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Big News: Families Yes, Adams No, Cannabis Maybe

Big News with Dave Crampton

Families - Yes, Adams - No, Cannabis - We’ll See

Well, the United Future Party came in ahead of the Greens in coalition talks. Helen Clark says the government will not legislate to decriminalise dope, but Nandor Tanczos says he will introduce a members bill to decriminalise it. God’s little rally driver, United Future MP Paul Adams, is out of Parliament before he was sworn in and another United Future MP thinks the Government should withdraw funding from the Family Planning Association.

The Greens also have another new MP, the second time they have achieved an extra MP through special votes in successive elections. Quite an exciting few days really.

Peter Dunne will get his Commission for the Family – a good move – and got the cannabis agreement from Clark. Yet Clark would have known that the Greens want cannabis decriminalised and would not be surprised that one of their party is to introduce a members bill on the legal status of cannabis.

The cannabis debate is not over just because United Future is in the House in greater numbers. A members bill is a better way of introducing such legislation than via a select committee, as select committee reports and decisions are not binding on the Government – in fact MP’s haven’t seen the report yet and possibly never will as it hasn’t yet been written. At least a members bill gets legislation in the House – eventually.

I suspect most MP’s are relieved that errant MP Paul Adams is now out of Parliament. His place has been taken by the Greens who now have nine MPs - the latest being Nelson’s Mike Ward - with United Future reduced to eight. Other parties are unchanged.

Mr Adams sparked outrage when he said that AIDS sufferers should be publicly identified. He earlier said they should be quarantined. Peter Dunne is getting annoyed with such comments and has told his MPs to pull their heads in and stick to promoting party policy.

Well, he’s got one less person to worry about and most of the others have not embarassed Dunne to date – and who is to say they will. The media and Labours loony left would love to trip them up again, though, so the new MPs will be cautious about airing any embarrassing personal views they have.

Media training was top priority for Dunne - even higher priority than training on the running of Parliament – but maybe the new MP’s need ongoing media training so as they can both handle curly questions from the media and keep their mouths shut when they need to.

I guess the most concerning thing about Adam’s comments was that he wasn’t up front about his views as he attempted to evade the reporter by saying “There are plenty of Paul Adam’s.” That may be true, but they all didn’t say what he said.

Another United Future MP, Larry Baldock, questioned whether the Family Planning Association should be publicly funded due to the fact that condoms in schools have not caused kids to be sexually responsible. And he has a point. But last week was not the time to say it, particularly when such comments are not going to change government decisions on FPA funding, only reiterate them.

But the FPA does not solely promote family planning despite its name – its purpose is really to assist people in making informed decisions on sexual activity.

It’s just that delaying sexual activity before marriage is not part of the advice given, and perhaps that is what riles people like Baldock. Maybe they see the FPA as a premarital sexual activity organisation – particularly as young people are not actually planning families, they’re just having (supposedly informed) sex.

And then the FPA probably offers sexual advice to gay couples as well - but gay couples don’t normally plan families. But what’s the bet that people contact the FPA for advice after they’ve had sex, rather than being informed beforehand, not on family planning but contraceptive use? Maybe the FPA should change its name to the SAA – the Sexual Activity Association – they may get more support for funding that way.

Yet Family Planning funding is safe with Helen Clark. After all Clark has been a staunch supporter of the FPA and even launched its web site in 2001 – with chief film censor Bill Hastings.

FPA boss Gill Boddy was also a candidate for Labour at the election and lost - to United Future’s Peter Dunne. I wonder if Baldock knew all this- and knew that Boddy and Hastings are both gay, and that the FPA has links with the AIDS Foundation. I suspect Paul Adams didn’t and probably just as well. It’s common knowledge that Helen Clark has more of an affinity with the gay community than the Christian community despite her new association with Peter Dunne and his United Future party.

Meanwhile, the CHP’s Capill praised Baldocks comments, but also sent a media release criticising Dunne’s “family values” to church leaders - who were not impressed and told him so.

Then a few days later CHP deputy Merepeka Raukawa Tait put the boot in saying the United Future is full of dangerous fundamentalist Christians, conflicting with her leader who said the party was too liberal and power hungry.

Hmmm. Raukawa-Tait is the deputy of the only fundamentalist Christian party in NZ. She is thinking of quitting the party as a future candidate as it is not even getting the support of conservative Christians, let alone the Christians that are not so rigid. Raukawa Tait was clearly in the wrong party and most thought so from the outset.

Yet many people agree with Raukawa-Tait. Paul Adams has made MPs question whether they want to work with United Future. But all United Future MPs do not share the same views – in fact United Future’s Gordon Copeland supported homosexual law reform back in 1986, which may surprise many.

Yes, you can’t stereotype Christians. Like any group, there are a few crackpots – but they’re not that bad, really.

- Dave Crampton is a Wellington-based freelance journalist. He can be contacted at davec@globe.net.nz

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