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Reporting child abuse to be a legal requirement

Published: 5:43AM Wednesday May 11, 2011 Source: Newstalk ZB

Legislation making it illegal not to report abuse if you are aware of it has passed its first reading in parliament.

The Crimes Amendment Act also doubles the maximum penalty for cruelty to a child from five to 10 years.

MPs have voted 112 to 10 in favour of sending the Act to a select committee.

Justice Minister Simon Power said children are being abused and killed in households where family members who know about it are not taking responsibility.

He said New Zealand needs legislation which sends the message that those people are not "narks", but are protecting those who need it most.

Labour says the government is not doing enough to help services providing support to victims of child and domestic abuse.

Labour MP Jacinda Adern said to claim the government is addressing domestic and child violence by increasing penalties is disgraceful.

She said it is doing nothing to ease the path to removing children from vulnerable situations with appropriate services.

As well as making people responsible for reporting child abuse, the Bill also amends the claim of right defence which was successfully used by three men who attacked the Waihopai spy base in 2008.

Green MP Keith Locke said the government's move is a knee-jerk reaction.

Locke said the government doesn't like the Waihopai protesters so it's changing the law.

He said rather than the government admitting the court got it right in the Waihopai case, it's just doing away with the defence.