Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

What the Relationships Bill should look like


What the Relationships Bill should look like

ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks today released a checklist of things he says the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill should, and should not, deal with when it is reported back from the Justice and Electoral Select Committee.

"Because this thing is so dear to the hearts of a powerful faction within Labour, and the bill is highly technical, what it actually does is likely to be buried in top-level spin," Mr Franks said.

"As introduced, it implemented the absurd decision of Labour (and National before them) to punish anyone who treats married couples as if they are different from single people or unmarried couples.

"Labour's Consistency 2000 project team had gone through every law to insert references to de factos everywhere marriage was mentioned.

"The bill therefore insulted the dignity of both New Zealanders who had chosen to marry, and those who had chosen not to. It eliminated a freedom, by saying adults' choices would be irrelevant in law. People intend those choices expressly to decide whether or not they change their legal, as well as social, status.

"What it should have done is simple:

• Respect the considered decisions of competent adults not to marry to retain their independence and separate control of their assets and income.

• Be open about the welfare state's need to save money. Tests for needs based benefits, and means testing must take into account the likelihood that `two can live cheaper than one', and assistance from domestic companions. This argues for abandoning consideration of sex and just focusing inclusively on domestic sharing.

• Provide `next of kin status' for people who have not expressly agreed to be life partners, but should be deemed to be able to `speak for' each other. Examples include brothers or sisters, parents and children who have long lived with each other, deciding what to do on hospital, funeral or even succession arrangements. The same test could cover rules like local government disclosure requirements that treat marital status, as an indication of whether a conflict of interest might arise.

• Protect children's interest in stable relationships, whether married or de facto, by imposing presumptions for income and asset sharing between de facto parents for the children's benefit, and clearly distinguishing these obligations from those in childless relationships.

• Instead of deeming them all equivalent to marriage, recognise that de facto relationships can extend from full and deliberate unconditional sharing of futures and assets, through to ephemeral shack-ups for comfort in the dark while the fun lasts.

• Set out tests for when one member of an unmarried couple will have a claim to the income or assets of the other, for example when one has plainly led the other to impair their position in reliance on an expectation of sharing.

• Recognise the community's interest in promoting stable exclusive companionship, to balance against legal disincentives to people who formally commit to stay together and to look after each other.

• Restore an ability to opt in to commitments the courts would enforce, instead of leaving marriage as the only contract without any sanction even for the most bad faith breach.

• Recommend repeal of the `automatic de facto marriage' effect of changes in 2002 to our matrimonial property law.

• Recommend repeal of the Human Rights Act provisions making it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of marital status.

"This bill was the result of years of work. It should enable this country to recognise a clear principled foundation for family law, and for the circumstances where the state will take account of relationships, and where it will not.

"As introduced, the bill contained nothing of the sort. It has been rushed to ensure it is through before the end of April so that the Civil Union Act is not an empty letter. When reported back it will show what value Labour ministers place on marriage, freedom of choice, the dignity of individuals and relationships, the interests of children, and conceptual integrity in our law," Mr Franks said.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Veronika Meduna: The Kaikoura Rebuild

A Scoop Foundation Investigation

Friday will be a big day for people north of Kaikōura – and for hundreds of construction workers who are racing to reopen State Highway 1 in time for the holiday season.

By the afternoon, the South Island’s main transport corridor will be open to traffic again, more than a year after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake mangled bridges and tunnels, twisted rail tracks and buried sections of the road under massive landslides. More>>

 

BPS HYEFU WYSIWYG: Labour's Budget Plans, Families Package

“Today we are announcing the full details of the Government’s Families Package. This is paid for by rejecting National’s tax cuts and instead targeting spending at those who need it most. It will lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2021." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Defence Spending, Alabama, And Dolly Parton

The spending lavished on Defence projects to meet the risks that could maybe, possibly, theoretically face New Zealand in future is breath-taking, given how successive governments have been reluctant to spend even a fraction of those amounts on the nation’s actual social needs. More>>

ALSO:

Members' Bills: End Of Life Choice Bill Passes First Reading

The End of Life Choice Bill in the name of David Seymour has been sent to a select committee for consideration by 76 votes to 44. It is the third time Parliament has voted on the issue in recent decades and the first time such a Bill has made it over the first hurdle. More>>

ALSO:

State Sector: MPI Survives Defrag Of Portfolios

The Ministry for Primary Industries will not be split under the new government, but will instead serve as an overarching body for four portfolio-based entities focused on fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Vulnerable Kids, RNZ Funding, And Poppy

The decision to remove the word ‘vulnerable’ from the Ministry for Vulnerable Children could well mark a whole shift in approach to the care of children in need... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages