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Newman: Why the Left Wants to Destroy the Family

Why the Left Wants to Destroy the Family
Dr Muriel Newman MP

The two-parent married family is the most successful child rearing institution ever invented. That is not to say that other family forms do not do well; it's just that population trends clearly show that children who are not raised in an intact, married family have a greater prospect of poorer outcomes in life.

So, in light of this, why is it that left wing governments try to undermine and destroy the family, when that action effectively harms children?

If political correctness is carved away the answer is, of course, that weak families with damaged children are in greater need of the help of the state. As a consequence they are far more likely to support left leaning governments which promote more generous welfare.

On the other hand, strong families with confident, successful children are far more likely to support centre right parties that have as their goals prosperity and personal independence from the state.

As a result, the battle-ground over the family is a battle for political power: the weaker the family becomes the more votes that will go to the left, while the stronger families become the more the votes will go to the right.

The agenda of the left is therefore the destruction of the family. Couched in caring, sharing words and sentiments, the outcomes and consequences of family breakdown are normalised so as not to create public concern.

Over the years, successive left wing governments have introduced compassionate sounding laws that have undermined the family unit, weakening the bonds between parents and children, incentivising family breakdown, and making marriage increasingly irrelevant. While these have driven nails into the coffin of the family, the initiatives of the Clark Labour Government will drive a stake through its heart.

Labour is progressively removing all reference to "family" from our legislation. According to Labour, New Zealand should be celebrating the emergence of new family types - sole parents, de-facto and gay couples. In the process however, they are marginalising the nuclear family.

Labour clearly intends to use their wider view of the family to liberalise adoption laws by removing the necessity for new parents to be heterosexual and married. The requirement that adoptive parents were married traditionally ensured that the child was given a stable and secure family and home.

Yet, in spite of the clear evidence that marriage is a significantly more stable family structure than heterosexual or gay de-facto relationships, Labour is now abandoning the need of the child for family stability in favour of the desires of potential parents.

Labour is also ignoring official advice and increasing the dependency trap for sole parents and their children. By abolishing work testing of the Domestic Purposes Benefit, the DPB will be easier to get on and far harder to get off.

Sole parents will soon be able to quit their job and go on the DPB without any stand-down period. They will be able to go on holiday overseas for up to a month and still get paid. Further, they will be able to stay on the DPB without being required to take a job until their youngest child is 18 years old.

Labour also appears to want de-facto couples to be eligible for the DPB. If such couples are able to obtain both the DPB and an unemployment benefit then there will be little incentive for them to ever want a job.

Labour is going ahead with all of these changes in spite of social policy research - and common sense - that shows children raised in families without a working role model fail to do as well in all areas of life than those raised in families where a parent works. Further, the risk factors for children raised in fatherless families increase considerably.

All governments should surely have a responsibility to ensure that any legislation introduced will not harm children or weaken the family. Sadly, in the year 2002, the Labour government's initiatives spectacularly fail that test.

Dr Muriel Newman, MP for ACT New Zealand, writes a weekly opinion piece on topical issues for a number of community newspapers. You are welcome to forward this column to anyone you think may be interested.

View the archive of columns at

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