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Muriel Newman Column - A Crumbling Society

The Column
11 July 2003

A Crumbling Society
By Muriel Newman

“Strange times are these in which we live, when the old and the young are taught in falsehood’s school. And the one man who dares to tell the truth is called at once a lunatic and a fool.”

That quote, by Plato, is surely more relevant in New Zealand today than at any other time in our history. Rampant political correctness is now displacing common sense at an ever-increasing rate. Not only is it being taught in our schools, but there are also a growing number of interest groups – many, Government-funded – perpetuating these myths.

For those of us who stand aside in anguish and watch, it appears that society is crumbling.

Who could have thought that, as we entered the new millennium, we could possibly be entertaining the idea of lesbian fathers, a farting tax, a fat tax, muzzling poodles, scrapping the airforce, abolishing the Privy Council, half a million dollar fines for stress, banning smoking in private clubs, importing coal rather than mining our own 400-year supply, Maori ownership of the seashore, prisoners sentenced to nine years free in three, abolishing school exams, elite funding for Maori health, $100,000 ACC claims for unproven sex abuse, a major SH1 motorway stopping dead in a paddock, $9 billion extra of stealth taxes, cutting police funding, and removing all reference to “family” from legislation.

Of all of these apparitions, it is the undermining of the family that will have the most devastatingly serious consequences for our society.

Most New Zealanders think of a ‘family’ as Mum and Dad, who are married with children. Yet, over the years, Labour – gripped by, what can only be described as, an influential feminist agenda – has waged war on the family, driving through legislation to destabilise and debase marriage and fatherhood.

The first major assault on marriage came in the 1960s, with the passing of divorce laws – but it was the introduction of the DPB, by the Labour Government in the early 1970s, that accelerated the rate of marriage breakdown.

The DPB – originally designed to provide an income for a mother and her children to escape a violent relationship – created an incentive for women who had grown tired of their husbands to eject them from their lives. With a secure benefit income, and laws that ensured the mother would obtained sole custody of her children – which she could then use, if she wished, as an unscrupulous weapon against her children’s hapless father – Labour’s dream of female power and control came a step closer.

The Labour Government stepped up its attack on the family in 2001 with the passing of the Property Relationships Act. By giving cohabiting couples the same protection in law as couples who marry, the new legislation further undermined the institution of marriage: “why bother to marry, when you can get the same legal protection by living together?”

Labour’s latest attack on the family comes in the guise of the Care of Children Bill. The bill relegates “fathers” to the status of a “drafting technique”, to be used to describe anyone – male or female – who is the partner of the mother of a child. The term “family” has been removed from the legislation altogether, since Labour’s agenda is to ‘normalise’ the diversity of groupings of adults and children, whether same sex, single, cohabiting or married.

While the existence of alternative relationships between consenting adults is not a problem in itself, difficulties do arise when these relationships involve children.

The reality is that marriage is the most effective child-rearing institution ever invented. The married family has been described as the “bedrock of social stability”, through the safeguards it provides for the upbringing of children. Research now clearly shows that unmarried families present vastly more risks of physical and sexual abuse to children than do married couples.

The problem is that transient relationships lead to more jealousy, insecurity and violence than stable marriages, with unmarried partners being far more likely to abuse children than biological parents. By encouraging the false belief that all relationships are equal in value, the Government is ignoring the fact that the biggest protection against domestic violence and child abuse is marriage – the very institution it is busy destroying. Labour’s agenda of ‘normalising’ alternative types of relationships – setting the scene for same-sex adoption and marriage – will, in effect, expose hundreds of thousands of children to vastly increased risks of violence and abuse.

As a result of the Government’s drive to dismantle sexual norms, and undermine marriage and the family, we will see fatherless ness on a scale previously unknown. Since we now know that the effect on children raised without a close relationship with their father is a propensity to engage in delinquent behaviours leading to criminal offending, early sexual activity, and increased substance abuse, Labour’s legacy will further erode the social fabric of New Zealand, producing consequences that are truly frightening.


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