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Maxim Institute real issues.


Maxim Institute

real issues. this week: No. Eighty-Nine 13 NOVEMBER 2003

Contents:

* No report on the Families Commission Bill The new Commission encounters problems even before it starts

* Civil Union Bill threatens marriage A new government-sponsored bill will be introduced in February

* State education control shuts out parents Central control reduces freedom and parental responsibility

* An invitation to "Moving School Reform Forward" - Christchurch 18 November

No report on the Families Commission Bill

In a rare occurrence, the select committee considering the Families Commission Bill has failed to report on the Bill which has automatically returned to Parliament. The 'discharge' by the committee came amid accusations by United Future leader Peter Dunne that opposition parties on the committee refused to co-operate.

There is, then, no record of the committee's business and no recommended amendments prior to a second reading expected before Christmas. A committee member, National MP Judy Collins, said today the lack of a report demonstrates how cynical most are about the bill.

Mr Dunne accused opposition parties of 'obscure ideological debates over the nature of the family'. It would appear that they were not prepared to go along with the thinking behind the bill that almost any group with 'psychological attachment' now counts as a family. When this legislation was introduced on 30 April, Social Services Minister Steve Maharey was questioned about what was meant by 'family', and if the bill would include de facto and same-sex arrangements. (It did.) In raising these issues, New Zealand First MP Dail Jones defended the centrality of marriage, to which Mr Maharey replied: "The agreement between the parties involved in this policy is one that accepts a diverse interpretation of what a family is...all parties have stated their commitment to a broad and inclusive approach to the family...anybody who understands this issue would say that a family provides love, nurture, support and boundaries for the behaviour of children would represent a family. The obsession with structure by dinosaurs like Mr Jones is why he is a marginal politician." (Hansard, 30 April 2003, p. 5180)

This reveals clearly the government's agenda. At the expense of marriage, it is heavily promoting 'diversity' and 'inclusion'. When the Families Commission Bill is seen in the context of related legislation - the Property (Relationships) Act, the Care of Children Bill and, soon, the Civil Union Bill - its real purpose becomes obvious. That is, marriage does not have preferred status in public policy, and the takeover of the state as controller.

The politicking will continue, but the government is determined to have the Commission up and running by July 1, 2004. Advertisements for commissioners have been running in the major papers. Commissioners will, of course, be required to have a knowledge of, and commitment to, diversity.

Civil Union Bill threatens marriage

Associate Justice Minister Lianne Dalziel said this week that a Civil Union Bill (CUB) will be introduced in February 2004. This will grant homosexual couples rights which, until now, have been the preserve of married heterosexual couples.

Much work has already been done. In November 2000, Christchurch Central MP Tim Barnett formed a CUB Committee at the request of Helen Clark. The committee's work will ensure references to 'marriage' will be carefully avoided, opting instead for a 'civil union'. De facto couples have also been included as a ploy to increase the bill's appeal.

The committee was well aware that not all same-sex couples are interested in marriage (some see it a patriarchal institution to be resisted, while others see new law as important in bringing about equal rights). Either way, the euphemistic language cannot disguise the central question in this debate, ie. what is marriage? This has always been understood as a man-and-woman relationship which is protected in law because it delivers unique benefits, not just to the couple concerned but to the wider public good. It does this by promoting fidelity and commitment as the natural context for nurturing children. All that will soon be up for grabs.

State education control shuts out parents

The current direction of education policy is taking away power from parents and communities and giving it to the Ministry of Education, says Paul Henderson, Maxim Institute's senior education analyst. In an article published in today's NZ Herald, he argues that controlling the number of schools and limiting autonomy has not had any effect on the performance of New Zealand children. In fact, our literacy and numeracy standards have declined.

To view the article visit: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=3533860

INVITATION

The Maxim Institute and the Education Forum invite you to attend:

Moving School Reform Forward

an informal seminar with addresses by Paul Henderson and Norman LaRocque

Both the Maxim Institute and the Education Forum have recently published reports examining New Zealand's education system. Paul Henderson's Vying for our Children: the ideological struggle for hearts and minds and the Education Forum's A New Deal: Making Education Work for All New Zealanders outline more effective education policies and propose ways in which our education system can be improved.

Calling for a revised curriculum, both publications focus on current dilemmas of New Zealand education policy. What should be the government's role in education? What is the most effective way of lifting our education standards? How can the large performance gap between New Zealand's literate and illiterate children be decreased?

Paul Henderson, researcher with the Maxim Institute, and Norman LaRocque, advisor for the Education Forum, will discuss the ideas put forward in the respective publications at an informal gathering to be held on:

Tuesday, 18 November 2003 at Copthorne Hotel Durham St Corner Durham & Kilmore Street, Christchurch commencing with drinks & nibbles at 5:30pm for a 6:00pm start

RSVP to Denise Gardiner at Maxim Institute by 12 noon Monday 17 November 2003 Tel. (03) 343 1570 or email: denise.gardiner@maxim.org.nz

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Josef Stalin (1879-1953)

Ideas are more dangerous than guns...We do not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?

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