Family First mind altering cannabis poll

It’s easy to see what Family First were on when they commissioned a cannabis poll with Curia Market Research – publishing their results on a website called saynopetodope.org.nz/poll confirms a distinct bias.

Curia is a reputable polling company, but they do what clients want, and Family First got what they wanted. To get a different result to past polls showing clear majorities support cannabis law reform of some sort required some leading poll questions and misleading reporting to the poll.

Family First:  New poll suggests only 18% of Kiwis support recreational cannabis legalisation

A new poll commissioned by conservative Christian lobbyist group Family First has found that less than 20% of New Zealanders support legalisation of recreational marijuana, but there is strong support for its medicinal use.

The independent poll, carried out earlier this month by Curia Market Research, surveyed 1000 randomly selected people reflective of overall voters.

But the results contradict previous polls, conducted in New Zealand using similar sample sizes, which have found that Kiwis tend to be evenly divided on the issue. For instance, a 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll conducted in October suggested that 46% of Kiwis were in favour of legalisation of cannabis for personal use and 41% were against.

They are correct about the Colmar Brunton poll

“The Government will hold a referendum on legalising marijuana. Do you think the personal use of marijuana
should be legalised?”

  • Yes 46%
  • No 41%
  • Don’t know 12%

Interviewing took place from October 15 to October 19, with 1006 eligible voters contacted either by landline or mobile phone. The maximum sampling error was ±3.1 per cent.

…but that doesn’t ask what the Greens are proposing for the referendum – some legalisation, but with age and sale restrictions.

But they didn’t mention a NZ Herald/Horizon poll also taken in October: 60 per cent support for legal cannabis – new poll

A new poll shows that 60 per cent of New Zealanders would vote to legalise cannabis for personal use in a referendum.

It also reveals that over 300,000 Kiwi adults – mainly the youngest and the poorest – are using cannabis daily – in contrast with other research that show far lower daily use.

The poll is the first since the Government announced last month that the referendum on the issue will take place at the same time as the 2020 election and would be binding.

Though the question that will be put to voters has yet to be decided, the confidence and supply agreement between Labour and the Greens states that the referendum will be “on legalising the personal use of cannabis”.

That is the same question that was used in a new survey, by Horizon Research and commissioned by licensed medicinal cannabis company Helius Therapeutics.

  • Yes 60%
  • No 24%
  • No opinion 16%

Quite a different result. Why? It can depend on what questions are asked, and how they are asked.

The Horizon poll asked more detailed questions:

  • 63% wanted a regulated market for legal cannabis with licensed operators
  • 39% wanted the legal age to buy cannabis to be 18; 36% supported 21; 32% said if the legal age was set too high, it would lead to a black market
  • 58% said penalties for breaking the law in a legal cannabis market should be about the same for breaking the law on alcohol sales; 28% supported severe penalties
  • 18% supported the Government owning and controlling all production and sale of cannabis
  • 40% wanted a Government excise tax, and 68% said any tax revenue should go towards health services
  • 60% said they believed legal cannabis would result in lower levels of crime, or have no effect, while about a third said it would reduce harm and a quarter said it would increase harm.
  • 81% support medicinal cannabis

From a nationwide survey conducted in October of 995 adults 18 and over, and weighted to be representative of the population at the 2013 census. The margin of error is 3.1 per cent.

To understand the Family First poll result it’s worth looking at the questions they asked.

  1. If restrictions on the use of cannabis were reduced, do you think the use of cannabis would increase, decrease or remain the same?
  2. Do you believe tobacco companies are pushing for restrictions on cannabis to be lifted?
  3. Do you think cannabis use can damage the brains of young people under the age of 25?
  4. Do you think that drivers using cannabis are more likely or less likely to cause accidents?
  5. Do you think that young people under the age of 25 who regularly use cannabis are more likely or less likely to get a job?

So the poll starts by asking four questions about possible negative effects of cannabis use, plus a bizarre implication that tobacco companies could be involved.

Only then did they ask the question that they headline:

6. Which of the following statements comes closest to your opinion on cannabis?

  • Current restrictions remain 7%
  • Lift restrictions for medical but not recreational use 65%
  • Lift restrictions for recreational use 18%
  • Unsure/Refuse 10%

The Government is not proposing to “lift restrictions for recreational use” anywhere near completely. They make it clear they want significant restrictions to remain.

Asking leading questions like this is a technique that is specifically not recommended in polling. Curia is a member of the Research Association of NZ, which states in their political polling guidelines:

Question Order

It is recommended the principal voting behaviour question be asked before all other questions

The report must disclose the order of questions asked and any political questions asked before the principal voting behaviour question

The story should disclose any other questions which may have impacted the responses to the principal voting
behaviour question

The principal voting behaviour question was asked last, not first, and this was not disclosed in the Family First publicity releases. The story also did not disclose the wording of the questions and did not disclose all the questions.

The full poll report (not clearly linked) headed Curia Market Research did disclose the questions and order of questions. it states:

CODE COMPLIANCE: This poll was conducted in accordance with the New Zealand Political Polling Code, the Research Association New Zealand Code of Practice and the International Chamber of Commerce/European Society for Opinion and Market Research Code on Market and Social Research.

It also included the NZ Political Polling Code emblem as per “Compliant polls Polls following the code are entitled to use the emblem below to signal their compliance.”

I question whether the Family First cannabis poll complied with the Polling Code or Code of Practice.

It doesn’t help perceptions that Curia does National Party polling, and Simon Bridges and other National MPs have expressed their opposition to cannabis law reform.

Family First are trying to alter minds and opinions on the proposed cannabis referendum by pushing some fairly strong crap into the debate.

More on this at Stuff:  The great weed wars of 2020 could be defined by blue on green friendly fire

Record number of submissions on euthanasia Bill

The  Justice Select Committee has received a record number of public submissions on the End of Life Choice Bill. Most of those oppose the Bill, but despite claims that represents strong public opposition it is more indicative of strong organisation in trying to oppose the Bill.

Family First have made a common but ridiculous claim:  Overwhelming Majority Tell MPs To Kill The Euthanasia Bill

Family First NZ, a member of the Care Alliance which has analysed the almost-39,000 submissions made regarding David Seymour’s assisted suicide bill, says that there is overwhelming opposition to the bill being considered by Parliament and that MPs should vote against the bill at 2nd Reading.

The analysis reveals the following:
• Overall, 91.8% were opposed to the Bill
• 93.5% of submissions received from doctors, nurses and other health care staff were opposed
• 90.6% of organisations which submitted were opposed
• 90.5% of submissions made no reference at all to religious arguments
• all submissions made by churches were opposed, including a Buddhist group and a Muslim charitable organisation supported by 13 other Muslim welfare groups and organisations within NZ

This means there is a lot of opposition to the bill, but it makes no measure of overall public opposition or support of the bill. The 35,000 who submitted in opposition is a small minority of New Zealand voters.

RNZ picked up on this line of opposition:  Majority of submissions against bill to legalise euthanasia

The Care Alliance, which represents some groups opposed to euthanasia, analysed the nearly 38,000 submissions made to the Justice Select Committee on the End of Life Choice Bill.

Care Alliance Secretary Peter Thirkell said it was a record number of submissions for any bill, and more than 90 percent were opposed.

“These are heartfelt. This is a cross-section of all New Zealanders, and they are very well-informed submissions – these aren’t just a few people with funny ideas,” Dr Thirkell said.

It is disingenuous to claim “This is a cross-section of all New Zealanders” – it is a section of New Zealanders who were organised by the care Alliance and Family First to submit in opposition.

David Seymour has reacted: Care Alliance vs polling science on End of Life Choice

Analysing Select Committee submissions on the End of Life Choice Bill is no match for 20 years of research on New Zealanders’ support for the choice of assisted dying, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Reputable polling companies have time and time again found the vast majority of New Zealanders support assisted dying and welcome a change to our laws. A review of 20 years’ research into New Zealander’s attitudes to assisted dying by the University of Otago found that 68 per cent support change.”

This chart from the Young study shows the vast difference between support running consistently at around 70 per cent, opposition at around 20 per cent, and undecideds at around 10 per cent in 17 polls taken since 2002. These polls were taken by reputable firms such as Colmar Brunton and Reid Research, which most recently found 75 and 71 per cent support, respectively.

The Care Alliance are at pains to stress that the opposition to the bill was not, in the main, religiously motivated. However the church asked people not to use religious language in their submissions and its Bishops have defended the practice.

“90.5% of submissions made no reference at all to religious arguments” was one of the things analysed.

These mismatches between select committee submissions on an issue and public opinion are not new. The Committee considering the issue of civil unions found over 83 per cent of submissions were opposed to a law change at a time when the majority of New Zealanders were in favour of liberalisation. MPs understood this and voted civil unions into law.

“It is a shame that the Select Committee process has been misused in this way, emphasising the quantity of submissions over their quality.”

The Select Committee process hasn’t been misused – any member of the public has a right to submit. And it has been common for a long time for groups to organise submissions to inflate numbers in support of or in opposition to Bills. The only difference here is the number of submitters.

And it has also long been common for groups to misrepresent what number of submissions means. I have even seem elected councillors and MPs either misunderstand or misrepresent  what numbers of submissions.

It is up to the Select Committee to evaluate the submissions – MPs on committees should al be well aware of attempts to make numbers of submissions mean more than they do. The Select Committee will make recommendations to Parliament, and then all MPs will vote on whether to allow the bill to proceed or not.

If the Bill passes the Second and Third Reading votes in Parliament it is likely to then go to a referendum. That is likely to be what the ‘Care Alliance’ is trying to stop from happening.

But it could take a while –  Euthanasia bill timetable extended as record 35,000 submissions received

The timetable for the Justice Select Committee’s report on the End of Life Choice Bill has been extended after a record 35,000 submissions were received.

The select committee MPs will visit the regions in order to hear oral submissions on the bill, finally reporting back to Parliament at the end of March next year.

Will there be time from there to progress the bill through the second and third readings, then include it in a referendum held alongside the general election late next year as has been intimated might happen if the Bill passes through Parliament?

The member’s bill, sponsored by ACT’s David Seymour, would make it legal for those with a terminal illness or irremediable medical condition the choice of assisted death, otherwise known as euthanasia. It passed first reading last December 76 to 44.

That vote might get closer as it progresses through the readings.

“The Justice Committee intends to hear from all submitters who have asked to be heard,” chairperson Raymond Huo said.

“Hearing evidence in the regions will help ensure that as many individuals and community organisations as possible can present their views and that the Committee take account of all of the submissions in an open minded and balanced way.”

Deputy chairperson Maggie Barry said the huge number of submissions showed how strongly Kiwis felt about the issue.

“The Committee could not have done the submitters justice if we had refused to travel or hear everyone who asked to be heard. It was therefore essential we had the six month extension to allow us to give due consideration to the enormous task ahead of us,” Barry said.

Oral submissions begin in Parliament today.

It will be a year for it to be reported back to the full Parliament.

See also The Spinoff – Submissions show tough euthanasia fight ahead

The analysis of the submissions as a whole paints a fascinating picture of who was making them, and how they argued their case. The vast majority didn’t reference religious arguments, though some churches are understood to have strongly encouraged parishioners to write in. The vast majority were also uniquely written – that is, they weren’t just a form letter or postcard which groups sometimes use to pile submissions up. More than one in ten were longer than a page in length. All of that indicates a significant amount of vehemence behind the views.

Of course, tens of thousands of submissions still doesn’t add up to a majority of the electorate, or even remotely close to it.

Q+A: Should NZ legalise recreational cannabis?

Last night Q+A had a debate between Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and head of Family First Bob McCroskie on whether New Zealand should legalise the recreational use of cannabis (separate to allowing the use of medicinal cannabis).

To Swarbrick: What is it you want here, are you after legalisation, which would effectively allow people to grow marijuana, for it to be sold, to be regulated, the Canadian model, is that what you’re pushing for?

Chlöe Swarbrick: Yeah, so I think you’ve kind of hit the nail on the head there. We currently have a state of play whereby illegal drugs are unregulated drugs. people don’t necessarily know the compounds that they are purchasing or consuming.

So in the Green-Labour confidence and supply line 19 of that says that we want to see drugs treated as a health issue.

From the Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement:

19. Increase funding for alcohol and drug addiction services and ensure drug use is treated as a
health issue, and have a referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis at, or by, the
2020 general election.

Q+A:

Chlöe Swarbrick: Part of that is the referendum on the recreational personal use…

Corin Dann: So Kiwis would be able to go to some sort of a store and buy cannabis for personal use?

Chlöe Swarbrick: Yeah. So we have the option of looking around the world. Obviously Canada is going to be doing this on Wednesday this coming week. I think they have a really robust set of regulations that they’re looking at.

They’re focussed on harm reduction. They’re focussed on education. They’re focussed on taking it out of the hands of kids.

I think that’s quite different to the rules we’ve seen perhaps in the likes of Colorado which are more free market type models, where advertising is abundant and you have door to door delivery services.

But what we’re proposing, as we’ve been quite strong on for a while now, is…providing the legislation first so it is black and white what we are going to be voting on at that referendum come 2019 or 2020. So we remove all grey from the debate.

So make it clear in proposed legislation what would happen, and leave it to us the people to decide.

Corin Dann: Alright Bob you have been in Colorado I understand, it’s been in place for five years there, very liberal cannabis law. What did you make of it there. It seems to be going all right doesn’t it?

Bob McCoskrie: No it doesn’t, it’s ah the statistics are quite concerning, I mean for example a hundred and fifty percent increase in hospitalisations for marijuana, increase in road deaths with marijuana related to them, they’ve also got the highest teenage use across all states, eighty five percent above the national average for the United States.

Chlöe Swarbrick: Where are those figures from?

Bob McCoskrie: From the Rocky mountain High report…

Chlöe Swarbrick: I don’t think in any way shape or form that is they way we should be doing things.

McCoskrie argued that we shouldn’t be liberalising smoking cannabis while trying to become smoke free with tobacco. He also seems to be against a referendum.

Arguing the Colorado model seems pointless if that’s not the model proposed here.

McCoskrie says there is no war on drugs.

He says that regulation isn’t possible.

Lack of regulation isn’t working here.

McCoskrie claims that the aim is the legalisation of all drugs.

“If we want to be smoke free, lets be drug free”. On what planet?

He argues against what has happened with the Portugal approach, arguing against success there.

McCoskrie says we need to reduce supply and reduce demand, as per tobacco, which is highly regulated. Swarbrick is arguing for regulation.

I’ll transcribe more later if I have time.

On Twitter afterwards:

 

 

Family First loses charitable status but not ‘muzzled’

Family First has been removed fromn the charities register “because it does not advance exclusively charitable purposes”

Update on Family First New Zealand from the Independent Charities Registration Board

Published 21 August 2017

In its decision dated 21 August 2017 the independent Charities Registration Board has decided to remove Family First New Zealand from the Charities Register because it does not qualify for registration.

The role of the independent Charities Registration Board (“the Board”) is to maintain the integrity of the Charities Register by ensuring that entities on the Charities Register qualify for registration.

The Board can direct charities to be removed from the Charities Register when they do not advance a charitable purpose for the public benefit and it is in the public interest to remove them.

The Board’s decision is to remove Family First New Zealand (“Family First”) from the Charities Register because it does not advance exclusively charitable purposes.

The Board considers that Family First has a purpose to promote its own particular views about marriage and the traditional family that cannot be determined to be for the public benefit in a way previously accepted as charitable. Family First has the freedom to continue to communicate its views and influence policy and legislation but the Board has found that Family First’s pursuit of those activities do not qualify as being for the public benefit in a charitable sense.

In April 2013 the Board previously made the decision to remove Family First from the Charities Register because it did not advance exclusively charitable purposes. That decision was appealed to the High Court by Family First. In June 2015 the High Court directed the Board to reconsider its decision in light of the 2014 Supreme Court Greenpeace judgment and its own judgment.

This decision represents the Board’s reconsideration of Family First’s eligibility for registration.

Roger Holmes Miller
Chair, Charities Registration Board

View the decision here /

But Family First will fight the decision.

Stuff:  Charities Commission strips Family First of charitable status

But the group is not going down without a fight, saying it will argue the decision in the High Court.

The decision by the Charities Registration Board was made public on Monday. It is the second time the board has tried to deregister the group.

In 2013, the board made the decision to remove Family First from the Charities Register because it did not advance exclusively charitable purposes.

Family First appealed that decision to the High Court.

In June 2015, the High Court directed the board to reconsider its decision in light of the 2014 Supreme Court Greenpeace judgment and its own judgment.

The latest decision represented the board’s reconsideration of Family First’s eligibility for registration.

Family First have responded:

Family First To Charities Board – See You Back In Court

Family First NZ has instructed its lawyer to file an immediate Notice of Appeal in the Wellington High Court against the Charities Board’s formal decision to deregister Family First NZ.

Family First is going back to the same court to challenge again the belief of the Trust Board that our views about marriage and the traditional family “cannot be determined to be for the public benefit in a way previously accepted as charitable”.

“This is a less-than-satisfactory procedure of trudging back to the same court. It seems that the Charities Board are simply hoping for a different judge and a more favourable decision. It is a highly politicised and inconsistent decision by the Board and will have a chilling effect for many not-for-profit charitable groups – both registered, deregistered and wanting to be registered – who advocate for causes, beliefs, and on behalf of their supporters, and often have to engage in advocacy at a political level, not always through choice but through necessity,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Justice Collins in the earlier decision in the Wellington High Court in 2015 recognised the strength of Family First’s argument that its advocacy for the concept “…of the traditional family is analogous to organisations that have advocated for the ‘mental and moral improvement’ of society.…” The Charities Board was also scolded by Justice Collins who said “…Members of the Charities Board may personally disagree with the views of Family First, but at the same time recognise there is a legitimate analogy between its role and those organisations that have been recognised as charities.”

It appears that certain views of marriage and family are now deemed out-of-bounds by the State. We’ll fight that political correctness and muzzling of free speech,” says Mr McCoskrie.

That’s nonsense. McCoskrie is not muzzled, he speaking out here unhindered.

“Family First will appeal this decision as far as we need to, not because we have to have charitable status to exist, but because of the threat it places on other charities and their freedom to speak and advocate on behalf of their supporters in a civil society.”

It doesn’t stop Family First from speaking and advocating, it just removes their charity status.

Smacking issue again

The smacking issue has come up again.

Newstalk ZB:  One third of mothers still smack their kids – study

The University of Auckland longitudinal study Growing Up in New Zealand shows a third of mothers used smacking as a form of discipline and regularly screamed at their kids.

Research Director Dr Susan Morton told Mike Hosking the trend has been going on for a while.

“I think what we’re seeing with studies like this is actually what’s going on in the home. We know that the law has changed but potentially behaviour at home hasn’t, and that’s what’s concerning.”

That the number of parents who smack their kids seems to not have changed suggests that the ‘smacking’ law hasn’t been effective in changing attitudes to smacking.

It also suggests that one of the fears of opponents of the law – scaring people off smacking due to fear of being prosecuted and ‘made a criminal’ hasn’t eventuated either.

Dr Morton said we are seeing in the home potentially what’s happening in the wider society.

“And the problem is that if violence is tolerated in the wider society and then at home, children are learning that physical punishment is okay and that’s something that’s likely to be perpetuated to them throughout their lives.”

That’s a problem with physical punishment if it is a normal way to deal with problems in the home (rather than an occasional last resort minor sort of punishment).

Those who promoted and voted for the law meant well, they wanted to reduce violence in the home, and they wanted children to be protected by the same laws that adults are protected from. But the law ended up being a muddled compromise, with a key part being left up to police discretion on whether to prosecute or not.

Those who opposed the law have probably sent a message to parents who have learned to use physical punishment as a normal means of discipline that it is normal and no problem.

Most parents who have smacked their children mean no real harm, they think that it will benefit their children by teaching them right from wrong. But the problem is that some parents have different ideas on the amount of violence that is appropriate and hurt their children.

And a parent who learns to use physical punishment as normal is at greater risk of doing harm if they lose control under stress and take their violence too far.

Of course it’;s election time and It’s up for debate again, but should it be?

Conservative lobby group Family First has long campaigned for the right of parents to discipline their children using smacking. On Wednesday, spokesperson Bob McCoskrie told The AM Show the law is a “complete ass” and “parents are sick of politicians telling them how to raise their children”.

This election year, he’s not the only one calling for change. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters wants another referendum on smacking.

But while the likes of Family First and NZ First insist a smack is part of good parenting, child advocate groups like UNICEF say disciplining children without hitting them “is part of creating a society with less violence in the home”. 

Domestic abuse charity Shine says a repeal of the law would be a “terrible step back for our country.”

Client services manager Jill Proudfoot says fewer new generations of parents are smacking their children, but one piece of legislation can’t change a culture of violence and people still need lots of good advice about dealing with challenging behaviour.

It would be good if all the time and effort put into quibbling over a largely ineffective law change was instead put into helping improve parenting skills including promoting effective non-violent discipline them more kids would be better off.

What is a smack?

Smacking is commonly understood to be an open-palmed sharp slap which would leave no mark or injury on a child.

That definition is problematic. An open palmed slap on the bum or on the hand is unlikely to cause any harm – or be very effective as a punishment.

But when does a ‘smack’ become a potentially dangerous hit? Some parents have seen a smack round the ear as fine because it’s just a smack and leaves no visible mark or injury, but brain damage is invisible.

Here are four things you need to know about child discipline law in New Zealand.

1. The law is designed to give child abusers no excuse

The law granted children the same right to protection from assault as adults.

In cases where caregivers were being prosecuted for assault on children, the change in law means the defence of “reasonable force” cannot be used.

The introduction to former Green Party MP Sue Bradford’s Bill explains its purpose was to “stop force, and associated violence being inflicted on children in the context of correction or discipline”.

It says the law in its previous form acted “as a justification, excuse or defence for parents and guardians using force against their children”.

2. Children will not be removed from parents who smack lightly

Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, says it would not act on reports of a light smack to a child, unless a report of smacking is part of wider concerns for the child.

On its website, the agency says it is concerned “with the abuse and neglect of children, not incidents of light smacking,” and an open-palmed light smack is “most unlikely to constitute abuse”.

The Ministry says its working definition of physical abuse hasn’t changed since 2001. It remains:

“An act, or acts that result in inflicted injury to a child or young person.”

A child would not be removed from their family unless they are subject to harm, abuse or ill-treatment.

3. The law does allow smacking under some circumstances, but it can’t be used for ‘correction’

A parent cannot smack a child for the sake of discipline or correction, but a smack may be used in some circumstances, such as protecting a child from harm.

Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 now reads:

“Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of:

  • preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person
  • preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence
  • preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour
  • performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.”

4. Police are unlikely to prosecute cases of light smacking

Police can choose not to prosecute complaints against parents where the force used is inconsequential or where there is no public interest in prosecuting.

Most parents do not deliberately harm their children, and most parents are not harmed by the ‘smacking’ law.

 

Family First losing charity status

NZ Herald reports: Exclusive: Family First to lose charitable status

Family First is set to lose its charitable status, the Herald has exclusively learned.

The group was first notified by the Charities Registration Board in 2013 that its charitable status was in danger.

That was because the group advocated a controversial point of view, that was seen as lobbying for a political purpose.

The decision was challenged in court, and in 2015 the High Court ordered the Board to reconsider its decision.

The High Court decision did not rule on whether or not Family First was a charity.

The Herald understands that decision has now been reconsidered, and that the formal notification process is underway to tell Family First it is being deregistered as a charity.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said they’d be going straight to their legal team and instructing them to take the matter back to court.

“It may go as high as Supreme Court, because we’re not going to lie down on this one.

That may not be cheap, but neither will losing their charity status.

The Charities Registration Board has been more active over the last few years in reassessing the status of charities that also operate as political advocates or activists.

Winston Peters ‘a dangerous old man’

On Friday in a speech at a business breakfast in Waipu – transcript here – Winston Peters said under WHAT NZ FIRST WILL DO:

  • To battle this problem New Zealand First will lower the age of criminal responsibility.
  • We will change social welfare to demand parental accountability.
  • We are not going to spend taxpayers’ money on parents who won’t keep their side of the deal.
  • We will make sure there are far more police – 1800 more as soon as they can be trained.
    After all, the last time we had a chance we trained 1000 front line police in three years flat.
  • We will return this country to what other generations knew: That crime doesn’t pay.
  • We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.

Anti crime, which presumably means anti-violent crime, but pro smacking.

Peters/NZ First also put out a media release titled ‘We Will Return NZ To: Crime Doesn’t Pay’

To battle widespread criminal behaviour by young people socially DNA-ed for destruction as seen in Kaikohe last weekend, New Zealand First will, among other measures, repeal the anti-smacking law.

“We live in a ‘PC age’ where there are more rules on the teachers and the police than young offenders and their parents,” said Mr Peters in a speech at Waipu this morning.

“We no longer hold these little ‘tow-rag’ offenders responsible for their actions.

“Instead we hear 100 different reasons why it’s not their fault.

“That’s rubbish.

“They’re old enough to know exactly what they’re doing.

“They know they will get away with it and that there will be no repercussions.

”Meanwhile, the old parties in parliament want the age of criminal responsibility raised.

“Many of these politicians have no idea how the other half live and don’t venture into the real world.

“Besides repealing the anti-smacking law, which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children, New Zealand First will lower the age of criminal responsibility; change social welfare to demand parental accountability and will make sure there are far more police on the frontline – 1800 more as soon as they can be trained.

“We will return this country to what other generations knew: That crime doesn’t pay,” said Mr Peters.

Calling young people toe-rags and encouraging the bash may appeal to populist votes but it is unlikely to solve youth crime.

Does Peters have any evidence to support his claim the the anti-smacking law “doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children”? He has habit of making unsubstantiated claims.

Sue Bradford has called Peters a ‘dangerous old man’:

Winston Peters has been labelled a “dangerous old man” who’s “really past his prime”, after vowing to repeal the so-called anti-smacking law.

Sue Bradford, the former Green MP behind the law, told The AM Show on Monday she was “horrified” by his recent comments.

“What he’s advocating is the return of the legalising of assault on our children, which is the last thing our kids need and the last thing the kids of Northland need.”

Ms Bradford said: “He’s talking about this on the back of the incident up in Kaikohe recently with the young people rampaging.

“Those kids probably see far too much violence I’d suggest in their lives already, far too much poverty, unemployment, a lack of opportunities for their families in their part of the country.”

The 2007 law change removed the defence of “reasonable force” in cases where parents and caregivers were being prosecuted for assault on children.

“It’s helped massively to change the idea that actually parents and other adults responsible for children are legally entitled to use physical punishment on their kids, that sometimes led to quite serious assaults,” said Ms Bradford.

Repealing the law would send the wrong message, she believes.

“We’ve got ‘it’s not okay’ campaigns about beating our partners, our wives, but on the other hand, children don’t matter?”

Conservative lobby group Family First says there have been massive increases in child abuse in the decade since the law began, but Ms Bradford says repealing the anti-smacking law won’t fix that.

“As the truly dreadful levels of family violence in this country continue, they cannot be laid to this law. No law can stop that.”

Massive increases in child abuse in the decade since the law began? That seems like a massive exaggeration, and I’d be surprised if they have evidence of a direct connection between the law change and levels of violence against children.

Family First have always strongly opposed the law change. They have put out a media release in support of Peters: NZ First Repeal Of Anti-Smacking Law Welcomed

This makes some claims about violence levels.

Police statistics show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed in 2007. CYF have had more than 1 million notifications of abuse and there has been a 42% increase in physical abuse found by CYF since 2007.

But that does nothing to prove cause and effect. There are alternative claims that a greater awareness of violence against children has led to greater levels of reporting of abuse, which may be a positive effect rather than a negative effect.

In the past excessive smacking (more than a tap on the bum) and bashing tended to get swept under legal and social carpets.

I think that it’s very difficult to prove the effects of the law change on offending rates.

I believe that any moves to encourage less violence, and less smacking while encouraging effective alternatives, has to end up being better for children in general in the long run.

Peters may get some votes from his support of smacking law repeal, but I think it will come to nothing more than that.

I think it is very unlikely that there will be enough votes in Parliament to just repeal the smacking law. The old version was seriously flawed.

The only chance of change is if someone comes up with an improvement to the also flawed current law – but at least it signals that violence against children should be reduced.

No indication from Peters whether he would add smacking law repeal to his list of coalition bottom lines.

Claim that talk of euthanasia encourages suicides

Bob McCoskrie has made an odd claim about the euthanasia Parliamentary select committee discussions – he has suggested it is encouraging suicides, but he says there is no scientific basis for this.

NZ Herald: Talk of euthanasia encouraging suicides, conservative lobby group says

Bob McCoskrie, the national director for Family First, said today that suicides and attempted suicides appeared to peak every time Parliament debated a law change around assisted dying.

He acknowledged there was no scientific basis for his theory and that other factors could have contributed to the rise in suicides in 1995, 2003 and 2012, when Parliament considered bills or proposed bills on euthanasia.

“But it cannot ruled out that there is risk related to the increased publicity given to the idea of euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

Many things “can’t be ruled out” but making claims like this with nothing to substantiate it is poor in a submission from Family First.

It also can’t be ruled out that openly talking about euthanasia, and openly talking about suicide, helps lead to prevention of suicides.

McCoskrie made the comments to a select committee which is investigating public attitudes to voluntary euthanasia and deciding whether it should be legalised in New Zealand.

McCoskrie said any discussion of suicide should focus on prevention.

“In complete contrast, this inquiry is initiated and is driven by a desire to promote assisted suicide. You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide.”

The euthanasia discussions have only come up this year, and there are no recent statistics on suicide rates so it’s impossible to tell whether McCoskrie is right.

McCoskrie hasn’t attempted to analyse trends and patterns, but avoiding talking about suicide in public, as has been the norm in the past, has done nothing to stem the growing number of suicides in New Zealand.

When publishing items on suicide media commonly also publishes help line numbers and links to resources about suicide prevention. Trying to ignore a growing problem hasn’t worked.

And:

One of the committee’s members, Labour MP Louisa Wall, said his argument was “fundamentally flawed” because he did not differentiate between medically-assisted dying and suicide.

“I don’t see them as congruent,” she said. “There is a huge contrast between people who are facing imminent death and people who are hopeless or depressed.”

“To say that someone like [euthanasia advocate] Lecretia Seales was committing suicide is just wrong.”

But to some people, like McCoskrie, anything other than letting life and death take it’s natural course is wrong.

Except that medical interventions that prolong life seem to have become acceptable.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Marriage versus De Facto relationships

Family First claims that a drop in marriage rates is one of the main drivers of child poverty. I’m not sure they have this right.

Stuff: Lobby group Family First blames unmarried couples for child poverty

An unmarried couple with children is highly likely to be struggling in poverty, a conservative lobby group claims. 

The claim comes from a new report by researcher and artist Lindsay Mitchell, who said there was “overwhelming and incontrovertible” evidence that a drop in marriage rates was one of the main drivers of an increase in child poverty.

The glossy report, funded by conservative Christian lobby group Family First, looked at household income and family structures from the 1960s to the current day.

A heck of a lot has changed in New Zealand society since the 1960s. I have major doubts over marriage rates being such a big factor.

It states that with people having fewer children than in the past and people delaying birth until they were older, families should be better off financially, but that was not the case.

A lot of families are better off financially, especially those that have fewer children and have families when they are older.

“Despite marriage being the best protector against child poverty it has become politically unfashionable – some argue insensitive – to express such a view.

“But if there is to be any political will to solve child poverty the issue has to be confronted.”

Bollocks.

A stable family with two parents in a relationship and with a steady and reasonable level of income are certainly significant factors.

Whether the parents are married or not is largely irrelevant. Marriage is a legal document and a social custom but it has become optional and unnecessary for a good family environment.

Unsurprisingly, single-parent families were described as the poorest in New Zealand.

Single parent families are naturally going to find things tougher financially generally – although no always, a married couple with one partner an alcoholic or drug addict or in prison will tend towards being poorer.

But currently, 27 per cent of registered births were to cohabiting, or de facto, parents.

Mitchell said these relationships became less stable over time, the parents were poorer than married parents and separation by the time a child was aged five was four to six times greater than married parents.

I don’t see any reason why a de facto relationship should become more unstable over time than a marriage relationship.

A legal marriage will have little effect on the strength of a relationship.

Citing an Australian study, the report suggests married men earned a substantially higher wage than a cohabiting man and worked substantially longer hours.

But that could mean that higher earners were more likely to get married.

The cost of marriage can be a deterrent to poorer people.

I know of stable two parent families that put more priority on providing for their current needs than forking out thousands of dollars on a wedding that they would quite like but are happy to postpone.

But The Family Centre social policy researcher Charles Waldergrave said that to simply say that married people’s children were better off was a misuse of statistics.

“You can’t just correlate things and then start talking about causality, you just can’t do it that way.

“The fact that married people and people in de facto relationships earn different amounts of money doesn’t make it causal in terms of child poverty.”

That’s right.

Middle-class people were more likely to get married while de facto relationships were more common in lower-income households, but factors such as the economy affected both.

The main causes of child poverty was not a lack of marriages, but things like low incomes, the casualisation of work and the benefit system, he said.

“Poverty is essentially the access to resources and in a capitalist society that depends on income.”

And something that has changed significantly since the 1960s (fifty years ago) is we have become a far more consumerist society. This affects families whether parents are married or not.

The cost of weddings – how many people want to get married – is huge for lower income earners. Without the social pressure to get married it’s easy to postpone a spending spree that is actually unnecessary.  It’s an optional extra.

Mitchell said her aim with the research was not to ruffle feathers, but present information so it could be debated.

Many of those in de facto relationships were in their second and third relationships, supporting children from previous partners.

Remarriage and blended families with marriage involved are also common.

While cohabiting parents were more likely to have only one child, they were also more likely than married couples to have four or more.

Which means?

They were also much less stable than married couples, although Mitchell was unsure why.

That’s very poorly stated.

Many de facto relationships are as stable as many married relationships.

Of course some de facto relationships will be less stable than many married relationships, they can (but far from always) involve far less commitment.

If marriage was made compulsory it wouldn’t transform poor partners into reliable partners.

Poor partners are less likely to get married. It may be no more than that.

“Child poverty has become a really big issue and everyone is concerned about it…but we don’t hear anyone talking about the change in family structure.”

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie described the link between a drop in marriage and rise in child poverty as the “elephant in the room”.

“People would like to believe that there isn’t [a link] but unfortunately. the research shows de facto or cohabiting relationships are less stable.”

But in the 1960s it is very likely that shotgun weddings – or rushed marriages precipitated by pregnancy – would have had a higher proportion of  unstable relationships than carefully planned marriages and families.

As far as marriage is concerned probably all that has changed as the relationships least likely to endure never involve marriage any more.

A forced marriage with a dysfunctional relationship in which society puts pressure on for the  marriage to continue regardless of obvious problems – sometimes quite serious problems – is not a good solution.

Family First has raised some important issues – but if they really wanted debate rather than simply to promote their ideal of Marriage First then they would have presented their research without jumping to poorly supported solutions that simply fitted their last century world view.

New Zealand society has changed enormously over the last half century. Trying to force things back to some idealistic model of marriage is not a good way to address the obvious issues we currently have.

Encouraging and supporting better relationships and more responsible parenting- whether married or de facto – is surely a far better approach.

‘Care Alliance’ careless

The so-called ‘Care Alliance’ has issued a very careless press release attacking the husband of Lecretia Seals.

Matt Vickers has been attacked for considering an invitation to speak at the Euthanasia 2016 conference in Amsterdam in May.

NZ Herald: Widower of Lecretia Seales attacked for attendance at euthanasia conference

His possible attendance has been slammed by the Care Alliance, which issued a press release asking if he would now lobby for suicide pills for all over 70s.

Matthew Jansen, secretary of the group, which formed in 2012 and includes Family First NZ, Hospice New Zealand and the Salvation Army, said Mr Vickers’ attendance showed “what a slippery slope the so-called right to die really is”.

“The Dutch organisers of the conference are campaigning for everybody over the age of 70 to have access to a suicide pill as a matter of right. Will Mr Vickers be speaking for or against such a law change here?”

This is a very careless attack by Jansen, and Hospice New Zealand, Family First and the Salvation Army should be very concerned to be seen as associated with him.

Mr Jansen said he was not attacking Mr Vickers personally, but publicising the fact he had been invited to the conference, and the views of conference organisers and some attendees.

“He has allowed his name to be associated with that [Euthanasia 2016]. I am pointing out the facts.

“[Assisted dying advocates] start with the thin end of the wedge, but I think people are entitled to understand what the thick end of the wedge looks like.”

Jansen is not pointing out facts, he is making fairly despicable connections between Vickers and more extreme measures that Vickers has not had any link to.

Mr Vickers, who is writing a book about his wife’s dying quest, told the Herald that the criticism was unfortunate.

He was still deciding whether to attend the conference, but should he do so it would be “simply fallacious” to assume his attendance was an automatic endorsement of the views of organisers or attendees.

“I think in New Zealand we probably want more moderate laws, laws that are more similar to some of those in the US states, rather than some of the laws in the Netherlands and so on.

“I am interested in getting to the bottom of what is happening in the Benelux countries [Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg] — understanding more about some of the assertions from people like the Care Alliance about just how unsafe they think that these laws would be.

“It is much an understanding thing, if I do decide to go, as it is talking about Lecretia’s story.”

Mr Vickers said recent attacks from the Care Alliance and its allies were “deeply undignified, insulting to Lecretia’s memory, and unfortunately lowering the quality of the public debate”.

“That they’re resorting to such tactics indicates they must be losing faith in the quality of their arguments and their ability to debate fairly.”

It is very undignified and insulting.

Hospice New Zealand, Family First and the Salvation Army should disassociate themselves from Jansen’s attack, and possibly from Jansen altogether if he is this careless with his press releases.

We should debate euthanasia in New Zealand but Jansen isn’t doing any credit to his arguement, nor to the so called ‘Care Alliance’.