Sunday, March 27, 2005

Fundamentalist building blocks

The devil may have all the best songs, but the Christian political parties have the best web sites. Check out Destiny New Zealand's web site. Superb front page using Macromedia Flash. Slick, professional design, in smiting black, red and white.

Christian Heritage New Zealand's web site used to look like this - clean and wholesome - an elegant simplicity of design. I much prefer the old look to the new look. Note the colourful new children's building blocks which illustrate CHNZ's new child-friendly "ABC agenda". Evidently, CHNZ is "focussing on families" and is "next generation minded" - just like their bedfellows, United Future NZ and Destiny NZ.

I couldn't buy alcohol at the convenience store today. How inconvenient. The beer and wine were roped off. The store couldn't sell me any, even if they wanted to. I couldn't buy any, even though I wanted to. Drinkers don't seek to prevent Christians from going to church on Sunday. Why on earth do Christians seek to prevent drinkers from buying alcohol? Why can't they mind their own business? At least the store was open. I suppose I must be grateful for small mercies.

In 1996, the Christian Coalition came perilously close to representation in Parliament with 4.3% of the party vote. Here's hoping for an even three-way split between the Christian parties this time around. None of the three is mainly about Affirming Marriage, Building Families or Celebrating Life. Their hidden ABC agenda is Anachronism, Bigotry, and Compulsion.

Update: (April Fool's Day) Former Christian Heritage Party leader Graham Capill has pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a girl under the age of 12.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Mark Lundy

The front page of today's Sunday Star Times features a story about Mark Lundy. Lundy was convicted in 2002 and sentenced to 25 years behind bars after being found guilty of bludgeoning his wife, Christine, and seven-year-old daughter, Amber, to death in their Palmerston North home in August 2000.

There have always been question marks over the safety of the Lundy verdict. Despite this,
The Court of Appeal later threw out Lundy's appeal - and increased his non-parole term by three years - saying the evidence suggested Lundy planned his wife's killing very carefully.
The evidence suggested? I thought that the evidence had to put the defendant's guilt beyond reasonable doubt! It's certainly plausible that Mark Lundy killed his wife and child, but it's also plausible that he didn't. Better occasionally to let killers go free, than to incarcerate the innocent and bereaved for decades.

FACTUAL ("For Amber & Christine - Truth Uncovered About Lundys") have a web site where they itemise areas of doubt concerning the case that call into question the safety of the verdict. One of their claims contains some unintentional humour.
The alleged time of death of 7:00 p.m. is difficult to accept by many of those who knew the Lundy family well, as it is inconsistent with habitual routines.
Dying at 7:00 p.m. not one of the Lundy family's habitual routines? I guess not!

Friday, March 18, 2005


Publicanism is New Zealand's newest political movement. WIN is a political party formed by publicans John van Buren and Geoff Mulvihill, who are angered by the Smokefree Environments Amendment Act 2003. This despotic piece of legislation came into force on 10 December last year, and made it illegal for publicans to allow patrons to smoke inside their establishments. WIN say they stand for freedom of choice - freedom for publicans to allow guests to engage in a particular activity of which they approve, viz. tobacco smoking, while on their private property. It's not a big ask, and I wish them well in their quest to overturn this recent example of health-Nazi busybodying.

But do WIN stand for real freedom of choice? Or just freedom of choice for smokers and publicans? Freedom of choice must be freedom of choice for everyone - regardless of their choices - unless those choices infringe on others' equal freedoms. Freedom of choice just for you and your mates isn't true freedom of choice - it's special privilege. Time will tell whether WIN stand for true freedom of choice. But a look at other New Zealand political parties claiming to promote freedom is generally not reassuring.

ACT protests much that they stand for "individual freedom and choice" and "personal responsibility" (which is the flipside of the coin - free individuals must take responsibity for the consequences of their actions). But a look at their voting track record says otherwise. ACT is right-wing - they promote economic freedoms, but when it comes to personal freedoms their moral conservatism is to the fore. Barely half of their MPs voted in favour of decriminalising prostitution, for example. To their credit, however, ACT MPs were unanimous in their opposition to the Smokefree Environments Amendment Act. And, yesterday, Muriel Newman had her Smokefree Environments (Exemptions) Bill drawn from the Parliamentary ballot box. Congratulations.

It's not yet known whether the recently announced Freedom Party stands for freedom of choice. Even with a name like that, I mean... Jim Anderton's party is hardly progressive, is it? They've registered the domain name ( is registered to the Church of Scientology International.)

The centre-left New Zealand National Party claims "individual freedom and choice", "personal responsibility" and even "limited government" to be among its core values. Yet, despite having a leader with liberal views on both economic and personal issues, National's moral conservatism is more extreme than ACT's, and they are socialist to boot.

That's it for the parties who claim to stand for freedom of choice, except, of course, for the one party that really does - Libertarianz. Other parties will legalise smoking in bars, but only Libertarianz will legalise cannabis cafes, opium dens, crack houses and shooting galleries. After all, "if the publican doesn’t object, employees don’t object and the patrons want it, then where is the crime?"

Friday, March 11, 2005

Same here

In Queensland, Australia, for a few days. I picked up Wednesday's The Courier-Mail and read, on page 3, the headline Long waiting lists stretch patience.
A Brisbane plant operator has been told he may have to wait up to 10 years for surgery at a Queensland public hospital, with almost 15 months of this time spent waiting to get on a waiting list for the operation...
Health Minister Gordon Nuttall this week defended Queensland's elective surgery waiting lists, saying 5000 additional patients were provided surgery in hospitals throughout the state in just five months of last year, on top of normal surgical workloads.

The Courier-Mail asked Mr Nuttall to provide documents to support this claim, but his office declined.

Queensland Health also has declined previous requests to provide documents that woud identify the number of operations being performed in Queensland each year.

It all sounds depressingly familiar. In Queensland, as in New Zealand, the standard of health care in pubic hospitals is poor and deteriorating. The government of the day hides or fudges the figures and lies to the public.

What will cure public health system woes? A cash injection? That's the common policy of nearly all New Zealand's political parties. But, turning to page 5, I read the headline Workers pay second-highest tax in world. The obvious conclusion to draw is that high levels of taxation = low levels of health care.

The real cure is to get the government out of the health care business entirely. Stop throwing good money after bad, and leave tax dollars earmarked for health care in tax-payers' pockets. Let health-care consumers shop around to find the health-care provider with the shortest waiting list. Liberty is the best medicine.