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Maxim Institute - real issues 16 December 2004

Maxim Institute

real issues. ============ this week: No. 141, 16 DECEMBER 2004

Contents: --------- * Government should exit broadcasting

* Kiwis cohabit before commitment

* Losing our lead in literacy

* Parliament denies support for Doha family declaration

* Prostitution referendum petition - final notice

* Maxim speakers at Parachute

* "Evidence" - summer edition out now

* Christmas wonder

Government should exit broadcasting ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Marc Alexander, broadcasting spokesman for United Future is right on the money commenting on Judy Bailey's pay increase. "This debacle proves that there is nothing easier than spending someone else's money," says Alexander.

As a broadcaster, TVNZ is operating in a commercial and competitive market. While the $800,000 salary is excessive, that is not the point. TVNZ is a government-sponsored enterprise financed and sustained by taxpayer dollars. Its shareholders are the people of New Zealand. But we are disempowered shareholders.

If TVNZ is making 'commercial decisions' it deems necessary to remain competitive, then it must stand or fall on those decisions without being propped up by millions of taxpayer dollars.

This case highlights why government shouldn't be involved in commercial broadcasting. Instead the government could support public broadcasting by contracts that are competitive.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=141.1

Kiwis cohabit before commitment ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Try before you buy is the new norm for young New Zealanders before committing to marriage.

Figures just released by Statistics New Zealand, show that of women in their early 20s the proportion cohabiting rose from 19 percent in 1981 to 71 percent by 2001. In the same period, the number of married women in this age group fell from 58,000 to 10,000.

An Australian study by Professor David de Vaus has found that 72 percent of people were living together before marrying and most were in their 20s and early 30s. Interestingly, New Zealanders living in Australia have the highest de facto rates among couples (23 percent of men), followed by Australian-born people (14 percent of men).

One of the factors that has contributed to the rise in de facto relationships is the devaluing of marriage in law (for example, no-fault divorce in the early 1980s) and culture. Ironically, we now need more law to address the status of de facto relationships, which the government has been steadily making equivalent to marriage. In the process, the state gains more power and individuals become less free because the state itself, not citizens, is increasingly determining the ethics of relationships.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=141.2

Losing our lead in literacy ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Kiwi kids used to be the most literate in the world, but the latest international study shows this is no longer the case.

The latest figures from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show New Zealand has slipped from the top performing group in PISA 2000 into the second tier category, behind such countries as Finland, Korea and the Netherlands.

This is despite a 32 percent increase in the education budget and a 20 percent increase in staff at the Ministry of Education between the two studies.

In 2001, 19 percent of our students were in the highest literacy level, now we have 16 percent. While that remains one of the highest rates in the OECD, the declining trend is significant. The gap between our high-achieving and low-achieving students continues to grow and remains one of the widest internationally.

We are left with a fundamental question: When does a government become accountable for its failure? If we want to be top of the table again, we must answer that question.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=141.3

Parliament denies support for Doha family declaration ------------------------------------------------------------------------ On Tuesday, Parliament turned down a notice of motion put forward by United Future MP Larry Baldock to support the Doha Declaration on the Family. The declaration was approved by the United Nations General Assembly on 6 December, outlining the intention to uphold the family and preserve and defend the institution of marriage. Mr Baldock says no matter how you look at it, it is difficult to understand why New Zealand would have to disassociate from such a document. "Is this a case of where ideology has made them blind to good commonsense proposals and recommendations?" says Baldock.

To read an article on the declaration by Maxim director Bruce Logan browse to: http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/news_page/doha_declaration.php

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=141.4

Prostitution referendum petition - final notice ------------------------------------------------------------------------ There are just three weeks left to collect enough signatures on the petition for a referendum on the Prostitution Reform Act at the next election. Over 163,000 signatures have been received, with another 70,000 pledged, which leaves the total about 40,000 short. This is the last chance to ensure that New Zealanders can have a say on the Prostitution Reform Act and to raise it as an election issue.

Please rally your family, neighbours, churches and community organisations for a huge last effort to achieve the total of 271,000 signatures.

To download petition forms visit http://www.stoptheabuse.org.nz

Maxim speakers at Parachute ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Maxim speakers will be on stage at Australasia's biggest music festival to talk about what New Zealand might look like in the year 2020. Also included in the Maxim seminar stream will be the first (and probably largest live) political debate in election year. Parachute music festival is in Hamilton from 28 to 31 January 2005.

For more information visit http://www.parachutemusic.com

"Evidence" - summer edition out now ------------------------------------------------------------------------ The summer edition of Maxim's quarterly journal, "Evidence", was released this week. Feature articles include 'The evolution of children's rights' and 'Can the state make you free?'. The winning essay from our tertiary essay competition will cause you to think about the value of tradition and also gives us hope for a new generation of young leaders. Evidence is available from bookshops around the country and is passed directly to Maxim partners.

To sign up as Maxim partner call Katrina Tel. (09) 627 3261 or visit: http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/act_page/act_support.html#member

Christmas wonder ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Just nine more sleeps until Christmas and many of us are still wondering what happened to 2004. There has been no shortage of news and issues to comment on in what has been a monumental year in the history of New Zealand society. We trust that "Real Issues" has made you think beyond the headlines and that it will continue to challenge ideas and prompt debate. Thank you for taking the time to read it each week; we have been encouraged by the feedback and discussion that "Real Issues" continues to generate.

>From everyone at Maxim we wish you and your family a very happy Christmas. Real Issues will be back in your inbox at the end of January 2005.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Professor J. Budziszewski ------------------------------------------------------------------------ The only way to get something bad is to take something good and spoil it. Whenever you find a bad thing, look for a good thing somewhere in the ruins.

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

Maxim Institute 49 Capehorn Road, Hillsborough, Auckland. Ph (09) 627 3261 74 Middleton Road, Riccarton, Christchurch. Ph. (03) 343 1570

Email: maxim@maxim.org.nz Web: http://www.maxim.org.nz

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ENDS

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