MANA in Parliament, 25-27 September 2012

Posted on October 1, 2012 by admin in Mana in Parliament

Government Bills up this week
A number of bills were completed in Parliament this week including the Juries (Jury Service and Protection of Particulars of Jury List Information) Amendment Bill which made some positive changes to jury duty and which, as a consequence, MANA was happy to support. Another bill completed this week was the National War Memorial Park (Pukeahu) Empowering Bill to redevelop the National War Memorial Park in Wellington by April 2015 in order to mark the centenary of the start of the Gallipoli landings of World War I. While MANA strongly supported the purpose of the bill to mark the lives and contribution of NZ soldiers in WWI and II, we did not vote in support the bill because it fast-tracked many of the required checks and balances – and as such, would set some problematic precedents for other future development projects. The current government has already reduced building and environmental standards for their developer mates in the last 4 years and standards should not be allowed to slip even further. Another problematic bill up this week was the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill to further promote mineral prospecting, exploration and mining – including seabed mining – which is a core goal of the government’s economic development agenda. Given mining’s detrimental impact on the environment, and the way mining decisions continue to be made without hapū and iwi, MANA opposed the bill at its first reading, and will continue to do so at all further stages through Parliament. For those wanting to make a submission on the bill, it has been referred to the Commerce select committee and submissions are due by 2 November.

Maori Affairs Select Committee
The committee has recently heard submissions from a range of groups and organisations in relation to their Inquiry into the determinants of wellbeing for Māori children. For the next part of the inquiry, committee members will travel to Australia in late October to check out initiatives for Aboriginal children – and will use what they learn there to generate new ideas and develop recommendations. On Wednesday this week the committee supported, in principle, Hone’s proposal to visit Indigenous Communities including those in Alice Springs as part of their trip, alongside the usual NGOs and government officials.

Beneficiary rights
Following last week’s protest at the regional Ministry of Social Development office in Auckland, MANA again sought to highlight the unfair and dehumanising treatment of those on benefits this week. Hone used his monthly question during oral question time in Parliament to ask Paula Bennett questions on behalf of his Kaikohe constituent, Sam Kuha, who is on a hunger strike to change WINZ’s long-winded food grant policy. As is usual for government ministers at question time, Ms Bennett did all she could to duck and dodge admitting that beneficiaries live on unacceptably small sums. She did, however, point out what is now being done to get Mr Kuha access to what he’s actually entitled to. See the MANA website for Hone’s release on the matter entitled “Government waits until hunger strike action is taken before helping”. The MANA office in Kaikohe is also working with Mr Kuha, and Hone went to support him in court on Friday where he faced charges relating to smashing WINZ office windows as part of his protest action.

Hui hopping:

  • Māori Women’s Welfare League, hui-a-tau: Hone attended the pōwhiri of the League’s AGM at Omaka Marae in Wairau on Thursday morning. As usual there were representatives from branches all over the motu, and also tauira from all over the motu who came to participate in the League’s annual speech competition. During the pōwhiri, kaikōrero paid tribute to the League women who had passed in the last year – and Jacqui, Doreen, and Megan in particular. Moe mai.
  • Hui Kotahitanga: Hone attended Saturday’s hui at Papawai Marae in Greytown to celebrate the role and significance of the Kotahitanga Māori Parliament of the late 1800s to our political past, present, and future.

Māori media: Weekly parliamentary round-up
Don’t forget to check out Te Karere and Te Kaea on the Thursday’s of parliamentary sitting weeks. Hone and a number of other Māori MPs have a regular slot on these shows to comment on the week’s big stories and events. This week the big story inside the Lion’s Den was Kim Dotcom and the illegal spying on him by the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau). In response to news of John Key’s apology to Mr Dotcom, Hone asked when the government will be apologising to Ruātoki, Ngāi Tuhoe, and those others who were also illegally spied on.

Parliament will not sit for the next two weeks and will resume on 16-18 October.