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Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 109

Maxim Institute

real issues.
this week: No. 109, 6 MAY 2004

* Integration Act spared the axe
* Delayed motherhood impacts population
* Same-sex marriage debate delayed
* Manipulating language
* Calling Tomorrow's Leaders - Maxim Essay contest
* Orewa 'Change Agent' workshop

Integration Act spared the axe
After feeling the heat over school closures and with the threat of more parental action, the Minister of Education has backed away from axing the Integration Act. Late last year Labour produced a discussion document which looked at phasing out the legislation which guarantees the existence of integrated schools.

These schools are unique because they represent parental choice in a state system. In effect, parents who have paid taxes for their children's education are given the opportunity to choose a school which reflects their values.

Currently there are around 320 integrated schools. They are in hot demand, but they are capped, some with waiting lists of 800. So Catholics have just opened a new integrated school in Auckland. They could do so because of the Integration Act which integrates special character schools into the state system of funding.

Trevor Mallard tried to stymie the Act, arguing that it denied him access to integrated schools for mergers and closures and that the language of the Act (1975) was out-dated. He wants everything under one Education Act. There are also questions as to whether integrated schools should be allowed to screen potential employees on grounds of religious belief or sexual orientation.

National's education spokesman Bill English, noted yesterday: "Growing enrolments in these [integrated] schools, across the board, makes it harder for the Minister to control the whole education system but it certainly hasn't stopped him from trying. Trevor Mallard has lost touch with ordinary New Zealanders who want increased choice in the education system, not less". With regards to parents choosing schools for their children, research indicates English is on the button.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=109.1

Delayed motherhood impacts populations
For the first time, more women are having babies in their 30s than in their younger years. Delayed motherhood has been a growing trend for at least five years, but Statistics New Zealand figures out this week show that in the last 12 months just over half of all newborn babies had a mother aged over 30. This compares with four in 10 women in 1994.

Having babies later means, of course, that women have fewer of them. It is contributing to New Zealand's declining fertility rate, which is now 10 percent below replacement level.

In the year to March, births exceeded deaths in New Zealand by fewer than 29,000. If the fertility rate continues at this level, Statistics NZ expects deaths to outstrip births within 35 years. Immigration now contributes half of our population growth, and we will become increasingly reliant on this if our population is not to decline.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=109.2

Same-sex marriage debate delayed
Introduction of the Civil Union Bills to parliament has been delayed. The controversial bills that effectively provide for same-sex marriage were due to be tabled next Thursday and debated for the first time a week later. Now they are not expected to be introduced until the next parliamentary session starting in mid June. While the delay is understood to be due to drafting problems, it also postpones another contentious debate prior to the budget on May 27.

The Civil Union Bill creates a new category of relationship that enables same-sex and opposite sex couples to register a union with the state, while the Legal Recognition of Relationships Bill (dubbed Omnibus) will change about 1000 clauses in over 100 Acts to make civil unions equal to marriage. At the centre of the debate is the question: why should the government recognise relationships at all? Marriage has been recognised and given preference in law because of the public benefits that it offers. Meanwhile, a Colmar Brunton poll of 1000 people has found that 50 percent opposed civil unions for same-sex couples, while 46 percent supported the idea for opposite and same-sex couples.

To get the latest updates on Civil Union Bills and the debate you can join Maxim's email alert group by simply sending a blank email to: civilunions@maxim.org.nz

To read an article on the issue by Maxim's Amanda McGrail click on: www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/news_page/civildebate.html

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=109.3

Manipulating language
Real Issues is starting a new series on comparing the contemporary meanings of words with how they were used in the past. We will look at words and phrases being used to shape thinking and debate. In each instance, either the word or phrase simply didn't exist previously, or an entirely new meaning has been appropriated and popularised.

Although language is dynamic and always subject to the appearance of new idiomatic phrases and neologisms, there is a difference between that and what we are seeing in public policy literature. The former comes out of ordinary experience and in response to new situations, whereas the latter is more deliberate and usually the work of spin doctors who invent new 'discourses' to redefine reality in official terms. We will focus on the lack of precision and manipulation of language.

This week's word: 'Capacity'

This used to commonly refer to the volume in a defined space. Now in public policy however, it suggests that persons can be assisted to reach their potential with the use of state-provided resources. 'Building capacity' is presented as a function of state agencies and departments, but really it creates a world of entitlement and dependency.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=109.4

Calling Tomorrow's Leaders - 2004 Essay Contest
Maxim Institutes Centre for Tomorrow's Leaders has launched its annual essay contest for tertiary students. First prize is $2000, and summer internships at Maxim Institute will be offered to select finalists. This years essay topic is a discussion of Sir Isaac Newton's famous quote, "If I have seen further than others it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants."

For more details and the full question, visit: www.maxim.org.nz/essay/2004.html or contact: Roshan Allpress at essay@maxim.org.nz or Tel. 09-627 3261

Orewa 'Change Agent' workshop - Saturday 15 May
Do you live in the Rodney District? Are you concerned about anti-family and marriage legislation, education, political correctness, or prostitution? Then come be informed and equipped with practical tools to help create positive change in your community. The Maxim Change Agent workshop will run on Saturday 15 May from 2pm to 5pm in the Orewa College Auditorium, $10 suggested donation and students are free. For more information contact Arna Mountain Tel. (09) 424 1058 or visit: www.maxim.org.nz/ca/orewa.html

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Pericles (430 B.C.)
Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.

To subscribe send a blank email to: realissues@maxim.org.nz

Real Issues is a weekly email newsletter from the Maxim Institute. The focus is current New Zealand events with an attempt to provide insight into critical issues beyond what is usually presented in the media. This service is provided free of charge, although a donation to Maxim is appreciated. Items may be used for other purposes, such as teaching, research or civic action. If items are published elsewhere, Maxim should be acknowledged.

Key principles - The Building Blocks of Civil Society http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/about_page/about_keyprinciples.html

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