MANA in Parliament, 11-12 December 2012Posted on December 13, 2012 by admin in Mana in Parliament
Government Bills up this week
· The government continued the tradition of slipping in a few problematic bills on the last couple of days of the year when they think no one’s really paying that much attention. One of these was the Resource Management Reform Bill which will further erode the principles of the Resource Management Act in favour of the government’s big business and property developer mates. The bill seeks to further cut the timeframes involved in gaining resource consents, to reduce public participation in the resource consent decision-making process, and to limit the ability of ability of local councils to regulate against environmental harm. See the MANA website, www.mana.net.nz, for Hone’s media statement where he calls the bill a “future death sentence”.
· Also held this week was the third and final reading of the Alcohol Reform Bill. MANA supported the bill at all stages in Parliament as it will put in place measures to better regulate the buying and selling of alcohol, as recommended by the Law Commission. But, disappointingly, the bill didn’t go anywhere near far enough to regulate the things that really matter when seeking to reduce drinking-related harm – like price, advertising and promotions, and giving communities more of a say about where and how alcohol is sold in their neighbourhoods. All of the amendments tabled by opposition parties to bring these aspects into the bill’s regulatory framework were voted down. As outlined in Hone’s press statement on the bill, this included MANA’s amendment to enable the alcohol purchase age to be reviewed in 5 years. If passed, it would have provided an opportunity to look at whether harmful drinking had lessened as a result of the new laws and whether increasing the purchase age back to 20 years was needed.
Final report of the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group and their recommendation to Feed the Kids
· The report provides a comprehensive picture of child poverty in New Zealand and what the costs are to both individual children and families, and to the nation in terms of health and wellbeing, education, skills, productivity, and criminal offending. In it the Expert Advisory Group (EAG) recommended a number of immediate, practical things the government could do to address child poverty, including the development and implementation of a government-funded food programme in low-decile schools. Importantly, the EAG consulted with around 300 children and young people as part of their work. These children and young people raised the issue of hunger as their number one priority issue and said food programmes in schools were the best way to help them focus and achieve at school.
· The report is a huge endorsement of MANA’s Feed the Kids Bill, and a number of groups and organisations are pushing for the government to support both the report’s recommendations and our bill including Every Child Counts, the Child Poverty Action Group, and the PPTA. See the MANA website for Hone’s media statement on the report.
· Also see the website for Hone’s media statement thanking Fonterra for extending their Milk in Schools programme to all primary schools in the country following this year’s trial in Northland. In it he called for the government to step up alongside businesses like Fonterra, listen to the EAG and our children, and put in place a government-funded food programme in low-decile schools.
· On Wednesday Hone questioned Education Minister Hekia Parata in Parliament on the EAG’s recommendation for a food programme in low-decile schools and asked if she supported it. She said she didn’t because the government is already helping KidsCan feed 4,500 students per week and because they’re funding the Fruit in Schools programme which gives decile 1 and 2 primary and intermediate children one piece of fruit per day. What about the other 75,000 plus kids who we know go to school hungry? How long can the government keep up the line that one piece of fruit per day is enough?
Feed the Kids Bill update
Check out the new Feed the Kids website, www.feedthekids.org.nz, if you haven’t already. The website is to help inform people about MANA’s Feed the Kids Bill to introduce food programmes in low-decile schools and to help build political support for the Bill when it comes before Parliament early next year.
There’s a whole lot of info on there, including a copy of the EAG report discussed above and the Campbell Live story from back in September which compared decile 1 and decile 10 students’ lunches. There’s also a copy of the Bill and an easy-to-read supporting fact sheet.
The website includes ideas on how those who support the Bill can help lobby politicians from NZ First, ACT, United Future, and National to also support it at its first reading vote early in the new year. Labour, Greens, and the Māori Party have already said they’re all for it. Check it out now!
NZ Māori Council’s water case update
As predicted, Justice Young found in favour of the Crown and against the NZ Māori Council – prompting the Māori Council to announce that they’ll be appealing the decision, first in the Court of Appeal and then in the Supreme Court if needs be. The NZ Māori Council is asking that the Crown’s plan to partially sell our state-owned power companies be put on hold while Māori rights and interests in fresh water are settled. The Crown wants there to be no delays to the sale. While the government and their pro-asset sale buddies have spent the week clapping themselves on the back for their ‘win’, the deal is far from done. As Hone outlined in his media statement of Tuesday, there’s a long way to go yet and the immediate hope is that the legal process will keep the sale on hold long enough for the citizen’s initiated referendum on asset sales to be called early in the New Year.
Parliament’s adjournment debate
Parliament closed up for the year on Wednesday evening. The last order of business is always the ‘adjournment’ debate, and is usually where politicians talk about themselves and slag off their opponents. Hone is never one to follow the trends of others and instead dedicated his kōrero to MANA members all around the country for doing all they could, all year to push for change in the face of a “cold-hearted government”. He said he’s proud of their stand to stop asset sales, to support the NZ Māori Council’s bid to protect Māori interests in water, to keep oil companies at bay, to stand up against the TPPA, to stand alongside those fighting to keep their homes, to support workers’ rights to have safe working conditions and a decent wage, and to promote the notion that feeding kids in schools is not an issue of cost, but one of justice. See the MANA website for the full speech.
Parliament will start again at the end of January 2013. Until then, MANA kirihimete me ngā mihi mō te tau hou!