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Families Commission Cancels Contentious Summit

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Maggie Tait of NZPA

Wellington, Dec 10 NZPA - The Families Commission has accepted the political reality of having a new minister and scrapped plans for a $200,000 conference.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett discovered plans for the conference in a briefing paper, released publicly yesterday.

She got in contact with the commission to say it was inappropriate in tough economic times and encouraged it to reconsider.

"I am quite concerned about families moving forward and what that (tough economic times) means for them, and I would have thought that should be the focus for the Families Commission at this time."

She encouraged the organisation to reconsider.

"They told me they see it as important and it's part of their programme and they don't seem keen to drop it."

However later yesterday the commission released a statement saying it would cancel the conference, which it called a summit, saying it had not raised as much sponsorship as it hoped to.

"It is clear the summit is not the most appropriate way to proceed at this point," the commission said.

"The commission has therefore cancelled its plans for the summit but remains committed to ensuring there is a whole-of-society response to the economic situation that ensures the impact on families is kept to a minimum."

The conference was to be held in Auckland in February bringing together 150 "leaders and decision makers".

New Zealand Post Group chief executive John Allen was named as the keynote speaker and business journalist Rod Oram the facilitator.

Among attendees expected were The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall, Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier, public sector chief executives, sector and business groups and unions.

The Families Commission was a United Future Party initiative. Its establishment was a key condition of the minor party's support agreement with the Labour Government after the 2002 election.

National previously pledged to scrap it but has agreed to maintain it although "administrative efficiencies" would be sought between the commission and the Office of the Children's Commissioner.

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