National's Wannabe Leaders on Abortion, Pot, Feminism and Euthanasia

Here’s where the leadership candidates stand on key divisive issues.

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26 February 2018, 3:18am

The race for the National Party’s leadership has now grown to a party of five, with Simon Bridges, Amy Adams, Mark Mitchell, Steven Joyce and Judith Collins all throwing hats into the ring. Since any of these five could be fighting for the Prime Ministership in the next election, we’ve checked their records on key divisive issues, including drug reform, abortion, euthanasia and same sex marriage. Note that on most legislation, MPs vote along party lines, so we’re focusing on issues decided by conscience vote - where MPs vote individually - or where at least one of the candidates has taken a strong personal stance.

Judith Collins

Collins has dubbed herself the “fun” National party candidate. “It will be a hell of a ride and so much fun, and you'll enjoy every minute,” she’s said, adding that her “style of fun is slightly more gladiatorial”. Dubbed the Crusher for her hardline stance on boy racers (which involved crushing cars of repeat offenders), gladiatorial fun is probably as apt a tagline as any. When accused of “backstabbing” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Collins responded: "No problem. I stab from the front".

Self-Proclaimed Feminist?
Collins says she's a life-long member of the F club.

Sex Worker Rights
Collins voted against the Prostitution Reform Bill in 2003, saying, "In my opinion, prostitution is rape accompanied by payment—if the prostitute is lucky." In 2006 she voted for a bill that aimed to allow local councils to ban street sex work.

Same Sex Marriage
Voted to legalise same sex marriage.

Abortion
Collins backed a law which would require girls under 16 to tell their parents if they sought an abortion. She’s said the current law is liberal enough, and shouldn’t be revisited: "I don't see why this is an issue for the Prime Minister. I think she should get on and do her job, focus on the economy and law and order and leave issues like this.”

Indigenous Rights
Voted against Labour's controversial Seabed and Foreshore Act in 2004, establishing the land was owned by the Crown and ruling out the possibility of Māori customary title.

Prison reform
Voted for the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act, known as the three strikes law, which imposes longer sentences and removed judicial discretion on three-time violent offenders. Supported Corrections' bid to increase numbers of double bunked cells in NZ prisons to house a growing prison population.

Marijuana Decriminalisation
Backed the Labour government’s bill to make medical marijuana more available, but against legalising or decriminalising marijuana for recreational use.

Euthanasia
Voted against the first reading of Seymour’s euthanasia Bill. Has said, "I would need to be convinced and I don't think that's possible."

Simon Bridges

Pitched as the ‘generational change’ candidate, Bridges, 41, is the youngest of the bunch, but falls on the conservative end of social and conscience issues. Perhaps most notably he was in the minority voting against gay marriage, which Collins, Joyce and Adams supported. Bridges has been tipped as a possible leader for years—and like National’s most successful frontman, John Key, he has a fondness for a good catchphrase. Where Key had “at the end of the day,” Bridges has “the truth of the matter,” which he uses 14 times in this interview alone. He's also bewildering fond of speaking about himself in third person. Bridges has previously described his politics as “Reasonably economically dry, reasonably socially conservative—but look, shit happens, you know?”

Self-Proclaimed Feminist?
We don’t know.

Reproductive rights
Voted to appoint a doctor strongly opposed to abortion to the Abortion Supervisory Committee.

Euthanasia
Has said he’d probably vote no on laws allowing Euthanasia. Voted against the first reading of Seymour’s euthanasia Bill.

Sex Worker Rights
Wasn’t in parliament for the Prostitution Reform Bill in 2003 or in 2006 for a bill that aimed to allow local councils to ban street sex work.

Same Sex Marriage
Voted against same sex marriage, saying, “I believe marriage is a historical, religious and cultural institution between a man and a woman."

Indigenous Rights
If selected, Bridges would be National’s first Māori leader. Entered parliament in 2008, well after the party voted against Labour's controversial Seabed and Foreshore Act in 2004, establishing the land was owned by the Crown and ruling out the possibility of Māori customary title.

Marijuana Decriminalisation
Backed the Labour government’s bill to make medical marijuana more available, but against legalising or decriminalisation for recreational use.

Amy Adams

The ‘stability’ candidate, Adams stands for incremental change over revolution, and has been emphasising her ability to bridge the gap between rural and urban New Zealand. Adams has had a series of hefty portfolios, including Minister for Justice, Courts, Social Housing, Associate Finance, and Social Investment. Dubbed the “quiet achiever,” she was the only candidate to announce her bid for the leadership with a cohort of supporters—including Maggie Barry and Nikki Kaye.

Self Proclaimed Feminist?
When asked, said, “different women or different people have different interpretations of what that means

Abortion
As Justice Minister in 2016 she ruled out abortion reform after thousands presented a petition calling for an overhaul of New Zealand's legislation. “Wholesale reform of abortion law is not something I'm currently looking at," she said. Abstained from a vote to appoint a doctor strongly opposed to abortion to the Abortion Supervisory Committee.

Parental Leave
Pushed for an amendment to paid parental leave that would allow both parents to take leave at the same time, saying: "parents [want] to be able to decide themselves how they use paid parental leave. And interestingly enough, I've heard of no good reasons why you wouldn't do it - it's doesn't cost any more, it doesn't extend the entitlement.”

Euthanasia
Supported the first reading of Seymour’s euthanasia Bill.

Same Sex Marriage
Voted to legalise same sex marriage.

Marijuana Decriminalisation
Backed the Labour government’s bill to make medical marijuana more available, but against legalising or decriminalising marijuana for recreational use.

Steven Joyce

Previous minister for communications, science and innovation, and finance, Joyce is one of the highest profile candidates and represents a continuation of the English/Key years. The ex-advertising and broadcast man has been central to designing a number of National’s successful campaigns. A dark cloud over Joyce’s credibility is the $11 billion fiscal hole he claimed to have found in Labour’s budgets. Joyce was never able to present evidence that such a hole existed, and a number of independent economists found he’d been mistaken. He was also, infamously, whacked in the face with a dildo on national television—a scene that his colleague Judith Collins says made her laugh out loud.

Same Sex Marriage
Voted to legalise same sex marriage.

Self-Proclaimed Feminist?
When asked, Joyce responded, "Well I don't know, I'm wearing my purple tie, does that help?"

Abortion
Voted against the appointment of a highly anti-abortion doctor to the Abortion Supervisory Committee in 2011. Doesn’t believe the current law should be changed.

Indigenous Rights
Voted against Labour's controversial Seabed and Foreshore Act in 2004, establishing the land was owned by the Crown and ruling out the possibility of Māori customary title.

Prison reform
Voted for the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act, known as the three strikes law, which imposes longer sentences and removed judicial discretion on three-time violent offenders.

Euthanasia:
Has said he’d probably vote no on laws allowing Euthanasia. Voted against the first reading of Seymour’s euthanasia Bill.

Marijuana Decriminalisation
Backed the Labour government’s bill to make medical marijuana more available, but against legalising or decriminalising marijuana for recreational use.

Mark Mitchell

Mark who? Mitchell is the least high-profile of the candidates. An ex-cop, he’s come under scrutiny for his involvement in ‘war for profit’ and private security in Iraq. He was Minister of Defence under the last government, and is apparently well liked among the National caucus.

Euthanasia
When asked of his stance on Euthanasia, he responded, “I’m undecided. I'm going to have a look at it. Normally I like pro-choice. Where you can give people the choice in their life, give it them.” Supported the first reading of Seymour’s euthanasia Bill.

Abortion
Wasn’t in parliament for the voting of the appointment of a highly anti-abortion doctor to the Abortion Supervisory Committee in 2011. Doesn’t believe the current law should be changed.

Single Mums
Voted for the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill in 2013.

Gay Marriage
Voted against same sex legislation in 2013, but has since done a u-turn. When asked if he would vote for it today, he responded, “Without a doubt.”

Three Strikes Law
Wasn’t in Parliament for Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill in 2010.

Paid Parental leave
“Do we think it is important on this side of the House? Absolutely, we do.”

Marijuana Decriminalisation
Backed the Labour government’s bill to make medical marijuana more available, but against legalising or decriminalising marijuana for recreational use.