Bennett’s legacy a test for Tolley

Former Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has been thrown under the bus by her successor after its been suggested that Ms Bennett gave the green light to an ‘unethical’ observational study of high-risk children, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

“Anne Tolley has inherited an untested programme that should never have got this far, and appears to be now trying to distance herself from Paula Bennett’s experiment. 

“Documents show that in 2012 the Government gave the go-ahead to trial the accuracy of a predictive risk modelling tool by leaving a group of high risk new-borns, and not intervening, to see if it accurately predicted potential abuse.

“Heads of other social agencies, who make up the membership of the Vulnerable Children’s Board, agreed the design phase for the trial and had started to prepare for the ‘observational study’.

“Notes on the papers confirm Ms Tolley did not support the study, so it stands to reason this was progressing instead under former minister Paula Bennett.

“However that doesn’t let Ms Tolley off the hook. She must now reassure New Zealanders that any risk modelling her department is undertaking is ethical and will have benefits for the children involved,” Jacinda Ardern says.