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Heather Roy's Diary: The Redundant Male

Heather Roy's Diary: The Redundant Male

Heather Roy's Diary 13/06/03

The Redundant Male

The recently introduced Care of Children Bill has caused consternation in Parliament this week. The Bill proposed to effectively change the legal definition of a father to include women. The offending section reads: "to avoid doubt a reference in this section ... to the father of a child is a reference to the same sex de facto partner of the mother of a child." What of two men who have a child, ACT asked. Is one of them designated as the mother? The men in this legislation, it seems, are pretty much redundant. When closely questioned, Prime Minister Helen Clark's explanation was that 'father' is a "drafting technique" referring to the drafting of legislation. Biological fathers around the country will, I suspect, be staggered to discover that their manhood has been reduced to a written contrivance. The Act applies to situations where the two parents are both women and a child has been conceived by artificial insemination. The old Guardianship Act is to be revoked. Associate Justice Minister Lianne The Australian newspapers have been having a little fun at the expense of the New Zealand male in recent months, and we can expect a paroxysm of ridicule at this latest example of the ruling feminist party downgrading males. A world where there is no need for men whatsoever may be a compelling feminist fantasy, but is likely to be a vote loser.

The jokes at the Government's expense hide the more serious issue of male educational failure and its consequent social impact. In an excellent dialogue column, in yesterday's New Zealand Herald, Dr John Langley (principal of the Auckland College of Education) made this observation: "In addition to the increasing sneering about their failure, our boys and young men account for more than 80 per cent of those defined as having behaviour problems at school, 75 per cent of those stood down or suspended from school, and over 80 per cent of those who appear in the criminal justice system. They represent most of those who develop serious mental health conditions and, tragically, those who commit suicide. In short, the statistics describing the plight of males are more comprehensive than any of the breakdowns based on ethnic or socio-economic grounds." I would add that every one of those boys has a mother, and those mothers always care more about their sons than the feminist cause. Feminism was a liberal force when it argued for equal rights, but became a negative when it argued for special rights. That quest for special rights is exemplified in the argument that women have a different, and better, way of thinking, acting and being, than men. These feminists reckon that women are equal to men - so any relative shortage of, for example, female physicists and auditors is held to be evidence of sexism. These same feminists explain their superiority with such examples as the relative shortage of female criminals.

Waiting Lists

Cardiac Surgery was still on the agenda this week. To get heart surgery in the public system, one must be assessed by a Heart Specialist and allocated 'points', depending on your level of disability and symptoms. Cardiac Specialists say that around 25 points is the right level to be eligible for surgery. However the District Health Boards all determine their own level of points in accordance with their available funding, which then translates into a contracted number of operations per year with the Health Ministry. If you live in Auckland or Hamilton you need 35 points to get heart surgery, for Wellington patients it is officially 35 - but if you score under 50 you go onto a low priority list (the only place to have two tier list) - and in Christchurch the level is 55. Otago and Southland patients are the overall losers needing 67 points. Why the inconsistency? The real reason is that doctors have little authority, despite their training, and numbers of operations are determined by funding.

Annette's White Elephant

After the Ministerial inquiry into Mental Health Services in Auckland at the end 2002, Health Minister Annette King gave an extra $10 million to the Auckland Region. One of the problems is that psychiatric patients are frequently placed in police cells while the overstretched mental health workers find them a hospital bed. To address this, the Minister gave the money, in part, to have a three-bed unit in which to house these patients while they wait. Predictably, however, it has become a white elephant. Firstly, there is a serious shortage of trained staff to provide the necessary 24-hour care. Secondly, the DHB says it can't afford to run it. And finally, I'm told it's not up to standard, with no fire escape. Another fine example of central planning gone mad.

Tranz Rail buy-out

This Government has an obsession with nationalising transport. Last year we had the Government buy-out of Air New Zealand and, this past week, it was the turn of the national rail network. The tracks went for $1 which, given their apparent state, isn't surprising. Transport Minister Paul Swain hadn't done his homework very thoroughly, as he seemed surprised when ACT told him there are over 300 railway bridges on the West Coast alone. The real surprise is that the Government felt the need to buy the railway at all. They have concluded that the trains would have stopped running had they not proceeded with the bail out. But Tranz Rail, although not in good shape, was still receiving income and - had a receiver been appointed - would have continued to trade. What the Government has achieved is the inability for Tranz Rail's real value to be calculated. They have effectively distorted the true value for any private sector buyer.


Heather Roy is an ACT List MP. She was elected to Parliament in July 2002. Heather is a former Physiotherapist and Medical Research Co-ordinator. She was also Publicity Officer for the New Zealand Portrait Gallery. Her portfolio areas are Health, ACC, Women's Affairs, Youth Affairs, Senior Citizens, Arts Culture and Heritage and Internal Affairs. Heather is married to Duncan, a Psychiatrist and they have 5 children. She was attracted to ACT because of the principles of freedom, choice and personal responsibility.

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