Are MPs doing enough to prevent domestic violence?

The AM Show 20/06/2019

Anti-violence campaigner David White has lashed out at MPs' poor response rate to his letters, after only 44 out of 120 replied to him.

White, whose daughter Helen Meads was murdered by her husband, wrote to all of New Zealand's MPs asking for help ending domestic violence before setting off on a tour of the country.

He visited all 71 electorates in 71 days, and by the time he finished in May jus over a third of the MPs he wrote to had responded.

"There were a couple of them, three, four MPs were honest enough to say 'we've found your letter and we've spoken to our staff'," White told The AM Show.

White said he assumes people see his name on the back of the letter and decide it's unimportant before putting it in the bin or filing it away.

Some of the MPs to respond were great to work with, White said. Both Nikki Kaye and Nicky Wagner worked with him, as well as Amy Adams, Carmel Sepuloni and Chris Bishop.

But, in White's opinion, the response from Minister of Health David Clark was entirely inadequate.

What really got me was the letter I got from somebody on David Clark's staff.

It's his ministry that suffers the biggest economic cost because of family harm."

The short letter from David Clark's office was signed by his private secretary.

"On behalf of honourable David Clark, Minister of Health, thank you for your correspondence. The minister has noted your comments and thanks you for taking the time to write," it said.

White said it's not good enough considering the power MPs hold.

These people have the opportunity to do something.

I've done this, it cost the country nothing and there's a solution in that."

Newshub contacted Dr Clark, but he declined to comment.

A previous version of this article suggested White received unsatisfactory responses from the MPs Anne Tolley, Jan Tinetti, Deborah Russell, Alastair Scott, Liz Craig, Angie Warren-Clark, Tim Macindoe, Marama Davidson, Michael Wood, Tamati Coffey, Louisa Wall, Kieran McAnulty and Jacinda Ardern.

Newshub has since been in contact with White, who said those MPs actually responded positively to him, but were unable to find a time to meet in person.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Katie Fitzgerald