Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The debate in Parliament about same sex marriage (Definition of Marriage Ammendment Bill)

I have been watching the debate in Parliament about ‘same sex’ marriage. I was expecting a passionate and possibly acrimonious debate. I was expecting it to become one where entrenched views would override a genuine exchange of views.
I have to say that so far I have been surprised at the ‘reaching out occurring whereby members  (Remember this is a conscience vote) are doing their utmost, not to offend, not to position themselves by making statements that will harm members of any section of our society.
I have seen Nicky from Auckland Central, reaching to her community. I was equally impressed by the member from North Dunedin, who is a Presbyterian Minister, acknowledging the difficult decision he had to make in supporting this bill. Then we had Phillip from Mangere, a member of the Labour Party, making a huge effort to encourage fellow members to keep the debate non personal and I respect his position within his community where there is a real anxiety about the passage of this Bill.
Along came Winston Peters, whose NZ First Party is going to vote as one, opposing the Bill. At first I was annoyed at this stance, believing that it is most improbable that ‘all’ of the members of that party really think the same on this issue. Winston’s position is that the electorate as a whole should be given the chance to vote in a binding referendum. Not such a bad idea.
I will go and listen to the rest of the debate now, hoping that the manner in which it has been conducted so far continues. If it does, then my hope is that other debates on other issues can happen in the same way in the future.

This is the first time I have watched live on TV a 'conscience' vote in Parliament -----the result---remember this is the first stage---if it passes it goes to a 'select committee.' Real democracy at work! Well done Louisa Wall--- the sponsor of this Bill---Member of Parliament from Manurewa
FOR-------------------78 (ammended to 80)
AGAINST-------------40
ABSTENTIONS------0

Next morning (Thursday)   Looking back over last night's events made me think quite alot. The manner in which the debate was conducted was exemplary. I wish that could be extended to other business in the house. I know that there is a great deal of tradtion around how debates are run and that goes back hundreds of years in the Westminster System but once in a while we see something other than the clowning around trying to score political points.  Perhapes there could be more emphasis on 'Private Members' Bills and slightly less of Party policitcs. It would make for some 'pretty interesting struggles then at electorate level. 'Don't be so naive ,' you say. Just a thought----yes, just a thought.