Sunday, August 28, 2005

Candidate Survey: Twenty-Seventh Response

From Chris Ford, Alliance candidate for Dunedin South. Chris is 12th on the Alliance party list.

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

I believe it would be the abolition of all doctor's charges and prescription fees making health care universally free of charge in NZ.

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

Keith Locke and Sue Bradford of the Greens are the MPs who hold views closest to those of the Alliance.

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?

See above answer

Do you support or oppose:

...raising the drinking age?

No. The problem with drinking in this country is the culture that surrounds it rather than the legal age at which it can be consumed publicly. I personally support the ALAC Campaign to promote better drinking behaviour.

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

Yes. Many people with long-term, pain-related impairment would benefit from such a move, particularly if well administered.

...decriminalising or legalising marijuana for recreational use?

Yes. While having never inhaled or smoked the stuff, I believe that the Alliance's policy is right on the basis that adults should be able to make an informed choice to purchase and smoke the stuff, provided they are aged 18 or over. I believe that marijuana should be subject to the same legal restrictions as apply to alcohol and drugs and that drug and alcohol awareness education should be made mandatory in schools.

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

Yes, absolutely. The current legislation is discriminatory. May I add to that my personal belief that people with disabilities should be legally permitted to adopt children, something not technically permissible under the current Adoption Act which dates back to 1955.

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

Yes, absolutely. Marriage was designed primarily as a tool of social control and to provide for the determination of property rights. I would prefer to see the Marriage Act repealed and all relationships could be legally recognised on the same basis as civil unions. If people want to go off and have a wedding in a religious sense, that should be their right but it would not be legally recognised as a marriage but as a civil union under law so that there could be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or relationship status.

...allowing voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted suicide?

This presents a human rights issue from my own perspective as a disabled person. However, I would be supportive of euthanasia only if it were strictly regulated to ensure that the person wanted it to proceed, that the person was medically certified as having a terminal illness of no more than six months duration and on the basis that continued prolongation of life would cause unnecessary distress. Euthanasia on the basis of a person having life-long impairment, either through accident or other means, I would oppose as it would impinge on the human rights of disabled people. Depressive illness in the wake of a disabling injury is common and often people who, for example, acquire paraplegia and say that they want to die are more often feeling suicidal as a result of life changes. People with disabilities in this situation are more likely to live full and productive natural lives through good rehabilitation and support. Therefore, I make a distinction between permanent impairment and terminal illness.

...state funding of integrated schools?

I support the state funding of integrated schools on the proviso that they provide free education, teach the national curriculum and are non-discriminatory. Students should have the right to seek information or support on such issues as sex education and contraception on a confidential basis from state agencies where these issues are not able to be taught at an integrated or religiously-based school.

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

I think the rendition of sedition in the Crimes Act is a travesty on people's right to express an opinion critical of the actions of the State.

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

I would support its retention on the basis that it was widened to include blasphemous comments against any religion, not just Christianity.

...further restrictions on hate speech?

Yes, provided that there were safeguards to protect free speech. As a disabled person, particularly when I was younger, I was subjected to bullying and that included verbal abuse. Often hatred can be expressed towards disabled people and their existence and incitement towards hatred on the grounds of disability, sexual orientation or other status should be covered under an amendment to the Crimes Act.

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

I think the appalling treatment meted out to Ahmed Zaoui just illustrates how the system can be abused, so no to indefinite detention without trial.

...restoring the death penalty for serious crime?

No, definitely not. I think the application of the death penalty by US states shows the potential for mistakes to be made. It makes no difference in deterring crime either.

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

Support the bill. I think it's appalling that people are discriminated against on the basis of their gender identity.

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

I don't support this measure. I support the right of people to enjoy their own private property in terms of household property but I also support the right of people to enjoy untrammelled access to our beaches and rivers, even if access has to be gained over private farmland. I am the son of a farmer myself but provided good safeguards are put in place, farmers will have nothing to fear as the Government's proposals to allow for roaming will only legitimise a practise that I know much about given that I grew up on a farm property that bordered a river.

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

I would support this happening provided that economic and social rights such as the right to free health care, education and shelter were also included.

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

Yes. George Bush should be put before the ICC in the same way that Slobodan Milosevic has been.

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

Being from a party that is currently not represented in Parliament, I would say that it should be examined again, given that it was a key recommendation of the 1986 Royal Commission into MMP.


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

Despite what the right-wing talkback radio hosts and callers say, Ahmed Zaoui is a genuine refugee. The New Zealand, Algerian, French and other intelligence services have all acted to deliberately besmirch his character in order to make it harder for him to gain entry into this country.

As usual, Chris's opinions are his own, and do not necessarily represent those of the Alliance.