4 Jul 2014

Cunliffe's man apology sparks debate

4:59 pm on 4 July 2014

An apology by Labour leader David Cunliffe for being a man has sparked debate about the issue of family violence

Mr Cunliffe told the audience at a Women's Refuge Symposium that family and sexual violence was perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children, and apologised for being a man.

David Cuncliffe announces Labour's family violence package.

David Cuncliffe announces Labour's family violence package. Photo: RNZ / Natasha Bayler

But Prime Minister John Key called the apology insincere and insulting to imply all men were abusive.

Mr Cunliffe's apology has ignited debate on Twitter, with some people criticising it and saying not all men perpetrate violence.

But others are applauding him for personalising a serious issue and reinforcing the plan it launched today.

The apology came as the party launched what it called its action plan to tackle violence against women and children, committing an extra $60 million to frontline services.

The launch comes just days after the Government launched a suite of measures which it believes will help reduce domestic violence.

Labour said leadership on the issue would come from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

It said it would commit an extra $60 million over four years to support frontline services, primary prevention and education and will include increased support for transitional housing.

Labour also planned to reform the justice system while protecting an individual's right to be presumed innocent, it said.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett criticised Labour's plan, saying throwing more money at it would not solve the problem.

Ms Bennett said the only thing aspect of Labour's initiative was more funding.

"Actually, most of what they announced is what we have already announced this week and I am worried about just throwing more funding at the sector," she said.

"I think ... we need to look carefully at the evidence base of what is working."

But Women's Refuge chief executive Heather Henare welcomed the plan and said Labour Leader David Cunliffe was showing real leadership on the issue.

"I was impressed by his analysis and what he talked about in relation to the frontline, and understanding the complexity of violence out there but also understanding the need for a cross-party approach," she said.

Ms Henare has criticised the Government's announcement earlier this week, in which it aims to make greater use of technology to better protect victims of family violence and to monitor offenders.