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.

The AM Show host Duncan Garner read out a list of the MPs White was most disappointed with. They were 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.

MPs respond



Newshub contacted all the MPs White said disappointed him, and will update this article with their responses as they come in.

Coffey told Newshub he admired the work White was doing, but scheduling conflicts prevented them from meeting when White initially wrote to him.

He said he would like to meet with White at a later date when they are both available.

Russell was also interested in meeting with White at a later date and said she spoke to him to express support for his work. She regretted that she wasn't able to meet him earlier in the year.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Katie Fitzgerald