Listen: Sean Plunket attacks Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft over his lack of support for non-protesting students

The New Zealand Children's Commissioner has been accused by Magic Talk's Sean Plunket of using his position to inappropriately support the student climate change protest.

On Tuesday, Andrew Becroft appeared on Plunket's afternoon show to discuss his use of Twitter to encourage the protesting students.

"Children and young people taking part in Friday's climate change strike are not potential adults in waiting whose views don't count yet," Mr Becroft tweeted via the official account of Children's Commissioner NZ earlier on Tuesday.

"The fact that, in this case, their view represents a necessary critique of our failure to sufficiently address the threat of climate change should be welcomed with enthusiasm and gratitude.

"We should be proud young people in NZ have the courage to give voice to the challenge of climate change. Let's hope that we, and our politicians, also have the courage to sit down and listen."

However, Plunket took issue with Mr Becroft's stance and asked why the commissioner didn't also tweet supporting those students refusing to support the protest.

"It appears very much in this that you have come out in support of one group of children, in fact a minority, and you are in some ways dismissive of those... who have said 'I am not comfortable being politicised as a school child," Plunket said.

"Will you be putting out this afternoon a tweet that says we should be proud to support young people in New Zealand who have the courage to decide not to take part in a protest around the challenge of climate change?"

Mr Becroft replied by saying he appreciated Plunket's point and he would consider a publishing such a tweet.

"That is a very fair question to ask and I will reflect on it... I'll get in touch with our office and I think we could clarify that in a moment."

But Plunkett went on to accuse the commissioner of abusing his position to promote a personal point of view.

"You're the Children's Commissioner, your personal views don't come into it, you're a paid civil servant," he began.

"You did it [tweeted] in response to the views of politicians whose views you didn't like."

"Do you appreciate that public servants and commissioners, albeit they are independent of the government, need to be careful about drawing lines between their personal advocacy and beliefs and the discharge of their public duties?"

Mr Becroft defended himself while still emphasising the importance of climate change action.

"On that point, the view that I am espousing was that young people have a right under the convention on the rights of a child to express a view on issues that affect them.

"So what I was endorsing was not a personal view but a view that they have a right to articulate and set out their views on important issues, and what could be more important than climate change?"

As of writing, Mr Becroft's tweet and mirrored Facebook post has been met with only positive responses by the general public.


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