Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

PoliticsNovember 29, 2021

The National Party’s new conscience 

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

How did the National leadership contenders vote on bills relating to abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia?

Tomorrow, the National Party will meet to decide its new leader following Judith Collins’ ousting last Thursday

Wondering who all the candidates are, and how their values align? Conscience votes are votes that are made according to an MP’s personal beliefs or, as is sometimes communicated, the stance of their constituents. It can be a chance for MPs to stray from the party line and represent themselves as individuals rather than party members.

In the past decade, prominent conscience votes have included the Marriage Amendment Bill (2013), which sought to legalise non-heterosexual marriage, the Abortion Legislation Bill (2020), which looked to officially remove abortion from the Crimes Act, and the End of Life Choice Bill (2019), which sought to legalise assisted death for the terminally ill. 

All three passed. Here’s how the contenders voted.


Simon Bridges

Photo of a middle-aged politician, eyes closed, chin raised, during a press conference bristling with microphones
Simon Bridges speaks to media after a caucus meeting at parliament on October 16, 2018 (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Marriage equality: NO, then YES?

Bridges initially voted against marriage reform, but in 2019, Bridges told Newshub, “my personal view has changed – simply, times have moved, we’ve seen it, it’s going incredibl[y] well.”

Decriminalising abortion: NO

Bridges voted against abortion reform, publicly stating, “I don’t see the case for change.”

End of life choice: NO

Bridges told NewstalkZB he believes in “the sanctity of life” and voted against the bill


Christopher Luxon

National MP Christopher Luxon
Christopher Luxon (Photo: Getty Images)

Marriage equality: UNKNOWN

Luxon wasn’t yet in parliament when the Marriage Amendment Bill was voted on, and has yet to express views on marriage equality. But he has been vocal about his evangelical protestant Christian faith. In 2019, as a newly elected MP, Luxon told Stuff, “My faith is a very personal thing … it gives me mission and purpose.” He has been characterised as one of the more conservative members of the National Party. 

Decriminalising abortion: NO

Luxon wasn’t yet in parliament when the Abortion Legalisation Bill was being voted on, but when he was selected as National’s Botany candidate in 2019, he told media he was against decriminalising abortion.

End of life choice: NO

Luxon wasn’t yet in parliament when the End of Life Choice Bill was being voted on either, but in 2019 said he was personally against reform of euthanasia law.


Mark Mitchell 

Mark Mitchell at parliament on August 6, 2020 (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Marriage equality: NO, then YES

Mitchell voted “strongly” against marriage reform, which he said was aligned with the views of his electorate. But in 2018, on the AM Show, Mitchell stated he’d now vote for same-sex marriage legalisation “without a doubt”.

Decriminalising abortion: YES

Mitchell voted for abortion reform. During the hearing Mitchell testified that “we should never, ever discount the stress and the torment that, in this case, the parents or a woman go through in terms of coming to that decision and making that decision”.

End of life choice: YES

Mitchell voted yes on the End of Life Choice Bill


Shane Reti 

Shane Reti at parliament on August 4, 2020. (Photo: Lynn Grieveson – Newsroom via Getty Images)

Marriage equality: UNKNOWN

Reti has not been forthcoming on his views about marriage equality. 

Decriminalising abortion: NO

Reti voted against abortion reform

End of life choice: NO 

Reti, who has worked as a doctor for over 16 years, opposed the End of Life Choice Bill. He told parliament, “I am the only MP – if this bill goes through – who will be able to give permission to euthanise people.” 


Nicola Willis 

Nicola Willis at parliament on October 20, 2020 (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Marriage equality: YES 

Willis was non-committal in this interview about banning conversion therapy, but she did say she would have voted in favour of gay marriage had she been an MP in 2013. 

Decriminalising abortion: YES

Willis voted strongly for abortion reform. In a speech given to parliament on the issue, Willis advocated for women’s rights and healthcare access. 

End of life choice: YES 

Willis supported the End of Life Choice Bill


Chris Bishop

Chris Bishop during a press conference at parliament on February 15, 2021 (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Marriage equality: YES (kind of)

Bishop narrowly missed voting on the marriage equality bill, being elected to parliament in 2014. However, he is a chair of The New Zealand Cross Party Rainbow Parliamentary Network, and on Australia’s legalisation of same-sex marriage, Bishop said, “Marriage equality is about dignity, respect, and the legalisation of love between people of the same sex. Nothing more, and nothing less.”

Decriminalising abortion: YES 

Bishop voted yes to abortion reform, writing in a Facebook post that he believed “women should make decisions about their own reproductive systems”.

End of life choice: YES 

Bishop voted yes to the bill, telling parliament that it “upholds individual dignity. It affirms individual autonomy. It sanctifies self-determination.”


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Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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