Give it up Sir Owen

Simon Collins at NZ Herald reports:

Members of an expert think-tank set up to guide Sir ’s $2 million inquiry into family violence say the only way for the inquiry to continue now would be for Sir Owen to step out of the process.

At least 14 of the 25 original NZ-based think-tank members have now quit following a report on Sunday that Sir Owen was accused of physically abusing a young woman in Hawaii in 2002.

“It’s made the credibility of anything coming out of the inquiry pretty much irreversible. You can’t get that kind of credibility back,” said veteran anti-violence advocate Kirimatao Paipa. “If he [Sir Owen] takes his name off it and leaves his money … then maybe we can salvage something out of this.”

Sadly I think his good intentions are now doomed. No matter who remains involved, the departure of so many means that whatever report it produces will not be able to build wide-spread support. He runs the risk of spending millions of dollars on a report that will not lead anywhere.

Mind you looking at the views of some of those who have departed the inquiry, I suspect that they were going to conclude that all is the result of poverty, colonialism, and correctional smacking. I’m not making this up – that is what one of the experts said on the radio. So even without this fiasco, I was sceptical that the inquiry would really confront the difficult issues such as whether abused children should be looked after by the extending family (who may also be dysfuntional) or be placed with total strangers (which is less than ideal). Likewise would it have confronted issues such as how to stop abusive parents having more children? Far too easy to blame it all on poverty.

Anyway the “experts” now seem to be saying that the only way forward is for Sir Owen to hand over great wads of money as a blank cheque to them, but to have no actual role in anyway with the inquiry – and to remove his name from it – plus remove his appointed board.

Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie and human rights campaigner Marama Davidson said Sir Owen and the former Supreme Court judge who now chairs the inquiry’s governance board, Bill Wilson, should go.

“If the inquiry has any future, changing the name and board membership is required. Sir Owen and Bill Wilson will need to give up their places on the board …”

I think Sir Owen deserves better than this. There are many other good causes in New Zealand he can support. Those who have left the inquiry will just continue to snipe at it and him from the sidelines.

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