Lindsay Perigo
Lindsay Perigo

The Politically Incorrect Show - 05/02/2002

Contemptible & risible. That's how we civilised folk rightly regard the practice of other cultures of arranged marriages replete with caste restrictions, dowries, etc.. To us it is a self-evident given that we should choose our own partners according to our own values.

Or so we fondly imagine.

On February 1, 2002, in a First World country - New Zealand - a quarter of a million people were forcibly married by the government. The Matrimonial Property (Relationships) Act decrees that from that date, every de facto relationship will be treated as a marriage. As with marriage, if the relationship breaks up, the couple's property will automatically be split down the middle. Any relationship where the couple have been living together "as a married couple" for three years or longer is a "de facto relationship" for the Act's purposes. What does this mean, exactly? Well, that potentially awkward detail is going to be left for the courts to decide when the floodgates of gold-digging litigation open, apparently. Will sexual intercourse be the decisive criterion? Where the facts are disputed, how & by whom will the dispute be resolved? Are we expected to become a nation of sex spies?

Government interference in marriage is the reason many couples choose to be de facto in the first place. Government's response should be to get out of marriage, not force de factos into it.

Unfortunately, New Zealanders take all this lying down, so to speak. In the same week that marriage became compulsory, the government announced a new Minister of Food Safety & a bundle of Other People's Money for the America's Cup. No one raised an eyebrow about ANY of these things. We have been nannied into an addictive torpor. Soon we'll have a Minister of Botty-Wiping. Kiwis are every bit as stupid as their emblem would suggest & have every intention of becoming more so.

What was the National Opposition's response to the nationalisation of relationships? Did it scream blue murder about an egregious violation of privacy & property rights? Why no. The best the timorous Tories could come up with was: we will change the time from three years to five years. Talk about "contemptible & risible."

It's enough to drive one to marriage.

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