BIG NEWS: Goff and Key talked to Family First – but didn’t say much

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Goff and Key talked to Family First – but didn’t say much

I attended a forum by the Family First lobby in Auckland yesterday, predominately to hear how John Key and Phil Goff would respond to questions from Family First’s Bob McCoskrie.

I came away wondering why their answers were so non-committal given that both leaders’ offices were sent a full list of questions beforehand, of which I have a copy. So rather than getting sprung, they had plenty of time to prepare answers to uncomfortable questions on the usual Family First topics; same sex adoption, euthanasia, child prostitution and parental notification for teen abortions. As both got the same questions they could have even shared notes.

Both were asked about marriage and family. Key said that marriage was a partnership between two people, and commitment was the key to a successful marriage.

Goff also said it was between two people- with legal safeguards built into that.

When pressed about the gender of these “two people”, Key was asked whether he’d vote for a gay marriage bill.

“That’s something I’d have to think through,” he said.

Pretty non-committal, really.

Goff’s response to a similar question on #Goffchat on Twitter wasn’t much better. ”Labour supported civil unions, when National opposed them. Not intending to make further changes”.
So that’s an “I don’t want to tell you”, from Key, and an “I don’t want to progress this”, from Goff.

Key was then as asked whether he thought the safest place for a child to be was in a marriage relationship. His one word answer: “Yes”. Goff said the gender of parents was irrelevant to good parenting. He said that a stable supportive and healthy environment ( to bring up kids) was his bottom line.

“It’s not the gender of parents, but the ability for parents to provide a stable loving environment – what would be different about parenting if it was biological?”

So that’s a “yes” from Key, and a “not necessarily” from Goff.

When asked if life starts at conception or later on, Goff said, “ 12 weeks, 20 weeks, who is to say?

Key said, “Well, you certainly hope it is before the first Plunket visit” - another throw-away line. He wasn’t asked when he thought the first Plunket visit should be, but instead he was asked whether parents should be notified should their teen be considering an abortion.

“In my view for the most part yes, unless there is a very very good reason, I think parents should be told”.

Goff said while it was desirable for counsellors to encourage a girl to talk to her parents, “would a girl confide in a counsellor if she thought that the counsellor would go directly to her parents – my guess is that she wouldn’t”.

So that’s an “I don’t know and don’t particularly care” from both Goff and Key on when life starts. It’s a "no" from Goff on parental notification - and a "sort of yes" from Key.

They were also asked whether they believed in God and faith. Instead, both gave answers on what they didn’t believe in.

Key on God: “I wouldn’t describe myself as atheistic or agnostic, I live my life by Christian principles, I live my life to help others. I can’t tell you what happens the moment you die”.

But he then said “I do think you have a spirit that moves to the next…..” but he then stopped abruptly, perhaps realising he had just said he didn’t know what happened in the afterlife, which in a way makes him a bit agnostic.

That response was similar to what he said in 2007, that is he said what he doesn’t believe, rather than what he does. He said then “I’m not deeply religious, and I don’t believe in life after death.” He said his stock answer in 2006,also.

Goff’s response was similar: “I`m not an atheist. I don’t believe in the afterlife. I`m a person of faith – born and bred a Roman Catholic, and my life has been shaped by the Christian values I was brought up with.”

Later, Key also said he ”might support” laws on same sex adoption, and told conference delegates that the government may adopt National MP Sam Lotu-Ii’ga’s
Moneylenders (Licensing and Regulation) Bill [PDF] to address loan sharking.

Among the final comments from both:

Goff: “It’s too easy to be a plastic politician”.

Key, on personal attacks in the House: “Frankly, I think Pete Hodgson is a loser”.

So the two leaders did their best to say… well not much, hoping that they`ll get some votes out of it.

Instead both got standing ovations.

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