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Govt goes too far imposing property rights

Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley

Monday 3 April 2000

Govt goes too far imposing property rights

The Government is wrong and has gone too far with its proposed changes to relationship property rights, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

"What is worse, it is refusing to give New Zealanders a say on a proposal that is significantly different from anything Parliament has considered so far.

"The decision to re-name the Matrimonial Property Act and include all relationships - marriage, same-sex and de facto - will be offensive to many people.

"The Government is imposing the merger of property rights on couples without giving the public a say through either submissions to a select committee or through the discussion document still circulating on same-sex relationships.

"The Ministry of Justice recently extended submissions on same-sex relationships until 30 April. Labour has now pre-empted its own officials with this announcement which is proposing major change without a chance for anyone - married people, de factos or people in same sex-relationships - to make any comment on the specific proposal.

"Whether the Government likes it or not marriage does have a special status in law, and it's different from de facto or same-sex relationships.

"The Government has also raised big questions with its plans to change the law to 'more fully address situations where there are likely to be significant disparities in income and living standards.'

"This sounds like it is a fundamental change to the 50:50 split that New Zealanders have come to rely on. We don't know how far-reaching it will be but it is potentially highly divisive and there hasn't been any consultation with the public.

"National strongly supports all couples having protection if their relationship breaks down. We introduced amendments to matrimonial property law, a bill on de facto property rights and a discussion paper on same-sex relationships to secure this. It could have been achieved through a separate law for each group, avoiding offence and allowing full discussions and submissions and allowing for all the differences among relationships," Mrs Shipley said.


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