8 Feb 2022

Conscience vote on conversion therapy in step with National traditions - Luxon

7:56 pm on 8 February 2022

The National Party says allowing MPs to vote with their conscience on a bill that would ban conversion therapy aligns with the party's history and traditions.

Christopher Luxon speaks to media after being named leader of the National Party

Christopher Luxon says he is supportive of the bill and will be voting for it at its second reading. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

National's liberal and conservative factions had strained over the legislation as the party collectively voted against the bill at its first reading last year under former leader Judith Collins.

Luxon said his caucus members had now come to the conclusion that a conscience vote was the right approach to the bill.

"It was a pretty simple conversation, really. I'm really supportive of the legislation and I think you'll find the vast majority of National Party MPs are as well.

"When we go back through the history and tradition of these types of issues they've been conscience votes for us here in the National Party and we determined that was the right course of action for us."

Luxon said he had read the legislation, was supportive of it and would be voting in favour of the bill at the second reading.

"I'm comfortable with the checks and balances from my point of view as I make the decision for myself as to how I'll vote for that piece of legislation."

Unlike Luxon, finance spokesperson Simon Bridges said he would continue to vote against the bill at second reading over his concerns it would curtail parents' rights.

"I think the problem with the bill is it is entirely un-nuanced, affirmation-only. I would want as a parent, I think most reasonable New Zealanders would want as parents, the ability to sit down and talk things through with their children.

"To have watchful waiting, as I think some of the 'boffins' call it. So maybe actually you know what, taihoa [delay], because there are permanent consequences of treatments and medical procedures."

As the party's former justice spokesperson, Bridges said he would cop some of the blame for the party not adopting a conscience vote approach to the legislation earlier.

"We probably should have been in that position earlier so that people can on these, let's be honest controversial, difficult, nuanced issues, come to their own conclusions."

National's Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop wouldn't be drawn on the party's change in position but said he would be voting for the legislation at second reading.

"I'll be voting in favour of it because I think conversion therapy is a harmful practice. It's abhorrent and I want to see it banned."

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