MANA in Parliament, 12-14 February 2013Posted on February 19, 2013 by admin in Mana in Parliament
Government Bills up this week
The government progressed a number of existing bills through Parliament this week, all of which MANA continued to oppose. They included the:
- Corrections Amendment Bill which further erodes prisoner’s human rights, limits the ability of prisons to rehabilitate prisoners, and further entrenches the privatisation of prisons. While the bill is being pushed through in the name of enhancing safety and improving rehabilitation, local and international evidence shows quite the opposite occurs when things like prisoner strip searches are increased and prisoners are locked in cells for longer without respite and the opportunity to exercise. The third and final reading of the bill will be held in the coming weeks.
- Privacy (Information Sharing) Bill which is also about the further erosion of rights, this time the rights of individuals to have their details kept private by government agencies. While MANA would have been happy to support the ability of agencies to share information to facilitate positive policies like whānau ora, the government failed to put the necessary protections into the bill – as recommended by the Law Commission. The bill is due to be passed into law next week.
One new government bill came before Parliament this week, the Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill which seeks to improve the regulation of foreign fishing vessels and enhance fisheries management. While it falls well short of addressing issues like the health and safety and pay of employees, it does begin the phase out of foreign charter vessels in our waters. MANA supported the bill at first reading.
Māori and Pacific Unemployment
Each month in Parliament, Hone gets to ask a question of the government in the debating chamber. This month’s question came up on Wednesday and Hone used it to raise the continuing shocking rate of Māori and Pacific employment and ask what the government is doing about it. The rate of Māori and Pacific unemployment has been nearly three times higher than the Pākehā rate for each of the four years National has been in government, and only 55% of Māori and 50% of Pacific people actually have jobs. In response, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Steven Joyce, did not give any commitment to addressing the situation and said absolutely nothing about actual job creation to change it any time soon. And although the Minister tried to blame the global financial crisis, Hone wasn’t buying it as the appalling stats were in play well before the crisis. See the MANA website, www.mana.net.nz for Hone’s press statement on his exchange with Steven Joyce.
Apology not accepted
NZ First List MP Richard Prosser featured in media across the country last week for extreme racist views against Muslims. Following strong public backlash and before making any apology, he sought to make an apology in Parliament. Any MP can seek the permission of other MPs to make personal statements and are rarely denied the opportunity to do so. On this occasion, however, Hone objected to Parliament becoming the Catholic confessional to wipe Richard’s conscience clean or worse, becoming a vehicle through which to justify and ‘explain’ himself – and he was denied permission to speak as a result. Hone sent this message to the media direct from his seat in Parliament: “Today I opposed a request from Richard Prosser to make a personal statement to the House. I did so because if he has an apology to make for his offensive remarks to the Muslim community, then he can make his way to the nearest mosque and ask forgiveness there. I do not accept that he should be able to make such remarks and then simply wash away his venom via an unchallenged explanation in the house.”
Fight to end poverty continues
- This week the Salvation Army released their annual ‘state of the nation’ report, The Great Divide. See the MANA website for Hone’s media statement commending the Sallies for their report which illustrates the government’s systemic failure to adequately address the key challenges of the day – child poverty, unemployment, and growing homelessness.
- A two day symposium, Precarious Work and the Living Wage in Our Communities, was held in Auckland on Thursday and Friday to discuss the need for a living wage policy to be adopted in New Zealand given the chronically low-pay of too many New Zealand workers. Low incomes are a key driver of poverty – in fact, 40% of children living in poverty are in families where at least one adult has a full-time job. MANA is in full support of the living wage campaign and is revising its minimum wage policy as a result.
… and despite all this the week ended on a high note with the news of Tame Iti being granted parole. The Parole Board ruled that he’s not a risk to society and that he’ll be out of prison by the end of February. It’s expected that Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara will be granted parole early next week. See the MANA website for Hone’s media statement in support of Tame. The decision places the whole Operation Eight debacle back in the limelight, with renewed calls for the official reports investigating the state terrorism of Tuhoe on 15 October 2007 to be made public. Millions spent, a pile of arrests, and no one in jail because they’re no threat to anyone … well done Labour and National.