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PM playing fickle politics with serious issue

Monday 7 August 2000

PM playing fickle politics with serious issue

The Leader of the Opposition Jenny Shipley tonight reiterated National's support for Parliament debating property rights for de facto and same sex couples but said they should be in separate legislation from matrimonial couples.

Mrs Shipley was speaking at a public meeting in Wellington - the fourteenth in National's nationwide roadshow to inform New Zealanders about the Government's changes to relationship property rights.

"The Prime Minister's assertion that National opposes property rights for de facto and same sex couples is fickle politics and is wrong. Ms Clark should focus on the substantive arguments, rather than campaigning on misinformation.

"If this sort of comment is the best she can come up with in response to National's substantial concerns about the legislation then she is clearly out of touch. The last thing we want to do is make it more difficult for estranged couples to make a clean break and instead languish in the court.

"National introduced legislation to give de facto couples property rights last year. It is the Labour Government's amoral and gender neutral approach that has got this piece of legislation into difficulty. If Margaret Wilson had stuck with National's original Bill instead of combining it with matrimonial property legislation we wouldn't be hearing the sorts of concerns we are from the legal profession and church and family groups.

"National wants to work with Parliamentarians including Labour MPs, some of whom feel very strongly about the implications of this legislation, to develop legislation that respects the unique status of marriage while at the same time offering some security to de facto and same sex couples. This could be achieved by retaining the terms 'wife' and 'husband' in relation to marriage and using 'relationship' and 'partner' in relation to de facto and same sex relationships.

"We also want to address the issue of the 50/50 split rule and the fact that many more couples will face conflict and finish up in court as a result of the Government's law change.

"Parliament should vote on legislation that gives property rights to people in all three types of relationship without having to make the foolish presumption that the relationships are the same," Mrs Shipley said.


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