Rich enough for policy?

The dangers of thinking completely within the private sector box are amply demonstrated by King of the Blog David Farrar today.  He is worried about taxpayer funded groups being able to lobby government on policy issues – what he describes as “sock puppet” groups.

No organisation which spends say more than 25% of their time or resources or lobbying should be eligible for government funding. They should be forced to split into totally separate organisations if they provide genuinely useful services which should remain funded, but this should not be used to have the bureaucracy use sock puppets to lobby Parliament and MPs on what the laws should be.  Lobby groups should be funded by their members and supporters, not by taxpayers.

Now I’m not denying that this National Government putting law up for sale is of concern to me – but let’s just imagine for a moment that Women’s Refuge couldn’t lobby government around domestic violence, because they receive taxpayer funding to, oh, keep families safe from domestic violence.   Would our laws on domestic violence instead be formulated by talking to Destiny Church say?

Family Planning?  We don’t need to hear about what’s happening in sexual and reproductive health from you, what with your clinics all over the country and the capacity to hear from young women directly about what they need, not with that government funding you get.  I think we’ll ask, mmm, how about Family First?  Similar name, no government funding, easy.

Sexual violence you say?  But doesn’t the Government fund agencies to help survivors after they have been raped, and deliver programmes to people with harmful sexual behaviour?  I know it’s not enough money, and there are wait lists and gaps all over the country, but it should stop their national network working with government to develop more effective and ethical responses to rape and sexual abuse, right?  Especially when actually there are so many people we could hear from instead – former All Blacks say, or former National MPs?

Hell, there are no end of people we could be listening to which the taxpayer isn’t funding to, you know, actually work with real people experiencing and recovering from the real issue.  Our policy and law would be so much better off if we stopped listening to under-funded community groups performing miracles on complex issues and just listened to rich people.

Why don’t young people wanting contraception and sexual health advice just pay for their own lobby group?  Survivors of sexual violence – work longer hours.  And as for you children escaping domestic violence or sexual abuse – start saving your pocket money if you want to influence public policy in FarrarWorld.


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