Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 125
Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 125
Same-sex 'marriage' banned in Australia
While the Civil Union Bills have received extensive media coverage in New Zealand, almost no attention has been given to a law change in Australia that prevents same-sex 'marriage'. On 13th of August, the Australian Senate, with support of Labour, passed a Government Bill to protect marriage 38 votes to 6. The critical clause reads: "Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life." This will be inserted into the Australia's 43 year-old Marriage Act.
Also to be inserted is a provision stating "Certain unions are not marriages; a union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as marriage in Australia."
The amendment was given urgency so that the Federal government rather than the courts determine whether to grant recognition in Australia to same-sex marriages conferred overseas. The move was prompted by an Australian same-sex couple who married in Ontario, and were trying to have their union declared valid and legal in their home country. A New Zealand couple who also married in Canada are attempting the same process here. Conversely, couples who "civil unionise" in New Zealand if our proposed Bill makes it into law, are unlikely to have any international status.
The strengthening of the Australian Marriage Act reflects a very different political climate from that which presently exists here. Why has this been largely ignored by the New Zealand media? We have to wonder why we are heading in the opposite direction to our closest neighbour?
Government offers bonus to union members
If you were the Minister of Education and had an extra $7.5 million to spend, how would you spend it? How about 150 more teachers for stretched schools? What about new classrooms or facilities? Or rewarding outstanding teachers who go the extra mile for their students?
Or you could use the much-needed money to build your support base - the teachers' union.
As part of the new pay deal, the Ministry of Education has put aside $7.5 million to reward teachers who sign the new three-year contract, provided they are members of the PPTA. The 3,500 teachers who don't belong to the PPTA will miss out on the bonus even though they are covered by the same contract.
While it is very positive to see the Ministry rewarding teachers by offering salary increases of between 8.74 percent and 13 percent over three years, surely teachers should be rewarded for being excellent teachers, not for being union members? This is not a legitimate use of taxpayers' money.
This offer comes directly after figures were released showing that parents and schools pick up the tab for 3,800 teachers throughout New Zealand. These teachers are not government funded but funded by the schools outside the salary system.
An analysis of schools and how their teachers are funded is available at: http://www.billenglish.co.nz/teacherspq1.pdf You will need the free Acrobat reader programme to view this analysis: you can download it from http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html
Social report reveals some big gaps
The 2004 Social Report released this week by the Ministry of Social Development gives us a mixed view of New Zealand. While officially unemployment is amongst the lowest in the OECD and education participation rates are up, several social indicators show no improvement.
One of the report's most compelling findings is that only 54 percent of New Zealanders between 16 and 65 have a level of literacy to meet the demands of everyday life and work. Nevertheless, over 63 percent left school with Sixth Form Certificate or higher in 2001. That level of qualification has been reasonably constant since 1969. So in spite of significantly more spending on education and a vision for a knowledge based economy we are making little headway. The two figures also raise questions about the standards of the exams.
It is also remarkable that an "inclusive, prosperous and environmentally sustainable New Zealand" has no connection with marriage. Marriage does not feature at all in the report. This is a significant omission because marriage provides the surest foundation for strong and healthy families and is a fundamental social good.
We need to take a closer look at the connection between family structure and social outcomes. Marriage provides proven benefits for couples, children and the country, so we need to take it seriously to address the negative indicators.
The 2004 Social Report can be viewed at: http://www.socialreport.msd.govt.nz
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Te Awamutu Change Agent workshop
A Change Agent workshop is being held in Te Awamutu on Monday 13 September for people concerned about the direction of social policy and culture in New Zealand. The workshop will address current issues such as Civil Unions, education, prostitution and political correctness, as well as provide practical tips on how to effectively engage in processes of public policy and debate.
The Te Awamutu event is being held in the Waipa District Council Chambers on 13 September from 7pm to 9pm. For details and to register visit: http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/whatson_page/whatson.html
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair] (1903-1950)
In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.