MANA in Parliament, 6-8 November 2012Posted on November 13, 2012 by admin in Mana in Parliament
The week started off on a high note for MANA with the results of a Native Affairs poll asking which Māori MP best represented the interests of Māori. Hone took the top spot with twice as many points as the next place getter. The top three were: Hone (32%), Pita Sharples (16%), and Tariana Turia (12%). See the MANA website, www.mana.net.nz, for President Annette Sykes media comment on the poll. And if you missed Native Affairs on Monday night, you can watch it via the Māori TV website, www.maoritelevision.com.
Government Bills up this week
Much of Tuesday and Thursday was spent passing the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill into law. MANA continued to oppose the bill which will make the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) almost completely ineffective. On Tuesday, Labour and the Greens tabled a number of amendments at the bill’s committee stage to lessen the impacts of the changes, but all were defeated. The bill passed its third reading on Thursday afternoon. If any more proof was needed that the government is not serious about reducing our nation’s emissions and being part of a global response to climate change, they announced on Friday that they won’t be signing up to a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. This means they don’t have to commit to reducing emissions. It’s yet another glaring example of this government’s depressingly dumb ‘profit before people/profit before planet’ mentality.
Wednesday was a Members Day. As with so many other Members days, another batch of constructive and progressive Members bills were heard and voted down by a majority of votes. These included:
- Metiria Tūrei’s Income Tax (Universalisation of In-work Tax Credit) Amendment Bill to extend the in-work tax credit payment – formerly the child tax credit – toall children regardless of whether their parents are in paid work or not. If passed, the bill would give families who are without paid work an extra $60 a week. MANA was proud to support this bill to help address child poverty, and was gutted when it was defeated 60 votes to 61. National, ACT, and United Future voted against it.
- Te Ururoa Flavell’s Oaths and Declarations (Upholding the Treaty of Waitangi) Amendment Bill to allow a pledge to uphold the Treaty to be included in the formal oaths and declarations made when becoming an MP, police officer, court judge, and so on. Interestingly, this bill was first tabled by Hone back in 2007 – as an amendment to the Oaths Modernisation Bill which was dropped from the Parliament programme a few years back. Again, MANA supported the bill but it was voted down 52 votes to 69, and was opposed by National, ACT, United Future, and NZ First (remember their ‘Get Rid of the Treaty Principles Bill’). The Māori Party issued a press statement expressing their disappointment in their friends the National Party … why did they think the Nat’s would vote any other way?
Housing Crisis Day of Action
On Wednesday, whānau from the communities of Pomare (Lower Hutt), Maraenui (Napier), and Glen Innes (Auckland), marched on Parliament to deliver their petition on the actions needed to address the nation’s housing crisis. These include halting the government’s “urban renewal” programmes occurring in Pomare, Maraenui, and GI where Housing Corp tenants are being evicted from their homes so the land can be developed for private rentals and homes for rich buyers, making some of them homeless.
The petition also asks for a major state housing building and renovation programme to be started, with the aim to build 20,000 new state homes in two years – which is a key MANA policy. Hone joined an impressive array of community speakers, and told them he will be using his upcoming court hearings to continue to publicly raise these issues (he was arrested during a recent housing protest in GI). Later that day during Question Time in Parliament, Hone questioned the Minister of Housing about how the government’s policies will address the huge shortage of housing for low-income families when they’re hell bent on pulling down or selling off state houses. The Minister responded by continuing to lie and deceive, stating that they are building more state houses. And yet, in relation to GI he quoted figures of taking away 156 houses and replacing them with 78. And his line that having an additional 40 “affordable” private rentals makes the policy even less plausible not more. Does he really expect us to believe that ocean-view properties built by the government’s rich developer mates will be affordable for low-income whānau? See the MANA website for the media statements on this week’s protest action and arrests in GI over state housing.
Campaign to ban shark finning
Also on Wednesday, MANA signed a pledge card supporting the NZ Shark Alliance’s campaign to ban shark finning in Aotearoa (see the MANA website). The practice involves catching sharks, cutting their fins off, and dumping the rest of the shark back in the sea. NZ is one of the few countries where it’s still legal. It’s a wasteful and unsustainable practice, and there has been a 90% reduction in some shark species globally because of it. Sharks are a ‘top predator’ and without them the marine ecosystem is affected, including the numbers and availability of fish and kaimoana further down the food chain. The campaign is not to prohibit the use of shark fins per se, but to ensure that when sharks are caught, they’re brought back to shore whole before finning so the whole shark can be used and not dumped and wasted (“land whole” fishing, with FNA – fins naturally attached). This will mean less fins, and less sharks killed, given the limited space available on fishing vessels. Submissions on the review of the government’s National Plan of Action-sharks will be called for early in 2013. We’ll keep you posted in case you’d like to make a submission.
Feed the Kids
And the week also ended on an especially high note for MANA. On Thursday, Hone’s Feed the Kids Bill was drawn from the Members Bill Ballot, and will likely come up for first reading on Wednesday 5 December. Whoop, whoop – tauke! See the MANA website for Hone’s media statement on the Bill. The Bill – officially known as 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, and other schools deemed eligible such as kura kaupapa Māori and wharekura located outside of decile 1 and 2 areas. The meals would be required to meet Ministry of Health nutritional guidelines. The Bill was drafted with the much appreciated assistance of Donna Wynd of the Child Poverty Action Group. There’s a host of research, from both here and overseas, that shows the positive impacts on kids learning and health when healthy meals are provided in schools. And further to this, the recent report on child poverty from the Children’s Commissioner’s expert working group recommended food in schools as a do-able and immediate solution to child poverty in Aotearoa. Feeding the kids is a key policy of MANA, and is something that Hone is particularly passionate about. The priority for the next month is getting enough of his parliamentary colleagues to support it at first reading, and it will no doubt be a close call. If you have any ideas or know of groups and organisations who could lend their support, please let us know.
(Mana in Parliament is a regular wrap up and summary of the mahi that that Mana Movement has been engaged in as it relates to Parliament)