The appeal of Judith Collins for many, was never better displayed than when she said "they should just stop hitting their kids". Four enquires - you'll excuse me, given I was on holiday last week if that number rose - but at last check there was to be four enquiries into Oranga Tamariki. The poor beleaguered agency that morphed out of the poor beleaguered agency called CYFS and several other things before it. The plan was to at last try and get to grips with the crisis that is child abuse.
The department was to be called the Ministry of Vulnerable Children, but, and in a dead giveaway to the times in which we frequent, and a clue to the trouble that was inevitably ahead, they couldn't cope with a Ministry called something based on reality.
They had to go with the more touchy feely approach, but as sure as night follows day. The moment it appeared to be getting to the gritty end of the business, ie taking kids off their parents, all hell breaks loose. And in many respects we are back where we started: arguing, bickering and thinking that meetings and enquiries are going to solve anything.
But back to Judith. She is not one for meetings and BS. She had the answer, and the answer is indisputably true: don't hit your kids. If you didn’t hit your kids, they won't be taken off you, and we wouldn't need an agency. But sadly, common sense plays no real role in these matters. Why have common sense when you can hire out a whole hotel, as they did this last weekend, and sit around and talk some more and come up with more buzz words and hackneyed one liners? After a whole day of gum flapping, they came up with: it’s a Maori problem that requires a Maori solution. What the hell does that even mean?
Just because a lot of the kids being hit are Maori, doesn’t make it a Maori issue. It’s a violence issue, violence isn't race related. Not unless you're looking for excuses. And that, sadly, is what yet again is driving this debate: race and excuses. Bashing kids is bashing kids, there is no more use calling it a race problem than it is calling it a tall person's problem. It's not on, we don’t do enough about it, we aren't serious enough, we don't apply enough back bone. That's the issue. We resort to type, we panic, we play the race card we sit around point fingers and gas bag. We've been doing it for years. We make it complicated when it isn't. Which is why Judith's homespun yet brutally honest and indisputably accurate assessment wins so much support, basically she's right and we know it.