Monday, December 21, 2009

Brian Neeson's greatest hits

On Friday, the government appointed former National MP Brian Neeson to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, a judicial body which decides on human rights complaints. This isn't just a case of cronyism - as I argued on Friday, the man is an outright bigot. Courtesy of Hansard, here's a few of his greatest hits:

  • In 1991, during the committee stage of the Employment Contracts Act, Neeson voted to allow employers to discriminate on the basis of gender.
  • In 1993, Neeson voted to exclude sexual orientation from the Human Rights Bill (which became the Human Rights Act). He also voted to exclude AIDS and HIV from the definition of "physical health" in the prohibited grounds of discrimination, to allow health professionals and teachers to be sacked for being gay, to allow the armed forces and the police to continue to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation, and to allow employers to "conscientiously object" to the requirement not to discriminate, effectively granting a licence for bigotry. Fortunately, he was unsuccessful on all counts.
  • On the Human Rights Act (third reading speech, 27 July 1993):
    I voted against the amendments. I did so through a sincere belief that an exclusive group that chooses to behave in the way that it does [he is talking about gays - I/S] will get superior treatment under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. I do not for one moment believe that any group that chooses to behave in the way that it does should have exclusive treatment in the way that it does. At the same time I do not believe that any group in society should be singled out simply because its members are known to behave in a certain way, and, because of that, are given the sack from a job or from any other area of society.

    In my day I have employed many people and it has never come into my head that I should even ask somebody what his or her preferential behaviour is when it comes to sex or to his or her own sexuality---and I would never ask.

    But at a time when someone behaves in an extreme way it is up to me to have the right to tell that person that that is not the way to behave, and it does not matter whether he or she is homosexual or anything else. I think that everybody would agree with that. When it comes to that particular point an employer should have the right to be able to turn around and say to someone: ``Enough is enough; that's not the way that you are going to behave in my premises or in my employ, whoever you are.''.

    The latter is of course exactly what the Human Rights Act, Commission, and Review Tribunal are established to prevent. Elsewhere in the debate, he compared gays to paedophiles.
  • In 2000, during the committee stage of the Property Relationships Amendment Act 2001, Neeson voted against the extension of the law to cover de-facto couples and specifically same-sex de-facto couples, supporting several amendments at Committee which undermined the aim of the Act.
  • On families (debate on appointments to the Abortion Supervisory Committee, 30 August 2001):
    Family life means a mother, or a woman, and a father---which equals a man---taking responsibility for their actions together. Today, we live in a very selfish ``me, my, and I'' type of world. We do not have a situation any more in which ``they, we, and us'' is very important---unless it affords some personal gain.

    If this continues, and we continue to have a meltdown in family life, abortions will continue to rise, along with the problems we have every day with teenage suicide, and with our children out there, who do not know who the hell they are any more or what is real, what is up and what is down. All the fences that protected them in the past have been broken down, and today it is not women who have been set free, it is men who have been set free from responsibility. Many women who go into relationships find that when they get into a situation that a man cannot stand or take, he simply walks away from it. The law does not provide any remedy that does nearly enough to bring that person back to face his responsibility in any way.

    Marital status and family status are both prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Human Rights Act. Neeson's views of an ideal traditional family structure with which all should conform are diametrically opposed to those principles of non-discrimination.
  • On the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 (Third reading speech, 11 December 2001):
    The Human Rights Amendment Bill is probably one of the most dangerous bills that I have seen come into this House. It is not a bill that provides benefits to anyone. It is a bill of Orwellian proportions that takes away from people fundamental freedoms: the freedom of expression, the freedoms to think as one will, to speak as one will, and to do as one will, as long as one does not transgress the basic sensibilities and basic rights of any human being...

    This document has nothing to do with rights; it has everything to do with social engineering and social control. This document is set up to make sure that the average New Zealander is watched over by Big Sister---not by Big Brother. We have gone beyond the protection of individual rights in the original bill---which I personally did not support even then...

    (Emphasis added; the Act folded the former office of the Race Relations Conciliator into the Human Rights Commission and gave the HRRT the power to bring inconsistent law to the attention of Parliament. Quelle horreur!)
I think this shows enough of Neeson's views. The man is a bigot who supports discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, marital status, and family status. Appointing him to the Human Rights Review Tribunal is like appointing Taito Philip Field to an anti-corruption taskforce.