NZ Herald September 12, 2008
John Key got his first taste of what lies ahead on the campaign trail yesterday when he received a resounding “booing” over his plans for boot camps. Mr Key was speaking to an initially polite audience at the Every Child Counts annual conference, until he mentioned his policy for “Army-style correction” camps for “wayward youth who are going off the rails”. He was interrupted by a chorus of booing and jeering, which reignited when he tried to claim “they actually do work”. It continued until the Mc, Pio Terei, intervened and asked the audience to listen to his explanation.
The ECC is an umbrella lobby group, generally viewed as sympathetic to Labour, and made up of about 380 organisations involved with children, including Plunket, Unicef, Barnardos and Save the Children. Mr Key stuck to his guns and defended his policy with vigour. “Let’s say we don’t do that. What’s option b? We’ve got an issue with about 1000 young New Zealanders, if we do nothing about them they’re going to go into those, in my opinion, those youth gangs that we see and they’re eventually going to go on to a life of crime.