Simon Bridges calls for new offence for non-disclosure in child abuse cases

Sean Plunket 18/02/2020

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National Party Leader Simon Bridges told Magic Talk he would consider working with Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First to introduce legislation enforcing mandatory reporting in cases of child abuse.

In a press release the Opposition Leader on Tuesday announced a National Government would introduce a new offence to criminalise the non-disclosure of information relating to child abuse cases.

Bridges told Sean Plunket on Magic Afternoons, “we have made clear today, we will criminalise the non-disclosure of information in a child abuse case.”

"The proposed criminalisation would cover abuse cases of children up to the age of 16 and carry a penalty of up to three years imprisonment."

"The reason is very simple, there was a four year old who was beaten over a period of time."

People, presumably family members, know and no one is talking.

Sean asks Simon for his response to critics who have said calls to reform the right to silence are a knee jerk reaction.

Simon refutes that criticism saying, “it is reasonable and proportionate to do that.”

"To be clear the tests will be reasonable… the crown or the police will need to show that you had a reasonable belief that the child was being harmed.”

Bridges also clarifies that there would be reasonable defences for people who do not disclose for example in cases where a person might fear for their own safety.

Plunket asks Simon if he intends on crossing the aisle to cooperate with Government in introducing this bill. Simon mentions that this proposal, “this probably is a good one for a member's bill”.

"The way to short circuit that would be to say, ‘hey, on the other side would you consider picking it up.”

"I am very happy to reach out and see if Minister Little, Jacinda Ardern herself, would be interested."

"My sense is that they won’t, Andrew Little has been relatively clear cut that he does not want to entertain these law changes."

"We can’t do anything now in this four year olds case, but in the future with this sort of heinous child abuse we would be able to see justice."

It’s the opposite of knee jerk, if anything it’s taken too long.

Sean then asks Simon if he would accept Magic Talk’s petition on the subject of abolishing the right to silence in cases of child abuse, to which he responds, “definitely”.

Magic Afternoons with Sean Plunket Weekdays midday to 4pm.