Green MP Julie Anne Genter hits out at ACT's Oranga Tamariki policy, says they're playing on Kiwis' fear and anger

The Greens have lashed out at the ACT Party's Oranga Tamariki policy, saying it doesn't have the answers to fix youth crime in New Zealand and will lead to creating more criminals. 

ACT released its policy to reform the Ministry of Children on Wednesday morning, which includes transferring youth justice functions to Corrections, more rights for caregivers and an independent oversight system.   

ACT promised to create a "more humane and accountable" Oranga Tamariki, which it claims is failing our most vulnerable kids.

But Green MP Julie Anne Genter isn't impressed with the policy, saying it's been shown in the past that it won't work. 

Genter told AM Early ACT's policy is old school and doesn't have the solutions New Zealand needs.  

"What we need is for people to get the care they need. We need a more equal society and not one where the rich are getting richer and people are growing up in poverty," Genter said. 

"ACT's got a very old-school approach. They're playing on people's fears and anger and I don't believe they have the solutions that will help address the problems we need to address."

Oranga Tamariki is under increased scrutiny after video footage of youths MMA-style fighting emerged. It was also revealed 13 staff members have been stood down pending review after other allegations of inappropriate behaviour. 

In February, a staff member was stabbed with a makeshift weapon as five teenagers escaped onto the roof of Te Puna Wai o Tuhinapo Youth Justice Facility in Rolleston.

At the same centre in June, a group of teenagers once again escaped to the roof and a week later, young offenders in Auckland's Korowai Manaaki Youth Justice Residence also broke out onto the roof - in both cases, the youths were given fast food to end the standoff.

Serious allegations of sexual misconduct also emerged in June, with former Police Commissioner Mike Bush brought in to investigate. 

Most recently, Newshub exclusively broadcast footage last week showing an MMA-style fight at an Auckland facility.

Part of ACT's policy would see 17-year-olds facing adult justice and transferring youth justice functions from Oranga Tamariki to Corrections.

Genter admitted change is needed for youth justice and Oranga Tamariki but doesn't believe ACT's policy is the way forward. 

She believes all it will do is increase the chances of New Zealand's troubled youth living a life of crime. 

"What the ACT Party is talking about sounds very much like putting younger people into our prison system, into our corrections system, which we know will be a much greater chance that they go on to live a life of crime. I don't think corrections is the right place to be looking after our young people," she said. 

Genter told AM Early host Nicky Styris the way to help our most troubled kids is through a whānau-centred approach, while also addressing inequalities and the harm caused by colonisation.  

Past evidence has proven ACT's policy won't work and would be hugely expensive, Genter claimed. 

"We announced our party manifesto at the weekend… it does outline a total vision for how we can live in a society where people have what they need to thrive and we're looking after our environment, it's all evidence-based," she said.

"The approach we're talking about in dealing with crime and with young people who have difficulties has been proven to work overseas, whereas the approach that ACT and National are talking about has been proven to make things worse and extremely expensive."  

Watch the full interview with Julie Anne Genter in the video above.