David Cunliffe: I'm sorry for being a man

HAMISH RUTHERFORD AND KELLY DENNETT
Last updated 16:36 04/07/2014
stuff.co.nz

Labour leader David Cunliffe has apologised at a Women's Refuge symposium for being a man.

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SORRY I'M A MAN: Labour leader David Cunliffe has apologised for being a man and pledged to invest $60 million to tackle domestic violence.

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Labour leader David Cunliffe's apology for being a man is "insulting" because not all men are abusive, Prime Minister John Key says.

"It's a pretty silly comment from David Cunliffe," Key said.

"The problem isn't being a man, the problem is if you're an abusive man, and I think it's a bit insulting to imply that all men are abusive.

"A small group are and they need to change their behaviour and be held to account.

"Is he really sincere about that statement? Tomorrow afternoon is he going to go down to the local rugby club and say 'I'm sorry for being a man'? I don't think so." 

Cunliffe made the apology at a Women's Refuge symposium today, where he also pledged to invest an extra $60 million into family violence services.

He spoke of the "bullshit, deep-seated sexism" still prevalent in New Zealand.

"It needs to stop," he said.

"I don't often say it - I'm sorry for being a man," Cunliffe said, "because family and sexual violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men."

The symposium was held following the Government's newly announced initiatives aiming to curb family violence in New Zealand.

About 50 per cent of homicides in New Zealand are the result of domestic violence. The Government this week announced a variety of measures to curb the startlingly high numbers.

These included GPS monitoring, a review of legislation, the appointment of a chief victims' adviser and intensive case management support for victims.

However Women's Refuge chief executive Heather Henare has expressed concern the initiatives catered only to the 18 per cent of victims who reported domestic violence crimes.

"We had no warning or consultation around the shape of these, therefore from what little we have seen we have some concerns," Henare said.

"We fail to see how this response today addresses the 80 per cent of domestic violence that goes unreported."

Political party representatives spoke today about their ideas and initiatives ahead of the September 20 election.

Cunliffe criticised the Government's approach, saying the suspension of gathering of family violence numbers by police pointed to a lax leadership response.

"We have shockingly high levels of violence against women and at the same time our rates of reporting and conviction are very low," he said.

He pledged to focus on prevention and justice reform and promised to invest an extra $60m over four years in family and sexual violence services.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the Government has already spent "hundreds of millions of dollars" on domestic violence and has increased funding for refuges.

She agreed the statistics were horrific but rejected Henare's claim that the Government's newest initiatives weren't catering to the estimated 80 per cent of women who failed to report domestic violence.

"Some of that work may be seen as working for the 18 per cent that report crime, but I make no apologies for focusing on them," Bennett said.

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"[Domestic violence] is rare for it to be a one-off so we do need to look at those that are reporting." 

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- Stuff

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