Flew up to Auckland
early Friday morning for the Forum on the Family. If I had paid more attention to Whale’s damning criticism of Jet Star airline, I wouldn’t have bothered with them, but as it was they got us to Auckland two hours late, so got to the forum at 10am, without any coffee… Met up with irrepressible fellow blogger Dave Crampton who has done a few blog posts on the forum, Matt and Madeline who are thinking about doing a blog post (now published), and David Farrar who I think would probably print his blog out and eat it before he admitted he was present at the forum 😉 Anyway, here’s a few comments from speakers and thoughts from the forum…
Ross Robertson (Labour), Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga (National), Judy Turner (United Future – list MP, not in Parliament), Gordon Copeland (Kiwi Party – list MP, not in Parliament)
All the politicians wanted to keep prayer in Parliament saying it was a time of reflection, silence – it’s part of history of NZ and so important to keep it… It doesn’t bother me either way.
On abstaining from voting, none of them were very keen on it – Gordon in particular, however he was the only MP to miss the third readings of the Anti-Smacking Bill and the Electoral Finance Bill. Kind of ironic however by no means the unforgivable sin.
On the best way to get in touch with an MP, they all agreed that bulk/form emails are only useful for gauging numbers in terms of support or opposition to a proposition, however made it clear that it was often very annoying. One of them stated “the Government does listen to numbers” which elicited a wave of laughter from the crowd. Gordon had a spiel about the number of supportive postcards he had received on the subject of the Therapeutic Bill (2006), and beaming told us that he had held the balance of power at one of its readings, choosing to support the bill (61-60 votes for). For crying out loud, if you’re a list MP you shouldn’t get up there and skite that you held the balance of power – it’s a part of the reason why people are so cynical and scared of our electoral system of MMP.
John Angus, Children’s Commissioner
John stated accurately that child abuse isn’t a child problem, they don’t cause it and aren’t responsible for it – it’s an adult problem. Apparently there’s 100,000 incidents refered to CYFS each year (over 300 per day), but of these a relatively small (but horrific) 13,000 are found to be actual cases of abuse. Child abuse costs the country an estimated $2b yearly. John erroneously stated that 8 children die as a result of child abuse each year, however the figure is more like 18,000 when the children dying from abortion are accounted for.
Bruce Pilbrow, Families Commissioner and Director of Parents Inc
“you can complain and moan… no, you should either do nothing or get stuck in and do something”
On the Families Commission he said, six months ago I would have said can it, kick it – but it’s not going to go, so let’s get involved – we’ve got a chance and this is it – if we can’t do it then no-once can, and then we should kick it. Bruce reckons more money should be funneled into third-party organisations as “they know how to turn $1 into $2, and they have something called accountability” hah, good call.
Opposition leader Phil Goff and Prime Minister John Key both addressed the forum, speaking for 40 minutes each but saying very little… Got to give Key some credit for tackling the Smacking issue first off, but of course his comments on the subject were as usual, unprincipled and embarrassing for any National supporters listening. He said that he wanted to make sure that Nigel Latta is comfortable that parents won’t be prosecuted for smacking their child. Nigel has been appointed onto the review board for the smacking law. “Nigel voted no!”… wow John, what a concession… who cares how comfortable Nigel is, what bearing does that have on the law? Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 currently classes a corrective smack using reasonable force as a criminal offence, and whether Nigel is comfortable or not, and whether the police prosecute or not it is still bad law, and 87.4% of Kiwis hate it. Anyway, I put the following question on one small aspect of the abortion issue to Phil Goff,
“Currently young girls can have their pre-born baby aborted without their parents’ knowledge or consent – what will your party do about this?”
Phil simply dodged the question and discussed the need to prevent conception so that there is no need to abort – said he doesn’t want to see a law which would criminalise abortion – because he says that would mean botched up abortions would be done in back alleys. Of course this is incorrect. Prior to the passing of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act in 1977, an average of only one woman died from complications in an illegal abortion each year.
Newly-elected president Voice for Life asked Phil if he agreed that more should be done to enable women to make a truly informed decision regarding their pregnancy. Phil concurred, but made the false and emotive claim that if an unwanted baby is allowed to be born, it will necessarily be destined to a life of misery.
Overall the forum was worthwhile, preeminently on account of the wonderful networking opportunities which I took advantage of. Heh, the food was a bit ponsy but Dave and I knocked back quite a few cups of good strong coffee.
One thought on “Forum on the Family”
It sounds like it was a pretty worthwhile conference. Because of the coffee, of course..
Key and Goff are past-masters in the art of speaking much and saying little of value. And as to answering questions! They end up spieling-off little arranged speeches that don't answer the question at all. Frustrating.