COMMENT: As a talkback host, nothing riles me more than the perpetual Negative Nancies who delight in ringing in and decrying any new initiative or programme put up by the government.
Doesn't seem to matter which government is in – as soon as you see certain names come up on the screen, you just know that a bold new plan to reduce obesity/improve reading levels among New Zealand children/build more affordable housing is going to get slammed by these notorious naysayers.
And they never, ever offer an alternative initiative. They don't suggest how the scheme could be improved. They just mutter and grumble and nitpick – and then undoubtedly rejoice if the plan comes to naught.
And now I'm joining their ranks. The Domestic Violence Victim Protection Bill was passed in Parliament this week and has been hailed by its architect, Green MP Jan Logie, as a "win for victims, a win for business and ultimately a win for all of us".
The bill allows for victims of domestic abuse to approach their employer and receive 10 days' paid leave, which, Logie says, will make the world of difference to the victim.
They will be able to attend court hearings, find a safe place to live, visit their lawyers and look after their children. The extra leave is needed because, according to Logie, existing annual leave and sick leave provisions aren't enough to cover the time off work needed by a person to orchestrate their safe escape from a violent situation.
The cost of the new law, which comes into effect next year, is to be borne by the employer because the economic modelling cited by Logie shows that any costs will be offset by lower turnover of staff and increased productivity.
Here's where I come back to my grumpy old woman stance - I fail to see how this new provision for victims of abuse will save any lives whatsoever.
Every single victim of domestic abuse who has phoned me on talkback over the years has said they were so ashamed and embarrassed by their situation, they couldn't bring themselves to let friends or family know what was going on behind closed doors. Particularly the men.
The notion of asking for help was anathema to them and abusers know that. Despite the fact that it's the abusers who should be feeling shame, they are master manipulaters.
So the concept of someone who has been knocked about, emotionally and physically, being able to find it within themselves to approach their boss and come clean about their domestic situation seems unlikely.
And it's not just the financial burden for small- to medium-sized employers that's most concerning - what about the health and safety ramifications?
If one of their employees tells them they are living with a violent partner then begs them not to tell anyone, and later that employee ends up dead, will the employer be held liable for not divulging that their staffer was at risk?
This is not a far-fetched scenario – on average, 13 women and 10 men are killed every year as a result of domestic violence. And police attend a domestic-violence-related incident every five-and-a-half minutes.
Children are present at 80 per cent of violent incidents in the home. And we wonder why we have a problem with violence in our schools.
I absolutely agree that our domestic violence stats are a source of shame and our violent homes are a breeding ground for future offenders. But I really don't think Logie's bill is the answer.
And while I don't have a solution, I would suggest that others do. When Counties Manukau police attend a violent domestic situation, they give it a couple of days to allow all parties to cool off, then go into the home with trained counsellors and try to work out the root of the problem.
The children are asked their opinion – it's a holistic, wrap-around approach to domestic abuse which gives the people involved the chance to save themselves and their family.
Putting money and energy into that sort of initiative makes a whole lot more sense to me than making businesses cough up 10 days extra leave.