Salient. Victoria University Students Newspaper. Vol. 38, No. 2. March 11, 1975
Comments by John Blincoe
Comments by John Blincoe
- Nearly 150 submissions were made. Of these about 30 had oral hearings, the last of which was NZUSAs.
- We weren't very happy with our hearing. We made it clear to the committee that we wanted to talk about what was in our submission rather than what had already been very well covered in other submissions. However, on member insisted on cross-examining us at length on matters that had already been covered, and this led to a heated exchange between the chairman and the member concerned. Quite interesting since they were both Labour members.
- The committee will probably report the Bill back to the House in April. The more progressive members of the committee seem keen to deal with it urgently so that it doesn't become an election issue or get lost in the mass of legislation that will be coming up this Parliamentary session.
- I think the Bill will he passed in some form. At its hearings the committee seemed quite unsympathetic to the bigots who opposed reform-such as the Society for the Protection of Community Standards-and the overwhelming weight of evidence favoured reform. It would be politically stupid for that to be ignored by the Bill being shelved.
- I think that the Bill when it is eventually passed will be more progressive than it is at the moment. Parliamentary attitudes to reform seem to have improved significantly since last July when the Bill was introduced. The clause increasing the penalty for child-molestation will probably go. It was a bit of nonsense put in to placate reactionary opinion, but even the Society to Protect Community Standards didn't support it. Also, the age of consent will probably come down, Many submissions other than ours-and even the Justice Department's-favoured 16 and I think it will at least come down to 18. If progressive changes aren't made, the committee will make a farce of its own proceedings.
- The main restraint to progressive reform of sexual laws seems to me to be the fear of a conservative back-lash, a fear which I think Parliamentarians greatly exaggerate. There is probably considerable sympathy for the kind of objective code of sexual behaviour that we have suggested because it makes such good sense. But so long as Parliamentarians are more concerned with losing votes than with legislating for social justice, such a code won't happen and the fight for rational sexual laws will continue.