Minors (Court Consent to Relationships) Legislation Bill – Third Reading – Video 6

Minors (Court Consent to Relationships) Legislation Bill – Third Reading – Video 6

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can wait till people are 18 good oh thank you I call Nicola Willis mr. speaker it’s my great privilege to rise and give a speech on this the minors Court consents to relationships legislation bill and we look forward to it becoming an act this evening I want to begin as others have by congratulating Joe Hayes that is a great achievement to steer a bill through to through its passage in this Parliament and to do so as a private member’s bill as a particular achievement it’s one certainly that I haven’t achieved yet and that I hope to achieve in my time in Parliament congratulations Joe in a nun congratulating Joe of course I have to congratulate Jacquie blue and it is wonderful to see you here to see Jackie blue here at the ceiling because and I think what this the passage of this bill from Jackie to Joe shows is that there is great friendship between parliamentarians particularly when it can be an pursuit of common causes and objectives and in that sense I do want to dwell on the cross party work that has allowed this bill to get to this point it is a very positive sign of what is possible in this house that this is a bill that today we hope will receive a unanimous vote of support and this Parliament I want to think in particular the justice committee who I understand worked productively and constructively to ensure that this bill did what it set out to do without having adverse implications for others and who worked constructively to ensure that this could pass into a law and and mr. speaker as is so often the case with pieces of legislation like this I want to acknowledge all those men and women behind the scenes who advocated for its existence whose advocacy and tireless speaking for those who may not have otherwise had a voice ensured that the likes of Jackie and Joe knew that this was a cause that should be furthered and of course the Commonwealth parliamentarians but other organizations like Shakti the National Council of women women’s refuge New Zealand Family Planning and those who have argued for the human rights progress that this bill represents thank you to all of them so of course mr. speaker Wireless though rightly applies to both men and women pragmatically we can see that this is a bill whose application largely applies to women and in that sense we tonight take another step forward and women’s continued progress of not only equal rights but equal opportunities in New Zealand we reflect that a hundred and twenty-five years ago women fought for the right to vote for the people of this Parliament and gained that right and I want to take a small moment of personal reflection to note that 125 years ago my great-grandfather in this New Zealand Parliament voted to support women’s right to vote I think he would be proud of us today to see women continuing to work together to ensure that our rights and opportunities are furthered in this case of course what we are protecting is potentially as as the previous speaker said a very small group of people in the previous year only 30 times to the 16 or 17 year old marry in an 80 percent of those cases they were women but this is an issue of the sort that Parliament should and must deal with from time to time whose impact may not be widespread in terms of numbers of people impacted but whose impact on those individuals is so profound that it behooves us to take action because the impact on those individual women of even one of those thirty we’re forced into a marriage or civil union or defect our relationship against their will with the threat of physical or emotional abuse with the threat of rape mr. speaker if those things are the case then it is so abhorrent to this house that we are prepared to put in place legislation of the sort to prevent it and it speaks to the integrity of this Parliament that we will take measures like this even where the application may be so narrow because we realized the depth of the injustice at stake what this bill protects against is of course young women vulnerable because of their age because they are only 16 or 17 and because they are still subject in many ways to the control of their family it protects those women from threats that could be emotional psychological physical financial by handing to the court by handing to the family court the discretion to apply judgment about whether or not that young woman needs to be protected from being put from a marriage that may in fact be unjust I think it’s important that we acknowledge that this aligns with article 16 of the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and and I and I would note also mr. speaker that in passing this law Parliament again acknowledges the role of judges in making sound judgments about what is right and what is proper because in this case judges must be satisfied that a marriage is voluntary that it is free from undue coercion that the applicant understands the consequences and that the applicant actually wants the judge to consent to it it also allows for an objective assessment of the applicant Centris so it allows the judge to consider whether the person has the age and maturity whether the views of the appearance of having an undue influence on them and whether there is any other information that may be considered and in the sense I want to congratulate the drafters of this bill and those who have worked on it because I think it gives broad discretion to judges that will ensure good decisions can be made and that people at risk can be protected I want to take a moment because we are discussing a subject that is a little bit dark to reflect actually on the positivity of marriage and relationships in civil unions and defecto relationships because that is actually the institution that is at stake here that is the institution and a sense that we are seeking to protect as well as the individual women because this bill encourages us to reflect on what the nature of our marriage should be what the nature of a committed long-term relationship should be and I would hope it would be the agreement of all me in this house that what we expect from those relationships is love commitment forgiveness kindness and for each of us in this house who have had relationships of a long-term nature with those elements and then we know how sacred those things are and we know that it is one of the ultimate expressions of human optimism for two individuals to enter into a relationship together seeking those values be continued into the future and it is an institution that we should seek to protect from the kind of corruption that a coerced marriage represents because that is absolutely antithetical to what marriage is actually about and so I think that in furthering this legislation tonight we are not only protecting individual women but we are honoring what it is that we expect long-term relationships to be about and at this point I want to and what could be seen as a slightly sentimental move quote from a New Zealand poet Jeannie borne Holt one of my favorites forgive me I’m an English Lit student she wrote a poem called weddings song and what she said now you are married try to love the world as much as you love each other agree set as your husband wife love it with all your might as you steep as you sleep breathing against its back and when we consider that sublime idea of what marriages we then contrast it with the low of what marriage could be if we did not protect women as we are and mean as we are with this legislation tonight and if we want to reflect on that law I want to use the voice of a young woman woman who in June this year marched in Auckland in a march against about a future without violence she choose to stay anonymous but her voice should be heard in this house tonight because she spoke of being forced into marriage an eventualities she avoided but she spoke of the devotion she had to appearance but also the psychological abuse she had been subject to as a member of that family she spoke of being forced into a marriage and what she remembered feeling like she would never be happy again and she spoke of moving from a psychologically abusive life with one family to a psychologically abusive life with an abusive husband and that reality that story is what we here tonight stand up against we say no one should be in that situation and we will use the powers of this Parliament we will give powers to our courts to prevent that situation just because we don’t see situations like this occurring typically does not mean that we should not take great steps to prevent them from happening because the injustice of those things is so great and the corruption they do to practices we hold so dear is so great that we as a house will act to remove them so I end by mirroring the Toki from Joan and saying that tonight with all of us present we weave together to make a great step forward congratulations to all of those who made it happen thank you mr. speaker point of order we haven’t consulted with the other parties in relation to the point of order I’m just going to make and at the time I was engrossed in their speeches actually and this has been a very powerful contribution from all the speakers tonight and I am seeking leave for the house to rise early in order for the next speaker not to have a broken speech so just for the dinner Adam and a couple of minutes early I say sick leave leave as sought for that purpose is there any objection the appears to be not members the that’s time for me to leave for that dinner break and I will return the house will resume at 7:30 p.m. [Music]

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