INDEPENDENT NEWS

Law Equality cannot be decided by referendum

Published: Wed 1 Dec 2004 11:04 AM
Equality before the law cannot be decided by referendum
The nine Green MPs are today reiterating their support for the Civil Union Bill, following reports that Don Brash has lost his nerve.
“We are committed as a Party and as MPs to the passage of this Bill. Most New Zealanders support the Bill on the basis of human rights and basic fairness, and we agree with them,” said Green Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos, who sat on the Select Committee that heard submissions on the Bill.
“For Don Brash to say he supports Civil Unions but will only vote for it in a referendum rather than in the House makes me wonder why he bothers to be an MP. For someone who ruthlessly wielded un-elected power as Governor of the Reserve Bank to now style himself as the champion of democracy is laughable.
“Its unfortunate that a vocal minority has made enough noise to give the illusion that they are larger and more significant than they really are and that, as a result, some MPs have stopped listening to their own consciences.”
Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons rejects the idea that a referendum is an appropriate way to resolve the issue.
“The Greens do not support Don Brash’s call for a referendum on the Civil Unions Bill. It is not appropriate to invite New Zealanders to directly vote on whether or not a minority should be entitled to their human rights and equal treatment before the law.
“Even though the polls show that a majority support the Bill and that it would win a referendum, human rights are so fundamental that they cannot be dependent on majority decision making.”
The Green Party also confirmed today that it would support extended sitting hours for the House next week in order to progress the final stages of the Civil Union Bill. The Greens are only supporting extended hours on the Second Reading, due to their principle of not supporting urgency for more than one stage of a bill.

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