MEDIAWATCH: Ryan Bridges vs Carmel Sepuloni in another Oranga Tamariki clash


Oranga Tamariki oversight: Carmel Sepuloni defends controversial move in AM interview

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has defended the Government’s controversial Oranga Tamariki oversight legislation in an interview with AM.

The Bill, which is currently before Parliament, would set up an independent monitor of Oranga Tamariki in the Education Review Office, see powers of the Children’s Commissioner move to a board and hand more powers handed to the Ombudsman.

However, it has widespread opposition from across Parliament as well as from advocates and state care survivors.

I have been highly critical of this Minister and this decision to remove the Children’s Commissioner away from oversight of OT and I was eager to hear the Minister explain exactly what the hell she’s doing.

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The answers were appalling.

The Minister’s position is that removing the Children’s Commissioner from having oversight on Oranga Tamariki is a misrepresentation of the facts because the Children’s Commissioner wasn’t technically appointed to do oversight in the first place and that the Children’s Commissioner was passing issues along to the Ombudsmen to investigate anyway, meaning the new model of 6 faceless bureaucrats hidden inside the Education Review Office will provide all the oversight necessary.

Let’s unpack the bullshit technicalities the Minister is using to hide behind here.

The Minister is absolutely correct in stating that the Children’s Commissioner wasn’t supposed to remain in an oversight capacity. They were tacked on at the end because Oranga Tamariki’s newly weaponised uplift powers were so over the top and draconian that the Children’s Commissioner was added in temporarily as an attempt at a check and balance to state agency powers that enabled the state to take a child from a parent using nothing more than a MSD algorithm.

Remember, Oranga Tamariki is a neoliberal experiment in welfare. It uses Big Data to justify uplifting children immediately to save money in downstream justice, crime and health costs.

Oranga Tamariki has always been about saving the State’s wallet, it isn’t about the welfare of the child who is viewed as a ‘client’.

To make the cost savings, OT had to weaponise uplifts, streamline 0800 numbers to immediate action teams, change the law over parental power to stop the state seizing your child and of course, MSD made sure anyone who did have a child uplifted wasn’t eligible for Legal Aid.

The supposed counter weight to such enormous powers was the Children’s Commissioner being temporarily appointed  as an oversight. While they weren’t funded to investigate problems (that’s why cases were handed over to the Ombudsman), the Children’s Commissioner could give vital voice to the damage Oranga Tamariki was causing.

Removing the Children’s Commissioner for all these new checks and balances that aren’t checks and balances is insulting to the children being cared for and us as citizens.

To hide behind technicalities to obscure what is actually happening is an abdication of Ministerial responsibility.

It is ironic in the extreme that as we wade through the historic abuses inquiry by the State on vulnerable children, to the point where hundreds were tortured using electricity, here is the State removing vital transparency of a Government agency that has enormous powers with few checks and balances.

These Children, these vulnerable children, must be given MORE scrutiny, MORE transparency, MORE resource, MORE genuine care. Removing the loudest voice that can actually challenge Oranga Tamariki and their extreme unchecked powers when those State Agencies have such a shameful history of abusing those children is disgraceful social policy.

The system wants to ensure it can’t be held accountable and they will sacrifice any and all to keep their neoliberal experiment in welfare alive.

Chris Luxon is promising more of this type of policy if National win in 2023.

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    • Nathan. I think Carmel is touted as the first Tongan woman in the New Zealand Parliament . She may be culturally insensitive to the bigger picture of the complex needs of children from different or more advanced ethnicities than hers, and of the optimum ways of addressing the issues which arise from these. But whatever she’s up to, it will be with the support of her colleagues or she wouldn’t be doing it.

  1. You would think someone in maoridom would want to change the names of all those government departments that are now called Māori names back to English….It’s not a good look when a colossal cock up happens and the particular department is blasted across the media looking like a Māori trust or organisation , when it is actually just a common old government department that’s made a common old balls up of everything as per usual….It’s a bit disrespectful to the Māori language being associated with mediocrity and incompetence as is being displayed by this Labour Government…

  2. 100% Martyn but I wouldn’t go overboard attacking the ‘big data’ angle.
    In practical terms it often means that a known meth addict who has previous abuse cases against her and who has had previous children uplifted gets her latest pregnancy uplifted as it’s born because the risk of a repeat is likely. That’s all.
    We need to recall that a decade ago the CYPS was regularly being lambasted in media for failing to act in cases where abuse was likely.

    • Agree. If the public wallet is saved because of lower levels of welfare dependency and better outcomes meaning children growing up avoiding considerable time in prison I struggle to see the problem. Yes I see the risk of going too far hence I also agree the oversight regime is critical.

  3. I’ve always wondered what was in that hump when I’ve looked at a camel! But that lady has got rid of hers and now I’ve got the hump. Unsatisfactory!

  4. I’m surprised Labour allow their Ministers to go on these programmes they get exposed for what they are.

    • Bob the first. They are showing us the faces of co-governance. Get to the Minister for Children who seems to think that all white peoples are the progeny of criminals, and it becomes as scarey as hell and very divisive.

  5. indeed kiwi, if you don’t wanna bring up kids(perfectly reasonable choice) don’t squirt out little angels…we have science, every sex act doesn’t need to to result in another mewling mouth to feed…

    and before anyone chips in this applies to any and all social groups, just to be double clear.

  6. Sepuloni is a first class minister. Better than any tory they put forward including Ryan Bridges. She is closer to the people who are suffering. We are sick of the nats and act acting like modern colonials who want to put the natives in their place. Same with Jerry and the tory stance on China in the pacific – the pacific peoples don’t want your colonial interference – they are Aotearoa Maori’s tuakana.
    Carmel will get things sorted out. She took the families out of cars, caravans, garages, streets where NATZ left them in 2017 and put them in houses or motels as a last resort. NATZ couldn’t give a shit about the homeless, pohara, koremahi, bottom feeders, Maori, PI, Indians. Luxons honeymoon is over – time to put pressure on him. Willis will have to do better than make up numbers and answer with solutions instead of bullshit.

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