Primary school pupils grill Helen Clark

By Edward Gay

Prime Minister Helen Clark faced a barrage of tough questions from Owairaka Primary School students this morning.

Billed as the Kiddie Conference, the nine, 10 and 11 year-olds from the Prime Minister's electorate in Mt Albert quizzed Helen Clark on everything from law and order and education too housing and transport policy.

Celia asked the Prime Minister if she would give schools more money because "the Government doesn't give schools a lot of money and that's why we have to fundraise a lot".

The Prime Minister replied: "But gala days are fun aren't they?"

She went on to say that her Government had put more money into schools but there was always "more you can do".

She told Celia and her classmates that she was looking forward to the new policy of one teacher per 15 students in the new entrants room.

"A lot of our children come to school and they come from homes where English isn't necessarily spoken at home, so our teachers have a lot of work to make sure at five people start to learn their English," the Prime Minister said.

Another student, Nitesh, had a question about crime.

"There was an attempted robbery at the dairy next door, what can be done to keep our community safe?"

Helen Clark said the Government had to "crack down" on drugs and gangs.

"We know that in our area, there are gangs and they try to recruit our people, teenagers, even children at your age - they have some kids that think it is an exciting thing to do, to grow up in a gang.

"It's not exciting, it's a bad thing, so we need to be working with our schools, with our families, to show there are lots of fantastic things you can do without going and joining a gang, getting hooked up with the drug trade and going and hurting the person who runs the local dairy. That's a horrible thing to do," Helen Clark said.

She said those people had to be punished.

She was also asked about drugs and smoking.

"We now have our schools smokefree, isn't that a wonderful thing?"

The Prime Minister said "drugs are dumb" and there were lots of ways to have fun.

Natasha asked why her family was not eligible for Labour's Working For Families scheme when they paid taxes.

"Your family, if it doesn't get Working For Families, it would not be in the 70 per cent who do."

Prime Minister Helen Clark conceded that not all families were eligible but Natasha's family would benefit from cheaper doctor's visits and free early childhood education for three and four year-olds.

Your views

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 25 Apr 2014 20:44:34 Processing Time: 2013ms