Justice Minister's heated clash with Ryan Bridge Drive show over right to silence in child abuse cases

Ryan Bridge 18/02/2020

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Minister of Justice Andrew Little has had a fiery on-air clash with Magic Talk host Ryan Bridge over his decision to rule out abolishing the 'right to silence' law in New Zealand.

Little's appearance came in the wake of a brutal assault on a young boy in the Hawke's Bay who will be left with severe brain damage. The boy's family haven't released any information and continue to remain tight-lipped to police.

This has led to calls from both the Opposition and Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft to abolish or amend the right to silence.

But Little says the National Party's proposal in particular wouldn't apply to family members, so it is "of no use at all in this particular circumstance".

He believes National and ACT are proposing law changes as it's potentially "good fodder" for the public in an election year to "raise a whole lot of hair-brained ideas in what is a very emotionally-fraught time".

But Bridge then accused Little of "playing politics" with the situation, which angered the minister.

"That's what I expect from you, Ryan. That's exactly why you set this interview up."

Little says his view has been clear for a long time and he would rather the state intervenes and upsets parents who aren't looking after their children.

"Don't try and position me as not being sympathetic to the situation that we're in at the moment."

When asked about mandatory reporting requirements, Little says that wouldn't work because authorities would be inundated and those who are seriously at-risk would fall through the cracks.

He believes the public debate that people are trying to have is about what powers the state and authorities have to find perpetrators of child abuse.

The Ryan Bridge Drive Show, weekdays 4-7pm / Newshub reporter Rachel Sadler