MANA in Parliament, 28-30 AugustPosted on September 6, 2012 by admin in Mana in Parliament
Feed the Kids Bill: A real solution to child poverty
On Tuesday, the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group on Child Poverty released their report Solutions to Child Poverty in New Zealand. A key recommendation of the report was that the government has a responsibility to develop and fund a national food in schools programme in low-decile schools in order to address the ever-increasing levels of child poverty in Aotearoa. The recommendation is a significant endorsement of MANA’s Feed the Kids Bill which went into the Member’s Bill ballot on Thursday for the first time. While it’s certainly a solution whose time has well and truly come, it will have to wait a little longer as unfortunately the Bill was not drawn from the ballot. The Bill, entitled the Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools) Amendment Bill, seeks to introduce fully state-funded breakfast and lunch programmes into all decile 1 and 2 schools in Aotearoa. It can be viewed on the MANA website, along with Hone’s media statements made during the week.
Member’s Bills up this week: The black drain and gay marriage
Two very significant Member’s Bills were debated on Wednesday, and both passed their first readings. This means they will now each go to a parliamentary select committee who will call for public submissions and hold public hearings on the issues. The first of these was a bill to help stop the on-going pollution of some of our rivers, and the Tarawera River in particular – known locally as The Black Drain. The second was the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, the Gay Marriage Bill. After a huge rally of supporters gathered at Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, the Bill was heard before a full public gallery and was supported by 80 votes to 40. After a robust consultation process, and consistent with a tikanga-based view of relationships, MANA supports the call for all loving couples to be able to endorse their relationships in marriage. MANA will support both bills all the way through the law-making process and congratulates the respective MPs, Catherine Delahunty and Louisa Wall, and their supporters, for all the work they have done to achieve such a great result.
Government Bill’s up this week: Purchase age of alcohol
A number of bills have been debated this week, including the Identity Information Confirmation Bill which MANA opposed as it will allow government agencies to increase their surveillance powers over us in new and concerning ways. Of particular interest, however, was Thursday’s debate on the Alcohol Reform Bill which focussed on the alcohol purchase age (the rest of the Bill will be debated next month). MANA’s position is that the age should be raised back to 20 years because the harm that results from drinking, and especially to young people, is currently so bad. If other measures in the Bill – like restrictions on advertising and who can hold a licence and when and where they can operate – can work to reduce harmful drinking in the years to come, the age limit could revert back to 18 years in the future. For that reason, MANA has tabled an amendment for the age issue to be reviewed in 5 years. This amendment will be debated and voted on next month and will be worth keeping an eye on as Parliament voted on Thursday to keep the purchase age at 18 years. The vote was 69 votes for 18 years, and 53 votes for 20 years. If the excessive harm from drinking continues at more or less the same level , a review of the purchase age will be something very significant. Hone spoke on the age issue in Parliament, and his kōrero can be viewed on the MANA website.
Water case and asset sales
The jury is still out on how the government is going to respond to the Waitangi Tribunal’s report on the NZ Māori Council’s freshwater claim and what it will mean for their asset sale agenda. There has been talk of an ‘elegant solution’ akin to the deal struck with the Māori Party over the Marine and Coastal Area Act. Earlier in the week Hone released a statement providing the reminder that the ‘elegant solution’ has not resulted in any customary rights orders being granted to Iwi or Hapū under the Act. See the MANA website for details. Hone also gave a kōrero on the water case to a group of manuhiri to Parliament, and in it he wished the Māori Party well in the difficult days ahead with their partner National who have done all they can to disregard both the Tribunal and the claim. He also called for an open discussion within te ao Māori to clarify Iwi and Hapū interests in water, and for Iwi leaders to support that process by not entering into private negotiations with the Crown until their own people have been able to participate in one of the biggest decisions they may ever face. This kōrero “Every Tribe Has A River” is also on the MANA website.
- Parliament will not sit next week and will resume the following week, 11-13 September.