|Looking liberal: Jaquie Brown quizzes John Key at NZ's music awards (Photo: NZ Herald) In an annoying series of New Zealand Heraldpuff pieces about the Leader of the Opposition, one particularlyridiculous article was a reference to his relative social liberalism.
Sorry, but one wouldn't know that looking at his voting record. Yes, Key did vote against Gordon Copeland's same sex marriage ban, for the Relationships (Statutory References) Act and for the Death With Dignity Bill 2003's first reading. However, that is the sum total of his 'social liberalism.'
He also voted for Judith Collins' attack onthe abortion access of incest survivors, against the Civil Union Act 2004, and against the Care of Children Act. Moreover, despite his apparent support for same-sex marriage, he also 'flip-flopped' when it came to initial support for LGBT adoption reform.
Moreover, it was unfortunate timing when Opposition Party President Judith Kirk heralded the addition of Steven Joyce to the Opposition caucus as a list-only candidate. Readers of Nicky Hager's The Hollow Men will remember that Mr Joyce was one of National's frontline negotiators with the antigay Exclusive Brethren sect during the last New Zealand election in 2005. Joyce has since stated that he hasn't been in contact with the right-wing sect in question since 2005, but refused to apologise for his earlier liaison with the sect, stating that he simply saw them as 'co-belligerents.'
The Prime Minister is quite sceptical about this, understandably, especially given that Exclusive Brethren interference has been widespread throughout Australian federal and state elections over recent years, particularly Australia's federal election in November 2007. Clark described it as a reward for services rendered to the Opposition, and it certainly renders Nicky Hager's Hollow Men still as relevant today as two years ago, when it was first published. I suspect Hager may well be forced to produce an updated edition as a result of recent events.
How does National's shady record compare to the current Prime Minister? Helen Clark hasn't completely closed the door on same-sex marriage proper and inclusive adoption reform, although obviously, much relies on the composition of the next Parliament. However, throughout her twenty-seven year parliamentary career, she has had an overwhelmingly supportive LGBT rights record. And Key doesn't. Sorry, but I know which one I'll chose...
And while I hope that Helen Clark will lead her LGBT-supportive party to a fourth term, Damian Christie has an article on her successor if that doesn't come to pass, or when Clark eventually decides to stand down as Labour leader. Annoyingly too, though, his Metro article included references to 'yesterday's men'- John Tamihere and Mike Moore. Tamihere is a populist flake, whose centre-right bias on industrial relations and welfare policy made him ill-suited to the contemporary Labour caucus of the early twenty-first century. Is he even a member of the Labour Party anymore? Surely he must have turned Tory ages ago...
As for Mike Moore, he continues on his own erratic populist path, embittered by his dumping as Labour leader fifteen years ago, and probably even more so that Helen Clark managed to do what he never quite managed to do- eventually win a general election, and then serve as Prime Minister for three consecutive terms. Given his expertise in international trade, he is justifiably respected for the gravity and seriousness that he brings to consideration of that discipline. However, I don't see that granting interviews to the gutter glossy Investigate, or contributing to Muriel Newman's Centre for Political Research, will enhance his reputation amongst his former colleagues. It's significant that Christie could find no-one amongst the Prime Minister's current entourage to question her leadership.
Speaking of overwhelming support for LGBT rights, Metiria Turei has now clarified that she hasn't withdrawn her LGBT adoption reform bill, but the proximity of the next general election now renders it unlikely that it will be removed from the ballot box before that occurs. Craig Young - 29th July 2008