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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rating family friendliness


Family First has done what more lobby groups should be doing. It has ranked the party leaders and all politicians and parliamentary parties based on what it considers to be their "family friendliness". I've been looking at it in the past few days and doing my own analysis. This post is not analysis, it is merely comments.

Family First lists 13 issues that it believes are not family friendly. They are : prostitution reform, civil unions, relationships bill, parental notification for abortions for under 16s, Euthanasia, Care of Children, Marriage Amendment, Easter Trading, Sunday Easter Trading Sunday, Drinking Age, Street Prostitution in Manakau and the Electoral Finance Act.

Winston Peters is the most family friendly, with 77 percent, voting for Euthanasia and Sunday Trading, with Helen Clark being the most unfamily friendly leader with 8 percent, voting against Good Friday and Easter Sunday Trading.

The most family friendly MPs are ones that are unlikely to be in Parliament after the election : Gordon Copeland, Judy Turner and Taito Philip Field.They were followed by Phil Heatley and Nick Smith. The most family unfriendly are Pete Hodson and Steve Chadwick, followed by David Benson-Pope, Mark Burton, Clark, Goff and Maharey - all ministers during most of the period - then most of the Greens. The most consistent in their voting were the Maori Party and the Greens, as you'd expect, as parties with ethnic and postmaterialist cleavages more likely to vote the same as their colleagues on such issues than Left/Right parties.

However it is important to note that list MPs are usually more" family unfriendly" than electorate MPs despite most of the votes being conscience votes. Additionally, MPs change their votes during the legislative process. Two bills didn't get past the first reading, so it is a little unfair to state that an MP who were merely happy for a euthanasia bill to progress past the first reading to allow debate, but intend to oppose it later - is family unfriendly if most of his colleagues voted otherwise, but state that another MP is family friendly if he changes his vote at the third reading to what Family First think he should have done all along, ( example: Peter Dunne with the Electoral Finance Bill).

What is a little puzzling is why the Electoral Finance Bill is included and the ETS was not. The ETS is arguably more family unfriendly than the EFA.

update I emailed Family First and asked them. They said that the reason the Electoral Finance laws were added was because Family First claims that it stops them speaking out on family function and family form, and that families have as much right to be heard as those wanting to be voted for. But it's not just families, so do students, gays, satanists and everyone one else in between. It appears they didn't consider including the ETS because they maintain it doesn't affect the form or function of families. I disagree. It`ll affect the function of our family budget. Perhaps they should add it in.

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