“Kelvin Davis needs to put his money where his mouth is. If he’s going to call for resignations over scandals in opposition, he should be prepared to stand down himself when he loses control of his department and has the same problems occurring that he was once so vehemently against,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“In 2015, in response to assertions that fight clubs were occurring in prisons, Davis said there was only one appropriate course of action; “The Minister needs to resign. His bosses need to resign, his officials all need to resign.”

“Now similar scenes are playing out under his watch. And it is just one of many things he has failed at. He should hold himself accountable to the same standard he does others and resign.

“The issue that Davis was so opposed to in 2015 occurred while SERCO oversaw prisons. At least the Government then had the ability to just cancel their contract. Now, the Government is entirely in charge, and entirely responsible for what is going wrong.

“This is yet another in a long line of controversies Davis has overseen in his two and a half years as Children’s Minister. There has been:

  • The tragic deaths of children in care.
  • Multiple rooftop standoffs and attempted breakouts of youth justice facilities.
  • Increasing amounts of harm towards children caused by Oranga Tamariki staff. Which increased to 80 incidents in 2022 alone.
  • Staff spending two years on paid leave while under investigation.
  • Multiple damning reviews into practice and delivery within the ministry.
  • A massive decrease in the amount of children in care registered with a GP or medical practice.
  • Abuse complainants waiting more than two years with no resolution to their complaints
  • The Oranga Tamariki designated helpline reported as often being left unattended.
  • Children removed from loving homes because of the ethnicity of their carers.
  • Community workers threatening strike action at the same time senior management was receiving pay increases.
  • Poor vetting of staff leading to them defrauding the Government.

“That is Kelvin Davis’s record as Children Minister. If he keeps his job then the Government is telling Kiwis everywhere that this record of failure is acceptable. Even more concerning is what will he screw up next?

“Oranga Tamariki is symptomatic of the problems within the public service. It is focussed on identity rather than practical problem solving. Things are particularly bad because it has a Minister who is not driving any change or pushing for better outcomes. It just lurches from one failure to another.

“Oranga Tamariki has a duty to serve New Zealand’s most vulnerable children, and the Minister is responsible for making sure they do that. ACT’s Karen Chhour is achieving more in opposition with her campaign to get rid of Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act, which leads to children being removed from safe and loving homes because of their ethnicity. Her petition has received 13,400 signatures.

“ACT also knows that Oranga Tamariki isn’t equipped to handle youth justice facilities. Our alternative budget transfers responsibility to Corrections and funds the construction of 200 new youth justice beds.

“Kiwis can’t keep paying the price for Labour’s low standards. In the case of Oranga Tamariki, it is New Zealand’s most vulnerable who suffer the consequences. They deserve better.”

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