It’s one of those things for opposing in principle but perhaps supporting in practice.
It all depends on who would be given the job.
Alf speaks, of course, about Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills who favours having a highly-ranked Minister for Children.
He also believes governments should have to consider how every law change will affect kids (as you will learn from the Stuff report here).
Wills told Parliament’s social services committee specific goals and targets should be set out in legislation, preferably a new Children’s Act, to reduce the vulnerability of children.
“I think that those goals and targets should have ministers and a chief executive who are accountable for them.”
This could include a Minister for Children, Wills went on, but only if the position was within Cabinet and could actually make a difference.
That’s a bit silly, of course, because everything done within Cabinet makes a difference.
At least, it does under your National Government.
A positive difference, too, which is much more important. The differences made by the Clark cabinet were of the negative variety.
And all our Ministers have a say in what goes on, so Wills does himself no favours by disparaging some of our lower-ranked ones and those outside of Cabinet.
“If that Minister for Children was to be very low-ranked and outside of Cabinet, it would create the perception of doing good, when in fact it may not.”
Guess which of our Ministers won’t be supporting him when they read that.
Then he aims for the top:
“If the Minister for Children was the Prime Minister, I’d be delighted.”
But the nub of it is Wills’ urge to see someone to oversee an Act based on what is best for children to put young people at the centre of changes.
Trouble is, he is calling for more bureaucracy at the very time we are trying to trim the bureaucracy.
Wills said an annual report on the state of the nation’s children should be conducted by an independent organisation and would allow progress to be measured.
Bringing in child impact statements when proposed legislation was being introduced, would also mean children were considered in the process, he said.
“Without that process there’s real opportunity to not make the difference you’d expect to and to do harm for children.”
He gave Housing New Zealand policy as an example.
There was merit in people only having a house for as long as they needed and in building houses in areas of need, but there was a risk for children of a transient lifestyle, Wills said.
Similar impact statements are made concerning the financial and human rights implications of legislation.
And here comes even more bloody bureaucracy.
Wills also recommended a standardised exit exam for social workers leaving university and entering the workforce and mandatory registration for social workers.
Our wonderful Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett, was introduced to the Stuff report at this juncture.
She said there was a range of opinions about what the next steps should be in protecting children.
She also mentioned a White Paper that is being formed involving extensive consultation with the public over how the Government could better help protect vulnerable children.
The missing component in this stuff is what is being done to protect vulnerable adults from brutish brats.
Take the case of the South Auckland school teacher who was beaten unconscious by a student as he checked corridors during a rainy lunchtime.
Were the cops immediately called in and the brat banged up for several years?
The Southern Cross student has been suspended until the Board of Trustees meets this week to discuss further action and whether police need to be involved.
And as readers of this blog know full well, too many other kids have been guilty of similar crimes, making life hell for teachers.
They are increasingly involved in crimes, often violent, elsewhere.
But they are cocooned by a law that is pitched in favour of the young.
Hit back at a kid and you will be arrested.
We need a Minister of Adults to protect oldies against juvenile scum.
But hey, if we need a Minister of Children, Alf is willing to give it a go.