MANA in Parliament, 18-20 September

Posted on September 22, 2012 by admin in Mana in Parliament

Ko wai koe: Māori water rights
A key focus of MANA and indeed of most, if not all, Iwi continues to be on water. This week the government started their Clayton’s consultation round on the ‘shares plus’ proposal – the idea of which is to give Iwi shares in the power companies as a way to resolve their water claims. It’s a problematic proposal for a whole pile of reasons, although for different reasons than those given by John Key. So even though the government has already rejected the proposal, they’re going through the motions of consultation so they can say they’ve acted in good faith when it comes to fronting up in court. MANA is fully behind those Iwi who are challenging such a misuse of the Crown’s duty to consult, including those Iwi who have chosen to boycott the bogus consultation meetings altogether. See the MANA website for Hone’s release congratulating Iwi on this stand, and his reminder of the call at last week’s water hui to halt the asset sales programme and settle Māori water rights, but without falling into the trap of negotiating special deals that undermines the power we have when Iwi stand together.

Unions and Iwi: Developing a closer relationship

On Tuesday Hone attended another national hui – this time held in Tauranga with the NZ Council of Trade Unions and Iwi leaders. The hui was called to develop a closer working relationship between the unions and Iwi, and followed up on the huge support that Iwi gave to the unions in resolving the industrial dispute with AFFCO earlier in the year.

Their purpose of working more closely together is to better support the wellbeing of Māori workers and their whānau, including in the area of health and safety and workplace rights given that many Māori work in high risk industries like forestry. Other key kaupapa discussed were the need for improved housing for whānau and for greater investment to be made into papa kāinga housing development in particular, and also the very high rates of young Māori who are not employed. MANA have pushed the policy of building 20,000 new state homes, not just to address acute housing shortages but also as a mechanism to rejuvenate trade training and boost employment opportunities for new and existing tradespeople .

Member’s Bills in Parliament this week:
A number of important Member’s bills came up on Member’s Day this week, including David Clark’s bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. MANA happily supported this bill given it’s also one of our key policies – but, unfortunately, the bill didn’t have enough support in Parliament to make it to the next stage, and it’s now off the list. Because two Member’s bills were deleted from the list, a ballot was taken on Thursday for two new Member’s bill to come onto the list.

Once again MANA’s Feed the Kids Bill was in the ballot, but once again it wasn’t drawn. The next ballot will be held in mid-October. And the situation has become a little more complicated because Labour leader, David Shearer, put a similar bill into this week’s ballot. This meant that before the ballot was taken, a pre-ballot was held to see which bill – Hone’s or David’s – made it into the ballot to start with (Hone’s was chosen … this time). The challenge is to now work with Labour to try to make the bills different enough so that both are allowed into the ballot, giving the issue twice the chance to be chosen and heard in Parliament. Hone has consistently said that this is about the kids, not about him or MANA – but David Shearer could have come and talked to Hone to make sure we didn’t compete on this and worked together instead … and anyway, can’t he come up with his own ideas?

Government Bills:

· Treaty settlements: A number of Treaty settlement bills came up this week including, the Waitaha Claims Settlement Bill, the Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara Claims Settlement Bill, the Ngāti Whātua Orakei Claims Settlement Bill, and the Ngāti Manuhiri Claims Settlement Bill. While Ngāti Wai remains opposed to the way in which the Crown has addressed the issue of Hauturu (Little Barrier Island) in the Ngāti Manuhiri Claims Settlement Bill – which they also make a claim to – they are clear that the fault lies with the Crown and not Ngāti Manuhiri and that it will be better addressed back on home turf together. Given this, MANA supported all of the bills and Hone spoke briefly in Parliament, acknowledging the Iwi gathered there to hear their settlements debated.

· Further attacks on beneficiaries: The latest bill to bash beneficiaries also came before Parliament on Thursday afternoon for its first reading. The Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill aims to simplify benefit categories and effect a greater work focus – but without the government actually doing anything to invest in creating new jobs or even maintaining the ones we have. Many of the things the bill will do have already been announced, like cutting benefits by 50% if parents don’t have their kids enrolled with doctors and in early childhood education or kōhanga by certain ages – even though there are chronic waiting lists throughout the motu and less funding/subsidies to access doctors and early childhood education as a result of government spending cuts. Unsurprisingly, MANA opposed the bill and will continue to do so as it progresses through the Parliament machine. Submissions can be made to the Social Services select committee.

One pokie venue closed down, and four to go:

The week ended on a high note in the MANA Parliament offices as we received word that those MANA members battling to get an illegal pokie-machine outlet closed down in Otara were successful, ka mau te wehi koutou. Even though the Gambling Commission had cancelled the outlet’s licence 18 months earlier, it was able to keep operating and draining money from the community (to the tune of over $1million) because the owners had appealed the decision – clearly demonstrating yet another weakness in the nation’s gambling laws. MANA is campaigning for Otara to become the first pokie-free zone in New Zealand. See the MANA website for the press statement and details of the campaign.