Fri, 09 Aug 2002
AIDS Foundation continues to put pressure on Dunne.
AIDS Foundation Executive Director Kevin Hague today explicitly rejected the response of Peter Dunne to the call to “come clean” about the beliefs and affiliations of his new MPs.
The call was made following revelations that seven of the eight new MPs, the United Future President and the party’s Deputy Leader have strong ties to the Christian Right.
“Peter Dunne has called the demand that he reveal more about the backgrounds of his MPs “pathetic” and “trawling for muck ”. In fact this is an issue where the public has a genuine right to know and Dunne’s refusal to front up is worrying for our democracy.”
Mr. Hague noted that Peter Dunne had also failed to respond in any substantive way to revelations by former United Party members of a near complete takeover of the party by Christian fundamentalists.
“Mr Dunne is also continuing to suggest that the comments by his MPs causing concern are historical in nature. In fact Paul Adams’ call to “identify” people living with HIV and Larry Baldock’s call to reconsider the Family Planning Association’s funding have been made in the last three days. And last night Anthony Walton also made it clear on television that abortion law reform was also on their agenda.”
Mr. Hague said it is vitally important for everyone to understand that this was not an attack on Christian people or their right to hold personal beliefs or their right to enter Parliament.
“However, when people choose to enter politics to advance their religious views in that forum, then their religious views become matters of legitimate political concern for all New Zealanders.”
“At heart this is an issue of transparency and openness with the public about your real policy intentions.”
“ We are deeply concerned that these people have already got into a position of some influence over Government policy without the extent to which their religious beliefs will directly determine their voting stance on a great number of issues of public importance being given any scrutiny at all”.
“In other words , that they got into Parliament on the pretext of being centrist and moderate, when in fact several members of the United Future caucus apparently have policy goals very similar to those that were put to voters by the Christian Coalition in 1996.”
Mr. Hague is now calling on Peter Dunne to explain how his caucus decision making process will work, given that most of his MPs are from the successor to the Christian Democratic party of Graeme Lee .
“Right now, it looks from the outside as if Peter “common sense” Dunne is likely to get rolled every time an issue arises that is a touchstone for the religious right - like the definition of family, for example.”