New Zealand lobby group Family First, who led an unsuccessful campaign against marriage equality, have lodged an official complaint about the tourism board’s competition for an Australian same-sex couple to visit their neighbor to wed.
Tourism New Zealand launched a search last week to find an Australian gay couple to be the first to marry on antipodean soil. The winners of the competition will have their air fares, accommodation, wedding ceremony and reception paid for. In response anti-gay-marriage campaigners Family First sent an official complaint to tourism minister (and prime minister) John Key saying the tourism board is wasting tax payers money on a ‘stunt’.
‘The Tourism Board is using a highly controversial law change which was rejected by more than half of NZers to push a political agenda – and using taxpayer funds in the process,’ said Bob McCoskrie, national director of Family First.
‘Not only is the offer discriminatory against a man and a woman who want to marry, but it fails to take into account Australia’s marriage laws where less than a week ago, attempts to recognize gay couples who tie the knot overseas were shot down in the Australian parliament.’
McCoskrie added ‘did the tourism board make a similar offer to prostitutes when the decriminalization of prostitution happened, or to students when the interest free student loans were introduced, or to families when the Working for Families package was announced?
‘The Tourism Board should stick to promoting the country for its scenery and tourist attractions – rather than entering in to the culture war around the definition of marriage.’
Tourism New Zealand’s Australia general manager Tim Burgess said:
‘The significant attention the change of [marriage] legislation received in Australia has provided a great platform to further promote New Zealand as a wedding and honeymoon destination for anyone and everyone.’
Every year New Zealand is the honeymoon destination for 30,000 to 45,000 visitors. From April 2012 to March 2013 honeymooners spent an estimated $160 million (New Zealand dollars, $124.4 million, €95.3 million) in the country. When the first same-sex marriages are performed in New Zealand in August, that figure has the potential to significantly increase.