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Family break-up – a King Hit for Opposition?

EDITOR'S NOTE: See also: Letter from Elsewhere: Joe McCarthy Lives - a response to Sandra Paterson's original column by Scoop Columnist Anne Else. Scoop understands that Kay Goodger - the subject of this article and the article by Ms Paterson - considers the content of the original New Zealand Herald column to be defamatory and to contain significant factual errors. In due course a response from Ms Goodger to the allegations made in Ms Paterson's article and this one may also be published on Scoop.

POSTSCRIPT: Retraction and apology from New Zealand Herald To Kay Goodger

This statement is in relation to an article by Sandra Paterson entitled "Feminist Agenda Reaches Fruition", which ran in the 14 May 2005 edition of the Herald.

The Herald accepts that Kay Goodger was not the author of the words attributed to her in the article which came from a Socialist Action League submission to a select committee on women's rights in the 1970s published in a booklet along with an introduction by Ms Goodger.

The Herald also accepts that Kay Goodger is employed as a Senior Analyst in the research section of the Ministry of Social Development, and that her position was misdescribed in the article as a senior adviser in the Ministry.

The Herald accepts that the description of Ms Goodger as a senior adviser carries with it an implication that she has been able to influence government social policy through her employment. The Herald regrets any implication in the article that Ms Goodger has been able to use, or has used, her position in the public service to pursue the goals attributed to her in the article.

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The Herald unreservedly apologises to Kay Goodger and her family for any distress caused by the inaccuracies in the article.

Family break-up – a King Hit for Opposition?


By Lou Garvey

A New Zealand Herald columnist Sandra Paterson may last week have been the messenger with bad news the Labour-led Government does not want at the forefront of news coverage in coming weeks.

It was nothing as riveting as a Ministerial resignation in the face of verbal fire from the opposition; nor an administrative scandal of bigger than NCEA proportions. But it went to the heart of middle New Zealand unease about the reformist social programme the Helen Clark’s administration has run since first assuming office.

More than that, it gave substance to John Tamihere’s ramblings in Investigate magazine on the demerits of Clark’s administration.

Paterson used as her messenger a little old lady who attended the feminist meetings of the ‘70’s when people who attended or addressed them included Helen Clark, Sylvia Cartwright, Marilyn Waring, Cath Tizard, Ros Noonan and Margaret Wilson.

According to Paterson the little old lady kept some documents which set out a long-term feminist agenda to change New Zealand society by attacking the traditional family unit.

The documents were, the column said, written by Kay Goodger, now a senior adviser in the Ministry of Social Development.

In them Goodger wrote, the column said: “Coercive family laws should be abolished….the rearing, social welfare and education of children should become the responsibility of society rather than individual parents.

“The famiily distorts all human relationships by imposing on them the framework of economic compulsion, social dependence and sexual repression. Our goal must be to create economic and social institutions that are superior to the present family.”

It is one thing to set out to establish a framework for a better environment for women to progress in society than that which existed over three and four decades ago. It is quite another to plot through long term strategy the downfall of the family as the cornerstone of a nation’s society.

No doubt Cambodia’s Pol Pot would approve. Mao Tse Tung wanted his communist movement to have sway over the young of his society post the 1949 revolution in China. Marx and Lenin might well have endorsed the sentiments.

However, is it the social strategy that mainstream middle New Zealand would want followed? Is it what Maori want? Is it what Pacific Islanders want? Is it what Asian New Zealanders want? Each of these societies within the New Zealand population mix has the family at the centre of daily life. Overthrow of family life by actions of the state is hardly a concept of government likely to fit well with these sections of the community.

It is not difficult for each of these communities to see in the Government’s social programmes the flesh and bones of this anti-family strategy in action. What irony there is in the Government labelling one of its latest financial plays to increase family dependence on the state – “Working for Families”.

The reason this Paterson column has “King Hit” potential for the opposition parties is that little room is left for Labour to deny that the strategy has been followed. The legislative and regulatory environment, and the list of appointments to government posts, is littered with examples of this strategy in action. Just ask Tamihere for confirmation!

It is hardly likely that Labour can with conviction change course. Phil Goff, George Hawkins and Clayton Cosgrove know the political realities of who is in charge, as does Tamihere.

The big question is can the opposition parties make the most of the situation that has been delivered to them on a plate? They might start with the position of Kay Goodger in the Ministry of Social Development.


Lou Garvey is a freelance writer on political affairs

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