Sunday, March 09, 2008

Love's Labour's Lost?

In conversation with a mate this afternoon I got to thinking about the legacy that the current Labour-lead coalition will likely be leaving at the next election. In a previous political post, No left turn, no right of way, I was thinking about the implications of the left-right spectrum in relation to a collective or individualist approach to social and economic policy. In this respect the Labour-lead government has presided over the implementation of things like Kiwisaver (with a significant government and employer contribution to individual saving), and Working For Families (targeted tax-breaks for people who are helping society by doing their best to replace our "body politic" - i.e create more citizens), and no doubt some other legislative changes that I'm not remembering at this point in the evening. But my point- and I do have one - is that more specifically socially progressive legislation created during the last two terms may in fact be what we end up remembering them for. My mate and I counted The Civil Union Act and the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill, otherwise branded in the media as the anti-smacking bill that I mentioned in a comment on the aforementioned previous post as well as The Prostitution Law Reform Act. These have only a limited relationship to the economic aspects of governance but represent significant changes to the legal rights of some of our citizens.

My speculation that socially progressive legislation might be more of a legacy for Labour et al is a pretty shallow view of the situation - I'm sure there's a bunch of legislation that I'm not thinking of - but things like Homosexual law reform and The Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977, which legalised abortion under some circumstances for some women, do tend to stick in my mind more than things like successive changes to the minimum wage. Does this make me a bit of girl? Do things relating to human rights stick out for me because of my broadly "feminist" worldview (oh - who uses that word these days)? I can't really say for sure, but I'm interested to know what anyone else thinks Labour's legacy might be.

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