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Real Issues No. 310

Real Issues No. 310 - John Graham Lecture, Maternity Leave, Silent Legacy, Palliative Care

Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 310
17 July 2008

Don't miss out on Maxim Institute's inaugural John Graham Lecture 2008

Making it harder for women

Silent Legacy: The unseen ways great thinkers have shaped our culture

A new start for the end of life

Enrolment time
Statism vs Social Justice


Time is running out to RSVP for our Annual John Graham Lecture. The address, to be delivered by internationally renowned constitutional law expert Professor Jeremy Waldron, is titled, 'Parliamentary Recklessness: Why we need to legislate more carefully.' It will examine New Zealand's current legislative process, delve into how unfit legislation, such as the Electoral Finance Act, can be passed, and ask what can be done to make things better.

This dinner lecture is the first of an annual series named in honour of John Graham, a New Zealand hero. John Graham has spent his life training, inspiring and mentoring young New Zealanders in education and sport, having had a celebrated and distinguished career in both fields. He has been Headmaster of Auckland Grammar School, Chancellor of the University of Auckland, Captain of the All Blacks and President of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union. John Graham is a dedicated leader in our nation and his passion for New Zealand has endowed this country with a brilliant legacy.

The event will be held on Monday, 28 July 2008, at 6.00 pm, at The Grand Tearoom, Heritage Hotel, 35 Hobson Street, Auckland. Tickets are $140 incl. GST (single) or $1,040 incl. GST (table of 8) and are limited, so RSVP is essential. We are delighted to invite you to attend this event.

Read more about the John Graham Lecture, including how to purchase tickets http://www.maxim.org.nz/index.cfm/Events


Concerns are being raised in Britain over the effect that increasing maternity leave entitlements is having on women in the workforce. Nicola Brewer, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has suggested that the rights intended to help women may in fact be working against them and entrenching a culture where fathers are viewed as a desirable yet unnecessary addition to a child's life.

Brewer, amidst the launch of an inquiry by the Commission into flexibility in the workplace, suggested that Britain must face the 'inconvenient truth' that increased entitlements for paid maternity leave are not actually having the positive effect intended. The leave entitlements, currently nine months paid leave at 90 percent of full pay, may be making it harder for women of child-bearing age to get the jobs they want.

Brewer also points out that such regulations are having a profound impact on culture. She suggests the regulations, which offer extensive leave to mothers but only two weeks to fathers, are pushing fathers further from the family picture, giving families no real choice about who is the primary caregiver. New Zealand has been facing similar debates for some time already, and as a result we have seen changes made to our employment laws, all intended to provide solutions for women and their families. This year saw the implementation of the Employment Relations (Flexible Working Arrangements) Amendment Act and last year the Families Commission report It's About Time recommended paid parental leave, available to either parent, be increased to a total of thirteen months.

Brewer's cautions equally apply to us and demonstrate that trying to achieve social goals through law is never as straightforward as some might think; by increasing the obligations that are owed to women with children, the law may actually make things harder for them. To really assist families, our focus should be on cultural change that moves away from reliance on dual incomes and keeping a foot in the job market. Legislating for social change tends to skew people's choices, and in this case neither mothers nor fathers are benefiting.


Philosophers, it seems, are the quiet achievers. Largely unrecognised, often unread, they have fundamentally shaped the way that we understand ourselves, our culture and the choices we make, from our modern fixation with child-centred learning, to our rationale for introducing MMP. In an election year these issues are more pressing than ever. We are called to make decisions about whether to vote based on our ethnicity, how to weigh the evidence of the competing policies, whether to vote in our own interests or those of others. In all these things, the past weighs on us.

Understanding the past and its shaping is important, not merely in becoming well-versed for dinner parties, but in having a chance to look sharply into the mirror and understanding the host of history and culture to which we belong. Silent Legacy: The unseen ways great thinkers have shaped our culture has been written by Maxim Institute staff members Paul Henderson and John Fox. It sketches some of the major philosophers, pointing to the links between their thoughts and the values that live and breathe today. It examines why it is that we are so influenced by gender identity politics and the scientific method. It looks at the way great thinkers through history have answered questions like, 'How do we know?' 'What does a good life look like?' and 'How should we live together?'

Plato, Hume and their fellow thinkers are not just names on the spines of university library books, but men who had ideas. Their ideas stuck. Hume allowed the nineteenth century's emphasis on autonomy, individualism and scepticism. Plato caused us to believe in an ordered universe, while Descartes taught us to reason. Rousseau laid the foundations of the French revolution, causing oppression and bloodshed. Marx also brought revolution, and with it tyranny across the face of the earth, while Foucault changed the way we view our very identity.

Our means of government, the methods we use in our quest for knowledge, our discussions around the nature of the universe, justice or beauty, draw their inspiration and lines of argument from these thinkers and their first conversations: their silent legacy.

Order a copy of Silent Legacy online


Death is a reality not often remembered consciously. Rarely does it get a second thought, until one of those shaking days, when a phone call comes in the night time or when a drive takes us past a car wreck reminding that life ends—human beings are mortal. For others the knowledge of death is a daily reality, as they live with an incurable illness, knowing that the end is imminent. The life of people with terminal illness and the work of those who care for them is a powerful reminder of the value of life's every second and the sheer gift that is another breath of air.

Farleigh Hospice in the United Kingdom has recently begun a creative new service, providing mobile support to people who are dying. A bus has been tailor-made to travel through local communities in Essex, featuring staff, equipment and advice about services, allowing people to receive assistance conveniently and in the context of their own local community. The service is broad, catering not only to medical needs, but also providing counselling, education and training for healthcare workers. The service is an extension of Farleigh's work which has been operating for over 20 years, with three centres that provide palliative care under the philosophy of 'caring for life.' The services that they provide are not merely about preparing for death, but about helping people to live well, even in the later stages of terminal illness. They provide all-embracing care, with a hair-dressing salon and candlelit dinners on offer for couples caught in confusion and grief. It is an inventive response to a common need and is staffed largely by volunteers and funded primarily through donations. One of the challenging statements sometimes made by advocates of euthanasia is the suggestion that for the terminally ill, life ends cruelly and painfully in an unpleasant environment. Hospice services, such as Farleigh, are a practical answer to these statements, valuing those that they serve and celebrating life for as long as it can be lived.

In an era where life is often summarised by its achievements, palliative care sits at the margins, often forgotten, sometimes deliberately, sometimes desperately, in the hope of avoiding the facts that it reminds us of. Yet the services that it offers provide a profound challenge. The story of Farleigh Hospice and the people who are served by it, is a story that speaks of living until the very last breath, until you cannot live anymore. Life is not cheap or worthless, every moment is precious.

Find out more about Farleigh Hospice



The current electoral roll is available for viewing, as New Zealand builds towards an election later in the year. The electoral roll should accurately reflect all New Zealand residents who are eligible to vote, however sometimes the details are incorrect as people move houses and others reach voting age without registering. If your details are incorrect, you will not be able to vote in the upcoming election. From now, until one month before the election, the roll can be viewed and amended. As Bill Moyers once said, 'Democracy works when people claim it as their own.' Take the opportunity to check that your records are correct and participate in our democracy this year.

Check your enrolment details


Maxim Institute and the New Zealand Business Roundtable are delighted to invite you to Statism vs Social Justice, a free public lecture by Father Robert Sirico. The lecture will be held in Auckland on Thursday, 24 July. Father Robert Sirico is President of the Acton Institute and will explain what social justice can offer, through a combination of civil society and business. As places are limited, RSVP is essential.

Find out more about this event


'Philosophy's legacy is fast becoming silent; philosophy is all-too-often latent and assumed underneath culture and human life instead of being a debated and accessible part of it. As we lose sight of the ideas which have shaped our world, and the people who formed them, so too we lose the tools for understanding who we are, and the culture we live in.'

Silent Legacy


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