The Dominion Post

Out­rage at MP’s call to ster­ilise bad par­ents

- Colin Espiner Crime · Society · Parenting · Family · David Lange · John Key · Rodney Hide · ACT New Zealand · David Garrett

THE ACT Party has shut down its out­spo­ken MP David Gar­rett af­ter he sug­gested ster­il­i­sa­tion be made com­pul­sory in ex­treme cases of bad par­ent­ing.

Mr Gar­rett has pro­posed par­ents who abuse their chil­dren be of­fered $5000 to get ster­ilised, with the par­ent keep­ing any cash left over af­ter the op­er­a­tion.

The list MP raised the idea dur­ing a de­bate on fam­ily vi­o­lence on the Ki­wiblog web­site.

‘‘If – say – $5000 was paid to the likes of both par­ents of the Kahui twins if they chose to be ster­ilised, this would ad­dress many ... con­cerns,’’ Mr Gar­rett said.

‘‘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 [Mac­syna] King has had re­moved from her?’’

Three-month-old South Auck­land twins Chris and Cru Kahui were killed in June 2006. Their fa­ther, Chris Kahui, was ac­quit­ted of their mur­ders in 2008.

Mr Kahui could not be reached last night. But his lawyer Lor­raine Smith said Mr Gar­rett’s com­ments were ‘‘ou­tra­geous and a dis­grace’’.

‘‘This man re­minds me of some­thing David Lange once said: he just opens his mouth and lets the wind blow his tongue around.

‘‘It is at­ten­tion-seek­ing and at­ten­tion-grab­bing. Noth­ing else.’’

Ster­il­i­sa­tion was panned by child abuse ex­perts and by Prime Min­is­ter John Key yes­ter­day, who de­scribed the pro­posal as ‘‘rad­i­cal’’ and not on the Gov­ern­ment’s agenda.

ACT leader Rod­ney Hide also re­fused to com­ment, say­ing Mr Gar­rett had ex­pressed per­sonal views, and not those of ei­ther the ACT Party or an ACT MP.

‘‘The state­ments . . . are his per­sonal views and not of­fi­cial ACT Party pol­icy. David Gar­rett made this clear when he is­sued his com­ments,’’ a spokesman for Mr Hide said.

The nor­mally talk­a­tive Mr Gar­rett went to ground yes­ter­day, re­fus­ing to re­turn re­porters’ calls. A spokes­woman said the MP had ‘‘noth­ing fur­ther to add’’.

But on his own web­site he posted fur­ther sug­ges­tions, in­clud­ing rais­ing the op­tion of com­pul­sory ster­il­i­sa­tion for those not fit to have chil­dren – and the pos­si­bil­ity of ‘‘li­cences’’ to par­ent.

Mr Gar­rett said though some ‘‘fools’’ would ar­gue that no-one should have their right to have chil­dren con­strained, ‘‘I say that one abused child should move the onus on to the par­ents of that child to show that they are fit to have the care of more chil­dren, and al­low the au­thor­i­ties to de­ter­mine whether they can. 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?

‘‘Should it be pos­si­ble to reach a point where a per­son – male or fe­male – is made phys­i­cally un­able to re­pro­duce fur­ther?’’

Tau Huirama, from anti-vi­o­lence group Jig­saw, said he was shocked by the MP’s com­ments.

Garth McVicar, of the lob­by­group Sen­si­ble Sen­tenc­ing Trust, said he to­tally agreed with ster­il­i­sa­tion of child abusers.

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