Latham slams parents over riot
19th February 2004
LABOR Leader Mark Latham today criticised the parents of young children involved in Sydney's Redfern riot.
He said Monday morning's violent clash between Aboriginal protesters and police in the notorious Eveleigh Street area of inner Sydney Redfern showed how important it was for parents to know at all times where their children were.
"I was shocked to see the footage put of Redfern where you've had what looked like six and seven-year-old boys jumping on police cars, smashing windows," Mr Latham told Sky News.
"Well, where were their parents?
"Surely parents need to know where their kids are and ensure they're not on the streets doing that sort of thing."
Mr Latham stood by his plan to ask courts to order parents to undergo parenting classes if they failed to adequately discipline their children.
Under the Labor scheme, parents of troubled teenagers would be encouraged to sign voluntary contracts, obliging them to take stronger action and responsibility for their childrens' behaviour.
The process would allow local courts, when all else failed, to impose a parental responsibility order on parents of children at risk.
The order would require parents to attend parenting classes and to ensure their children attended school each day.
"I think it's got a lot of potential to work with parents, to help them but also put a bit of pressure there to ensure that all parents – not just 99 per cent, but 100 per cent of Australian parents – they know where their children are at night and ensure that they go to school by day," Mr Latham said.
"I think that's a basic community responsibility and standard that needs to be met and we need federal-state programs and cooperation to make it happen."