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Forum for Whose Families?

Sun 2 Sep 2007 In: Comment

On October 27, Family First, the Christian Right's family values pressure group, will hold a "Forum on the Family" for other Christian Right pressure groups at the "Life Convention Centre" near Auckland Airport. What will happen? Apparently, it's all about 'strategising and networking' as they freely admit on the publicity flier kindly provided on their webpage, along with the admission that the forum is targeted at 'pro-life and pro-family' groups (translated- anti-abortion and anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-solo mum and anti-welfare outfits, usually with overlapping membership). Who's on the agenda? Self-appointed fundamentalist pop parenting guru Ian Grant, turncoat ex-Labour Cabinet Minister John Tamihere, Christine Rankin (For the Sake of Our Children Trust) and Alison Harley, a television producer. Rankin is apparently a Soka Gokkai Buddhist, but is amongst good company here, it would seem. And venturing into the liars- oops, lion's den, we have an assortment of MPs. Russell Fairbrother (Labour) and Sue Bradford (the Greens) are to be commended for their intestinal fortitude. For that matter, Heather Roy (ACT) may have voted against the Bradford Bill, but she's definitely an outstanding social liberal on most other issues to do with reproductive and sexual health, LGBT rights, sex work and other issues. Brave people. As for the others, there seems to be a tired assortment of social conservative hacks from the innards of the others- the odious Judith Collins (National), Pita Paraone (New Zealand First), Judy Turner (United Future), Gordon Copeland (Future New Zealand), Taito Philip Field (Pacific Party (?)) and... a no show from the Maori Party, or from the Progressives. Now, that would have been interesting. I'd really have liked to see someone lay into the suburban fundies about whanau and issues facing Maori families, or challenge them about why they're so soft on hard drugs and waste so much time pontificating about pot, in the case of Jim Anderton. Incidentally, where's Destiny New Zealand? The Bishop of Bling won't be happy about this... Ho hum. Yet again, we have the same sad set of clichés. Marriage provides a magical passport out of poverty and adolescent health and development problems for heterosexual families. All heterosexual families are better than any LGBT ones. Solo mums contribute to adolescent male criminality and intergenerational teenage pregnancy. Social welfare causes family dysfunction by causing a mythological New Right nostrum called "welfare dependency." Will these people ever deal realistically with issues to do with real family poverty? Will they actually listen if Sue Bradford takes on Christine Rankin about the failure of New Right anti-welfare policies in the United States, for example? Or will this be yet another sorry interval of pious rhetoric without any worthwhile substantive evidence about the need to combat abortion access, inclusive adoption reform, 'pornography,' Hells Pizza, South Park, and anything else that they take umbrage at? (I wonder why they haven't exploded into hysterics about "Drawn Together," the rather naughty Prime adult animated series with the highly animated and highly dysfunctional reality show parody?) Anyway... Craig Young - 2nd September 2007    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Sunday, 2nd September 2007 - 4:15pm

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