National Should Heed Tribunal Warning And Scrap Coalition Commitment With ACT – Labour Party

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This afternoon’s interim Waitangi Tribunal report must be taken seriously as it affects our most vulnerable children, Labour children’s spokesperson Willow-Jean Prime.

“Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act was brought in by the last National Government to protect Māori children. Repealing it is wrong, and this urgent Waitangi Tribunal interim report should help National wake up to the fact that ACT’s policy should not be government policy,” Willow-Jean Prime said.

“The Tribunal has gone over the head of Children’s Minister Karen Chhour and straight to Prime Minister Christopher Luxon with its concerns. Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka who as Māori development spokesperson in opposition did not support a full repeal of the provision, is also copied.

“Submissions to the Tribunal from a range of groups, including the Māori Women’s Welfare League, said the policy would increase the probability of negative outcomes for Māori children in care.

“If that is not reason enough to scrap this policy, then National need to take a good, hard look at their priorities and be straight up with New Zealanders about who they are governing for. Because it certainly isn’t everyone,” Willow-Jean Prime said.

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The interim report raises three serious concerns. It says the Government’s singular focus on implementing a commitment made in one of the coalition agreements has caused it to disregard its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi; that a rushed repeal with no alternative will cause actual harm; and that the legislation already provides for a periodic review of the legislation, an avenue it calls ‘a more principled way forward.’

“The Tribunal goes as far as to say this Government’s approach could breach the Treaty of Waitangi, because of its disregard of consultation with those it affects. It says ‘to simply tell those parties what is going to happen, and invite them to make submissions to select committee, is to dishonour the very basis of the agreement itself’, Willow-Jean Prime said.

“The point of 7AA is to help give practical effect to Treaty principals and reduce disparities for Māori, and so a concern I would have is around transparency and accountability, particularly given recent news that the government is getting rid of Treaty response teams. The proposal to repeal 7AA would also remove requirements to report on the outcomes of Māori children, which is important data that helps governments to make good decisions for tamariki and respond to need.

“I agree with the Waitangi Tribunal’s suggestion that this repeal should be stopped in favour of a review of the legislation, which is a requirement before 1 July next year. The Government would do well to take note of this report,” Willow-Jean Prime said.