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An open letter to the Editor of the Dominion Post

An open letter to the Editor of the Dominion Post...

Editor Dominion Post 5 May 2003

Dear Sir

I write in response to the Dominion Post editorial of Friday, May 2, more in sorrow than in anger at the cynicism targeted at the United Future-driven Families Commission. To dismiss it as some sort of MMP compromise is to simply miss the point.

If the Dominion Post would not accept that there is a need to advocate for families in a focused manner; if it would not accept that much more can be done to alleviate the pressures within and upon families, then perhaps it would accept this: New Zealand needs to address the $6 billion a year that family breakdown costs us.

And against that figure, the $28 million cost of establishing the commission that will focus government upon families in the manner that Treasury focuses government upon the economy, pales into insignificance.

The criticism that it will duplicate the work of groups and government departments is misguided. It will not be a family service provider.

However the many service providers consulted leading up to the drafting of the Families Commission Bill, wanted a commission that would champion their cause. So don't take our word on its merits, take theirs.

And as regards the criticism surrounding a lack of definition of what a family is, surely those proposing a definition are really saying that the term "family" is exclusively the property of a few favoured models.

Our view is clear: children don't choose their families, but they have the right to the love and nurturing of the adults responsible for them. Rather than trade definitions, United Future wants all those with dependants centre-stage in government policy.

And toothless? Only if Treasury could be described as such. After all, any government can ignore its warnings and concerns - but at its peril.

As a matter of course, we measure proposed legislation against its impact on the economy, on trade, on tourism, the environment, and international relations; on everything it seems but the family. That is about to change.

I look forward to the day that the Dominion Post runs an editorial condemning a Bill, not because it will impact on the dollar, or on trade with Bolivia or the Fiordland fruit bat, but because it will hit the Kiwi family, and Families Commission findings are cited to support your stance.

Judy Turner MP Family Affairs spokesperson United Future

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