Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 69

Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 69


* World-class law? The Prostitution Reform Bill has passed by the smallest possible margin, but public awareness has only just begun.

* New tolerance campaign An initiative to promote racial tolerance is well-intended but based on a fuzzy foundation.

* Abortion statistics show inconsistency As a society we are not very consistent when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable.

World-class law?

Parliament voted last night by 60 votes to 59 to pass the Prostitution Reform Bill (PRB). While the new law is intended to improve conditions for women in prostitution, international experience shows it will fail in its aims. In Victoria (Australia), the number of brothels has almost quadrupled since legalisation in 1994. The expanded 'industry' has been accompanied by more crime, more violence and problems for the police and local councils. There is nothing to suggest that New Zealand will not head in the same direction. As Police Association President Greg O' Connor said yesterday, "this bill is police out, criminals in".

We were very disappointed with the decision, and while we hold grave fears for the safety of New Zealand's most vulnerable women and children, we are not despondent. This is a loss but not a defeat. Winning this debate was not the end goal. It was only a step in a much wider cultural battle for a Civil Society. We are even more determined now to see legislation that genuinely reforms prostitution.

Obviously the current parliament will not welcome such a move, but at the next election New Zealanders have the chance to change many of those MPs. For now the challenge is to continue building public awareness of the truth about prostitution. And not too many years from now, we believe, laws will be passed that declare our women and children are not for sale.

We sincerely thank all who rose to the task, took the time to get informed and got active. Many entered this debate only recently and just look at what the collective effort achieved. Against us were the Family Planning Association and the Prostitutes' Collective; both government-funded lobby groups (receiving $6.2 million and $500,000 a year, respectively). The Prostitutes' Collective has been on the campaign for nearly 9 years. The first reading of the bill had just 21 MPs voting against it - last night that had risen to 59.

Voting on the PRB

A 60 - 60 vote would have defeated the bill. This was a conscience vote meaning MPs were not bound by party loyalties. How they voted:

For – Against - Abstain

Labour 41 - 10 - 1

National l6 - 21

NZ First 0 - 13

United Future 0 - 8

Progressive 0 - 2

ACT 4 - 5

Green 9 - 0

Total 60 - 59 - 1

Some notable voting patterns were observed amongst Tim Barnett's Labour colleagues, namely: * all of the Labour cabinet and executive voted for the bill; * amongst Labour's list MPs, all voted for the bill except for Ashraf Choudhary who abstained; and * all 10 of the Labour MPs that voted against the bill are electorate MPs.

Maxim will continue to follow the issue and research the impact of the law. If you would like to receive regular email updates on the effects and initiatives to prevent women entering prostitution and assist them out, please email mailto:maxim@maxim.org.nz with 'Prostitution Bill' in the subject line.

To see a clip of Greg Fleming explaining Maxim's response to the vote on TV One's Breakfast click on http://www.maxim.org.nz/video/

See how MPs voted: www.maxim.org.nz/ri/mpvotes.html

New tolerance campaign

An advertising campaign in the name of the Human Rights Commission has been launched this week to promote racial tolerance. $1.5 million will be spent to persuade people to be kinder to immigrants. The campaign shows the government is worried that despite the law, it has not yet managed to change human nature.

When the Human Rights Commission Act was passed in 1977, it outlawed discrimination on the grounds of race. Since then, the term "racist" has been used to stifle debate, and anti-racism has matured into "tolerance, diversity and inclusion", a new trinity that has assumed mantra-like status.

On the face of it, tolerance and inclusion are Good Things against which no-one can argue. But there's more going on. In order for the human rights version of tolerance to succeed, it has required changing the way we view w estern culture. Increasingly, we read history through the values and social policy ideals of the present. The past is 'bad', we have become ashamed of our heritage, and have lost confidence in it.

This does not mean we should ignore suffering or injustice that did occur, but history is about acknowledging and attempting to understand a complex human journey. Central to this is the need to honestly try to understand the past in terms of its own values and perspectives. Rather than politicised advertising campaigns and bureaucratic goals, a better way forward is to nurture community virtues - i.e. an organic bottom-up approach rather than a top-down approach.

Abortion shows up inconsistencies

There were 17,400 abortions last year, a thousand more than the previous year. Women aged 20-24 had the highest abortion rate of any age group - 38.9 abortions per 1,000; followed by 25-29 year-olds at 26.9.

As a society we are not very consistent when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable; abortion is legalised; child abuse is not. We have an aggressive human rights culture, but have legalised prostitution, which effectively says that exploitation of women is also okay. We decry teenage suicide, but many want to legalise assisted suicide of the terminally ill (euthanasia).


The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or woman.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Sector Opposes Bill: Local Government Bill Timeframe Extended

The Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has asked the Select Committee to extend the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). More>>


Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>


Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>


General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>


Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news