts, they have no choice but to cost cut using privatisation, and with the Christchurch rebuild ending, the property bubble wobbling and the Dairy market in free fall, these cost cutting measures aren’t just idealogical – they have become fiscal.
The conversation Tolley really wants is to avoid is why so many children are being abused in state care, and to avoid that conversation she’ll place all the obligation on the parents and then shift the responsibility into the private sector and sell that as the solution.
We won’t get a real discussion with Tolley, we’ll just get easy to sell stereotypes mixed with prejudice towards beneficiaries with a dash of simplistic answers that hide the enormity of change National want to implement. Seeing as we won’t really get a discussion, how about we start one here instead?
Dear Minister, beyond sterilisation of the poor, why is it that CYFS can’t keep children in a safe environment and have to lock them up in Police Cells?
Dear Minister, beyond sterilisation of the poor, why is it that complaints against WINZ have soared by almost 30%? Wouldn’t the stress of losing your benefit and having the grinding poverty made that much worse contribute to conflict inside the very families you claim are the problem?
Dear Minister, beyond sterilisation of the poor, when right wing mouthpieces like Kerre McIvor claim bludgers are too lazy to work in rural NZ and those jobs are going to foreign imported labour, can you see how easily led NZers are to believing neoliberal mythology of ‘you choose to be poor’ when Kerre has clearly misunderstood that big industry bring in foreign labour to keep costs down and that a gutted Union movement can’t challenge industry doing that?
Dear Minister, beyond sterilisation of the poor, can you see how damaging right wing mouthpieces like John Roughan can be when he claims male violence isn’t really a male problem so that the middle classes he writes for get to wash their hands of domestic abuse and walk away with a clean conscience?
Dear Minister, beyond sterilisation of the poor, can you see that your mass surveillance program aimed at the poor actually has the potential to be a terrible weapon in the hands of an unscrupulous Government and that when you consider how much information you are getting wrong that the potential for far greater harm than good is possible?
Because most of our media is now wall to wall Paul Henry or Mike Hosking, I’m not expecting this conversation to get beyond ‘we should sterilise the poor’ but we can’t let Tolley get away with such ugly and lazy thinking.