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Government Intimidation Alarming

Media release
30 July 2004

Government intimidation alarming

In a press release today by the New Zealand Government the Minister responsible for the Civil Union legislation has taken the unusual step of criticising a charitable organisation contributing to public debate on the Bills.

Greg Fleming, Managing Director of Maxim Institute says it is unfortunate that Mr Benson-Pope is uninformed and incorrect in repeating false accusations in regard to Maxim.

"It is a sad reflection on the Minister and his Government when they attack small organisations and throw meaningless labels around without getting the facts straight."

Mr Benson-Pope has repeated a number of inaccurate allegations that were made by Margaret Mayman in the Christchurch Press that must be corrected:

1. Maxim Institute is not linked to any international organisations. Maxim is an entirely independent New Zealand think-tank.

2. Maxim staff members like any member of the public may occasionally write letters to papers to express a personal view. When they do so they state their name clearly. When Maxim Institute makes a statement as an organisation letters are signed by staff stating their position.

3. The Maxim 'letter wizard' does not create lobbying letters. It does nothing more than provide writers easy access to the correct email addresses of various publications. This tool is available to anyone on our website to write letters to the editor. The wizard is frequently used by people on both sides of the public debate.

4. Maxim ensures that statements and evidence presented in the public debate is accurate and verifiable.

5. Contrary to the Minister's claim, Maxim has always made it very clear where its funding comes from. Over 1,500 New Zealanders have made donations since its establishment in November 2001, and Maxim has always named major donors when asked.

"The Minister should have taken a few minutes to try and substantiate his claims before rushing to make an inaccurate media statement. This appears to be an unfortunate example of how easily the Minister can be mislead," says Greg Fleming.

Mr Benson-Pope also suggests that because Maxim is a successful charitable organisation there is greater onus on it to be open.

"The Minister appears to have forgotten that unlike his position which is taxpayer funded, contributors will only support an organisation like Maxim as long as it is making a positive contribution and fulfilling its purpose."

"This is a powerful 40 billion dollar government machine trying to bully and intimidate a small charitable group.

"Is the Minister so scared of Maxim Institute that he has resorted to bullying, false allegations and name calling?"

"We welcome open debate. Perhaps Mr Benson-Pope's rush of blood is because he doesn't like the fact that there are strong arguments and research against the Civil Union Bill and a ground swell of public opinion opposed to his governments social engineering.

"This is not the first time this year that Government Ministers have resorted to intimidation of Maxim. A classical trait of a political correct agenda is the abuse of power to silence opponents. Maxim Institute for one will continue to speak out on principles it holds to be important," says Mr Fleming.


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