Handing over law making

May 29th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

As I blogged yesterday I am in support of modernising our adoption laws. They are literally a relic from the 1950s. But the law reform is not just about whether same sex couples should be able to adopt, but needs to deal with a wide range of adoption issues, guardianship issues and surrogacy issues.

A few people think this will lead to many gay couples getting to adopt children, ahead of “deserving” heterosexual couples. But I quote Andrew Geddis on this:

This law change will result in only an infinitesimal increase in the number of children who actually get raised by a same-sex couples because there are Fuck All “stranger” adoptions in New Zealand (less than 100 a year). And then a given same-sex couple only will be able to adopt a child if the birth mother chose them ahead of all other eligible couples. So if gay couples could join the pool of people eligible to adopt in this manner, the number of children who would be placed with them likely would be negligible

What this means is that the argument about whether kids being raised by same-sex couples is good/bad is pretty much irrelevant to this issue, because it ISN’T ABOUT MORE KIDS BEING RAISED BY SAME SEX COUPLES THAN THERE ARE AT THE MOMENT.

What this is about is like what we saw on TV3, where two lesbians have lived together for 19 years, and both have a biological child. however they can not make each other the adoptive parent of each child. So if one of them dies, one of the children could be left in limbo. The current law actually prevents the best interests of the child being paramount.

Media reported yesterday that National MP and Green MP have been working for around 18 months on an adoption law reform bill. As I indicated, it is a hugely complex area, and just identifying the key policy issues is quite a task.

Now some in Labour have been saying that there is no need for a bill by Hague/Kaye, as already has a bill in the members’ ballot. This prompted me to look more closely at the bill, and I’m afraid it is very seriously flawed. I have absolutely no doubt that Jacinda genuinely wants good law reform in this area, but the bill she has put forward is basically little more than a legislative request for the Government to do something. The bill, which is only slightly longer than a press release, essentially does the following:

  1. Requires the Minister for the Law Commission to ask the Law Commission to review the law relating to the care of children and update its September 2000 report on adoption
  2. Requires the Law Commission to report within 12 months a report, recommendations and draft legislation
  3. Requires the Minister of Justice to introduce the bill, as drafted by the Law Commission, without amendment within seven days

There are a significant number of semi-fatal flaws with this approach. The first is timing. Under the Ardern bill, there would probably be no law change for four or more years until after it has been selected from the ballot. The likely timings are:

  • 1st reading – 3 months after introduction
  • select committee – 6 months
  • 2nd and 3rd reading – 3 months
  • Law Commission report – 12 months
  • Govt Bill has first reading scheduled – up to 12 months
  • select committee – 6 months
  • 2nd and 3rd reading – 3 months

So even if the Ardern bill was drawn tomorrow, any actual law change would take four or more years, so maybe the law would be changed by 2017. The problem is that Jacinda is trying to use a bill, to get the Law Commission to write a bill. But Ardern’s bill itself would have to go through the full legislative process which would take probably 12 months. And I am being generous in suggesting it could take 12 months to pass. Many member’s bill have spent 18 months just awaiting their first reading!

Effectively what Ardern wants could be achieved by writing a letter to the Minister of Justice, and this would save one to two year’s time if the Minister agreed. However Ardern is trying to legislate to force the Minister to introduce a bill, even if they do not want to. But she has made a fatal error. She has legislated that such a bill must be introduced within 7 days of the Law Commission drafting it, but she has not said that the Government must schedule it for a first reading debate.  So if the Government did not want the bill to progress, it would simply place it at the bottom of the order paper – which they can do as it would be a Government bill. Even a minority Government would be able to prevent the bill from ever being voted on – something they can’t do with a private members’ bill that actually seeks a law change – rather than just ordering the Government to introduce a bill.

So to be very clear, even if a majority in Parliament favoured law reform, the process outlined in this bill would give the Government an effective veto. It is not difficult to imagine a scenario where for example it is after the 2014 election and say Colin Craig or Winston Peters could demand that the price of their support is the bill not proceed, as their constituents do not like it. By making it a Government bill, you lose control of its timing.

So the biggest problem if Ardern’s bill would not actually see any law change for four or more years, and could in fact never be voted on if the Government did not want it to pass. But that is only one flaw.

The second flaw is that the Ardern bill doesn’t specify a single policy principle. Not one. It gives actually no direction to the Law Commission as to what should be in the bill, what its scope should be, or even that the bill should not discriminate against same sex relationships. Every single detail is left to the Law Commission. This is a blank piece of paper. Now one could say, well surely they would mainly repeat what they reported in September 2000. Well they might. But it is worth considering that I think every single member of the Law Commission is now different from 12 year ago. So there is no guarantee that what the Law Commission would deliver is what Ardern wants. It is the job of legislators to spell out the general policy principles they want a law to reflect.

The third flaw is that the Minister of Justice is required to introduce whatever the Law Commission drafts, without amendment. Putting aside the rather important constitutional issues of making the Law Commission able to bypass Cabinet, it means that if a first reading is scheduled the MPs have to vote on whatever the Law Commission drafted. It could not be amended unless it survives to select committee. Such a bill could include a provision that all babies named David have to be placed into the care of CYFS and the Minister of Justice would be forced to introduce it without amendment. Sure that is an unlikely example, but it is a horrific precedent to have draft laws bypass Ministerial and/or MP approval, and going straight to a vote. This gives huge powers to the unelected Law Commissioners.

This is obviously a very bad idea. The political process is about MPs and parties working together to ensure a bill is acceptable and has enough support to pass first reading. There are often intense negotiations before a bill is introduced into Parliament.  The Ardern Bill actually entirely removes MPs from the legislative equation until the Law Commission bill reaches select committee – if it even made it that far. And the probability that it would face massive changes at select committee is enhanced when MPs have had zero say in its drafting.

The fourth flaw, I touched on earlier. Rather than introduce a private members’ bill that actually outlines the desired law changes, it just instructs the Government to introduce a bill in probably two years time. By then making it a Government bill, it means Parliament loses control of when it gets voted on, as Government bills are debated at the discretion of the Government. So by failing to specify that the bill must be scheduled for first (and subsequent) reading/s at the top of the Government order paper, the bill is basically entirely ineffective.

So in summary the Ardern bill is not a helpful (while I am sure well motivated) step towards sensible adoption law reform for the following four reasons:

  1. It would probably delay any actual law reform for four or more years. By contrast a private members bill which actually specified the proposed reforms could be passed into law within a year or so.
  2. There are absolutely no policy principles in the bill (not even that the welfare of the child is paramount). It is a total blank piece of paper for the Law Commission.
  3. The bill locks MPs out of any involvement in the eventual draft government legislation prepared by the Law Commission, making it far less likely of gaining the necessary support.
  4. The private members bill requires the Government to introduce a Government bill, which will then only progress at the timetable decided by the Government – rather than as Parliament wishes. Under MMP the two are not the same thing.

It is very easy to write a nine clause bill and trumpet that as the “solution”, claiming it would “address a wide range of concerns about the outdated Adoption Act”. But alas law making is not that simple or easy. Either you convince the Government to make adoption law a Government priority, or you draft a private members bill to do it yourself.

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54 Responses to “Handing over law making”

  1. alex Masterley (1,498 comments) says:

    She doesn’t get it does she.

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  2. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Given the social conservatives that are held to be a sizable group within Labour’s support base, it does raise the question as to whether Adern’s Bill is actually about driving real change, or just being seen to be doing something.

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  3. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    A private member’s bill is usually about making a public statement, rather than effecting an actual law change.

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  4. La Grand Fromage (145 comments) says:

    I am so glad the Government is taking time to look at this. This seems like an absolute priority to me.

    It is great to be living in a country where there is nothing more important to focus on.

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  5. Martin Gibson (229 comments) says:

    La good old Grand Fromage. Couldn’t agree more, as usual.

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  6. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    A private member’s bill is usually about making a public statement, rather than effecting an actual law change.

    Maybe for the Left mikey, but P you certainly can’t level that charge at the likes of ACT’s Bill on freedom of association [VSM].

    Thanks for admitting that Labour are not actually seeking to do anything

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  7. AG (1,803 comments) says:

    @LGF: “I am so glad the Government is taking time to look at this”

    Except that it isn’t. Which is why members bills are being proposed.

    Do you actually read the posts you comment on, or just scan the first sentence before skipping straight to the comments section?

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  8. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Wait, what? Given how important adoption is – shouldn’t the focus on law reform being to make stranger adoption easier? Shouldn’t the main concern be getting kids out of the foster system and into stable, permanent, father-mother families.

    If so, why the strange obsession with cosmopolitan liberals like DPF and the Parliamentary Labour Party with expending so much political capital on a matter that, by their own admission, will make very little difference.

    The moment that the Government takes it eye off the economic issues to pander to the high-hanging fruit of the Wellington-set and Shortland Street actors is the moment that it will lose the election. See, for instance, how damaging David Cameron’s social-issue crusade has been to the Tories in the UK.

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  9. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    Two very different approaches from Kevin Hague and Jacinda Adern.

    It’s not hard to see why educated social liberal types are continuing to leave Labour for the Greens in droves.

    The big threat to Labour is that as people leave the radical union dominated faction increases as a proportion of the party they are set for a showdown with the Shearer/Robertson liberal centrist leadership through this whole party policy review process they are going through.

    One scenario is Shearer/Robertson create a liberal centrist party which goes to war with the Greens for urban affluent left voters and loses working class votes to NZ First.

    Another is that Shearer gets rolled for Cunliffe who runs the party as a populist redistributionist ‘party of the working class’ which goes to war with NZ First for the votes of ‘the masses’ and loses educated voters to the Greens.

    Either way it looks like Labour will never again reach over 40% of the vote.

    National will enjoy the spectacle for the next couple of years – right up till 2014 when they realise they have no coalition partners of their own and have to get into bed with either Winston or Colin Craig.

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  10. AG (1,803 comments) says:

    “If so, why the strange obsession with cosmopolitan liberals like DPF and the Parliamentary Labour Party with expending so much political capital on a matter that, by their own admission, will make very little difference.”

    Except adoption law reform WILL make a real difference to lots of different sorts of families – whether same-sex or straight. It just won’t lead to the hoardes of same sex couples getting their hands on kids, as some people think it will.

    As for making stranger adoption easier … what are you proposing? That the state should wipe out the parental rights of birth mothers against their will, and the child given new parents by the diktats of some bureaucrat? You do realise that this model of adoption didn’t work out too well back in the day, which is why it’s been abandoned? So it’s not fancy-PC ideology at work here, it’s actual experience of policy and its consequences.

    That said, there are alternatives to stranger adoption for kids whose birth parents can’t raise them: http://www.cyf.govt.nz/info-for-caregivers/home-for-life/home-for-life.html

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  11. Pete George (23,310 comments) says:

    A private member’s bill is usually about making a public statement, rather than effecting an actual law change.

    That’s how it appears with some member’s bills anyway, a prime example being Clare Curran’s proposed bill to “save” TVNZ7. I’m not sure that it’s drafted yet, and will barely get a chance of going in the ballot before TVNZ7 ceases to exist, if it makes it at all.

    The asset sales petition is another way of using “democratic” means of generating publicity to oppose Government policy.

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  12. Andrei (2,532 comments) says:

    because it ISN’T ABOUT MORE KIDS BEING RAISED BY SAME SEX COUPLES THAN THERE ARE AT THE MOMENT.

    I’ll call BS on that one

    (1)it is about manufacturing babies in test tubes a creating the legal fiction that this child has two mommies or two daddies.

    (2) Mr Key himself stated that they are in negotiation with countries like Russia about intra country adoptions – so that the lack of babies available for adoption locally will be filled via intra country adoptions (in itself an atrocity regardless of the nature of those doing the adoptions)

    We are in the territory of EVIL here

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  13. Dick (80 comments) says:

    “Media reported yesterday that National MP Nikki Kaye and Green MP Kevin Hague have been working for around 18 months on an adoption law reform bill.”

    18 months, Jesus fucking Christ, if I had inefficient employees like this who I pay 80 grand per annum working on something as day to day like this for 18 God damn months I’d better be liquidated because the world needs less wasteful allocation of resources and more productivity.

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  14. AG (1,803 comments) says:

    @Andrei: “I’ll call BS on that one”

    And I call bullshit on you.

    (1) Gay couples already have children via surrogacy/IVF – whether the law allows both parents to be legally recognised as those kids’ parents doesn’t change that fact one bit.

    (2) Inter-country adoptions are also governed by the laws of the country from which the child comes – if NZ legalises joint same-sex adoption, this won’t allow Russian kids to be adopted by such couples unless Russia also allows it.

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  15. Chuck Bird (4,760 comments) says:

    “And I call bullshit on you.”

    Such a brilliant legal argument.

    It looks like you know no more about politics than you do about markets and human motivation.

    It you want people do less of something you discourage it.

    If you want people to do more of something you promote it.

    Lesbians might use surrogacy at the moment but if liberal fools get their way we will see homosexual men wanting to rent a womb and buy eggs off the right sort of woman. Will you also be in favour of this my learned friend?

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  16. Kimble (4,408 comments) says:

    AG got in first and responded with my 2 cents.

    I will add that anyone who resorts to dismissing something as EVIL obviously has nothing else useful to say.

    What else is evil, Andrei? Teaching evolution? Eating shellfish? Selling your slaves for too much?

    Will you also be in favour of this my learned friend?

    If the two poofs are good people, and will raise the child to be a good member of society, why would anyone else be against it?

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  17. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,830 comments) says:

    David, I think you and TV3 are wrong in your assertion about the two lesbos each with a natural child. (In passing, how is it that they each have children who ‘need’ adoption but they’ve been together for nineteen years? A bit of naughty nookie in the nineties perhaps?)

    All they have to do is nominate in their respective wills that in the event of their death or disability, the other lesbo will be the child’s guardian. That’s essentially what The Cook and I did when our kids were little tackers, except in our case the scenario was the death of both parents.

    [DPF: Yes, there are other ways to look after the kids, which is why the law reform needs to deal with both guardianship and adoption]

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  18. Kimble (4,408 comments) says:

    All they have to do is nominate in their respective wills …

    Which can get over-turned easily enough, if some busy-body at CYFS decides that the child would be better off with 2 “normal” guardians.

    There is something to be said of having the certainty of a legally recoginised relationship.

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  19. Andrei (2,532 comments) says:

    You know I think our political elites pushing this are in cloud cookoo land.

    Biology dictates that it takes a man and a woman to create a child – if that is in some way oppressive well I’m sorry but there is diddly we can do about it and nor should we.

    To accomodate our biology and the biological necessity of reproduction certain social structures and norms have evolved over thousands of years.

    It is fucking dangerous to tamper with this to pander to the whims of a noisy vocal minority.

    Notice to that the people pushing most vociferously for this have not actually raised children themselves!!!!

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  20. Fost (102 comments) says:

    @Andrei – F**K OFF!

    As couple that are actually in the process of adopting two children from the soul destroying Russian orphanages you seem so keen that they stay in – my wife is Russian and taught at one of these orphanages during her teacher training – and actually seen what those kids endure – keep your holier than thou sentiments to yourself.

    We could have more children of our own (we already have 2) but providing hope and a real family environment to 2 of the 800,000 – yes that is EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND children in Russian orphanages – is why we are doing it. It would be better if every couple on the NZ waiting list stop bothering with the NZ adoption and take one or two of these kids. I don’t care if they are Man/woman, man/man or woman/woman – just get them out of the orphanages.

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  21. Kimble (4,408 comments) says:

    Biology dictates that it takes a man and a woman to create a child…

    It also “dictates” that some infertile couples must not have children. Should we stop all IVF?

    Biology also dictates that humans live much shorter lives than we currently do. Should we junk all of our medical advances to ensure we live in line with biologies dictates?

    And there are hundreds of documented cases of homosexuality in the animal kingdom. WTF is biology doing? Dictating one thing and then doing another?

    I’m sorry but there is diddly we can do about it and nor should we.

    One, we CAN do something about it. Two, even if we couldnt all you have is your assertion that we shouldnt.

    Oh, and those most vocal in opposition to same-sex adoption usually have never been a child raised without parents!

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  22. Kimble (4,408 comments) says:

    Notice to that the people pushing most vociferously for this have not actually raised children themselves!!!!

    Probably because they are still young and dont have the bizarre hang-ups you old conservatives do. Truth is, your side is losing this battle. Gay marriage will exist within two decades, and adoption will likely precede it. You need to mount a proper argument* to stop it.

    Do you know the reason why nature requires a man and a woman? Because genetic diversity and variation is good. If a new technology allows two males to procreate, the goal of nature will still be fulfilled.

    * These are not proper arguments:
    - its against nature
    - its evil
    - its against the teachings of the bible
    - gays are all paedophiles
    - children raised by gays will become sexual deviants
    - it will lead to other things like bestiality and polygamy.

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  23. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Hats off to Fost. Only lunatics would insist that kids are better off in a Russian orphanage than being raised by a loving same-sex couple in NZ.
    But Kimble, if they were restricited to proper arguments, what would they have left to say?

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  24. Kimble (4,408 comments) says:

    But kimble, if they were restricited to proper arguments, what would they have to say?

    Gay people are icky.

    http://www.theatheistpig.com/2012/05/16/05162012/

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  25. Chuck Bird (4,760 comments) says:

    I see from the previous tread on this subject he supported making criminals of good parents.

    He was also opposed to the voters having a veto as many of the voters were as uninformed as me yet he cannot give an intelligent response to a simple question. I link to it below.

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2012/05/adoption_law_reform.html#comments

    Chuck Bird (2,216) Says:
    May 29th, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Maybe my learned friend needs a hint.

    The welfare of children had nothing to do with Key’s decision to do a flip flop.

    Key’s motive was simply votes. Key would just as quickly do another flip flop on the issue if it would keep him in power.

    As we all know the results of the polls and referendum we 87% opposed to a law that criminalised good parents.

    Can you explain how Key worked out he would gain more votes than he would loss?

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  26. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Maybe you coud start a discussion of the laws against assaulting children on the GD thread. This thread is about the private member’s bill on adoption reform.

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  27. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Key’s motive was simply votes. Key would just as quickly do another flip flop on the issue if it would keep him in power.

    As we all know the results of the polls and referendum we 87% opposed to a law that criminalised good parents.

    Your last sentence disproves your claim it would seem

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  28. Andrei (2,532 comments) says:

    Only lunatics would insist that kids are better off in a Russian orphanage than being raised by a loving same-sex couple in NZ.

    That experiment has been tried, my friend. A highly disturbed young Russian boy raised by a “loving lesbian couple” with help from CYFS because of his anti social ways and absolutely no strong male role model anywhere.

    It did not have a good outcome – a lot of intra country adoptions don’t.

    Anyway how would you feel if young Maoris were exported willy nilly to become accessories for foreigners? Hmmmm

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  29. Kimble (4,408 comments) says:

    Nice to know that experiments can now be 100% anecdotal.

    Someone tell the scientists that science just became awesomely simple!

    Anyway how would you feel if young whites were exported willy nilly to become accessories for christians?

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  30. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Andrei,

    What do you think the word “intra” means?

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  31. BeaB (2,081 comments) says:

    Andrei Don’t be such a nong.

    As a straight married mother I am quite happy for any good-hearted adults to raise children, married, divorced, gay or single. I am amazed we still have such antiquated laws when the old closed adoptions caused so much unhappiness to mums and kids even when the adoptions worked out well, as they often did.

    The interesting aspect of ‘marriage’ is that we straight couples are the ones who treat this so-called sacrament with such contempt. Just look at the infidelity, separations, domestic violence and divorce statistics. It makes one wonder why gays want such a disfunctional arrangement instead of something new and workable.

    We really do need to get rid of laws that seek to make others live the way we think they should whether it’s cigarettes, booze, drugs, marriages or adoptions. The longer I live, the less sense I see in interfering with other people’s right to make their own decisions, good or bad.

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  32. Jack5 (4,857 comments) says:

    Milkenmild posted at 1pm:

    …Only lunatics would insist that kids are better off in a Russian orphanage than being raised by a loving same-sex couple in NZ…

    and Andrei challenged Milkenmild at 1.39:

    …how would you feel if young Maoris were exported willy nilly to become accessories for foreigners?

    Who says the increasingly right-wing Russians would allow foreign adoption to continue to a country which allows homosexual couples to adopt legally? Russians allowing their orphans to be raised abroad in gay homes? Nyet bloody likely.

    The Gaybour-PinkNat-GreenQueen alliance promoting gay marriage and adoption law change may succeed in NZ but it won’t change the world.

    As for Andrei’s remark. If Hone Harawira had been orphaned and then adopted to the US at birth, he would have linked up with his Hatfield/Hadfield relatives and gone after the McCoys.

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  33. Chuck Bird (4,760 comments) says:

    “Your last sentence disproves your claim it would seem”

    I agree it seem like a contradiction but it isn’t. John Key is no fool. He would not have flop flopped unless he had good reason to beleive he would gain votes despite the polling.

    Andrew Geddis dismissed a Voters Veto on the ground that the peasants on average are not as bright or informed as people like him.

    I have done a fair bit of political polling and I know the reason as I would be sure DPF does.

    I will give the answer in a while if Andwer does not respond.

    By the way what do you think of a Voters Veto on conscience issues?

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  34. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    You sound pretty sure that the Russian Government hates kids so much that they would rather leave them in orphanges than being raised by same-sex couples.
    What would be wrong with a Maori child being adopted by a same-sex couple overseas?

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  35. Kimble (4,408 comments) says:

    You sound pretty sure that the Russian Government hates kids so much that they would rather leave them in orphanges than being raised by same-sex couples.

    How many people like Andrei are there in Russia? He WOULD rather the kids be raised in a orphanage than by same-sex couples in NZ (or ANY couples in NZ if you read his last sentence.)

    What would be wrong with a Maori child being adopted by a same-sex couple overseas?

    Andrei thinks the kids would just be “accessories”, and that the gay couple wouldnt really care about them and would abandon them as soon as the fashion changed. Because that happens all the time.

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  36. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Actually, after you listed all of the arguments against same-sex adoption, Kimble, I think the antis don’t want to play any more.

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  37. Jack5 (4,857 comments) says:

    Milkenmild and Kimble:”

    The Russians are very conservative. You think the ex KGB guys who are running the place give a stuff about Western gay rights?

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  38. AG (1,803 comments) says:

    “Andrew Geddis dismissed a Voters Veto on the ground that the peasants on average are not as bright or informed as people like him.”

    I’m generally against the use of referenda for policy issues (cf constitutional ones), and have argued that the CIR process is a waste of time and should be got rid of … and it’s nothing to do with “peasants” (your word, CB, not mine) being dumb. It’s about what lawmaking process is more likely to lead to better thought through law across the board. Because there’s lots of issues I’m not particularly informed about and don’t have time to think about, which I think MPs will do a far better job of lawmaking on than me. Here’s three examples presently before the House – Regulation of the EEZ, Crown Entities Reform, Biosecurity Law Reform.

    Adoption law reform just happens to be an area which I have a particular personal interest in, and being legally trained am able to recognise what the actual (as opposed to the headline) issues are. And that allows me to recognise that much of the “debate” on this topic is so out of touch with what those issues are that a vote based upon it would literally make no sense.

    Also, why exactly should voters get to veto THIS issue? Or – put it this way … if we’re all in favour of a voters’ veto over adoption law reform, I assume we’ve all got our CIR petitions to collect signatures to force a referendum on asset sales? Because the people should have the last word, right? And it would be duplicitous to argue for a vote on adoption reform but argue against it for asset sales. Right? Right??

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  39. Kimble (4,408 comments) says:

    You think the ex KGB guys who are running the place care about orphans?

    FYP

    Two more:
    You think the ex KGB guys who are running the place care about trivialities such as the sexual orientation of people adopting orphans?
    You think the ex KGB guys who are running the place care about how much those orphans are costing them?

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  40. Scott Chris (5,974 comments) says:

    We are in the territory of EVIL here

    Oh rubbish. It’s just progress, which has always been resisted by reactionary conservatives. Those Dark Satanic Mills didn’t turn out to be so bad now did they?

    And quite frankly, growing a baby in a tank sounds a lot safer and a lot less burdensome and less painfull than actual pregnancy or childbirth. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.

    PS – Muahahahahahahahahah!

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  41. Chuck Bird (4,760 comments) says:

    Andrew, first I will explain Key’s motive in his flip flop and why he believed it would gain him votes. Clark was very good at doing in depth polling. That helped keep her in power a long time. Key picked that up and probably improved on it.

    When I did in depth polling for ACT in the early 2000’s we would target swing voters as well as issues that could cause them change their votes. If someone said their first choice would be Labour and second the Greens I would say thank you for your time. If they said National and possibly ACT I would try to get them to do a more in depth interview and see what issue could make them vote ACT. I am not giving any secrets away but all parties do it and some are better than others. And some polling can be expensive like paying people to attend focus groups.

    I could go on but suffice it to say I am sure Key made his decision on pragmatic grounds and not on what he believed was best for children. There are quotes by him and Clark early taking an opposite position.

    “and it’s nothing to do with “peasants” (your word, CB, not mine) being dumb.”

    My word but what you strongly implied.

    I admire people who achieve be it academically, in business, sport or other area like acting. However, just as I have no respect for Lucy Clueless’s view on AWG because she was an actress and have little respect for the view of an academic in an area they have not studied on.

    I am also opposed to CIR but a Voter Veto like in Switzerland is an entirely different thing. There was some justification for conscience votes under FPP. In theory the MPs were meant to represent their electorate. In practice those in safe electorates often did not consider their electorate. Under MMP with half the MPs list MPs I can see not justification for conscience votes.

    “Adoption law reform just happens to be an area which I have a particular personal interest in, and being legally trained am able to recognise what the actual (as opposed to the headline) issues are.”

    In your not so humble opinion. You not know what person connection I or anyone else has had with adoption or homosexual adoption.

    “And it would be duplicitous to argue for a vote on adoption reform but argue against it for asset sales. Right? Right??”

    WRONG. I believe it the governments role to determine how to financially manage the country. If the governments want introduce a bill or a private member does that will be determined by a conscience vote then it should be ratified by a Voters Veto. However, with the Skycity issue parties will vote on party lines and that is different. Otherwise a government could not govern.

    The same thing applies to asset sales and mining. These issues should neither be decide by a Voters Veto or CIR which is different.

    In my view and that of many others the government got it wrong two or three times with the drinking age. This should be decided by referendum not individual MPs. Many of them live in a different world to those who voted them in and do not have to live with the results.

    Another are where MPs have behaved badly is supporting legislation that allow schools to arrange abortions without notifying parents. This I am sure would have been vetoed.

    I am also aware some people would disagree with me particularly on the drinking age but that does not mean they are stupid. I would be a fool if I call DPF stupid and not just because it is his blog.

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  42. Jack5 (4,857 comments) says:

    Kimble asked at 2.23:

    You think the ex KGB guys who are running the place care about trivialities such as the sexual orientation of people adopting orphans?

    You think the ex KGB guys who are running the place care about how much those orphans are costing them?

    Yes, and no.

    These guys are ultranationalist, and foreign adoption of orphans is a touchy topic in many countries, but more so in an emerging better-off country, such as Russia, one of the BRICs and holder of the world’s biggest oil and gas reserves.

    Add to this the country’s social conservatism (except on alcohol and tobacco), the resurgence of the Orthodox Church, and, by NZ standards, Russia’s ultra-nationalism. Then, there is its apparently high level of homophobia. See the following:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2012/05/18/russian-attitudes-towards-gays-are-still-really-negative/

    AND

    http://www.ukgaynews.org.uk/Archive/10/Aug/1001.htm

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  43. Chuck Bird (4,760 comments) says:

    I wonder why Key is pushing this now. I reckon he sees ACT is in trouble and while a lot can happen in 2 years he is looking for coalition partners. He has very recently changed his tune regarding Winston. If he continues to promote this issue he will leave an opening for NZF and the Conservative Party. It looks like he has softened his stance on Winston so he could play parties off if need be.

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  44. Joseph Carpenter (211 comments) says:

    I’ll just drop this one off for people to consider:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9292553/Indian-surrogacy-industry-we-could-never-have-imagined-wed-be-parents.html

    It won’t be Russian orphans that will be the concern.

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  45. AG (1,803 comments) says:

    Chuck,

    I don’t really understand what you mean about Key’s motives on the smacking law, but I don’t really care either. As for “voter vetos” … sure. There’s a review of the constitution about to commence. Suggest it to them. Or, vote for Colin Craig’s Party. It’s their policy.

    But until then, you’ll just have to deal with the fact MPs get to make these calls (some of which you’ll like, some you won’t) – so go ahead and lobby them, call up talk back, write letters to the editor, hit the blogosphere, march in the streets … and then cast your vote on election day. That’s how it works.

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  46. Chuck Bird (4,760 comments) says:

    Andrew,

    “”I don’t really understand what you mean about Key’s motives on the smacking law”

    I am amazed at you response. The following from my post. Is that hard to understand.

    “He would not have flop flopped unless he had good reason to beleive he would gain votes despite the polling.”

    Do you not know what motives political leader to promote a policy – votes?

    Do you not know what motivates most voters – their back pocket?

    “There’s a review of the constitution about to commence.”

    I achieve more by commenting on blog than trying to communicate with know all educated fools.

    “Or, vote for Colin Craig’s Party. It’s their policy.”

    WRONG AGAIN !!! I have no problem with people having a different opinion than me but I find it incredible that you make no effort to get the facts right.

    Voters Veto is not Conservative Party policy. I bet you have tenure. I do not think you would survive if you had to work in private practice.

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  47. Tim G. (2 comments) says:

    @DPF – You say that Jacinda’s bill includes no principles – you are clearly counting on your readers lacking the patience or intellectual fortitude to actually read through Jacinda’s bill… they would only need to check page one:

    “General policy statement…[the previous review of Care of Children legislation, which inadvertently left out the Adoption Act is] firmly centred
    all decision-making around the care of children on what is called the
    “paramountcy principle”. The 2004 Act states that the “welfare and
    best interests of the child must be the first and paramount consideration”
    and it applies in equal respect to all couples regardless of
    whether they are married, in a civil union, or in a de facto relationship.

    It is a child-centred approach that ensures that their interests lie
    at the heart of any decisions that are made.”

    No principle to work from? Could allow the law commission to discriminate? Hmm, not like they’d be constrained by NZ’s human rights legislation or anything, would they?

    You are just so full of rubbish.

    As for the Russians – my anecdotal evidence (meeting and speaking with many educated Russians including doctors in their mid-20s over four weeks) suggest exactly as Jack says above – they hate homosexuals.

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  48. TimG_Oz (924 comments) says:

    Once again (I think), I just want to reiterate that “Tim G.” is in no way connected with “TimG_Oz”. Thank you.

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  49. Kimble (4,408 comments) says:

    The 2004 Act states that the “welfare and best interests of the child must be the first and paramount consideration” and it applies in equal respect to all couples regardless of whether they are married, in a civil union, or in a de facto relationship.

    That describes the current Act. If you are counting that as a policy principle, then maybe you can tell us why Arden’s bill was even needed in the first place.

    Those of us who ACTUALLY READ THE BILL saw that, after the standard stuff:

    Section 6 merely asks the LC to review the law.
    Section 7 says the LC should consider some stuff, and they should be resourced.
    Section 8 says a report should be produced and it should be passed to the House.
    Section 9 says the report should go to a bunch of other people too.

    The Bill merely says, hey, a bunch of stuff has happened since we last created this Act, can you guys at the LC check it out, write a report, and send it round? Nowhere does it say that the report should make adoption by same sex couples legal. Its a Bill asking for a report.

    DPF is right. Mere inconsistency doesnt bind the LC’s hands. The LC report could still come back with no provision for same sex adoption. I dont think anyone really expects it will, but that risk shouldnt exist at all. A competently written Bill would not permit it.

    Show us where the bill explicitly states what should be in the new Act.

    Or were you clearly counting on your readers lack of patience with Labourite fanboys or illiterate trolls to call you on your bullshit?

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  50. AG (1,803 comments) says:

    @Chuck,

    Yeah – I read what you said about Key and smacking. It’s just I found it to be incoherent nonsense … he supported an unpopular policy to get votes. But whatever – you understand your own brain, which is what matters.

    As for the Conservative Party policy, see here: http://www.conservativeparty.org.nz/policies.php. Whether or not this is exactly the same as your Voters Veto idea, I don’t know or care. But if you do, that is lovely for you.

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  51. Chuck Bird (4,760 comments) says:

    @AG

    “Yeah – I read what you said about Key and smacking. It’s just I found it to be incoherent nonsense … he supported an unpopular policy to get votes. But whatever – you understand your own brain, which is what matters.”

    Just because you do not understand something does not mean it is nonsense. It may mean you know little about statistics and polling. I suggest you ask David Farrar if what I said about targeting swing voters makes sense?

    You seem to think that John Key is altruistic fool and would push a policy that would cost him votes.

    Do they not check your reading comprehension before one enters university?

    I quote what I said to you.

    “I am also opposed to CIR but a Voter Veto like in Switzerland is an entirely different thing.”

    You obviously did not read what I said because you are a bigot in the true sense of the word. You do not want to engage in reasoned debate just sling abuse.

    I hope you stick in your ivory tower and do not go in to private practice. You would no doubt get the facts totally wrong in court. I have represented myself in court before as have a number of men I know. I did quite well as have a number of men who have done the same because they got sick of paying good money to arrogant, know lawyers who are incapable of listening.

    I will be representing myself again soon against a former deadbeat lawyer who does not like paying his debts. I will be happy to let you know how I go either way.

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  52. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    it’s wonderful that it appears to be that under closet libertarian, John Key, the liberalisation of society that the likes of me have been waiting decades for is finally coming to fruition.

    We have had the anti-smacking bill sail thorough, thanks to JK. Now gay marriage is on the agenda. And same-sex couples adoption of children. It’s time to put legal recognition of polyamorous relationships on the agenda, as well.

    That way we can have an orgy of righteous fury in one fell swoop before society serenely carries on its merry way, with the sky remaining firmly in place (albeit, a slightly darker shade of blue as it hosts billions and billions of tons of CO2 kindly gifted by us humans).

    Shudder, shudder – it’s almost enough to make me think about voting National!

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  53. AG (1,803 comments) says:

    @Chuck,

    So … your searing insight is that Key saw some political benefit to brokering a compromise on the smacking issue? My god … why aren’t you writing a column in the Herald? You are a GENIUS!

    As for “a Voter Veto like in Switzerland is an entirely different thing [to CIR]” … no it isn’t. It’s a constrained version of CIR, in that it only responds to prior legislative action. But of course, being a GENIUS! you also know that Switzerland has a parallel system of CIR allowing for constitutional changes. So, I reiterate – Colin Craig is giving you what you want …sign up, campaign and we’ll see where the election gets you.

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  54. Chuck Bird (4,760 comments) says:

    “You are a GENIUS!” Not really but I know which way is up and what the anus was designed for.

    My theory which other people share make a lot more sense than one that Key introduce a policy that would cost him votes. He did a flip flop on the ETS for the same reason – his polling indicated National would gain votes. That sound more credible than his story that the Al Gore fiction movie converted him.

    “It’s a constrained version of CIR, in that it only responds to prior legislative action.”

    You are actually correct but that is a big difference. As I stated I oppose CIR. That is because legislation cannot be made by copying one or two sentences.

    You and the proponents of homosexual adoption say this will not bring about the end of the world. In others words it is a stand alone issue unlike asset sales.

    If MPs were aware that in the case of legislation that is to be passed by a conscience vote that it could be vetoed they would actually listen to the submitters.

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