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Inquiry into child abuse a big deal

Opinion Piece

Two major announcements reflected well on the Government but there was one shadow still sitting on a further-off horizon after last week in politics.

The Government announced its decision on re-entering the Pike River Mine and an extension of the inquiry into child abuse to include church-run organisations, both of which have been generally well received. But it suffered a setback in the case of the convicted Czech criminal Karel Sroubek, with the review deadline being extended.

Apart from some negative responses on social media about the $36 million cost, Andrew Little’s announcement on Pike River was a triumph for him and the Government as it kept an election promise. It is still seen as a gamble by some political commentators, but Little’s star continues to rise.

Extending the child abuse inquiry, which will be the largest ever undertaken in this country and is being headed by former Governor General Anand Satyanand, was a major decision and arguably more important than Pike River because of the many lives that are affected.

The inquiry is a big deal in every sense. It is being conducted over four years with a budget of ?$80 million. An interim report is due by the end of 2020.

It will cover one of the ugliest parts of New Zealand’s history, which has left victims with ruined lives. For too long various interested parties tried to sweep it under the carpet. What will come out now is not going to be pleasant reading but hopefully it will go some way to healing wounds that are still raw for hundreds of people.

The only blot on the landscape for the Government was the announcement by Immigration New Zealand of an extension for the review of the decision to allow Sroubek, who is currently in prison, to stay in this country.

Both Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and beleaguered Minister Iain Lees-Galloway really wanted this review done post haste, but the original deadline of this Wednesday now goes out for at least a month.

National Party leader Simon Bridges has slammed the “utter incompetence” of the Government, and most New Zealanders agree . . .?but it was still only a small shadow on a good week for the Government.