Health select committee agrees to euthanasia inquiry

In response to a petition presented to Parliament by the Voluntary Euthanasia  the Health Select Committee has agreed to investigate matters raised by the petition.

NZ Herald reports: Parliament to hold euthanasia inquiry following Lecretia Seales’ death

An inquiry into voluntary euthanasia is to be carried out by Parliament – a process supporters hope will be an important step towards a law change.

Today’s announcement comes after a petition from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society was presented to Parliament by supporters including Matt Vickers, the husband of the late Lecretia Seales.

The petition, signed by former Labour MP Maryan Street and 8,974 others, asked that Parliament’s health and select committee “investigate fully public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable”.

It will set-up an inquiry to “fully investigate the matters raised by the petition”, health committee chair Simon O’Connor said.

The terms of reference will be drafted over the next few weeks, which will form the outline of that investigation.

“This is an important subject and the committee needs to think carefully about the best way to examine it,” Mr O’Connor said.

“I would like to see a thorough investigation that covers as many aspects of this topic as possible in a responsible and robust manner.”

It’s impossible to know where this may lead, if anywhere, but i think it’s time Parliament properly and comprehensively looked at the pros and cons of voluntary euthanasia, the right to choose how we die etc.

Will the Greenpeace Parliament climbing stunt make a difference?

Yesterday four people from Greenpeace climbing Parliament buildings and displaying a banner got a lot of media attention. The four climbed back down late yesterday afternoon and were arrested by waiting police – Parliamentary officials said the breach of security was serious.

The Greenpeace climbers will appear in court in due course. That will get them a bit more attention, but a jail sentence is a possibility.

But will it change anything? I doubt it. The converted applauded, those who can change things will have largely ignored the message.

GreenpeaceProtestParliament

The slogan is a bit funny I guess, but it’s also a bit lame.

Is it likely to change John Key’s environmental approach or policies? Yeah, nah.

UPDATE: one take on it from Facebook:

Speaking with Paul Henry Annette King has just said that if they were protesting about climate change the point was lost amongst all the talk of security breaching and she hopes it doesn’t result in too much of an increase in security that hampers accessibility to parliament.

Comparing Key to Peters in Parliament

Following on from Was Peters unfairly ejected from the Chamber? – does John Key get away with too much in the Chamber? Is his behaviour unbecoming of a Prime Minister?

Duperez commented:

“…cantankerous, disrespectful and disruptive behaviour…” are lovely descriptions and could be particular to Winston Peters in general or specifically the behaviour which saw his latest ousting.

I don’t quite know if that group of decriptors would apply to the consistent behaviour of say, John Key. ” Disrespectful and disruptive”, yes but not cantankerous. To the former two I’d add “smart arse” and “sneering.” Maybe “wily” also because he knows he can get away with whatever he likes and you always play to the ref.

I think this is fair comment. I agree that Key escapes the cantankerous label, but I think ”disrespectful and disruptive” could easily describe how he often acts in Parliament. And “smart arse” and “sneering” also seems appropriate descriptors.

I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I think Key’s behaviour often goes too far and can be a piss poor look at times.

But he’s also wily and knows what he can usually get away with.

Peters has been around long enough to also know how to be wily, but there’s a significant difference with what he does.

Key always directs his barbs and excesses at opposition MPs. While sometimes excessive it is seen as part of the cut and thrust of Parliamentary debate. He doesn’t argue with the Speaker, as Duperez says, he plays to the ref but he doesn’t play the ref.

In contrast Peters seems more intent on needling and questioning and defying and antagonising the Speaker. Tuesday’s clash on it’s own may not have seemed particularly bad but in the context of a long running battle with Carter then I don’t think the Speaker’s reaction was over the top.

Peters is one of the most experienced combatants in the Chamber. He should know how to play to the ref. He seems to frequently choose to fight with the ref. His questions often seem to begin targeting Government MPs or the PM but divert into spats with the Speaker.

Both Key and Peters display behaviour unbecoming of senior representatives of the people. They set a poor example and lower the tone of Parliamentary debate.

The difference is that Key fights his opposition while Peters seems obsessed with fighting the Speaker and the System. It’s hard to see how he can every win those battles, and his war his futile.

I don’t think either Key or Peters behave appropriately in Parliament, I don’t like the excesses of either. But Key keeps winning while Peters seems determined to continue battles he will mostly lose.

Northland MP or grumpy old president?

“The Chairman is on his feet, will the member keep his mouth shut”.

WinstonPetersParliament

Winston Peters loved all the attention and the success the Northland by-election gave him.

The latest Herald-Digipoll adds to that, with Peters doubling his ‘preferred Prime Minister’ support from 5.9% to 12%.

But has it all gone to his head?

Something not many people will see – the media are unlikely to show it – is some of his behaviour in Parliament, where he acts like a cantankerous old git who thinks he deserves to rule, and who despises being told what to do.

See the video…

…starting from 1:56 leading to where Peters objects (at about 2:16) to a determination by the Business Committee of speaking rights for Appropriation Bill. Peters starts speaking from 3:40.

He displays disrespect and petulance. When told he could seek leave to the House to deal with his gripe it was objected to, so his acrimonious approach failed to achieve anything.

Draft transcript:

Annual Review Debate

In Committee

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): This debate is the Committee stage of the Appropriation (2013/13 Confirmation and Validation) Bill. The time allocated for this debate is 9 hours and comprises two distinct elements in accordance with determinations of the Business Committee. The first is the debate on the annual financial statements of the Government, as reported by the Finance and Expenditure Committee. The time allocated by the Business Committee for this debate is 2 hours.

The second is the debate on the annual reviews of departments, Officers of Parliament, Crown entities, public organisations, and State enterprises, as reported on by select committees. The time allocated by the Business Committee for this debate is 7 hours.

We turn first to the 2-hour debate on the Government’s 2013-14 financial statements and the report of the Finance and Expenditure Committee. The Business Committee has determined that the first call will go to the chairperson of the Finance and Expenditure Committee and that the total number of calls will be as follows: the New Zealand National Party, 12 5-minute calls; the New Zealand Labour Party, seven 5-minute calls; the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, three 5-minute calls; the New Zealand First Party, two 5-minute calls; and the—

[Interruption] The Chairman is on his feet. Will the member keep his mouth shut? The Māori Party—[Interruption] Order! [Interruption] No, I am on my feet. The member will be seated. [Interruption] I am on my feet. The point is, for the members who are present, that the Business Committee has agreed to a motion—particularly from the Opposition parties—so that this debate will have more meaning than they have deemed it to have in the past. It is a new process, and I am endeavouring to lay that out to the Committee of the whole House as we are now. I would appreciate the ability to continue so that members are fully aware and not ignorant due to their adherence to the ways that have happened in the past.

The Māori Party, ACT New Zealand, and United Future New Zealand may negotiate with the New Zealand National Party for calls during the debate.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. You may say that this committee outside this House decided this and it decided that, but the fact of the matter is that this House is the master of its own destiny and we will not be ruled out because of some arrangement made outside with House with which we do not agree.

If you could tell me how 14 members gets 15 minutes and 12 members gets 10 minutes and that is fair, then I would like you to explain it to me mathematically, but it is not. [Interruption] I beg your pardon? Have you got a problem with actually working out the mathematics on that? If 14 members—

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): The member should make his point of order or complete it.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: My point of order is simply that that ratio cannot be fair, that 14 members—sit down. Fourteen members getting 15 minutes would surely mean that 12 members are entitled to more than 10 minutes. It is just actually mathematic. So there, for a start, I do not think it is reasonable—

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): I do not need any further help from the member on this matter. Sit down. [Interruption] Take your seat. The point is that the protocols for this debate have been determined by the Business Committee. If the member wishes to seek leave to change that, he can.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): I seek leave for New Zealand First to have, for a start, a fairer ratio of speaking time than that laid out by you in your little preamble.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): Leave is sought for that purpose, is there any objection?

There were objections from the Government side

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows):The motion is lost.

There was a ruckus at the beginning of the next speech.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): Order! Please take your seat. As I indicated earlier, the reason the new process was put before the Business Committee was to try to raise the level of debate. Let us see if members of the Committee can do that.

Then at 1:00 in the speech NZ First MP Ron Mark made a point of order:

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. Sorry to the member for interrupting his speech, but you did make a statement there that has got me totally confused. When has there ever been a question about the level of debate in this Committee, and who does it involve?

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): That is not a point of order.

Ron Mark: Well, you have made a statement and it should be clarified.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Chester Borrows): Do not challenge the ruling I have already given.

An abrasive petulant approach to Parliament is unlikely to achieve anything positive for the Northland electorate, nor for the NZ First Party.

Beehive Live returns

If you want to keep up with what’s happening in Parliament today – MPs return from a recess – then Stuff’s Beehive Live is worth following.

Beehive Live: MPs return

After a three-week recess, the MPs have returned and are ready to face a grilling on the last 21 days of events.

They’ve had a good break in their electorates, have had a reflective long Anzac weekend, and now we have many things to catch up on.

Most of all, the Prime Minister is on an important trade trip in the United Arab Emirates; we’ll have the commentary from back home on how that’s going.

Workplace relations Minister Michael Woodhouse is due for questioning on the rights of Chinese Workers working for KiwiRail, there’s bound to be more on Iraq and there may still be a few comments to be made on this ponytail saga.

Tune in here for live updates, newbites and occasional weirdness, which can only be found in the halls of Parliament.

They are report on select committee meetings, on-the-fly MP interviews and keep track of question time (2-3 pm).

John key is still on his Middle East trip so will escape scrutiny for his hair pulling saga but it will probably be brought up in some form.

A Little overshadowed in Parliament

Andrew Little has looked subdued and perhaps uncomfortable in Parliament this week. He is operating in the shadow of Winston Peters, who is at his best/worst at stirring up the House. This winds up John Key into full flight, and it’s not something that Little enjoys by the look of him yesterday.

Question Time was led by Peters, who again tested David Carter’s patience and was again threatened with ejection. NZ First colleague Ron Mark also joined the fray, fraying the patience of the Speaker.

Key revelled in the heated atmosphere, perhaps it is a release valve from his perpetual pressures as Prime Minister. It doesn’t look pretty at times.

After a patsy question it was Little’s turn to be ridiculed, and that happened at Key’s first opportunity. Not surprisingly Little didn’t seem to like it.

[Sitting date: 01 April 2015. Volume:704;Page:4. Text is subject to correction.]

3. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement that “falling off a high horse in Northland can force ACC levies up”; if so, is that why the Government has set work and earners levies above the levels recommended by ACC?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I say to the junior leader of the Opposition—

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : —yes and no.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! It is that sort of start to the answer that does not help the order of this House.

But the point had been made – earlier in the week Little tried to talk up his status as ‘Leader of the Opposition’ but after handing over everything to Peters in Northland he is also being overshadowed substantially by Peters in Parliament.

The exchange ended with a a weakly asked question from Little, responded to very strongly by Key.

Little has a double challenge – trying to assert some sort of ascendancy over Peters, and if he manages that trying to go toe to toe with Key.

At least with Russel Norman bowing out of leadership last year’s dominant Opposition leader Little doesn’t have to compete there as well. For now.

But trying to better Peters and equal Key will be difficult, especially since rolling over to Peters in Northland. Parliament now has a three week recess (politicians get a long Easter), giving Little and his strategy team to think of a way of standing tall.

In Parliament yesterday he looked stooped.

The rest of Question 3 transcript:

Andrew Little : Is his concern about horses in Northland really about high horses, or well-run thoroughbreds?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : All I know is that in 2014, like in 2011 and 2008, we went off to the races and we won big time.

Andrew Little : Given that ACC itself has recommended against the $350 million overcharge, why is National forcing Kiwi businesses and workers to pay excess ACC levies that even ACC says it does not want or need?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I would remind the member, firstly, that the ACC board often makes a range of recommendations. In 2010-11 the Government actually increased ACC levies by $1.137 billion less than what was recommended by ACC. Today, actually, I read an interesting quote that said the following: “The Employers’ levy remains the same at an average of 90 cents per $100 of payroll. Although ACC recommended a reduced levy rate of 85 cents, the government decided there was a need to give employers more stability in levy rates from year to year, as well as building up reserves.” That was from Lianne Dalziel, Labour’s ACC Minister in 2002-03.

Andrew Little : Moving on 13 years to this year, is it in the public interest, particularly the interests of levy payers, for ACC to take more in levies than it needs and more than it wants when its work and earners accounts are already overflowing; if so, how?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I take it from the member that he is thinking that we should do as he says, not as Labour has done. That seems to be the subtext of his question. I go back to the point I made earlier. Over time the ACC board has made a series of recommendations. The Government adopts what it thinks is right. It is on track to do that. As you know, from 1 April—today—there have been further cuts. There will be more on 1 July, I think from memory. It is on track for about $1.5 billion worth of cuts in the last 12 to 18 months alone.

Andrew Little : Given his failure to end his ACC rip-off this year, will he now commit to cutting next year’s ACC levies by at least $350 million in the coming Budget; if not, why on earth not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : What the Government will do is get a further set of recommendations, as is required by law, from the ACC board and consider those in context. But I would make a couple of points, and that is that if one looks at ACC and the factors that drive its levy recommendations, one sees that there are a number of moving factors in there, including the discount rate. So the member just better be a little bit careful what he wishes for, because the ACC board may well come out with a recommendation he does not like.

Andrew Little : Why did he fail to tell New Zealanders that most of his ACC reductions were just reversing his Government’s earlier levy hikes, put in place because of Nick Smith’s creative and fake crisis as the smokescreen for privatisation? Why does he not reverse those? Tell the truth.

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : It is true that this Government put up ACC levies when we first came into office. [Interruption] Interestingly enough, the member says “unnecessarily”. The recommendation from the board, which, by the way, he wants us to adopt this year, was to put them up by $1.3 billion, and the reason the board wanted them to go up by so much was that Labour left ACC unfunded and broke. What a disgrace from the Labour Opposition. What a disgrace.

Winston Peters apologises, pledges to work constructively

A very sober looking Winston Peters made several apologies last night and pledged to work constructively, first for the people of Northland who voted for him, second for the good of Parliament and of the country, and third to restore his credibility as a politician (Winston third).

Press Release
Winston Peters (NZ First Party)
31 March 2015

First I want to apologise to the people of Northland for using them as a means of carrying out political utu. I pledge to put their interests first and to work hard and diligently for the betterment of Northland.

Second I apologise the the Speaker David Carter for acting like a petulant child in Parliament and disrespecting the Chair and the House. I am sorry I acted like as bad a winner as Brad Haddin.

Third I apologise to John Key for calling him ‘a spolt brat’ and ‘lad’. I was the one who acted like a childish brat. I respect Key as the Prime Minister and work with him as best I can in a constructive manner for the benefit of Northland and the country.

Fourth I apologise to Andrew Little, who I ran all over after he threw Willow-Jean Prime under my campaign bus. He clapped me as loudly as anyone in the Labour caucus when I first rose in Parliament after my win. I thank him for what he’s done for me and humbly recognise him as the rightful Leader of the Opposition. I will go and talk to him about what I can do for Labour as soon as he summons me.

Now the euphoria of my grand triumph has worn off a bit I pledge to put the interests of the Northland electorate first and foremost, as I promised in the campaign.

I also pledge to start respecting the sanctity of Parliament and authority of the Speaker and act in accordance with positive and constructive politics.

And only my third priority I am determined to restore my dignity and credibility to the highest level it was at over the last forty years of my career.

A senior journalist, who wishes to remain anonymous, remarked “I’m shattered. If Winston reforms and becomes sensible, co-operative and constructive I’ll never get any headlines off him. Which politician will we laud over and promote now?”

Hide on Sabin and National’s corrosive conflict of interest

In his Weekend Herald column Rodney Hide writes of National’s ability to shut up and bury “a corrosive conflict of interest” with regards ex-MP Mike Sabin.

National MPs know how to shut up.

Despite the best efforts of the Parliamentary Opposition and the Fourth Estate, National MPs remain mum about who was responsible for former MP Mike Sabin chairing the Law and Order Select Committee while under police investigation.

Their evasions and refusals made ministers look foolish, tricky and arrogant, but it would be worse for National, I fear, if someone were to own up. The refusal to answer questions wasn’t pretty or nice but it worked.

It appears forever to remain a mystery how Parliament was so abused through such a corrosive conflict of interest.

That’s bad for democracy, justice and Parliament, but jolly good for National.

It does look bad for democracy, justice and Parliament. It may look jolly good for National so far to have swepth an awful embarrasment under the carpet but the yarn may yet unravel.

The courts have indicated they may lift a legal veil of secrecy next month. If attempts to keep things shut up are  unsuccessful (an appeal is likely) that looks like it will happen about a week before the Northland by-election that is necessary to replace Sabin.

National have succeeded so far in keeping key details secret. They may get away with this.

But the risk they have taken is that this may blow up and become one big embarrasment with political payback with accumulated interest.

One thing the media don’t like is being forced not to report on things they think are of public and political interest, or they think will attract viewers and readership.

They may yet pull the rug out from National’s furtive feet.

Strong Parliamentary speech virtually ignored

Most of the immediate media reactions to the opening speeches for the year in Parliament yesterday seemed to be on the trivial and juvenile.

John Kery called Andrew Little a derogatory name, Little snarked nack  and WInston Peters got attention for a bizarre claim that Key colours his hair (ok, that may be more senile than juvenile).

NZ Herald led the trivia with Politicians return to Parliament armed with new jokes and Peters: ‘John Key dyes his hair’. No wonder the public thinks Parliament is crap.

But amongst the hubris a strong speech raising serious issues was almost ignored. Peter Dunne and his United Future Party didn’t have a good last term but managed to survive.

Yesterday Dunne demonstrated that he can still be one of Parliament’s best speakers.

It’s worth highlighting some of the issues he raised. These will be split across the following posts but here is InTheHouse video of his speech.

How not to end your year

David Parker hasn’t had a good year.

ParkerQT11

The Labour policies he contributed significantly to helped lose Labour the election. He then contested and lost the Labour leadership, and looked like that whacked him hard.

Today in the last day of Parliament of the year Parker was the last to try and score a hit for Labour in Question time. It was as successful as his policies and leadership bid.

He seems dispirited and will probably be seriously contemplating his future over the Christmas break.

InTheHouse has somehow stuffed up their last two transcripts for the year, this one is not there. Probably just as well not to be on the record.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,095 other followers