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Maxim: Real Issues No. 144, 17 February 2005


Maxim: Real Issues No. 144, 17 February 2005

Winston's "Principles" Deletion Bill?

Following in Sweden's footsteps?

Gender identity a legal fiction?

Maxim golf tournament - team entries welcome

Did you know?


Winston's "Principles" Deletion Bill?

Fortune has smiled on Winston Peters. It's election year and his "Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi" Deletion Bill has been drawn from the private members' ballot box. Other MPs have had their bills languishing in there for years. The Deletion Bill wants to eliminate all references to the expressions, "the principles of the Treaty", "The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi", and "the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles" from all New Zealand Statutes. It includes all preambles, interpretations, schedules, regulations and other provisions included in or arising from each and every statute.

Maxim knows of at least 13 significant individuals or agencies who have put forward principles. They range Hiwi Tauroa, the former Race Relations Conciliator (1980-1986), who discovered two principles, to the New Zealand Law Commission which found 13 in 1999. Sir Douglas Graham, Minister in charge of Treaty negotiations until 1999, managed to find 11.

The problem with the frequent reference to the "Principles of the Treaty" in statute is that no list can claim to be authoritative and none is defined in legislation. Of course that does not mean that the "principles" should not be there, but what they are should be clearly stated.

Nevertheless, it is reasonable to claim that all the "principles" are statements of intent that can be identified as general principles of justice but which are not unique to the Treaty of Waitangi. The confusion over "principles" has not helped us understand the meaning and significance of the Treaty. No matter how one looks at this Bill, it is going to be contentious. Will it solve the problems that surround the Treaty? Probably not, but we hope it takes us forward by highlighting the importance of clarity in legislation, and stimulating debate about the principles of justice.


Following in Sweden's footsteps?

Prime Minister Helen Clark hosted the Swedish Prime Minister this week. Ms Clark holds Sweden up as a country New Zealand should model itself on. She has long admired Sweden's support for women and its family-friendly policies, including universal child care and high rates of women's participation in the workforce (75 percent).

The Prime Minister neglects to point out that these results come at a price. Swedish people are amongst the most highly taxed in the world. The average Swedish wage-earner sees well over 50 percent of their income vanish in taxes (both national and regional). Nearly a third of GDP goes on social welfare.

Sweden's marriage rate is remarkably low. Consequently, the proportion of children born outside of marriage is one of the highest in the world; during 2001 it rose to 55 percent (UN World Fertility Report 2003) compared with 44 percent in New Zealand during the same year (Statistics New Zealand Demographic Trends, 2004).

The Swedish economic miracle of the mid-1900s was admired around the world. But in 30 years they have dropped from number four on the OECD rankings of per capita income to number 17 last year, not a great deal higher than New Zealand at 21. Following the Swedish model for social and economic policy could indeed bring us a long winter night.


Gender identity a legal fiction?

The Human Rights (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill, sponsored by Labour MP Georgina Beyer, was introduced to parliament this week. The Bill provides for "gender identity" to be included as one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Human Rights Act.

According to the Bill, "gender identity" is "the identification by a person with a gender that is different from the birth gender of that person..." The Human Rights Commission adds that "gender identity can be broadly described as the sense of self associated with cultural definitions of masculinity and femininity". [I]t has become increasingly possible for both women and men in NZ to be 'feminine' and 'masculine' in ways that are markedly different from the pattern of preceding generations" (Human Rights in New Zealand Today, 2004).

Can people really change their sex? Can a male change to a female? Or are we legislating protection for a legal fiction? Will this be the latest victory of political correctness over biology? Under this Bill a person's sex, indeed their identity becomes a matter of personal preference reinforced by law, instead of being a matter of DNA and history. Parties have yet to confirm whether they will treat this Bill as a conscience vote.

To read an article related to the issue of gender identity by Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University visit: http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0411/articles/mchugh.htm


Maxim golf tournament - team entries welcome

Maxim Institute and the Rotary Club of St Johns are holding their annual golf tournament at Titirangi Golf Club on Friday 18 March. There are a few spaces left for teams of four to enter this fundraising event. For more information email david.youngson@maxim.org.nz or call David on 09 627 3261.


Did you know?

In the tiny Indian Ocean island group, the Maldives, only 1 percent of births are to unmarried mothers, the lowest ex-nuptial rate in the world. The rate in New Zealand is 44 percent (UN World Fertility Report 2003).


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