Why Labour refuse to stop the gagging of the Children’s Commissioner


As The Daily Blog has been pointing out from the very beginning of this fiasco, I am deeply, deeply, deeply skeptical about removing the Children’s Commissioner oversight from Oranga Tamariki and replacing that oversight with 6 faceless bureaucrats sitting inside the Education Review Office…

The new commission will continue to promote and advance the interests and well-being of children and young people, but its role is weaker.

In particular, unlike the current Children’s Commissioner, it will not be able to advise on establishing complaints mechanisms for children or monitor the types of complaints made.

Stripping the new commission of any powers to deal with complaints has a much wider impact on the application of children’s rights in Aotearoa New Zealand.

If the new commission is not able to advise the multitude of organisations that work with children and young people about how to make a complaint, this will significantly limit the extent to which the government can be held accountable for any failure to protect children’s rights overall.

…TDB has been on this issue from day one, we have criticised Orange Tamariki since National implemented it and we stand by every criticism!

I fear Carmel Sepuloni is totally captured by her Ministry and has been ever since they arrested her mother for a show trial over welfare fraud.

Labour are doing what the Wellington Bureaucracy wants by eliminating independent oversight because the sins of their past have been highlighted by the Royal Commission into historic abuse by the State, and they all want to make sure none of them get held accountable in the future!

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This is an obscene example of how grotesquely acquiescent Labour are to the Wellington Bureaucracy.

The State has used despicable tactics to hide the abuse in their care and have been instrumental in removing oversight so that they can’t be held accountable for a broken and failing model…

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care has taken a hard look at redress processes for abuse in state care, the very issue the new bill is supposed to prevent. For more than 20 years, MSD has been responsible for the Government’s response to thousands of cases of abuse in state care spanning decades, and the royal commission had a specific investigation into that response.

The resulting redress report was released at the end of last year and made for grim reading. Minister of Public Services Chris Hipkins described the findings as “a national disgrace”. What Hipkins failed to mention was that the person most deeply involved in that response was the boss at Public Services Commission, Peter Hughes, who reports directly to Hipkins.

Hughes was the chief executive at MSD during the 2000s, which was the period that came under particular scrutiny at the royal commission. Hughes was in charge when MSD used private investigators to try to dig dirt on victims and witnesses in a test case on state abuse that went to court. The use of private investigators in that case cost nearly $100,000 and was found to be in breach of government code of conduct by an inquiry in 2018.

Ironically, it was Hughes who set up the inquiry as head of State Services (as it was then called), but he made no comment on his own culpability that was exposed by its findings.

using its power to hide abuse simply isn’t acceptable…

New legislation to increase oversight of Oranga Tamariki has also come under scrutiny. It removes communications between the Ombudsman (which would investigate complaints about OT) and child-support agencies from the scope of the OIA.

The bill also replaces the Children’s Commissioner with a new Children and Young People’s Commission. But a second clause requires the commission and its staff to maintain secrecy in respect of all matters that come to their knowledge in the course of any inquiry. Again, this provision overrides the OIA.

…Carmel Sepuloni 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 rubber stamped big data assumption.

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 and change the law over parental power to stop the state seizing your child.

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.

By removing Oranga Tamariki oversight, Labour are capitulating to what the State wants because the State doesn’t want to be held accountable for its abuse.

To allow vulnerable children to be abused and to commit suicide in State Care and then remove oversight to that abuse is a fucking disgrace.

Jacinda will be so grateful the Commonwealth Games are on to eclipse this disgrace.


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  1. Agree 100%. It’s worse than it looks. We all know that the commission and Kafka-ish committee will be served by a yet another call centre with wait times of a very elastic 40 minutes wherein many may simply give up and go way, which is exactly what they are counting on. Pity the children.

    Sepuloni may be the diversity showpiece from an under-developed Tongan culture, but this doesn’t excuse other politicians, in fact it may be why she was chosen for her job. Pity the children. Pity the children whose heart-wrenching povidy helped this government get the reins of power.

    • +100
      As for her colleagues, they hear but they’re not listening. Part of the new political and public servant culture of NEVER admitting to the possibility of being wrong. (Easier to tool up with increasing numbers of media boffins and manage the message at the moment)
      Got to say I’m disappointed in Kelvin Davis’ stance as things stand – but you know – he’s gotta be staunch.
      They’re going to have to wear it though when things get worse rather than seeing some improvement.

      • Tim The focus of most but not all public servants is keeping their jobs. I have to say that Peter Hughes seems to be a disappointment here, but remember he started at the bottom, like an office boy or mail clerk, and worked his way up, but he was initially very good at MSD after Christine Rankine – he allegedly once personally sacked a guy on the spot for racism, without following due process, and few folk have the gumption to do that now.

        But the focus here simply has to be on the children, that’s a no-brainer, and a Commissioner for Children whose sole focus is the children, and given that the Commissioner has usually or always been a high calibre medical or legal personage, replacing them with possibly opaque self- servers is a shocker.

        • Sometimes @Snowhite, I wonder whether or not we might know each other – or at least have crossed paths in a former life.
          All things considered though, I suspect things are just going to have to play out. And there’ll be casualties. The sad thing though in this case is that unless Labour politicians wake the fuck up pretty damn quick, there’ll be another generation of broken kids AND people that have tried to do their best for them.
          Que Sera Sera.

          • Tim. Are you my mother ? I used to be a Greenie so anything is possible gender-wise. I know that you live on my old home patch, and a Lazarus scenario could be in action here.

            No, things do not have to play out and if Act are going to be the good guys, well done Act ( Choke).

            • 🙂
              The “OnceWas” bit is because a whie back, another “Tim” popped up – either on here or TS – way back. Same sort of reason Tony Veitch changed his handle
              I’ve never been a Tim or a Timantha either. I was thinking more to do with your knowledge of how the public service operates and represents itself these days. (It doesn’t operate in the service of the public).

  2. Great point, Martyn.
    Here the corruption of our system, our permanent state, is plain to see.
    And it is is everywhere.

  3. Where is the voice of Minister for Children,Kelvin Davis, aka ‘The Invisible Man ?’ Busy practising another racist diatribe against all the ancestors of Pakeha kiwis? Up all night negotiating a peaceful climb down for incarcerated kids clambering on rooftops ? Come home Kelvin, our mokopuna need you, it can be very cold out here, and dangerous for the young and the voiceless.

  4. NZ loves more woke committees, carefully identity balanced who don’t have a clue what they are advising on in many cases.

    This approach is leading a lord of the flies style NZ society, to enable NZ to be the woke/low paid, low skilled but diverse people they want to be! Sarc.

    Who cares about the victims!

  5. Disagree about the blame being with the public service. It appears to me on the face of it Labour doesn’t like to be regularly pointed out as hypocritical on its poverty relief claims. So a govt too long in power and all about protection from being pointed out on its failures.

    • Sumsuch Government does rely on its civil servants – and a plethora of ‘advisors’ – for accurate information and sometimes for expert opinion. It’s hard to say what the dynamics are here, but even before the current issue, it seems to me that Minister Sepuloni always looked uneasy and defensive when questioned about things like inadequate benefit levels. She even looks that way in the only photo which I’ve seen of her sitting in Fiji. However if this retrograde step of abolishing the Commissioner for Children doesn’t have the approval of the PM and her Parliamentary colleagues, it would surprise me. The noted silence of the supposed Minister for Children is also speaks volumes.

      • /Agreed
        “Sepuloni always looked uneasy………..”
        That’s because she probably is, and should be. I live in hope that she probably is. If not, there’ll be a Metlink bus along shortly she should be thrown under – even if it’s one that’s labelled AX – the next express on the way out of town (and the Labour Party)

      • If we have to imagine what the dynamics are they’ve got it wrong. Lost their footing if they ever had it. HQ neo-liberal activists, brighter than me or the but … lost about reality, what matters most.


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