Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Candidate Survey: Nineteenth Response

From Kelly Buchanan, Alliance candidate for Mana. Kelly is the Alliance's spokesperson for human rights, queer rights, and electoral reform, and is ranked 14th on the party list.

If you could ensure the passage of one act on one issue in the next Parliament, what would it be?

A Privatisation Reversal Act, to restore full ownership of all former state assets to the people of New Zealand, and to operate all state assets as democratic, open, and accountable public services rather than as profit-making businesses. This would include electricity generation and supply, telecommunications, rail, etc. Compensation to the current owners would be at the discretion of the government, and take in to account the degree to which a private owner has run down the asset in question.

Or if I had to settle for something less radical (though merely undoing the stupidity of previous governments should hardly be considered radical), a Minimum Wage Adjustment Act to set the minimum wage to $15 with regular automatic inflation adjustment and no age limit.

What three other electoral candidates or sitting MPs do you think are most similar to you in their political views?

Jill Ovens, Manukau East
Kane O'Connell, Wellington Central
Victor Billot, Dunedin North

MMP is about coalitions: What sitting MP who is NOT in your party do you think is most similar to you in their political views?

Keith Locke, Greens.

Do you support or oppose:

...raising the drinking age?

Oppose. Excessive drinking is certainly a problem, but not just for 18 and 19 year olds, and an arbitrary age limit is not the solution. A big part of the problem is that bars and nightclubs depend upon alcohol sales for their income, which is a very strong disincentive for refusing to serve the already intoxicated.

...legalising marijuana (or pharmaceuticals based on it) for medical use?

Definitely support. In some cases it's the most effective option.

...decriminalising or legalising marijuana for recreational use?

Support. I'm not fond of the stuff myself, but it's no more harmful than other legal drugs, and arresting people for taking a small risk with their health is both an unwarranted interference in people's lives and a waste of police resources. Legalising marijuana would also improve relations between the police and the public, and eliminate a source of funding for criminal gangs.

...allowing same-sex couples to adopt children?

Strongly support. Same-sex couples already raise children together; it's foolish and unfair to deny legal recognition to both parents. Same-sex couples are just as capable as heterosexuals of providing a loving environment for children.

...amending the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry?

I'd prefer to repeal the Marriage Act to make marriage a purely social/religious institution, and convert existing marriages to civil unions. There's no practical need to have both civil unions and legal marriages, and putting marriage outside the jurisdiction of the law gives churches the freedom to decide for themselves which relationships they will recognise as marriage without imposing their views on the rest of the country.

Failing that, yes, I support allowing same-sex couples to marry.

...allowing voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted suicide?

Support, though there must be very strict procedures and monitoring to ensure that the patient truly does want euthanasia.

...state funding of integrated schools?

I support public funding of "special character" schools that meet certain criteria. These would include: That the school does not charge fees; the state should not be subsidising higher-quality schools for the wealthy. That national educational and curriculum standards are met. That religious beliefs are not presented as fact in the classroom, and that scientific theories that conflict with religious beliefs get a fair hearing (if necessary by independent teachers).

...the retention of sedition as a crime in the Crimes Act?

Oppose. It's archaic, unnecessary, and open to abuse.

...the retention of blasphemous libel as a crime in the Crimes Act?

Oppose. It's archaic, unnecessary, discriminatory on basis of religion, and open to abuse.

...further restrictions on hate speech?

Probably oppose, depending on the nature of the restrictions. Hate speech is a problem, but additional restrictions on free speech would be too open to abuse. Hate speech should be countered with rational arguments, and deliberate use of factually incorrect information to incite hate should be clamped down on.

...the use of indefinite detention without trial for those subject to a security risk certificate?

Absolutely oppose. I have no confidence whatsoever in the identification of security risks, and nobody should ever be detained without trial for any longer than absolutely necessary.

...restoring the death penalty for serious crime?

Oppose. Mistakes will always be made, and death is rather difficult to undo or make up for.

...Georgina Beyer's Human Rights (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill?

Support. There is no justification for, for example, refusing to rent a flat to someone based on their gender identity.

...Gordon Copeland's New Zealand Bill of Rights (Private Property Rights) Amendment Bill?

Oppose. I have no particular respect for the "right" of private individuals to own property beyond that which they use personally (such as the house they live in), and it is entirely reasonable for the state to impose certain limits on how property can be "used and enjoyed" on the grounds of effects on neighbours, the environment, etc.

...entrenching the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act as supreme law?

Probably support, but I'm not entirely sure what the ramifications of this would be.

...New Zealand's participation in the International Criminal Court?

Support - and NZ should be pushing strongly for the ICC to put the Bush administration on trial for war crimes, in absentia if necessary.

...lowering MMP's threshold from the present 5%?

Support - 4% was originally recommended as appropriate, and the increase to 5% was entirely arbitrary. However, a much more important change would be to add STV-style voting to MMP. Voters should be able to rank their preferences for both the list vote and the electorate vote. That way, if a party failed to reach the threshold, its votes would be transferred to the voters' second choices. This would eliminate the problem of wasted votes, and distortion of voter preferences through fear of wasting votes. The advantages of STV for the electorate vote should be obvious.


With the benefit of hindsight, how should the government have handled the Ahmed Zaoui case?

There is no case against Zaoui. He should have been accepted as a refugee, and if there really are genuine security concerns (as opposed to a desire to suck up to the US by appearing "tough on terror") he should have been monitored.

As a bonus, here's my Political Compass score.

Economic Left/Right: -10.00
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.23

As usual, Kelly's views are her own, and do not necessarily represent those of the Alliance.



Posted by Anonymous : 6/22/2005 01:51:00 PM

Oh, well, in the face of such a devastating disection of my positions as that, I'm forced to concede that I'm absolutely wrong on all counts. After all, I obviously can't argue with anything you've said.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/22/2005 02:01:00 PM

Oh well, here's a genuine question. I'm a Catholic parent, why would you stop intergrated Catholic schools from presenting Catholic beliefs as fact in the classroom?

"That religious beliefs are not presented as fact in the classroom..."

And how would you work that with things like school Masses, prayer, and religious education?


Posted by Muerk : 6/22/2005 02:20:00 PM

So you would like to return to the days of state ownership??
When the state owned organisations handled twenty percent of the total investment in New Zealand yet only produced ten percent of the country's output.
Yea I can see that happening.

Posted by andrewfalloon : 6/22/2005 02:29:00 PM

Thank you for your contribution, Anon. Is it really that surprising that not everyone is an advocate of unfettered markets?

Remember, these sorts of economic policies have regularly captured more than 10% of the vote (and more than 20% in 1993 and 1996). They're not as "fringey" as you think.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/22/2005 02:32:00 PM

Hi Tess

I don't know about Kelly, but insofar as I am concerned, if you want to teach any given religion as fact, then you have to teach all of them as fact, and give your kid an equal exposure to them all without bias. I'd even be happy with government funding for such. In other words, if there is to be religious teaching in schools, and if it is to be government funded, then such teaching needs to expose the children to a non-partisan summary of all the religions practiced in their country, so the kid can compare and contrast.

I'm not happy with partisan religious teaching in schools thats government funded - all or nothing - the state should be impartial to religion such that it either gives no help to any of them, or equal help to all of them. If I was God Emperor, I'd also require that no religiously based schools be allowed any control over their interpretation of the science curriculum, but thats just me being cranky.

(I have very bitter memories of being required to attend "sunday school" despite mine and my family's well known range of agnostic to outright atheist stance. (It was on Wednesdays, which summed it up for me...))

Posted by Weekend_Viking : 6/22/2005 02:45:00 PM


I'm not talking about state schools, in which case I agree with you. I'm talking about integrated Catholic schools, whom no one is required to attend.

It's a bit oppresive to say that Catholic parents can't pass on their Catholic faith and culture to their own children. We choose to send our children to these schools _because_ they have a Catholic character and we pay our taxes so that our kids can have an education, so why not put that money where the kids attend. (Which is what is happening now and working well.)

[Although our son goes to the local state school because it is directly next door, and with four wee kids, getting to St Jo's is a bit of an effort and petrol cost we don't need. Although they will go to St Josephs for forms 1 and 2, because our local school only goes to std 4.]

I'm also all for Islamic, Buddhist and Wiccan, etc. integrated schools for that matter. I agree that if the state will do it for one religious group, it must be fair and do it for all.

But what I want to know from Kelly Buchanan is why change what is already working? Why stop Catholic schools from being "catholic" and stop them from teaching Catholicism as fact.

Posted by Muerk : 6/22/2005 03:39:00 PM

I have no problem with masses and prayer outside actual teaching time, eg as part of school assembly. Religious education is a good thing if it covers all the world's religions (and the option of not having a religion) fairly and impartially, but propaganda for one particular religion is a different matter and needs to be kept clearly distinct from education.

As for "no one is required to attend", for young children in particular the choice of school is usually made by the parents, and the children are indeed required to attend whatever their own views may be.

Parents should be able to give their children the opportunity to learn their faith and culture, but it should not be forced upon children while denying them exposure to other ideas and beliefs. Children are people, not the property of their parents, and have rights of their own.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/22/2005 04:36:00 PM

How do you measure the country's output? The dollar value of the goods and services produced? An efficient publicly owned and operated electricity infrastructure that was able to charge less for power would be producing less by that measure, which is clearly nonsensical.

There are also wider factors to consider, such as sustainability and impact on the environment, and pay and conditions for workers. Public services are better able to take these in to account than private companies which are fixated on the financial bottom line.

Private competition is inherently inefficient, with needless duplication of services, wasteful advertising to fight for market share, inability to take a long term view, and the requirement to make a profit on top of costs.

Electricity retailing is a perfect example. What's the point of being able to choose who sends us a bill for an identical service? The power still comes down the same lines from the same generators, and price variations are only possible if people don't know about or understand them.

Even so, I'm sure the old state services had room for improvement, but competition isn't the only way to improve efficiency. Transparency, accountability, and democracy in the running of public services is a better option.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/22/2005 05:09:00 PM

This "privatization reversal act" is rather like the taking of criminals assets in the other post. Except of course in this case the poeple involved have no defense even if they do prove they are not criminals.

Posted by Genius : 6/22/2005 08:26:00 PM

"teaching of religion at a special character school...needs to be clearly advertised as such and separated from the rest of the school syllabus?"

Yes, that's about right. Church and school can take place at the same venue, but they shouldn't be the same thing. The kids can decide for themselves whether they find creation science or evolution more plausible.

Yes, I ran for city council last year.

"This "privatization reversal act" is rather like the taking of criminals assets in the other post."

Except that corporations aren't people, and their actions are criminal - ethically if not legally.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/22/2005 09:14:00 PM

you're going to have some fun with this one Mike

Posted by Anonymous : 6/22/2005 11:05:00 PM

Mike: I have (re)contacted all known candidates in the past week, and am hoping to get more responses. Of course, any pressure you can apply ("front up and tell us what you think!") would be welcome.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/22/2005 11:39:00 PM

Icehawk: actually, that seems perfectly reasonable to me - and it is pretty much what is demanded by the Education Act.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/22/2005 11:41:00 PM


It's a bit hard to separate out the education bit from the faith bit. Catholics are fine with evolution btw.

Catholic schools are Catholic all the time, not just at RE. I mean, Christ, Mary and the Church are part of all aspects of the education syllabus, not just at assembly or Mass. It's a complete wholistic worldview that covers all parts of our identity. It couldn't be somehow carved out and moved away from the "education" bit. What you are asking isn't possible.

As for children being their own people, yes! I totally agree. However all parents pass on their culture and values to their children, to try to temper that is an intrusion into how families exist.

Out of interest would you be comfortable with "missionaries" going to visit isolated South American mountain tribes, in order to teach their children about other religions, faiths, world views etc., irrelevant of their parents agreement?

Posted by Muerk : 6/23/2005 12:50:00 PM

Can you give me an example of how the Catholic worldview would manifest itself in the classroom? I don't have a problem with English classes including Catholic-themed books, and obviously religious elements would be likely in art and creative writing; would it go beyond that?

I'd be strongly opposed to marking students down for expressing views that conflict with Catholic dogma in their schoolwork.

I don't like the term "missionaries", which implies attempting to convert, but I'd have no problem with supplying unbiased information about the wider world (including both the advantages and drawbacks) to remote tribes, without ulterior motives. Tribes have a right to maintain their own culture, but not to force members to stay by denying them the knowledge that alternatives exist.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/23/2005 05:56:00 PM

this has been a very interesting debate to read - as an Alliance person who went to a Catholic school for over 5 years.

My experiences at school were that the catholicism actually didn't peek into much except RE itself. I remember that the musical we did in intermediate was Nebuchadnezzer's Nightmare (a bible story) and we used to sing a lot of hymns and go to mass three times a year. There was a lot in the school social life that reflected the church, but not that much in the classroom.

I don't know if that is unusual or not though. But it would sound like the kind of situation Kelly is advocating. I gained a lot of useful values from my Catholic schooling, although I have never been particularly religious myself, around social justice and the like. The only thing I have firmly junked is my anti-abortion stance.

I don't feel very positively towards the Catholic church but then I never did (i remember doing an assignment on the Spanish Inquisition - we got to pick our own topics - and no one batted an eyelid, I actually did it because I was interested, it didn't occur to me until years afterwards that I was probably seen as being very cheeky).

Posted by Span : 6/23/2005 06:36:00 PM

"Can you give me an example of how the Catholic worldview would manifest itself in the classroom?"

Well, before my som moved schools, he went to New Brighton Catholic. But when we moved houses to was easier for him to go to the state school next door, so I'll give you my experience.

Peter (my son), began the school day with prayers, Hail Mary, In the name of the Father, and the Our Father. These were said in either English or Maori, and the kids chose which one they wanted to say. Then the special person for the day held a flower and as it was passed round a circle, each child offered up a prayer intention, eg, help my sick gandmother, and the class all prayed for these intentions.

Around the room were things that indicated various liturgical seasons, eg, Lent or Advent. There were statues of Mary around the school and pictures of the Pope.

The older kids led grace for the juniors at lunch time, and then would help them clean up the food scaps which went to a pig farm to be recycled into pig food.

In the library there were loads of Bible stories in kids format, posters of Jesus. The school had a chaplin, one of the priests, who came and visited. Most of the older children had their rosaries and would pray them.

Lots of the art was connected with the liturgical seasons, and the feast days of the Church. The faith was just _there_ as much as anything. It just bubbled along as part of the school community.

Kids didn't get marked down for not agreeing, and Catholic schools do take 5% non Catholics. But it was more about Catholics just being Catholic in their church and school community. It's just people living out their culture.

There are enough other influences around, that I don't think we have to interfere in how integrated schools act out their own special character. And when children grow and mature into adults, then they are capable of deciding for themselves, what they want to do with their faith.

Certainly I assume you wouldn't interfere with kura kopapa schools' faith, I know they have a very strong spiritual dimention in their school environments.

Personally I think the integrated school thing is working well, so don't break it. And if you want more diversity taught, then determine just what's going on right now. Because I do know of quite a few Muslim children that attend Catholic schools.

Look at what's happening, rather than go in with a neat ideology trying to make things "better", when they might not need it.

Posted by Muerk : 6/23/2005 10:00:00 PM

"It's just people living out their culture"

All that sounds reasonable enough, assuming the library doesn't _just_ have Bible stories.

"I assume you wouldn't interfere with kura kopapa schools' faith"

My standards are the same for any legitimate faith (I wouldn't approve of a Scientology school, for example). Kura kaupapa schools aren't a special case.

"Look at what's happening, rather than go in with a neat ideology trying to make things "better", when they might not need it."

Certainly. I've explained what my standards are; I haven't claimed that they're not currently being met, as I don't have that information.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/24/2005 11:29:00 AM

Remind me not to buy any land for my personal use if I say decide to come back to NZ one day... esp if this girl gets anywhere :/

Posted by Anonymous : 6/26/2005 07:06:00 AM


"All that sounds reasonable enough, assuming the library doesn't _just_ have Bible stories."

BLINK... Of course it doesn't. It's like any school library, just with some children's bible stories and Catholic posters floating around.

"Certainly. I've explained what my standards are; I haven't claimed that they're not currently being met, as I don't have that information."

My voter's advice to you is that you should go out and see what's happening in reality, the pro and cons, before you make ideaological and policy statements around the subject.

Because in regard to this subject you have come across as not really understanding what's going on. Especially given the history of how Catholic schools fought to be integrated.

I really hope that you make an appointment with your local bishop and inquire fully into our religious education and perhaps visit a Catholic school and see how it's special character is expressed in reality.

Good luck with the election and God bless

Posted by Muerk : 6/26/2005 11:21:00 AM

"Remind me not to buy any land for my personal use"

Reasonable personal use, I don't have a problem with. I have no desire to see people kicked out of their homes; quite the reverse. What I don't approve of is private buying of land for other people's use, and charging them for the privilege. Being rich enough to buy property isn't a legitimate way to earn a living.

"you should go out and see what's happening in reality, the pro and cons, before you make ideaological and policy statements"

It's impossible to be an expert on everything, particularly while I have a day job to keep me busy. I think it's more useful to explain my ideology and let those who are experts in a particular area interpret what it would mean, than to merely answer "no comment" whenever I don't have detailed knowledge of an issue.

If I was in the position to be making decisions about integrated schools, I'd certainly investigate the situation much more thoroughly, but for now its just a hypothetical question, and I have other priorities for my time.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/28/2005 11:42:00 AM