The views of Key and Goff on Family and Moral Issues

At the recent Forum on the Family, John Key and Phil Goff responded to questions on faith, marriage, abortion, parental notification, euthanasia, loan sharks, same sex adoption and marriage, law and order, child abuse, the anti-smacking law, and more! (find out what they really said rather than just what the media reported). Here’s a summary that we prepared to give you an idea of the depth of the questioning

Key: Neither atheist or agnostic. Leads life by christian principles. Believes in having spirit which lives on in family/children. Doesn’t believe in life after death but respects those who do
Goff: Not atheist – believes in force beyond mankind. Not a person of faith in terms of believing in afterlife. Born and bred as Roman Catholic. Still attends 3-4 times per year. Life has been shaped by christian values and beliefs.

Judeo-Christian Values
Key: Underpin NZ laws
Goff: Society influenced by many values. MP for a multi-faith electorate. Believes that values of great faiths of world are similar. But agrees that our society is based on christian values.

Conscience Votes
Key’s leadership has been characterised by party votes for conscience issues; Goff’s has been characterised by free votes
Key: Supports conscience votes e.g. alcohol, drugs, Says 9 years of Clark govt had lots of conscience votes due to social engineering. National hasn’t pushed that agenda – not the raison d’etre of the government
Goff: Supports conscience votes e.g. alcohol, sex, gambling; Makes a decision on best info and what he personally believes is right rather than what constituents necessarily want

Both Key and Goff voted against defining marriage as man and woman (Marriage Amendment Bill). Key voted against Civil Unions but did vote for the Relationships bill; Goff voted for both.
Key: defines as enduring partnership. Govt won’t promote gay marriage. Not sure whether he’d vote for it if it came to a vote thought. Doesn’t believe civil unions have undermined marriage. Agrees academic research shows that marriage benefits children, education, social outcomes, and is a supporter of marriage. But doesn’t believe that marriage alone protects children from child abuse / domestic violence. Doesn’t believe current social welfare is delivering.
Goff: defines as long term commitment between 2 people. Labour introduced civil unions to allow same sex partnerships so as to keep marriage distinct. Prefers long term commitment with legal safeguards, no matter what the gender. Preference is traditional ‘man and woman’ but unapologetically strong supporter of civil union. Believer in marriage but knows de facto couples who have done well

Faith based parenting / marriage courses
Key: Believes in funding outcomes, fund what works e.g. Destiny, Parents Inc
Goff: Funding is based on quality – not faith or any other premise. Not aware of concerns about funding for Parents Inc.

Key voted for parental notification; Goff against
Key: Hasn’t read the recent judgment re the unborn having no right to life. Doesn’t want to actively encourage or pressure people to have abortions. If daughter was raped by gang member, would want her to have abortion. Agrees that abortion is a life-changing event with potential psychological impact – may lead to greater damage and risk for the girls.
But supports parental notification. Unless very good reason, parents should be informed. National won’t campaign on changing parental notification. May need to look at ‘informed consent’-type law if evidence shows people are being pressured in to abortions
Goff: Law says no abortions allowed at ‘arbitrary’ points of 12 or 20 weeks depending on circumstances. Traditionally says life begins at point of ‘quickening’. Wishes there were less than 18,000 abortions. Trying to enforce abortion laws will mean people going to Australia or back-street abortions. Agrees that law is being carried out differently to what was intended. Important that women considering abortion are able to consider options and are not pressured – not sure that legislation would work.
Parental notification – previously opposed. Believes every good family – notification would happen automatically. Counsellor has obligation of confidentially – although agrees that may not apply to suicide. Daughter may not seek help. Acknowledges it is a complex issue.

Same-Sex Adoption
Key: Might support same sex adoption but where one adult is biological parent
Goff: Parenting more about environment than whether parent is biological. Stability and love more important than gender.

Anti-smacking law
Key: If good parents are criminalized, will change the law – stands by that. Believes in the compromise. But acknowledges that law is dog’s breakfast. Believes parents will smack their children. Parents understand difference between smack and child abuse.
Goff: If good parents are criminalized, will change the law – stands by that. Should be no charges against parent for lightly smacking. Law says there are better alternatives. Knows difference between smacking and serious physical hurt. Politicians wanted to send a message to stop more serious harm.
Both have received copies of “My Mummy’s A Criminal”!

Child Abuse and Inquiry
Key: CYF damned if they do respond, damned if they don’t. Lot of research around child abuse – action now required from government. Alcohol and especially drugs plays major role. Non-biological adults in house major risk. Supports removing right to cone of silence.
Goff: Wouldn’t rule out Commission of Inquiry. Not sure Royal Commission will find answers that integrated approach by govt wouldn’t solve. One of the most serious problems in the country. Drug and alcohol abuse / dysfunctional families / intergenerational social dysfunction / financial stress. Would set up integrated system of early intervention. Would need to be persuaded that CYF Independent Complaints Authority would benefit, but not ruled out.


Prisons v Rehabilitation
Key: National govt has done more than many governments to protect people. 18 law changes. Victims are not statistics on paper – they’re real people. Govt spends $1b per year locking people up.
Goff: Failure is that we breed people who do criminal acts. Need to be tough on crime, but also tough on causes of crime. Need to spend as much on at-risk families as we do on prisons. Believes 2002 Sentencing Act that he sponsored is working. In principle, parole after 1/3’rd of sentence – but argues not happening in practice. Thought 3 Strikes was inflexible. 3 Strikes was slogan that appealed.

Key voted to raise the drinking age last time; Goff didn’t. Both voted against a Green-sponsored bill banning liquor advertising
Key: Acknowledges binge drinking culture. Daughter in France says that it is really socially unacceptable to get drunk. Supports split age purchase age – more control around licensed premises. Believes that raising drinking age to 20 may be problematic. Staggered at lack of parental supervision, curfews etc. Parents feel under pressure to allow alcohol. Agrees that liberalization of alcohol laws in 1989 and 1999 may not have helped.
Goff: Will vote for split-age. Wants to restrict liquor outlets especially in poorer areas – give more power to communities. Binge drink culture also applies to adults. Doesn’t believe the binge drinking problem is a contemporary problem. Wants minimum price. More courage needed from all political parties.

Decriminalization of marijuana
Both voted against bill decriminalising marijuana for medicinal purposes
Key: Opposed.
Goff: Opposed.

Decriminalization of euthanasia

Both Key and Goff supported previous bill introduced to decriminalise euthanasia – was defeated at 1st reading
Key: Voted for it last time. Would vote for it again to a select committee. Not sure that he would vote for it all the way i.e. a law change. (contrary to media reports!)
Goff: Voted for it last time because believed worthy of discussion. Would need to be assured that decriminalization didn’t lead to abuse. Would want the right to make the decision for himself.

Key voted against decriminalisation of prostitution; Goff voted for. Key supported 2 recent bills to outlaw street prostitution; Goff supported one but not the other
Key: Supports outlawing of street prostitution – more power to local councils. Doesn’t want brothel next door to family home. Would need to look at more detail
Goff: Doesn’t personally support prostitution or want to encourage it but believes that safety and control important rather than pretending it doesn’t exist. Has sent bill to ban street prostitution to select committee but doesn’t guarantee supporting beyond that. Believes it’s undesirable for brothels to be near homes, schools, churches – but up to Councils to use appropriate bylaws (despite the current law not allowing Councils to ban residential brothels!)

Loan sharks
Key voted against a private members bill from Labour MP to regulate loan sharks; Goff supported
Key: Minister of Justice investigating that. Didn’t support Labour’s proposal. Govt may adopt National MP’s Sam Lotu-iiga’s private members bill
Goff: Absolutely immoral that 70-80% interest loans to families who have no hope of repaying loans. Will support Sam Lotu-Iiga’s private members bill to select committee. Needs to be cross-party solution on this.

Easter trading
Key has consistently supported liberalisation of easter trading laws; Goff has opposed 2 out of 3 recent attempts.
Key: Some places can open, some can’t – totally inconsistent. But shouldn’t totally liberalise e.g. Good Friday
Goff: Supports special days of the year. Acknowledges inconsistencies – should deal with anomalies, not have open slather. Human values come before commercial values.

Closing comments:
Key: Doesn’t like personal attacks in politics. Believes they achieve nothing.
Disciplined in scheduling time with wife to maintain strength of marriage
Goff: Also doesn’t like personal attacks.
Acknowledged supportive wife. Wishes families of politicians were allowed a little more privacy

But don’t go just on our word!!