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Labour's PC Agenda Weakening Families

Labour's PC Agenda Weakening Families

Tuesday 10 Aug 2004
Dr Muriel Newman
Speeches -- Social Welfare

Extracts of speech to members of Promote; Upper Hutt; Tuesday August 10, 2004

Most New Zealanders would believe that a government should be focused on making the country a better place to live. That is why it is so disappointing to realise that that is not the goal of this Labour Government. Instead we have a government that has a single-minded objective: winning power.

You can see evidence of this objective every day as the Government's agenda focuses on benefiting their identified support base of beneficiaries, unions, same-sex New Zealanders, Maori and Pacific Islanders, to name but a few.

Labour's strategy exposes its socialist ideology of softening the welfare system, to undermine marriage and the family, and to weaken the rights of fathers. Further, it has been active in destroying the autonomy of employers, in nationalising private enterprise, and in introducing privilege based on race - but that's another story.

Labour's politically correct agenda is now damaging the very fabric of our society through the changes it is making to our legislation.

In welfare, Labour's agenda has been driven by the Beneficiary Unions.

When Labour came to power they presented over 120 demands to the new government. Labour has been steadily implementing them. Significant among those have been the moves to make the Domestic Purposes Benefit more accessible by scrapping work testing, removing the stand-down period which discourages people from quitting a job to go on a benefit, and extending the availability of the benefit until the youngest child is 18 years old without any legal requirement for the beneficiary to take a job. As a result, DPB numbers continue to grow.

The Beneficiary Unions wanted the Sickness Benefit to be removed from the work-test regime - which for the first time in our history had caused the number of sickness beneficiaries to reduce. Labour re-created it as a stand-alone benefit, and the number of people moving onto the sickness benefit has grown relentlessly since that time.

In a very worrying move, the work test requirements for those on the dole were softened with the result that when the economy turns down - as it inevitably will - the numbers on welfare will escalate.

These changes by our Government fly in the face of international initiatives to reduce welfare dependency. As a result, New Zealand stands alone as a country with a government committed to greater levels of welfare dependency, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that long-term welfare dependency is harmful to children.

Labour's moves to undermine marriage and family have not stopped with softening the DPB - it has extended into other areas: the Property Relationships Bill bestowed onto de-facto couples the same legal rights as marriage; the Care of Children Bill will weaken the rights of non-custodial fathers, and the Civil Union Bill, by affectively extending marriage to same-sex couples, will undermine that important institution.

The Care of Children Bill offered an ideal opportunity for the Government to strengthen the right of non-custodial parents - largely fathers - in the event of a relationship breakdown. Sadly, they chose to go in the opposite direction by failing to introduce shared parenting - a presumption that just as two parents were equal before the relationship breakdown so they should be equal afterwards in order to fully support their children. They used the argument that such a move would undermine the privileges for women that were won during the feminist battles, decades ago.

The right of children to retain a proper relationship with their father was sidelined by the Government in spite of growing evidence that fatherlessness is the cause of increasingly serious social problems.

You might ask why on earth the Government would want to weaken marriage and marginalise fathers? The answer is that the married family is the bedrock of society. It provides the greatest protection for children. Children raised in happily married, stable families that are independent of the state overwhelmingly grow up to be successful, confident centre-right voters.

To undermine the family to create greater dependency on the state - in order to create more Labour voters -- is a political strategy that I find totally reprehensible. It is social engineering in the extreme. It is an agenda that Labour had no mandate for. That is why any New Zealander, who really cares about the future of our society and our country, should think twice before supporting Labour at the next election.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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