Media Release 26 Jan 2013
Family First NZ says that both National and Labour are desperate to ram through the controversial same-sex marriage bill as quickly as possible in order to get it off the agenda, and also are disputing claims from the Select Committee considering the bill that the overwhelming majority of submissions are form letters.
“National and Labour are ramming this bill through because they know that their core voter support bases are not happy with it, and they are desperate to get it off the political agenda – but in the process, they are trampling over the rights of New Zealanders to have their chance to speak up and contribute to the debate on this issue,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ and coordinator of the Protect Marriage campaign.
“The fact that a record of more than 20,000 submissions has been received on this bill shows just how important this issue is to so many people. It is a major change to an important human institution and foundation of our society, and it is not acceptable for the Select Committee to pick and choose which submissions it will and won’t hear.”
“By the Committee’s own admission, they will be hearing little over 1% of the submissions by way of oral submission. They are ramming through this bill without due consideration,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Family First is also disputing the Committee’s claim that more than 17,000 submissions are form submissions.
“This appears to be a cynical attempt to discount the many submitters who have asked to make an oral submission. The Protect Marriage campaign was careful to provide families with ‘forms’, not ‘form letters’ where the content of the submission was pre-determined. It would be wrong to lump these submissions all under the banner of ‘form letters’. The committee is unwilling to confirm how they are determining this aspect.”
“In a healthy democracy, the people are entitled to speak and deserve to be heard in full. It should not be rushed, and democracy should not be denied, just because of a pre-determined reporting date which fails to recognise the weight of the issue,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Family First wrote to the Government Administration Committee in November and again this month requesting information on how is it being determined as to whether a submission is a form letter; how many submitters are being denied the ability to make an oral submission based on this determination; and questioning whether the Protect Marriage forms which are then filled in are being considered as form letters. To date, no acknowledgement or response to the request for information has been received. An appeal has also been made to the Speaker of the House for assistance in this matter. Family First is also seeking legal advice on the issue.