[Sitting date: 30 May 2012. Volume:680;Page:2666. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
ALFRED NGARO (National) to the
Minister for Social Development: How is the Government refocusing the Families Commission?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development)
: The way the Families Commission works is about to change. We are restructuring the commission. This will see its core activities streamlined through a leaner, more focused structure. It will be headed by a single commissioner, down from the original number of seven, and will take on a new role providing for independent monitoring, evaluation, and research to measure the effectiveness of initiatives across the social sector.
Alfred Ngaro: What will the main benefits of the new Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit be?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: If we are going to make a difference for the families who are struggling, we need to be able to invest in interventions that we know will work and that have had full evaluations. This new unit will build a body of evidence that will allow policy makers, non-governmental organisations, and anyone wanting to invest in social services to make informed decisions about which programmes are effective for New Zealand families.
Alfred Ngaro: What current activities will continue after the restructure?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Firm decisions are yet to be made by the commissioner on the exact work programme for the core functions. However, I expect that its highly regarded family violence work will remain a core component throughout the change process.
Sue Moroney: Does her refocusing of the Families Commission include ensuring that the commissioner she appointed backed National’s position of opposing the extension of paid parental leave, when previously the commission had presented research to recommend extending paid parental leave to 13 months?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: It would be fair to say that, with an ex-commissioner actually now a Labour MP, actually that ex-commissioner might have agreed with a few things that Labour was doing. I have no influence over what the current commissioner thinks, or puts out, or does, and, as such, he is independent and runs accordingly.