Former National MP ordered to stop helping high risk sex offenders

Former MP Arthur Anae:  "If they come to me and say, 'look, is there anything we can do?' I think it's important to help ...
David Rowland

Former MP Arthur Anae: "If they come to me and say, 'look, is there anything we can do?' I think it's important to help them out."

A former National MP and retired Auckland city councillor has been ordered to to stop giving work to recently released child sex offenders near a South Auckland school.

High risk sex offenders are subject to Extended Supervision Orders. These are breached if the offenders work without permission from probation officers.

But Arthur Anae says he was only trying to help people, who live at boarding houses he owns, to get back on their feet and does not ask about their criminal backgrounds.

He said he would never knowingly employ anyone not legally allowed to work.

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The Department of Corrections had placed high risk offenders at a boarding house owned by Anae, which also housed beneficiaries and people from mental institutes.

Anae pays some boarders to do odd jobs on his rental properties.

"I see these poor guys get up, have something to eat, go back to bed and watch TV all day … So if they come to me and say, 'look, is there anything we can do?' I think it's important to help them out of that rut," he said.

Legally, it is up to offenders to tell bosses about factors that could undermine their employment situation.

Anae said  he "never ever asked" about the beneficiary arrangements or criminal backgrounds of residents, but that he would never knowingly employ anyone not legally allowed to work.

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"I judge them from what I see and from what they do, not what they've done," he said.

Corrections operations director Lynette Cave said her department had ordered two men on ESOs at Anae's residences to stop work "until outstanding issues could be resolved".

"Corrections did not place these offenders with Arthur Anae for employment purposes and when we became aware of offenders working for him, we immediately liaised with Mr Anae to set out our expectations for offenders working for him, including tax obligations and provision for sick leave and annual leave," she said.

But Anae denied Corrections had been in touch with him.

"That's just an absolute lie, and I'm going to take it up with their head office," he said on Wednesday.

Anae has the backing of other residents at his properties.

A 49-year-old man who lived and volunteered at one of the boarding houses has defended Anae as "one of the few men giving fellas from our background a chance".

He didn't want to be named due to being a convicted violent offender. 

Anae had been teaching him carpentry, he said, giving him work experience to help his employment prospects.

He wasn't getting paid, but said what he got was more valuable than money.

"It was skills … and a man who spoke to me about life experience, treating me like a human being instead of like a number or a criminal," he said.

"When you get out of jail you don't usually get two chances. They don't think a criminal can move on or stop getting in trouble, I suppose.

"So I'm really grateful to Arthur for giving me hope."

The man had been living in Anae's boarding house since February and said he hadn't been in trouble since he stopped drinking.

But he also hadn't been in full-time work.

"If you don't have any on the job experience you're not going to get a job ... I didn't have that experience, but now I do," he said.

He said that probation officers had told him he had to stop volunteering for Anae, money or not, he said.

"What do they want us to do? Lock ourselves away in a little room and just stay there for the rest of our lives?"

 

 

 - Stuff

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