Parata steps over the bounds of decency | The Jackal

1 Mar 2012

Parata steps over the bounds of decency

Yesterday, Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta asked the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata:

Does she have confidence in her Ministry?

What followed was a despicable display of arrogance from Hekia Parata, where she exhibited nastiness and incompetently misled the House of Representatives:

No kidding there is room for improvement.

So Parata went home for the weekend leaving the parents none the wiser about the child sex offender. The Minister of Education obviously had access to the name and home contact details of the school principle, who in turn has the contact details of the parents whose children had interacted with the known sexual offender. A phone call would have been a far more appropriate way for them to be informed. Leaving it up to the Six O'clock news to do the job is not acceptable.

Parata then made a press statement where she attempted to gain support for the Privacy (Information Sharing) Bill... completely ignoring the fact that the failure to share information on the sexual offender who was breaching his bail conditions by working in schools had nothing to do with the current privacy laws. The agencies involved had the legal power and should have intervened.

It is despicable that National is trying to gain political ground over such an issue, especially when it's ultimately the Ministers responsibility to ensure such failings do not occur.

Today, National party apologist Mai Chen had an opinion piece in the NZ Herald called ‘Sex offender case shows law’s limits’. However this statement is quickly contradicted:

The Privacy Act does not stop you from sharing information when it needs to be shared. In most circumstances relating to the protection of vulnerable children, there will be an exemption when you need it - such as health and safety reasons (where there is a serious and imminent threat) and the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution, and punishment of offences (Information Privacy Principles 10 and 11, section 6, Privacy Act).

There simply should not have been such incompetence that allowed a known sexual offender the ability to work with young vulnerable children. Somebody should be held to account for such mismanagement.

National attempting to gain political support for the Privacy (Information Sharing) Bill that has nothing to do with this case is simply abhorrent!

In the four seminars we did in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin for the Social Service Providers Aotearoa Inc on these issues, concerns were raised about whether the bill should mandate reporting of suspected child abuse. That is a separate issue that would be difficult to accommodate in the narrow scope of this bill.

After running a half page promoting the Privacy (Information Sharing) Bill, Mai Chen then admits that it would have no proper way to increase information sharing on suspected child abusers anyway. Why then is Parata trying to gain public support for the bill on the back of such incompetence?

The question is; do the actions of criminals and the need to ensure the publics safety outweigh peoples right to privacy? As a law-abiding citizen I have serious reservations about the actions of criminals impinging on my right to privacy. That, to a degree, is letting the criminals win. I also do not think it's appropriate that government institutions can simply agree to not adhere to the Privacy Act where it suits them, which is what the Privacy (Information Sharing) Bill is proposing.

A law change is not required when there is an obvious imminent and serious threat to public safety, and the current laws are already designed to ensure the public is protected. It is the procedures and management that is the problem here, not the current laws. People weren't doing their jobs properly, and heads should roll.

Parata should not be trying to gain political ground out of the institutional incompetence she is responsible for. In doing so, Hekia Parata has stepped over the bounds of decency and should consider resigning.