Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Children Need Our Care, Not More Bureaucracy

Labor’s policy recycling has continued with Simon Crean’s rehashed proposal for a National Children’s Commission.

The proposal for a Commissioner has been around for years and Mr Crean’s desperation to dress it up as a new and fresh solution of his own making highlights the policy lethargy that exists in the Labor Party at the moment.

The Coalition established the first ever federal Ministry for Children and Youth Affairs. This practical initiative underscored our commitment to protecting the welfare of children and young people and the need for better co-ordination. Ministers have both political power and responsibility unlike Labor’s proposed Commissioner.

It is obvious that the Labor State Governments have not done a good job protecting our children. However, it is questionable whether creating another bureaucratic layer without any teeth will be the panacea for the problem.

Even Simon Crean is unsure of the Commissioner’s proposed role. Simon Crean’s interview with John Laws this morning demonstrated this:

LAWS: That’s right, what sort of powers would the person have, or would the position have?

CREAN: It would be an advocacy coordinating role, it would be,… essentially that would be it’s roles, I, I, I, don’t seem to think that this is something that you would necessarily give these persons power, that would be something you know down the track that when you looked at it, you might want to consider but I think that here, what we’ve got to do here is to learn what the best practices are in each states, learn where the deficiencies are, and advocate a better approach

LAWS: But if the position didn’t have any power, what could be achieved?

CREAN: Well, it (pause) what I’m saying John is that I think that the power in this is through its coordination, through its direction.

This is another example of Labor slapping together policy on the run. Labor’s proposal doesn’t do anything concrete to protect children at risk. Simon Crean may be able to fool himself with this tokenism but he won’t fool the Australian public. It must be frustrating for Simon Crean that Labor is still playing catch-up.

Much of what Labor is proposing is already being done. For example, the Government already funds the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Child Protection Clearinghouse to regularly produce reports and research.

Simon Crean’s desperate rush to look like the policy big man has again resulted in premature policy release. He should slow down and try to get it right next time.