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Enough is Enough – Its Time For a New Agenda

Enough is Enough – Its Time For a New Agenda

Address by Ewen McQueen,
Leader of Christian Heritage NZ,
to the Enough is Enough rally at Parliament,
Monday August 23rd 2004.

Thank you Brian and your team for the huge effort you have put into organising this event – an event aimed at bringing the message to this place that values matter.

And they most certainly do. For many years we have been told by politicians, academics, commentators that it is the economy and economic policy that matters. Some of them advocate right wing policy that grows the economy, others advocate left wing policy that shares the economy. Either way the solution to our social problems is always argued to be economic. Get the economic policy settings correct, we are told, and everything else will fall into place.

Well it hasn’t. We stand here today with a booming economy, record low unemployment, ongoing budget surpluses, and more redistribution of wealth going on than ever before – and yet there is a growing social crisis in our nation, and in our families. It is a crisis that is exacting a terrible toll on our children.

Over the last year child abuse notifications have risen by 31% to 43,400. There are now an estimated 300,000 children living in poverty in New Zealand. And last year a record 18,500 unborn children had their lives taken from them in our abortion clinics.

It’s a tragic and shameful story and it is happening not because of anything to do with the economy, but because as a nation we have walked away from the values that build strong family life. In particular we have walked away from the institution of marriage – the idea that a man and a woman should make a public, formal, lifelong commitment to each other, and that they should be faithful to that commitment.

Instead our leaders have gone out of their way to elevate, recognise, and normalise every other form of relationship. Step by step they have put in place policies and legislation that have helped to promote the ongoing casualisation of human relationships in our nation. That process has been a disaster for our children. It has helped create revolving-door families where mum’s latest partner comes and goes and where violence, abuse, neglect and poverty are far more likely to prevail.

The social science research shows that very clearly – especially when it comes to child abuse. International research from a number of western countries all shows that children are significantly less likely to suffer abuse when raised by their married, biological parents. If they are raised in an alternative arrangement, then the research indicates that abuse is anything from five times to thirty times more likely. If we are concerned about child abuse then we must sit up and take notice of this sort of data.

Unfortunately some of our leaders are more committed to their ideological agendas than they are to facing the truth. They say we don’t have a problem with family breakdown in New Zealand, we just have increased diversity of family structure. 43,400 child abuse notifications is not diversity, it is a disaster, and it is completely unacceptable.

The Civil Unions and Relationships Bill are of course just another step in this process of liberalising and casualising human relationships in our nation. Together they will establish an alternative form of relationship with all the same legal status as marriage – but without the same cultural connotations of lifelong, faithful, commitment. The Prime Minister herself has acknowledged this fact. In a radio interview in June Helen Clark said that a civil union was not marriage it was “just a legal status and no more than that”.1 Well if that’s true why are we bothering with it?

With the breakdown of family life so prevalent in our nation, surely the urgent need of our day is to rebuild the ethic of faithfulness and commitment back into our relationship culture – not to establish an alternative that means nothing – that is just a legal registration of a relationship.

The crisis in our families cries out for leadership that will put its efforts into affirming marriage, not creating alternatives. Because it is marriage that means commitment. It is marriage that means faithfulness. It carries the weight or the mana of those values, because that is what it has meant for centuries. And it is precisely because of this, that it should hold a pre-eminent place in public policy. It is because of this, that it should retain a unique legal status – and not be dishonoured by being made merely one of a range of relationship forms that the Government treats as equivalent.

Unfortunately many of our current political leaders believe the lie that they must be neutral about relationships. The Human Rights Act, they say does not allow us to discriminate. My answer to that is very simple. If the Human Rights Act does not allow us to do the very thing our society most urgently needs – to positively discriminate in favour of the institution of marriage – then the Human Rights Act needs to change.

The fact is that not all discrimination is bad or unjust. To discriminate is simply to recognise difference – to differentiate. We do it all the time when it comes to other issues such as smoking. Our leaders are very happy to implement policy and legislation that discriminates against smoking and affirms a smokefree lifestyle. Why ? Because they know it is good for people. Well the institution of marriage and the commitment that it defines is just as good for people – indeed it is critical to rebuilding stable family life in New Zealand.

Of course in dealing with values issues such as these there is often controversy and division. However let it be known that our dispute today is not with our fellow New Zealanders. Each one of us is made in the image of God and therefore priceless in value. All New Zealanders are the object of His love, and candidates for receiving His amazing grace and life changing power.

No our dispute is not with our fellow New Zealanders, it is with the ideologies and philosophies that exalt themselves against the truth – and that rob our people of the fullness of what they were created for. And in particular that are robbing our children of a decent chance at life, because they are destroying their families around them.

We come today not to cast stones – but rather to drive a stake into the ground and say enough is enough – the liberal permissive agenda that is rotting family life in this nation must be halted.

It is time for a new agenda to be brought to this Parliament. An agenda that will honour the Judeo-Christian values upon which our culture and our nation was founded. An agenda that will affirm marriage, build families, and celebrate life as a precious gift of God.

It is time to put people into this Parliament, who will pursue such an agenda with passion and conviction. People who will use every opportunity to advance the cause, be it coalition negotiations, initiating select committee inquiries, or introducing members bills. People who will go on the front-foot and pro-actively advance positive initiatives to rebuild family life in this nation. The ground has been lost step by step. We must now take it back in the same way - step by step.

I can assure you that Christian Heritage NZ will give you people who will be committed to doing just that. I know my colleague Richard Lewis in Destiny NZ, is of the same mind. And I believe that there are others already in Parliament who in the days ahead will find new conviction, and who will play their part within the parties to which they belong. Ultimately the agenda we need to advance is not about party politics – it transcends that. And so must we.

My friends, New Zealand can be a better place. History shows that nations can change for the better. So let us see good things ahead for our nation. I have kept battling away all these years out of deep conviction that our nation needs to change, and with a growing faith that the God whom we call upon in our national anthem is going to bring about that change.

Thank you for coming today. You have made a wonderful statement simply by being here. May God bless you, and may God bless this nation we all love - New Zealand.

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