Committee Confirms Muzzling of Thousands of Submitters

Media Release 19 Feb 2013
Family First NZ says that the chair of the Select Committee considering the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill has today disclosed in Parliament that there have been 21,533 submissions of which almost 3,000 are unique submissions, yet the committee has heard a little over 200 of them as they attempt to ram the bill through.

Family First also disputes the number of submissions considered ‘form submissions’. However, the committee will not front up and disclose how they determined ‘form’ submissions from ‘unique’ submissions.

“It is quite evident that this bill is being rammed through and submitters are being censored,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “This is a blatant breach of the democratic right of NZ’ers to participate, and shows the arrogance of the politicians desperate to get the bill passed.”

“Other Members’ bills are not being rammed through at such speed. Some of these bills are being considered by the same Select Committee. The Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave) Amendment Bill was introduced a month before the same-sex marriage bill, and yet the Select Committee report is not due until August 2013. The Lobbying Disclosure Bill also had its first reading a month before the same-sex marriage bill, yet the report is not due until the end of July. The Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Bill – a government bill also being considered by the Government Administration Select Committee – has 12 months for the Select Committee to consider.”

“Yet the same-sex marriage bill has just six months to consider 21,500-plus submissions, hear oral submissions, and report back,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“This is a cynical attempt to ram through a highly controversial law change without due consideration.”

Last week, more than 200 submitters wrote an Open Letter to the Prime Minister John Key, the Speaker of the House, and the Select Committee considering the bill, questioning the speed with which the bill is being pushed through, and asking for the right to make an oral submission. Many more submitters have made contact with Family First since being made aware that the Select Committee was no longer hearing submissions. A number of significant organisations have been excluded from the opportunity to make an oral submission.

ENDS

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