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Maxim Institute real issues 28 July 2005

28 July 2005

Maxim Institute real issues 28 July 2005

real issues. this week: No. 167, 28 July 2005

Contents: --------- * Repeal of Section 59 one step closer

* What you need to know this election

* Marriage debate deferred

* Greg Fleming wins Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award

* 2005 Tertiary Students' Essay Competition

Repeal of Section 59 one step closer

Green MP Sue Bradford's Bill to repeal Section 59 (s59) of the Crimes Act was debated in Parliament last night, before finally passing its first reading 65 votes to 54. Labour, the Progressives, two New Zealand First MPs, and Maori Party MP Tariana Turia, voted in favour. National, ACT, United Future and 11 New Zealand First MPs voted against the Bill.

It now goes to select committee, and its passage into law will depend on the conclusions of the committee, and the make-up of the new Parliament after the election. A number of MPs may have voted for it because they want to see the issue debated further at the select committee level, not necessarily because they want to see the Bill pass in its current form.

Ms Bradford wants to ensure s59 is not used successfully as a defence for the physical abuse of children, but despite assurances this is an "anti-beating not anti-smacking Bill", she is trying to have it both ways.

If smacking is considered violence, parents who smack their child would, under this law change, be committing a criminal act. It is important to understand that discipline is a necessary part of the unique parent-child relationship, which may include the occasional use of physical discipline. Where evidence suggests that "reasonable force" has been exceeded, the courts need to determine the facts and abusers punished. Let's be clear - discipline is normative, abuse is not.

High rates of child abuse in New Zealand will not be reduced by the State further undermining parents' authority in the parent-child relationship. A better approach is to first understand what is occurring in families and then promote community-based parenting programmes to deal with the root causes of dysfunction.

What you need to know this election

The election date was announced this week and a new website has been launched to help Kiwi voters make an informed decision. www.nzvotes.org will improve access to information and provide an easy-to-use resource for voters, enabling them to compare policies, parties and people.

This is the fourth MMP election in this country, but many New Zealanders still have an inadequate understanding of our electoral system. This was highlighted in a recent Electoral Commission study that found that less than 20 percent of voters could recall two critical facts about MMP, for example, the difference between the party vote and the electorate vote.

The study also found that 77 percent of voters thought information about party policy was important in helping them to decide who to vote for. This makes it the primary factor, ahead of news coverage and candidates' personalities. While party policy is an important factor in decision making, most voters are too busy to search in detail for this information, and don't want to spend hours sifting through political parties' spin and mountains of statements. Thankfully, this work has been done for them.

Key sections of nzvotes.org include: a comparison of ten broad policy areas; a simple guide to MMP and voting; party information; education resources; a campaign diary; news releases; and opinions from guest columnists. A major feature to be added next week is an electorate section that will profile candidates in every electorate in the country. In their own words, candidates will outline their political background, their interests, and notably, where they stand on six conscience issues likely to arise in the next term of parliament.

The website is a non-partisan, non-profit community service provided by Maxim Institute to inform and equip New Zealand voters. All political content on the site is the views of parties, candidates and guest columnists in their own words. Information is being added daily to the website, so visit regularly or sign-up on the site to get email alerts when new content is added. We hope it will become a valuable resource for every Kiwi voter in the upcoming election.

Visit www.nzvotes.org.

Marriage debate deferred

The vote on United Future MP Larry Baldock's Marriage Amendment Bill, scheduled for Wednesday this week, has now been postponed. The Bill seeks to codify common law, amending the Marriage Act to specify that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

Most parties looked set to adopt party positions on the Bill rather than treating it as a conscience matter. National, NZ First, ACT, the Maori party and United Future signalled their intention to vote en bloc for the Bill, while Labour, the Progressives and the Greens said they would vote en bloc against it. One Labour MP, Hon Taito Philip Field, obtained permission to cross the floor and vote in support of the Bill. While the numbers were close, they would have been insufficient to see it pass, so the Bill has been postponed.

The Bill may now come up for its first reading in the next term of Parliament, provided the new Parliament is supportive of strengthening marriage.

A first vote on the Bill would have given MPs the opportunity to make a symbolic, yet necessary gesture in support of marriage. During the debate on the Civil Union Bill, many MPs confirmed that marriage was only between a man and a woman. Yet in refusing to support the Marriage Amendment Bill, many abandoned the opportunity to stand by what they had said. It is unfortunate that Labour and the Greens were unwilling to support a move to preclude the possibility of the Courts redefining marriage, and to emphasise the importance of marriage.

Greg Fleming wins Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award ------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Maxim Institute Board and staff warmly congratulate Managing Director Greg Fleming on being recognised at the 2005 Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards, presented by the Governor General at Government House last Saturday. Greg Fleming was recognised for his leadership both as General Manager of Parenting with Confidence (now 'Parents Inc') and more recently as co-founder and Managing Director of Maxim Institute.

View Maxim's media release and a photo of the award ceremony: http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/news_page/R050727.php

2005 Tertiary Students' Essay Competition

If you're a tertiary student, the Centre for Tomorrow's Leaders is doing just that through our fourth annual essay competition. First prize is $2000, second prize is $1000 and third prize is $500.

This year's question is: "What role, if any, does religion (both personal and institutional) have in the political sphere of a society?"

Further details are available at, www.maxim.org.nz/essay.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Sir Winston Churchill - The price of greatness is responsibility.


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