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PM's Presser: Civil Unions, SAS, SIS & Coalitions

PM's Presser 21st June 2004 - Civil Unions, SAS, SIS & Coalitions

Reported By Kevin List

In This Edition:
Civil Union Bill
NZ SAS soldiers injured in Afghanistan
New Zealand intelligence services and the Cold War
Polls and preferred coalition partners.


Civil Union Bill

PM's answers relating to questions regarding the Civil Union Bill due in the House this Thursday

Question: Is this just marriage by another name?

No it isn’t.

A number of people who are making that allegation also are at pains to say that marriage is something very special and more than just legal recognition. This Bill is simply about legal recognition of a partnership. And a partnership is a civil union. The Government has been conservative over this. We are not proposing to amend the Marriage Act. The Marriage Act stays as an Act for men and women to access. It is not available for homosexual couples.

Question: Can you explain how you can change marriage (indistinct) as a civil union without affecting the Marriage Act?

I really haven’t got into the woodwork of that. I saw a rather silly debate about some minor detail last week which I really haven’t followed.

I think that the traditional concept of marriage is clearly one of a relationship of a man and a woman. I think that probably most people would prefer to see it kept that way.

The Government does think that there should be an option for people to register their relationships and have that recognition available under the law.

The PM explains how this legislation is progressing in the rest of the western world. There was no knowledge of similar legislation proferred regarding Saudi Arabia or theocracies such as Iran.

I think that these [civil union] procedures should be available in law. And this is a path down which most Western countries are actually moving. I see that the new Spanish Government has legislation in this area in mind, the British Government has legislation has legislation either before or coming before Parliament…In Western Europe there are a number of legislative initiatives either in process or actually passed. I think this is very much in the mainstream of what is happening in countries like ours.

Question: Would the PM have a Civil Union [if not already married] and if so why?

Yes - that would appeal to me more - but that’s a matter of personal choice.

It is a conscience vote for Labour Party members. Any votes pertaining to sex alcohol & drugs we [the Labour Party] make a conscience vote.

Question: Regarding United Future's stance on the upcoming Bill.

They are entitled to attack it. It’s a free world – they appear top have a party position on it – we don’t.

(Reporter's Note: United Future have stated they don't have a party position as such regarding the Civil Union Bill – it just so happens all United future MP's oppose this legislation.)

It is intended to progress through to finality in this Parliament.

The history of the legislation

This isn’t Labour and its social policy. What you see before you this week is the outcome of 13 years of work by Governments and the civil service. It goes right back to 1991 when the Hon. Doug Graham [National Justice Minister] launched the Consistency 2000 project. And that was looking at all Government laws, regulations, policy and practices and that was to see whether they were consistent with human rights legislation.


NZ SAS soldiers injured in Afghanistan

Answers relating to two New Zealand soldiers (SAS) injured during an exchange of fire in Afghanistan.

Defence is keeping me and Mr Burton briefed. One [injured SAS soldier] was bandaged up and sent back to base the same day. The other one was taken to Germany. But the injury itself wasn’t a life threatening injury and he is expected to make a full recovery.

Answers relating to who New Zealand has a defence arrangement with in Afghanistan and the evacuation of one of the injured soldiers to the Ramstein Air Force base (In Germany).

Our current support arrangement is with the United States.

The Germans are very involved in Afghanistan and I don’t think there’s be any difficulty [in having an injured NZ soldier evacuated to Germany] at all.


New Zealand intelligence services and the Cold War

Answer relating to a recent book which mentioned New Zealand in regard to intelligence gathering and the downfall of the Soviet Union.

I think that if you looked at the size of the budget for our intelligence organisations you’d have to conclude that their reach wasn’t that great.


Polls and preferred coalition partners.

Answers relating to a recent poll and specifically preferences of Labour voters for a prospective coalition partner for Labour. In this poll the Progressive Party [Labour's current coalition partner] polled lower than parties such as the Greens.

It’s probably because they have almost the least visibility of any party that you’d ask questions about. If you put in the question "Jim Anderton’s Progressive Coalition Party" you might get a slightly different answer. But, nonetheless they are a very small party so that wouldn’t have great visibility in such a question.

Answer relating to New Zealand First as a coalition partner

I’m not going to start writing coalition arrangements in the mid-term… plenty more water to go under the bridge.

**** ENDS ****

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