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Fairness where there was none before

Thursday, 29 March 2001 Media Statement

Fairness where there was none before

The Associate Minister of Justice, Margaret Wilson says the Property (Relationships) Bill, which had its final reading today, will bring legal fairness to situations in which there has been none before.

"We promised before the election not to put the issue of de facto property rights in the 'too hard basket'. This is a government that keeps its promises. More than 236,000 people now live in de facto relationships, including same-sex relationships. Their rights are now recognised.

"The new law ends the present unfairness in property division between married couples and other couples by concentrating on property division - not on the nature of the relationship

Ms Wilson told Parliament that the care and upbringing of children is one of most important and valuable roles within our society.

"This legislation represents long-awaited reform for many people who have been subjected to gross unfairness and suffered serious injustices under the current law.

"These have been most acutely experienced by women who have devoted many years of their lives to unpaid domestic duties and childcare while their partners have contributed to the enrichment of their separate property and business interests.

"It is a sad indictment of our family law that historically such an important role has remained largely unrecognised, leading to systemic unfairness under the current legislation.

"As we all know partners contribute to a relationship in many different ways. Some develop business interests with lucrative financial outcomes. "Others contribute in less tangible non-material but never-the-less important ways such as domestic duties, building homes and raising children.

"It is only fair that all contributions - whether financial or domestic - are recognised as valuable contributions to a relationship.

"The new law is intended to provide a fair property division for both men and women upon the breakdown of a relationship, which is something that the current legislation has failed to achieve for many New Zealanders".

An education campaign will be launched later in the year to promote the rights and choices made possible by the new law.

ENDS

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