Act MP would not support sterilisation bill

Act MP David Garrett. File photo / Supplied
Act MP David Garrett. File photo / Supplied

Act MP David Garrett has says he would not support a bill on voluntary sterilisation, he just wanted to promote debate on the issue.

Mr Garrett yesterday suggested parents with a history of child abuse should be given a $5000 incentive to be sterilised.

He made the comments after a panel of child abuse experts put forward recommendations to the Government, such as tracking abusive parents so agencies are notified when they have further children.

But today, when asked if he would support a bill for voluntary sterilisation, he said: "No. I supported a discussion on the issue. Some one else raised it, it was my personal view that that was a discussion worth having. [It is] not Act policy."

Mr Garrett posted on the Act Party website yesterday morning that tracking abusive mothers was a "sensible move" and more debate was necessary.

"It has become a well worn cliche that one needs a licence to own a dog, but not to have children. Should this be the case? If one needs a licence to have children, who should decide whether one is granted? Should it be possible to reach a point where a person - male or female - is made physically unable to reproduce further? If that is ever the case, who would decide?

"Those are hugely difficult questions, but in my view that should not prevent us having a discussion about them," he said.

About an hour later, at 11.52am, "David Garrett" left a comment on Kiwiblog that a $5000 incentive to sterilise abusive parents would be "ludicrously cheap" compared to the costs of monitoring and caring for their further children.

"Nothing compulsory, just an option. To take Kahui-King as examples, how much is it costing the state now to care for the children Maxyna (sic) King has had removed from her? How much will it cost to care for the 6 or 8 more she may have before menopause? How much is it costing for CYF to monitor the well being of Chris Kahui's latest offspring? $5,000 to each of them is ludicrously cheap by comparison."

Mr Kahui was acquitted in 2008 on charges of murdering his infant twin sons, Chris and Cru.

Mr Garrett wrote that the comments were personal ones, not Act Party policy.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says her reply to the idea, even if made by a coalition party member, was "most definitely a no".

Ms Bennett told the Government had no support for Mr Garrett's idea.

"No. The Government will not be considering it. It's most definitely a no."

Tau Huirama, from anti-violence group Jigsaw, told Radio New Zealand today that he was shocked by the MP's comments.

"I just cringe at the thought of sterilisation, it's a thing that takes you back to Hitler and that sort of thinking."

He said parents needed to be helped if they were struggling and sterilisation was a permanent measure when people could change.

Labour deputy leader Annette King strongly opposed the idea.

"This idea is you wait until a child's been abused and then you give the parents $5000 to be sterilised so they don't have any more."

She said the money would be better invested in parenting programmes.

Whanganui Mayor Michael Laws previously raised the idea of incentivising some people not to have children.


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