MANA in Parliament, 29-31 January 2013Posted on February 5, 2013 by admin in Mana in Parliament
Speech in Reply to the Prime Minister’s Statement
Parliament started up again for the year this week, and the first thing on the agenda was a 20 minute statement from the Prime Minister. John Key spent much of this time ridiculing other parties, before going on to say that the government’s focus is on increasing jobs and incomes and providing better public services, while meeting their target of having a budget surplus. What he failed to say is that the government’s quest to save money for the budget surplus is helping to push unemployment ever higher, drive wages down, further entrench poverty, and worsen services in key areas like health, education, and housing – and all to pay back the money borrowed to pay for tax cuts for high-income earners. It’s yet another example of National’s typical M.O. – the transfer of money from the less-well off to the rich, making the income gap bigger and bigger, and not giving a toss. As the leader of MANA, Hone responded to the PM’s statement by outlining key priorities for MANA in 2013:
· working on reducing poverty through introducing the Feed the Kids policy of breakfast and lunch programmes in low-decile schools and through pushing for the building of housing for low-income families;
· continuing to advocate for a Financial Transactions Tax (or ‘Hone Heke’ tax) that would tax the transactions between financial institutions like banks and currency speculators and raise billions of dollars without it coming from the pockets of the ordinary person, as has been adopted across a number of European countries in recent weeks – money that could and should be invested in feeding kids, health, education, housing, and creating new jobs and business opportunities; and
· supporting the call to keep our power company assets in NZ hands via the New Zealand Māori Council’s case against the Crown over water ownership, and via the petition for a public referendum on asset sales to really see what New Zealander’s want.
See the MANA website, www.mana.net.nz, for a copy of Hone’s speech.
New Speaker elected
Also up in the first week was the election of a new Speaker of Parliament following the recent resignation of Lockwood Smith. The job of the Speaker is to chair proceedings in the House of Parliament and to manage the Parliamentary Service which funds MPs’ activities, including their electorate offices and travel. The government failed to follow protocol and consult with opposition parties, and in response Labour, Greens, MANA, and NZ First voted in support of an alternative to the government’s nominee. Given the government has a majority of votes with their supporters, United Future, ACT, and the Māori Party – the government’s nominee, David Carter, got the job. And, he’s already said he’ll find it difficult to be an impartial referee in Parliament … yikes, watch this space.
Feed the Kids Bill update
· A wide range of organisations are publically supporting MANA’s Feed the Kids Bill, including the Child Poverty Action Group, Every Child Counts, Unicef NZ, Save the Children, IHC, Poverty Action Waikato, the Methodist and Anglican Churches, Auckland Action Against Poverty, Te Rōpū Wāhine Māori Toko i te Ora (Māori Women’s Welfare League), NZEI, PPTA, NZ Principals’ Federation, CTU Rūnanga, NZ Nurses’ Organisation, and Te ORA – the Māori Medical Practitioners’ Association; and more organisations and groups are signing up each week. They’re calling for all political parties to back the bill at first reading so that the issue of food in schools can go before a select committee and be properly considered. Tēnā koutou e hāpai nei, e tautoko nei i te kaupapa nei kia whāngaihia te hunga tamariki.
· Due to changes in the Parliament programme, the Feed the Kids Bill will not go before Parliament for first reading on Wednesday 13 February as anticipated. As a result, the event in support of the Bill at Parliament that day has been postponed until another date is set and we will advise of this asap. In the meantime, we have more time to promote the Bill and build support from those parties who are not yet on board, namely NZ First, National, ACT, and United Future. See the Feed the Kids website, www.feedthekids.org.nz, for details on how you can help out – including writing to MPs, Ministers, and to the editor of your local paper.
Led by Labour, Greens, MANA, and NZ First, the first public hearing of the inquiry was held this week. A number of manufacturers who export their products overseas appeared before the committee and were unanimous in their call for the exchange rate to be lowered/better managed so they can continue to operate here and not lay off workers and move their businesses overseas. They talked of the need for the government to invest in manufacturing “or it’s dead”.
Collectively, small-medium businesses are the country’s biggest employers and growth in the sector – by enabling existing businesses to expand or by enabling more manufacturing businesses to successfully get started and take off – is critical to addressing high unemployment. Another hearing will be held in Christchurch in a fortnight and in Auckland the week following. 131 submissions have been received from firms and organisations, as well as a large number of submissions from individuals.
New Zealand Māori Council’s water case in the Supreme Court
On Thursday and Friday the five justices of the Supreme Court heard the NZ Māori Council’s case against the Crown for planning to sell shares in power companies before settling Māori ownership interests in fresh water and geothermal resources.
Despite the enormity of the issue to Māori – and indeed the nation given the case is stalling the government’s asset sales agenda – Hone was the only MP present at the hearing. See the MANA website for Hone’s press statement in support of the Council and their bid to protect Maori rights to the taonga that tūpuna signed up to in 1840. The Supreme Court is due to report on the case in mid-late February.
Parliament will not sit next week and will resume the following week, 12-14 February.