Adjournment speech – David Seymour

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Not in living memory has our country entered an election against such a backdrop of global uncertainty. The medical, economic, and geopolitical impacts of COVID-19 remain unpredictable, but we know that these impacts are on New Zealanders’ businesses, on their household finances, on their jobs, and on their mental health.

We politicians enter this election campaign with a job to do. The world is changing all around us, and our small island nation must find its place anew in that ever changing world.

At the same time, people’s faith in our politics in this Parliament is at an all-time low ebb, and it’s not just the most recent, highly publicised ructions that have led to that low ebb; it is a long period over the past three years of poor quality delivery and poor quality lawmaking. We all know the examples: KiwiBuild, light rail, child poverty, the gun buyback, the oil and gas exploration ban, the Provincial Growth Fund. It’s been one disaster after another.

I think it’s fair to say that we have a disaster Government led by a disaster Prime Minister, because, if it wasn’t for the disasters, what we would have is a long series of let downs, where everything the parties over there promised in 2017 has been a failure.

Let me say that that’s not a personal critique; I happen to like our Prime Minister as a person, and I admire what she’s done holding people together at critical times of disaster. That’s not the problem. The problem is that the world is changing, and a different style of leadership is required. We require problem solving.

We require an open debate about what exactly New Zealand’s public health strategy is, because, at the moment, the Government would have it that we can either remain physically isolated from the world and borrow to paper over the cracks or we can open it up and people will die. In other words, they want us to be either dead broke or dead. I believe that this country deserves an open debate, not a state of fear; asking what we can do, not what we can’t; going country by country when it comes to the border; working together with, not against, the private sector; and embracing technology to augment our public health response.

Those are the principles of a smart public health response, and when we’ve done that, we can start being honest about the debt, because my army of 14-year-old Instagram followers have been sending me messages saying, “David, who is the Government borrowing all this money off and who has to pay it back?” You know, if 14-year-olds can figure out that the Government borrowing $140 billion is a problem, and it is for them, maybe we in this Parliament need to start being honest about this country’s fiscal track.

If we can do those things, we can seize the opportunity of a lifetime: an island nation on a pandemic planet that actually, for once, is the place that skills and capital want to go to—if only we’re prepared to seize the opportunity and stop being so hostile to foreign investment and wealth-creating activity in this country.

That is what New Zealanders need out of this election debate, and that is what the ACT Party brings: a consistent, constructive critique and contribution to the challenges that our country faces at this time, about the challenge of a country finding its place in a world that is changing around it. That’s what New Zealanders need out of this election debate. That’s what the ACT Party will be bringing, and I look forward to a group of independent-minded, thoughtful ACT MPs sitting across here, on the cross-benches, supporting a Government far more competent than the one that we have now.

That is why you give your party vote to ACT. That is a positive future for New Zealand. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Adjournment debate – James Shaw

Hon JAMES SHAW (Minister for Climate Change): E Te Māngai o Te Whare, tēnā koe. It’s always a pleasure to follow the Rt Hon Winston Peters in debate. I’ll miss it, to tell you the truth. Here we are at the final hour of the final day of the 52nd Parliament—our business for the moment complete. I know everybody here is champing at the bit to get out and campaign around the country; trying out their new election slogans. There’s Labour: “Let’s keep moving”, New Zealand First: “Let’s not”.

You could almost see the advertisements, can’t you: “New Zealand First: you can stop progress.” ACT are making a serious play for the assault rifle vote: “The ACT Party: more deadly than serious.” National, of course, have settled on a new leader with a new slogan: “Why vote for the lesser evil?”

Now, it’s not all slogans, of course. Parties will be laying out their policy platforms in advance of the election—or maybe they won’t. But it is important, as we think about the post-COVID rebuild, that voters are aware of the political philosophies that are on offer.

National want to grow the pie, Labour want to share the pie, ACT want you to get your own God damn pie, New Zealand First want a billion pies, and the Greens, of course, say that the growth of the pie is constrained by the size of the oven, and whilst you’re making pie, perhaps you should keep your oven clean, otherwise your tamariki will get really sick. Look, I know that’s not exactly bumper sticker material, but we reckon there’s at least 5 percent in it.

Speaking of which, I did ask my colleagues for the privilege of giving the Greens adjournment debate speech at the closing of this Parliament, particularly so that I could deal with the PTSD I have from election 2017. You see, I also gave the Greens adjournment debate speech at the closure of that Parliament too, and about 15 minutes before I had to come down and speak, I got that evening’s TVNZ poll result, which had us under the threshold at 3.5 percent. The whole time that I was delivering that speech, the thought weighed on my mind that it might well be the very last speech by a Green Party member of Parliament ever.

Well, 10 weeks later we were in Government, and four weeks after that I met the Pope. So I’m just saying, a lot of things can happen in the final six weeks of an election campaign, and I am mostly saying that to give the National Party a good dose of false hope for themselves, but also, honestly, because the reality is that there is a non-zero probability that this speech could also be our last—speaking statistically. Actually, no I was going to tell another statistics joke, but it isn’t significant. [Interruption] Thank you, I’ll be here all night—I actually will, ha, ha!

Actually, I do think that the most likely outcome of this election is that the Greens will be back in Parliament and in Government after the election, but if we aren’t, every one of us—current MPs, former MPs, current and former staff, volunteers, members and supporters—can be tremendously proud of the contribution that we have made as a partner in this, our first Government.

We laid down the path to a zero carbon future for Aotearoa. We made sure that more of our loved ones, our friends, and our neighbours have warm, dry, and safe homes in which to live. We’ve given people all over the country better, cleaner, and safer options for getting to work in the morning and home again at the end of the day.

We’ve expanded conservation and put more people to work restoring and replenishing our native birds, forests, and fish than ever before. Our Government has put an end to new sources of fossil fuels. We championed changes to our democracy and we reformed the way that we tackled domestic and sexual violence.

Standing here today, I can proudly say that because of the progress that we have made, a better, a cleaner, and a more equitable future for Aotearoa New Zealand is closer than it has ever been before.

Now, that is in large part due to the seven committed, passionate, and highly effective Green MPs working alongside me. To each of them, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for making the last three years as fun, as successful, and as weird as it has been. To Gareth Hughes, our friend and colleague, we bid you farewell. Everyone here is going to miss the wisdom and the passion that you bring to this place.

It is because of who we are and what we stand for that after just three years in Government, with only eight MPs, that more people up and down New Zealand can make ends meet, that our economy is greener, and nature is healing.

In those times when we didn’t get everything that we wanted, we didn’t give up, we didn’t get disillusioned, and we kept working, because for thousands of people all across New Zealand, having the Greens in Government shows that we can keep making life better for everyone.

The only way to make sure that the next Government does everything it can not just to navigate ourselves through the present crisis but to build a better world for future generations is to make sure that the Greens are a part of it. We know that we need to get out every vote that we can—we know that.

Right now there are thousands of volunteers working tirelessly in their communities, knocking on doors, picking up the phones, talking to people about where the Green Party wants to take New Zealand in the wake of the pandemic crisis. They keep at it every single day—even amidst all of the nonsense that accompanies every election. To every single one of you, I say thank you. Because of you, I am more optimistic than I have ever been that together we can change the world.

In the three years since the Green Party helped to form this Government, we have never forgotten that every action that we take, future generations are watching. Young people don’t look at this place the same way that others do. They don’t see the political point-scoring in what we do. They don’t see the one-liners and the headline grabbing antics; rather, our ideas and our actions are the prism through which they see their future.

When the polls open in four weeks’ time, that is what we are deciding; not which individuals will fill these seats, but who together will have the power to shape the kind of country that our children and our grandchildren will grow up in.

I do want to thank the Labour Party and New Zealand First for your partnership and your hard work over the last three years—in particular, the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and the Rt Hon Winston Peters—thank you. Everything that we have done, we have done together. Thank you to all of the people who make this place, especially those who work the longest hours for the least pay. Thank you, Mr Speaker. As I said in 2017, we’ll see you in six weeks. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Adjournment debate – Winston Peters

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister): Thank you very much. That was eyebrow-raising stuff—and I don’t use Botox! All that criticism, for almost 10 minutes, and not one new idea. Out there in the provinces, in the hamlets of this country, all those people who were expecting something at least now, at the start of this campaign, from the leader of the National Party just got carp, can’t, and criticism, but no vision, no plan, no policy.

Worse still, after nine years of doing nothing about the Resource Management Act, she says we’re at fault. Extraordinary. This is somebody who’s a trained lawyer saying that sort of stuff. [Hon Judith Collins stands] Don’t go now—this is your best chance to learn something!

Can I say to all the staff here—the cleaners; the caterers; the guards; the drivers; library and Hansard and many office staff; and you, Mr Speaker, and your staff, who have been of great assistance to us, sometimes not as much as usual but usually of great assistance to us—thank you very, very much. And can I say to my colleagues in New Zealand First that our caucus has been united by consensus decision-making—

Hon Member: Goodbye.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —hard work, and civility. I’ll be around long after you’re gone, sunshine, and I was here for decades before you arrived. Don’t you feel bad?

The quality of our caucus has been very, very good, so thanks to you, as well as to our parliamentary and ministerial staff. And to the seventh floor of the Beehive, thank you for your—in inverted commas—frank advice. It’s been an excellent office to work for, the very best, and can I say that coming up to night time, at about five to six when we stop for a quiz, they are absolutely brilliant, as Grant Robertson can attest to.

Can I say, we made the right decision on 19 October 2017.

Hon Member: You don’t sound very enthusiastic.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: You know, I cannot believe that you’d be so youthful in shouting out these shibboleths when you know nothing or you’re the living proof for what George Bernard Shaw said: “He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything.”—which truly points to a career in politics. Good God.

It was a tough choice for caucus—

Hon Member: You’ve been telling those jokes for 40 years.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —and for our board colleagues, but three years—well, not as big a joke as you are, my colleague. But three years on and we have no regrets. National had run out of answers. It was making and framing the wrong questions, and only a change of course was going to allow the policy transformation that we sought.

When this term began and through the first months, you can remember the cacophony of sound from some in the media that the Government wouldn’t last. Well, last we have. Providing stable and constructive Government again is now an undeniable fact, and we’re proud of our record. We recall the media trepidation, Prime Minister, when you said that you were going to have a baby. Well! The sky was going to fall in. “The Government will hit the rocks.”—that was the basic refrain of the proletariat. But the ship of state didn’t flounder; it kept on sailing calmly throughout until you came back.

We stand on our record in office for what we’ve achieved, for honouring the commitments, for leaving the country in a better position after inheriting nine years of neo-liberal neglect. What’s worse with these neo-liberals is they don’t even understand the philosophy. It shows up every day, because so many of them have never been in business, and their chief articulator wouldn’t know what a business was or is, and that’s the truth.

No less than the New Zealand Herald, though, just recently said—and it’s not one of our most vocal fans, the New Zealand Herald, but they trumpeted our 80-plus percent success rate in getting our coalition agreement policies delivered. It’s because of our steady focus on delivering the coalition agreement, and we’ve never softened from it. If you doubt that, ask some of my colleagues on this side of the Chamber.

We’re here to get by and to work hard with two other parties: the Labour Party, being our coalition partner, and also the support party for the Labour Party in terms of the Greens. We were never forced to agree. If we did, we wouldn’t be three separate parties. We wanted the narrative to be more intelligent, more wise, and more factual and actual. The Prime Minister announced that we’ve got over 190 bills passed. That suggests that we have got by on agreeing on most of the things, or, if we couldn’t, that we got to a compromise and got there in the end.

A hundred and ninety is a staggering testimony to progress. History will judge the coalition agreement as one of the most significant agreements in modern political history, and here’s why: we signalled a long-term strategic plan to rebuild our country, and we had the audacity to demand it—to demand that we had things like a billion trees, which was unthought of; to demand that we spend $3 billion out in neglected provincial New Zealand, the places we go to and get elbowed aside every day by National Party members, whilst they come down here and use the clown—sorry, I can’t say that; use the MP from Epsom—to downgrade with a cacophony of envy every time, as though Epsom and he know anything about the Kaitāias, the Invercargills, the west and east coasts of this country, the very people who drive the economy to pay his salary. He dumps on it.

And the Prime Minister said they’re going to go out and two votes for blue. Well, I’ve just been to Tauranga recently and the Bay of Plenty, and guess what I saw—guess what I saw. I saw the photographs, the posters up there, of three National Party leaders: Mr Bridges, Mr Muller, and Judith Collins. Three, all up in the same province, in the same area in the Western Bay of Plenty. No wonder the people down there are confused—terribly confused.

Chris Bishop: One of them is the one who beat you.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Mr Bishop, leave it alone. I mean, that member’s got a long way to go before he’s going to be frontbench material. He just hasn’t got the learning capacity. He doesn’t seem to be able to absorb that the most fundamental thing in this business is to do your homework and get the facts right—be impervious to attack because you got the facts right. Let me say, when the Provincial Growth Fund came under attack, guess what they tried to do about it. They tried to say it was a slush fund.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: It is.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: There is Gerry Brownlee saying it is a slush fund. Well, you know, the people of Christchurch would have wished he’d have done something too, because he was in charge of its rebuild, and I’ve never seen someone so incompetent. Of course, people don’t realise that Gerry Brownlee’s experience in business is five weeks running an illegal casino, before Winston Peters outed him and the president of the National Party, one Goodfellow. Five weeks running an illegal casino, and a colleague across the House, namely yours truly, outed him, and that’s his total business experience. Those National Party people up in the gallery who were cheering don’t know that, do they?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes, they do.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: They’re not cheering now. Oh, they do.

Can I say that in this time, we preserved the SuperGold card. We got it improved. We got over 5,000 new business, 130,000 people using the app, and we’ve got another improvement coming in the future. But on top of that, in the last Budget we secured one eye test for superannuitants a year—that will save 5,000 to 7,000 people from going blind, by early identification—and one free doctor’s visit. If only one of those people in the hundred doesn’t go to the hospital as a result of that test, it’s fiscally neutral.

These are the far-sighted plans that New Zealand First has, and we thank the Labour Party and, dare I say it, the Greens for ensuring that this was maintained.

It’s critical, but we know for whom the ferry will call if they get into power, because their last outing when it came to super wasn’t very good. They promised to get rid of the surtax, and when they got in, they put it up to 92c in the dollar. That fellow in Epsom—that’s exactly what he will do, because he’s going to save $82 billion of expenditure.

I can see why you people aren’t smiling any more, because they’re seriously shaken. If he’s going to save $82 billion of expenditure, guess who’s going to feel the pain for that—and it won’t be Gerry Brownlee. It won’t be their front bench—no, no. It’ll be all those people who were fooled to go and vote for them in the first place. Every economist has said that’s impossible.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: No, they haven’t.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Oh yes they have. Well, if the number one spokesman for the National Party is a woodwork teacher, you can see what their problem is.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: That’s right—that’s right. Winston hates the workers.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Hear that? He thinks that noise and bluster substitutes for policy. Excuse me. The National Party may be making a comeback sometime, but it’s not any time soon. I’m saddened by that, because the people of this country need a sound, strong Opposition. They need people of talent and capability, and they need far better than what they’re getting now. So to our people out there, our message is: hang on. The campaign starts on Saturday morning, and help is on its way. Thank you very much.

Adjournment debate – Judith Collins

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Leader of the Opposition): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Firstly, I’d like to turn to acknowledge those who are here today and I wish to start—not to end—with thanks. Those thanks are to yourself, Mr Speaker, for the job you do, even though sometimes I’m sure it’s quite difficult—we certainly find it quite difficult, actually. Can I also thank all the other parliamentarians who are here and for those who have decided to leave us at the end of this term, thank you for your contribution—

Hon Chris Hipkins: Too many to name.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: —and to helping making this such a good place. Of course there’s a lot of members of the Labour Party, as the Hon Chris Hipkins is just mentioning, who will be leaving. They may not be planning it, but they’ll be going their way home. Thank you very much.

Can I also thank all of the National team. Thank you, team; it’s about time. It’s about time. Thank you for putting your faith in me and thank you, particularly, to the Hon Simon Bridges and Todd Muller for the support that they have been able to give me in helping us through to this transition. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Can I also take the opportunity to thank all those who work in Parliament and around the precinct. Can I particularly thank the Clerk of the House, the Office of the Clerk staff, the Table Office, the Bills Office, Hansard, select committee staff, the messengers, security, the catering and, particularly, the cleaning staff who often work in hours when we are not here. Can I thank the amazing team at the library and all of my staff who I must say recently have grown to such an enormous number I can’t remember everyone’s names, but that comes with the office.

Can I thank everybody who has kept Parliament running through the COVID-19 lockdowns making sure that we could actually have some form of democracy, even though it seemed extremely limited at the time. And a big thank you to the National Party team, then led by the Hon Simon Bridges, who made sure that there was actually an Opposition voice despite the best efforts for there to be otherwise. So thank you for everybody for doing that.

I’ve just heard the Prime Minister make what I think is going to be one of those speeches that we’re going to look on and we’re going to say, “Well, that was very interesting, wasn’t it?”, because she is going to be more famous than usual and that is going to be because she will be a one-term Labour leader. And that is what I’m here to tell her today. I’m here to tell her today that the last one was Bill Rowling and, good for her, she’s about to join him.

Now, I think it is really important that when we look at our energised and extremely, extremely united team, which is full of extraordinary talent—

Hon Phil Twyford: Where are they? Where have they gone?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I look instead, I look instead—Phil Twyford’s asking, “Where have they gone?” Well, Phil Twyford, he’s clearly one of the best performers of Jacinda Ardern’s Government, now promoted to No. 4. Well, what does that say about the rest of them? What does it say about the rest of them when they’ve got Phil Twyford at No. 4 and he’s ahead of Dr Megan Woods and Chris Hipkins and just about everybody else. What does that say and what does it say about the excellent work of the Hon Kelvin Davis at No. 2. Isn’t that amazing, wonderful—when there’s so much talent, so much talent.

Let’s just have a look at what, though, is facing New Zealand. This is going to be an extremely important election because it’s about who is going to be best able to manage what has been described by the New Zealand Reserve Bank as the biggest economic downturn in 160 years. That is even older than our dear friend Rt Hon Winston Peters. That is 160 years and what did I just hear from the Prime Minister, the leader of the Labour Party? What I hear from the leader of the Labour Party: a whole lot of pixie dust and talking about how everything’s just going to be fine. That’s what I heard. An awful lot of dust; dust—that was all it was.

Let’s just look at this. Let’s look at the numbers that Jacinda Ardern did not wish to say. Let’s look at the 212,000 New Zealanders who are now receiving the unemployment benefit—212,000 New Zealanders. Surely they need a bit better than being told, “It’s all fine. We’re in charge.” They need something better than that. And how about the 450,000 New Zealanders who are having to receive the wage subsidy? There are 450,000 New Zealanders whose jobs are being kept in place because of the $13 billion that the Government has borrowed in order to keep them in employment.

We agreed with it. We agreed with it because we had to do something. We had to do something. But in that time, in that time, a good finance Minister—a good finance Minister—would have thought of a plan to take us out of it, because it’s really easy to close the border. It’s really easy to close the border and to say to people, “Well, we only live so far away for the rest of the world.” Of course, it’s easy to close the border. It’s easy to close down the economy.

The hard thing is to get that economy back going again, particularly when two of our biggest export markets, like international tourism and international education, have been, effectively, closed down. And who have got in charge from the Government to look after international tourism? Well, we’ve got the Hon Kelvin Davis, so what could go wrong? What could possibly go wrong? I can’t even remember who’s in charge of international education from that side because we’ve never heard of them.

So we’ve got the one shining light in the New Zealand economy, which is agriculture—agriculture, an industry that has been in a sector that has been bagged for years by that Government. They hated agriculture. Remember that? They put Damien O’Connor in charge, which shows you how much they thought of it. Absolutely hated it. Remember that, how the farmers with the dirty dairying—dirty dairying, all this sort of stuff. Now, suddenly, farmers are back being trendy. Now, suddenly, farmers are woke. Actually, thankfully, farmers will never be woke. They’ll always be on trend. And the trend is National. That’s where they’re going to be.

I want to say to this Government, “Resource Management Act (RMA) reform.” We’re getting rid of it. Now, suddenly, after three years, they say, “Oh, a working group told us it was a bad thing.” A working group told them it was a bad thing. I wrote to David Parker last year about this time and I said, “The two biggest parties in Parliament should agree on RMA reform. Let’s sort it out together.” He sent me back a letter on his letterhead with, basically, a one-fingered salute. That’s the sort of response you get from a Government like that—a nasty, nasty little response. So we will be getting rid of it. We will get rid of it. We will be putting in place an environmental standards Act and we will be putting in place a planning and development Act. And they will not be the same that that lot would—they’re entirely different.

I would like to say too, let’s just think about some of the shovel-ready projects we’ve been hearing about. Where are they? Where is this list? Poor old Phil Twyford—Hon Phil Twyford—and Shane Jones put out a letter, a press release, on April Fool’s Day this year saying out to the local councils, “Give us your shovel-ready list and we’ll get you the funding. We’ll be there with you. We’ll help you.” What’s happened to that shovel-ready list? Not much at all. Seventy-five percent of them haven’t been announced and dear old Shane Jones has gone and announced to us all the reason they’re not announced is it doesn’t quite work with either his schedule or the Prime Minister’s schedule. Well, that’s a bit of a shame, isn’t it?

How about getting people back into work? Not only do we have 212,000 people on the unemployment benefit at the moment we’ve got 200,000 highly skilled people, most in the construction area, who are underemployed. That means there’s not actually enough work for them. Why wouldn’t we have those people in work? They should not be reliant on a ministerial visit to tell them they’ve got a job. That is not good enough. That is absolutely washing your hands of the situation, Mr Jones.

And what are we going to do? Well, I’ll tell you what, we’re not going to stick up taxes, not like that party will. Why didn’t the Prime Minister talk to us about her secret tax list: the asset tax, the wealth tax, or, dare I say it, the death tax. I mean, having to pay a tax just because you die, that’s a terrible thing.

Now, let’s have a look at this little track record that she’s talked about: KiwiBuild. Wasn’t that good—KiwiBuild. She went to the last election promising 100,000 houses in 10 years, 16,000 the first term. How many have they got—380, oh, 385, apparently. How about roads? What happened there? They stopped. Electric cars—remember, they were going to electrify the fleet, the Government fleet. I understand they’ve got 45. They’ve got 45. And then we had light rail. Remember where that is—somewhere stuck on the ghost train up Mount Roskill.

And talk about New Zealand First—I know the Rt Hon Winston Peters wants to talk. He’ll tell you he’s a handbrake on them. No, he’s not. He’s the enabler. There’s only one reason the Greens are in Government, and that’s because Mr Peters went their way.

So let’s just say this. The Prime Minister may wish to give us all a “sweetness and light” talk, but actually it’s time for reality. The New Zealand people need to know they have a Government that needs to know what to do. And this Government on this side does. And my message, my final message, to the people of New Zealand is this: there’s one way to take charge of life—two ticks blue.

Adjournment Debate – Jacinda Ardern

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): I move, That the House do now adjourn until 2 p.m. on Tuesday,18 August 2020.

Kia orana and kia ora koutou katoa. It is a privilege to be able to speak in this adjournment debate and to mark and acknowledge the fact that we are now two years and 10 months into the conclusion of a parliamentary term that has been extraordinary in so many ways.

Two years and 10 months is a very short period of time, and yet a remarkable amount can happen. We started as three parties campaigning in the 2017 election, often on very separate issues but often on areas for which we could all agree, and from the moment that we emerged from negotiations with our confidence and supply agreement and our coalition agreement, it was clear to New Zealand where those issues were, where the consensus was, for this Government. We believed in regional economic development.

We believed in addressing the housing crisis. We believed in swimmable rivers and turning them around within a generation. We believed in tackling child poverty, decades worth of issues that compound inequality, and we believed that we could be world leaders on the issue of climate change.

This Government was formed because we believed that New Zealand could be and should be better and kinder, and two years and 10 months later, here we are having passed, I understand, close to 190 pieces of legislation. If there’s proof of considerable consensus in a Government, it’s the fact that we’ve passed more legislation than comparable Governments over the last four terms, as I understand, and, along the way, prompting a lot of interest from the Opposition given they asked us 111,600 questions—and I understand about 100,000 of them went to Shane Jones alone.

Despite being one of the purest forms of MMP Government that New Zealand has seen for some time, we have made landmark decisions. We passed the zero carbon Act and set up a framework for the future, carbon budgets that I know will make a difference for generations to come.

Early on, we made a decision to look forward, to set a path around fossil fuel extraction in New Zealand that said there would be no further offshore oil and gas exploration. We invested in Taranaki and their transition plan, opening a new energy research centre and investing in a hydrogen roadmap for the future of New Zealand.

We came to a landmark agreement with primary producers over dealing with some of the biggest contributors to our emissions profile in New Zealand. No one else in the world has been able to do what New Zealand has done.

We passed child poverty legislation, and much more than that: of the nine child poverty indicators in New Zealand, seven out of them are now improving under this Government. We know material deprivation is one of the hardest to turn around, which is why we’re investing in things like food in schools to make a direct difference to those families.

We passed essential freshwater reforms, and I acknowledge the efforts of David Parker, because that has been an intensive, generation-changing piece of work that will make a significant difference for those many, many years to come.

We are building more houses than any Government since the 1970s, and not only were we on track and are on track to meet our goal of 6,400 public housing places; we’ve now extended ourselves and said with the COVID recovery and rebuild, we want to build another 8,000 houses to house our families.

We are investing in regional infrastructure up and down the country. You will find projects that are making a difference to communities. Whether it’s the pool in Naenae, the surf club in Tai Rāwhiti, or the rugby club for Poverty Bay, these are projects that create jobs and contribute to community wellbeing.

We have made the most significant changes to mental health this country has ever seen. We not only have invested over a billion dollars in mental health; we’ve started the rollout of new front-line services and training those individuals who will make a difference to make sure that people, when they need that help, can get it at their iwi provider, at their GP, wherever and whenever they need.

We’ve increased paid parental leave. We brought in the winter energy payment. We have indexed benefits to wage increases. The Children’s Commissioner said some of these changes would make the biggest difference to child poverty that we have seen in decades.

Even alongside that, we’ve seen in this House abortion law reform, changes to make sure that every single child in New Zealand will learn New Zealand history—the things that make a difference to people’s lives. We have done all of that whilst also, pre-COVID, getting our debt down to under 20 percent relative to GDP, getting our unemployment levels down to some of the lowest levels in a decade, and some of the highest private sector wage growth we had seen in a decade. All of that had prepared us for what was to come.

In many, many ways, this term will be remembered for what was unplanned as much as what was planned, and in acknowledging that, I actually want to acknowledge, first and foremost, the community of Christchurch and, of course, our Muslim community across Aotearoa New Zealand; I want to acknowledge the community of Whakatāne, because those tragedies, 15 March and Whakaari / White Island, first and foremost, were tragedies that happened in those places to those communities, and we will never forget that.

Through all of this, though, has been our coalition partner and our confidence and supply partners. We would not be here without you. Of course, during this campaign, there will be lots of sprinkling of dust and glitter and whatever else we may choose to call it. There’ll be lots of shovelling of other figurative things.

None of that, for me personally, will ever diminish what this Government and these three parties and these leaders have achieved, and so I say to the Deputy Prime Minister, I say to Marama and to James, thank you. Thank you to New Zealand First, and thank you to the Greens. I’m immensely proud of what we have collectively done for Aotearoa New Zealand.

I also want to pay special tribute to those members of those parties who have not been Ministers but MPs. I know sometimes your positions have been amongst the hardest, and I want to acknowledge that your contribution has been as important in this Parliament as any of ours.

I now wish to finish with words of thanks. I start with my own team. They are exceptionally hard-working, they are grounded, they are here because of their community, and they are strong. I acknowledge all of you, my Labour team. To the people who work in this place—to the Speaker; to the Clerk’s Office; to those who work in our parliamentary offices, from Hansard to libraries to Bellamy’s; we’ll have a chance to come back and say thank you, but for all of this term and keeping this place powered and your democracy working, you have our thanks.

Finally, this election is not what we had planned. It is fair to say this campaign that we’re about to embark on is not the campaign that we planned and prepared for six months ago, nor will our manifesto be the same as it would’ve been had we released it in January of this year, but that is the reality of politics and the reality of this world that we’re living in right now.

But I can tell you this: the values that we campaigned on in 2017, the aspirations that we had coming into this place, remain unchanged. Our plans to keep creating high-wage jobs are as important now as they ever were. On supporting our job creators; on ridding this country of child poverty; on making a transition to a clean, green, carbon-neutral economy; we’ve started that journey, and now we want to finish it. Let’s keep moving.

Green flip-flop on waka jumping riles NZ First

There may be a bit of payback with the Green party support of a National MP bill repealing the waka jumping bill that they supported in 2018 due to ‘honouring the coalition agreement’.

NZ First aren’t happy, saying the Greens can’t be trusted, but there’s a large dollop of pot calling kettle black there.

NZ First and Labour made a commitment in their coalition agreement:

Introduce and pass a ‘Waka Jumping’ Bill.

From the Labour-Green agreement:

Both parties to this agreement recognise that Labour will be working with other parties both in terms of coalitions and confidence and supply arrangements.

Labour agrees that it will not enter into any other relationship agreement which is inconsistent with this agreement and the Green Party and Labour agree that they will each act in good faith to allow all such agreements to be complied with.

Because of this Greens voted for the bill in 2018 despite opposing it. But they are now supporting a repeal of the members’ bill currently before Parliament – ELECTORAL (INTEGRITY REPEAL) AMENDMENT BILL

Rt Hon DAVID CARTER (National):

I haven’t canvassed other political parties, and I acknowledge that Labour advanced the legislation I’m attempting to repeal early in 2018, but I’m certainly hoping all members will give careful consideration to this bill, because this bill attempts to actually put integrity back into our electoral system. It’s about improving the integrity of our system.

To become a member of Parliament isn’t easy, and having got here, whether you come as an Independent—which is a very fraught way—or you come as a member of Parliament, you come with a conscience. You come with a responsibility to form an opinion on issues and to speak with your conscience, if you’re a list MP, or, if you’re an electorate MP, to speak with a conscience that represents the people that elected you to this House. Though this bill is about allowing MPs to exercise that conscience, it’s about not coming to this Parliament to simply be—as some members of Parliament have described in the past—cannon fodder, or a puppet to a political party.

Now, we all know the history of this legislation that I’m attempting to change today. It was the price of the current Government—the Labour – New Zealand First – Green Government—doing a deal with New Zealand First, and I know why he needs that sort of control. History tells us.

I want to just, in conclusion, in my last couple of minutes, note for the House the number of times dissension has actually been significant and relevant to the New Zealand parliamentary process. I can think myself, long before I was here, of Marilyn Waring, in 1984. She threatened to cross the floor, and caused the well-known snap election that caused the end of the Muldoon era. Jim Anderton, a loyal member of the Labour Party, until he argued that the Labour Party had left him and his principles, so he set up The Alliance party. Dame Tariana Turia, one of the most respected members of Parliament I’ve had the privilege of working with, didn’t agree with the Labour Party. She said so, walked out, and started her own party—the Māori Party—which made a significant contribution to New Zealand’s democracy.

And Mr Peters himself, a member of the National caucus, disagreed with National, walked out, formed his own party, and no one can argue that it hasn’t been a significant contributor to New Zealand politics over that time.

So there will be robust debate around this bill. I certainly hope the Green Party will be careful with its contribution and will deliberate carefully, because I note as I read their contributions last time that they were never comfortable with being forced into the position of supporting this legislation.

Greg O’Connor and Peeni Henare both spoke, saying the Labour would oppose the bill.

Then Tracey Martin from NZ First spoke:

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (NZ First): Kia ora, Madam Speaker. I rise on behalf of New Zealand First to oppose the bill. What we are seeing, and the New Zealand public needs to understand, is this is a personal vendetta by two members who feel that they have been personally slighted some 20-odd years ago. That is what this is about. And the member’s bill ballot has finally provided them with an opportunity to take a dig.

The New Zealand First Party does not believe that this is how this House should be used, for personal vendettas. The purpose of the original bill—

Hon Members: Ha, ha!

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: And what you hear, ladies and gentlemen, is the sense of entitlement that wafts away from Mr Carter and Mr Smith. They believe that they are elected and once they are elected, even if they choose to deny the platform upon which they were elected, that you must suffer them.

And I say to the Green Party: there is a time and a place to stand up and keep one’s word. There is a time and a place to acknowledge commitments made and stick with them, and I’ll be interested to see later tonight whether the Green Party has the integrity to vote their word, as opposed to deciding in the final days of a Parliament that they don’t need a relationship any more, going forward, that they don’t need to keep an agreement or a word given, and we will see what the Green Party does with regard to their integrity. We do not support the bill.

Chloe Swarbrick spoke for the Greens:

Everybody has stood up tonight and given pretty high and mighty speeches. There’s been a lot of talk about principle, but the fact of the matter is, is not all too many people have actually acknowledged the machinations behind the scenes here tonight, and that is politics. The Parliament of Aotearoa New Zealand is, as I think most in this House would be aware, one of the most whipped in the world. What that means is that even though we have heard some speeches from members of the Opposition about the importance of things like freedom of speech, you’ve still had a speech from one of your departing members today who spoke to the fact that they had to vote against what they felt was their conscience in coming forward with a caucus position.

There’s also the case, as was noted by members on this side of the House, the fact of the matter that we have a very tribalist system. I think all of us have seen just how ugly that can get. That adversarial system has produced some of the worst behaviour in this place. But on top of that it has resulted in some very archaic first past the post thinking, particularly in what the major parties see and characterise as safe seats. I think that’s a great example, actually, of the flaws of our present adversarial system.

There’s been a lot of talk about the Greens from speeches of both the Opposition and governing parties tonight. I think that it’s really important that we are deeply clear…

And that the Opposition doesn’t heckle me right now, because the Greens will honour our 20 year position on voting on this legislation tonight in much the same way that we honoured the coalition agreements and voting for the legislation that originally put it into place…

So, maybe politics would be a whole lot better if politicians stop talking about themselves as we are tonight. If politicians want a code of conduct, as we’re talking about, and how we treat each other, particularly within our parties, then perhaps we could best start by all signing up to the recommendations of the Francis review. The Greens commend this bill to the House.

A party vote was called for on the question,That the Electoral (Integrity Repeal) Amendment Bill be read a first time.

Ayes 64

New Zealand National 54; Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand 8; ACT New Zealand 1; Ross.

Noes 55

New Zealand Labour 46; New Zealand First 9.

Bill read a first time.

Outside of Parliament it was leaders James Shaw and Winston Peters clashing.

Just over two years ago Parliament passed the controversial waka-jumping legislation after the Green Party voted in favour of something they’d spent decades opposing.

RNZ: James Shaw and Winston Peters go head to head over waka-jumping

The Electoral Integrity Amendment Bill was born out of the Labour-New Zealand First coalition deal.

It requires MPs who quit, or are expelled from a political party, to leave Parliament then and there.

The Greens hate the bill and think it is anti-democratic and draconian but co-leader James Shaw begrudgingly gave his party’s support to it in 2018.

In a complete reversal, the Greens last night threw their support behind a bill to repeal it, enraging New Zealand First.

There may be some utu in this as well as the greens going back to their principles – NZ First have not honoured their coalition agreement in opposing Green policies.

New Zealand First has a track record of pulling support for Labour-Green policies at the eleventh hour.

There’s been the capital gains tax, cameras on fishing boats, and more recently light rail from Auckland city to the airport.

Peters said comparisons can’t be drawn between light rail and waka-jumping.

“We did the work on light rail, the costings and the analysis did not back it up.”

He said the Greens’ were breaking their end of the deal.

“They’re signed up to the coalition agreement on this matter for three years and that term does not end until the 19th of September.”

Peters said the Greens can’t be trusted and voters should remember that on election day.

Polls suggest voters trust NZ First (and Peters in particular) less than the Greens.

Shaw rejected that criticism.

“I think it’s a bit rich for Winston to suggest that we’re not trustworthy when in fact they’re the ones who have been entirely slippery with the interpretation of our confidence and supply agreement.”

Shaw said his party is fed up with New Zealand First not sticking to the spirit of an agreement.

“I would say that in recent times we have learned that it’s the letter of the agreement, rather than the spirit of the agreement, that’s what counts when it comes to New Zealand First.

“So when it comes to the repeal of the party-hopping bill I would say that we have observed exactly the letter of our agreement.”

So is he just playing the same political games as Peters?

“Well I learn from the master,” Shaw fired back.

Both parties are fighting for their political lives. Greens are polling just over the threshold, NZ First well under. Having spats like this may raise their profiles but it probably won’t raise their chances of surviving the election.

Sarah Dowie – valedictory swipe at media

Sarah Dowie mostly kept out of the spotlight as National MP for Invercargill since 2014, until it was revealed that she had had an affair with Jami-Lee Ross and had sent him a controversial text.

From Wikipedia:

On 25 January 2019, Dowie was revealed as the MP who had an affair with fellow MP Jami-Lee Ross. Ross had disclosed this in October 2018, but the news media chose not to name her at the time. After it was learned that a police investigation had been launched into a text message allegedly sent by Dowie to Ross, media revealed her identity.

However, the police decided that no further action was needed

In 2019 Dowie was re-selected by National in Invercargill unopposed, but in February 2020 announced her decision not to stand for re-election.

Dowie addressed her treatment by the media in her valedictory speech.

According to the more experienced politician, everyone has an annus horribilis. Mine hit full peak in January 2019, and I didn’t think my personal life was too out of the ordinary until my name scrolled across The AM Show‘s newsreel, bumping Brexit as the lead story. While it’s clear I had made some poor choices, the fact that a press gallery reporter was live providing analysis brought the whole sorry affair to a new level. In my eyes, it can only be described as comical. She was maniacal, could hardly get her words out, and she didn’t have the nous to work out the difference between a complaint, investigation, charge, and proceedings. What followed was worse: a litany of diatribe from even the so-called reputable outlets. At best, some comments could be called wide of the mark. Others were just downright lies. In hindsight, I question whether I should have sued some publications.

One article claimed I ran on family values in 2014. I absolutely did not. The journalist wrote that story without seeking confirmation of facts. It’s irresponsible, lazy, and just downright wrong. A subsequent article on the Politik website suggested I only got promoted because of my alliances—nothing about me holding a law or science degree, having practised and worked for the Department of Conservation. One other paper said I’m not a conservation naive, but for some reason, in 2019, my qualifications and experience were overlooked in favour of the salacious. These stories made taking the high road a very bitter pill to swallow. Nevertheless, I rose above it, continued to front and show up to work.

Compared with recent events where media analysis lasted only a couple of news cycles, the speculation and rubbish continued for me for weeks on end. One woman said to me recently, “Sarah, you were absolutely trashed in the media in 2019, and yet these other MPs experience a couple of media cycles of scrutiny and hide behind mental health issues for their bad behaviour.” The antithesis is the hypocrisy of the media calling for a clean up of politicians. Yes, we are representatives and should take responsibility for poor behaviour, but we are not elected as angels. We too are human and make mistakes, just as journalists do and have. But when a predator is able to manipulate the media for his agenda and the media is directly party to it, it is the media fraternity that needs to audit themselves as to their ethics and their conscious peddling of sexism and patriarchy. If it takes me to be New Zealand’s scarlet woman to highlight this, then so be it.

New Zealand has a long way to go with how we view women. Successive Governments have been concerned with eliminating all forms of violence against women. Violence does not stop at the physical and sexual, and from what I’ve seen and experienced, it seems that unless a woman loses her life, they are afforded very little sympathy for situations or circumstances they find themselves in—ones in which they can’t control.

It’s that underlying patriarchal view that persists in New Zealand that stimulates this. “She shouldn’t have been travelling alone.” “She shouldn’t have led him on.” “She should have seen the signs earlier.” “She should not have been wearing that skirt.” What about: “No, she deserves justice and an environment where she feels safe to report abuse.

What is surprising and deeply disappointing to me is that in some cases these views are held by women who can be most vicious in their criticisms. You cannot legislate for a women’s code, but policy can re-educate. We should encourage everyone to encourage women to contribute to our communities, and we should build a society that enables our daughters to achieve all their hopes and dreams and to do so without judgment or guilt.

Therefore, I am not unchanged from the experience of being an MP. People often say to me, “Why on earth would you want to be an MP?” referring to the endless criticisms—some fair, some not; the hours of work; the arduous travel schedule; endless days away from family and your home; and, even when you are at home or off the clock, eagerly watching for media alerts. Being an MP is all consuming; it’s not like normal employment where you get to switch off at the end of the day.

Her parliamentary experience was not all bad.

But we do not walk alone. We seek out a pack for camaraderie and support, and I have been so fortunate during my lifetime in politics to meet some of the very best men and women in New Zealand, to call them my friends, and I will be eternally thankful for their care. In particular, I mention four colleagues who came in with me in 2014.

We have spent countless days and nights in each other’s company, experiencing the highs and lows of Parliament and life. Brett Hudson, Stuart Smith, Matt Doocey, and Todd Barclay. We are the self-proclaimed breakfast club of misfits, acutely comfortable in our own skin, never actively seeking limelight—[Member hands Dowie a box of tissues] Thank you—but quietly going about our jobs, doing them well and with skill. That shouldn’t be underestimated or underrated.

I thank them from the bottom of my heart for being there in the dark times, for taking me under their wings like a sister and protecting me. I also thank you for the endless laughter and gibes and the ability not to take ourselves too seriously. These friendships are what restore my trust and faith in people. To the class of ’14, a family of alphas, each in our own niche, yet a group that has fitted together like a jigsaw and now withstood two terms without any falling outs, you are talented, kind, and compassionate, and I value each and every one of you.

She concluded:

In conclusion, I refer to the lines of The Breakfast Club, and I tailor them for the context of Parliament.

Dear media, we accept that we had to sacrifice part of our lives in your scrutiny for whatever it is we did wrong, but we MPs think you are crazy to make us write a valedictory telling us who you think we are. You see us how you want to see us—in the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions. But what each of us found out is that one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the breakfast club.

Media have a very important job to do in a democracy, but they would do well to reflect on their own behaviour at times, when they relentlessly pursue MPs in order to make their own headlines.

Good cause, good speeches, good Parliament – bereavement leave for miscarriage

Some very good speeches for a very good cause in Parliament yesterday for the Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill (No 2) — Second Reading. It helps that all parties have worked positively together and are are in general agreement

Parliament often gets negative coverage, and that can be for good reason. I was able to with Oral Questions (question time) yesterday and it was relatively mild but full of pointless and patsy questions, often repeated, and avoided answers. This from question 8:

Chris Bishop: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker This is a question on notice, and the second part of the primary question about how many projects have completed due diligence but are unannounced I don’t believe was actually addressed by the Minister.

SPEAKER: I think it was addressed. It wasn’t answered, but it was addressed.

What’s the point in having questions that are supposed to hold Ministers and the Government to account when they don’t have to be answered?

But following Question Time was some of the best Parliament I have seen. The Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage bill was a private member’s bill introduced by Ginny Andersen, Labour list MP.

Most of those speaking for the Bill are MPs we don’t see much of.

GINNY ANDERSEN (Labour):

I move, That the Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill (No 2) be now read a second time.

At the moment, New Zealanders are entitled to bereavement leave after the loss of a family member or child, but that does not include loss through miscarriage or through stillbirth. This bill enables a simple change that allows existing bereavement leave to be automatically made available for those families that have been through a miscarriage or a stillbirth.

It is important that we allow families time to grieve, and I know for a fact that this is a sensitive topic that affects many families in New Zealand. I believe that it is important that parents know they have the right in law to grieve after a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Currently, the bereavement leave provisions of the Holidays Act 2003 are ambiguous in their application to miscarriage. Employees are entitled to three days’ bereavement leave on the death of a child, but it is unclear whether this would also apply when a pregnancy ends in miscarriage or in stillbirth. This ambiguity means that an employee’s entitlement is left at the discretion of the employer, and some families have not been able to take much needed time to grieve.

My bill makes a very simple change: it allows families certainty that they have a legal right to access bereavement leave following a miscarriage or stillbirth. This bill removes the ambiguity by making it clear that, at the unplanned end of a pregnancy by miscarriage or stillbirth, this constitutes grounds for bereavement leave and that the duration of the leave should be in line with entitlement of other deaths within the immediate family.

Experiencing a miscarriage or stillbirth is an incredibly difficult time for a family, and I believe what this bill represents is showing that we have compassion in allowing families time to grieve, through having the right in law. Not everyone who experiences a miscarriage or stillbirth may feel like they need to access bereavement leave; however, it is important that we give people the option to access that leave should they choose to or wish to need it.

There has been significant public support for this bill, with almost 7,000 members of the public signing an online petition to support the advocacy of members. Also, I would like to mention the person who initiated this bill, which was Kathryn van Beek, through being brave enough to tell her own story and to tell that in a public context.

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge all of the women and those families and organisations that came through the select committee process and told their stories, and acknowledge that that process was not an easy one for many of those women. Many of the submissions at select committee on this bill spoke about the importance of legislation to provide time for those who have had a miscarriage and to have time to grieve that loss.

Submissions spoke about how a miscarriage or stillbirth is a traumatic time for all involved and how arguing with an employer about leave entitlement could potentially create further stress at this time. Submissions mentioned that many women in New Zealand experience miscarriage, with around 20,000 a year, and that there is a significant amount of stigma and discrimination surrounding miscarriage. The committee heard that bereavement leave may help to eliminate some of the stigma, shame, and silence and allow people to get the support they need, including in the workplace.

There were also personal stories amongst the submissions which spoke about the huge toll of having a miscarriage and how that can take a toll not only on the individual but also on the wider whānau. Women stated that having the ability to take time for bereavement leave would make a huge difference to those immediately involved surrounding that loss. They spoke about how this bill is an acknowledgment of those who have suffered miscarriages in the past and that has largely been done in silence, and it would acknowledge that grief.

I’d like to quickly run through some of the submissions, because I think the statements made by some of those people and those organisations were most apt in describing the current situation that can happen in the workplace and the issues which this bill is addressing.

I’d like to acknowledge the Council of Trade Unions. They stated that when a baby is lost through miscarriage or stillbirth, it is bereavement leave and not sick leave that is required. Bereavement leave is distinctly different from sick leave. Bereavement leave provides time for a person or people that have had the miscarriage or stillbirth for grieving that needs to be done after a death.

There are many stories of people who have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth and have had to argue to take that leave. As well as having paid leave and having entitlement to that paid leave, it’s a statutory right that means job losses or job insecurity is not threatened by taking that leave or requesting to take that leave. A miscarriage or a stillbirth is a traumatic time and arguing about leave entitlements creates further stress and high emotion and it should not be at this time. It should be guaranteed as an employment right.

I would like to acknowledge Family Planning for what they contributed, and I think this contributes to the wider debate around what some of these issues are for New Zealand. They state: “Like other areas of sexual and reproductive health, it is important that we work to eliminate stigma, shame and silence surrounding miscarriage.

Historically, women have been blamed for and judged because of miscarriage, and sadly there are still societal beliefs and attitudes which perpetuate this discrimination, particularly in some areas of the world.

Misconceptions about the causes of miscarriage, as well as the ongoing discrimination women face about reproduction and reproductive decision-making contributes to shame and emotional distress experienced by people who have a miscarriage. This needs to change.

People deserve support, compassion and respect no matter what the outcome of a pregnancy and no matter what their decisions around reproduction … We hope this legislation not only provides relief to individuals who experience miscarriage, but helps to eliminate stigma, shame and silence surrounding miscarriage so that people can more easily reach out for the support they need from friends, family, colleagues and their wider community, where that is helpful.”

I would like to conclude by running through some of the key changes that the select committee made when considering this bill, and I would like to acknowledge the excellent work that was done. I believe that these changes strengthen the bill and provide greater clarity. Initially, it has made it clearer around the knowledge of pregnancy. It makes it clear that a mother does not need to have known they were pregnant. It acknowledges that sometimes when someone has a miscarriage they did not know that they were pregnant in the first place, and not having the word “confirmed” makes it clear you are still eligible.

Secondly, around proof of pregnancy, this is a change to clarify the proof that would not be required for an employee to take bereavement leave. The committee considered that removing the term “confirmed” is important because they did not want the term to be misunderstood and lead to an uncomfortable exchange between employee and employer.

Finally, also the definition of miscarriage—amending the definition of miscarriage to clarify that bereavement leave could be sought for the unplanned end of a pregnancy no matter how far along that pregnancy was. The committee recommends changing the definition in order to reflect that. This would ensure that any pregnancy that ends after 20 weeks would still be defined and included.

The fourth change is expanding the definition that would be able to be taking bereavement leave. The committee believes that parents planning to adopt a child and parents having a baby through surrogacy should also be entitled to bereavement leave on the unplanned end of a relevant pregnancy, and that that should be reflected by changing it in the bill.

The final change is the cause of pregnancy ending. It clarifies that employees who experience the end of a pregnancy by way of an abortion would not be eligible for bereavement leave. The committee believed that the intent of this bill is to provide bereavement leave to those who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth, not for abortion. The committee recommended changing and removing the word “unplanned” from the bill.

In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge all of those women who submitted, all of the time that has been given to drive a change that I know will make a real difference in women’s and whānau lives around New Zealand. Nō reira, I commend this bill to the House.

BARBARA KURIGER (National—Taranaki – King Country):

It’s a pleasure to stand and take a call on this bill this afternoon. I was a latecomer to this piece of legislation. I’ve only been the spokesperson for women for the past two weeks, and so I came into the select committee at the very last moment, when we were adjusting the last few pieces of wording before it came back to the House.

But I do want to congratulate, first of all, Ginny Andersen for putting this bill forward. Often, members’ bills see somewhere where there’s a small gap in a piece of legislation that makes such a huge difference, and this is going to make a big difference in the lives of women who suffer from miscarriage…

So National supports measures which support women and families, and that’s why we’re supporting this bill….

So I think, from me, that’s about all I’m going to say at this point, but I again congratulate the member and I congratulate the committee on the way with which they’ve worked with this bill and brought it to the House in the way it has been brought to the House, and it’s a pleasure to commend this bill to the House. Thank you.

JAN TINETTI (Labour):

Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is truly a pleasure to stand in support of this bill here this afternoon, and I too want to take the time to congratulate my colleague, Ginny Andersen, on firstly bringing this bill to the ballot and then having it drawn from the ballot and then working through it with our Education and Workforce Committee.

I say my congratulations here this afternoon because I was away when this bill went through its first reading at the end of last year. I was really disappointed that I was away because I have a personal affinity to this bill, as I have suffered two miscarriages myself, one before my two children were born and one after my two children were born. Both were devastating on my life, and working through this with the select committee at the time brought back a whole lot of personal anxiety as I was working through that, but it also reminded me of just how necessary legislation like this is.

As the previous speaker, Barbara Kuriger, has said, sometimes there are small changes that are required in our law that seem small to many of us but make the biggest difference to so many people. This piece of legislation, as we heard in our select committee, will make a very, very big difference to so many people, and I will say particularly women.

It’s not just women; there are a number of men who will benefit from this bill as well, but I think that from my perspective, it really is the women who will benefit greatly from this bill…

Following speeches largely echoed similar sentiments, but I will note one of those, from first term National MP Dan Bidois. All I have seen of him is getting criticised and ridiculed on Twitter.

DAN BIDOIS (National—Northcote):

 It’s a pleasure to rise and take a brief call on the bereavement leave amendment to the Holidays Act bill that we’re discussing today. I do want to echo the congratulations to the member Ginny Andersen for bringing this issue to the House. It is through members’ bills that I think issues like this can be identified and resolved, so I do want to applaud her in the House. Also, to my fellow select committee colleague Jan Tinetti, I didn’t know those stories about what you faced, and thank you for giving realism to the bill that we’re discussing today and for sharing your story.

…But this is an important day for Ginny Andersen. It’s an important day for the more than 20,000 women out there who go through this process every year, and I want to acknowledge the members of the select committee, the officials, the submitters, and I commend this bill to the House.

It is good to see good Parliament. I was quite moved by some of the speeches. And I’m pleased to see a sensible use of a members’ bill that will achieve something worthwhile with cross-party cop-operation and support.

All transcripts: Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill (No 2) — Second Reading

Covid isolation charges announced

The Government has announced that a small number of people will be charged for some of the costs of the 14 day Covid isolation required of everyone coming into the country – “$3100 per person in a room, $950 for each additional adult and $475 for each additional child sharing the room”.

$479 million has been budgeted for managed isolation until the end of the year, but in Parliament Minister Megan Woods said:

Indicative modelling shows that the scheme would generate between $2.2 million and $8.8 million a year at a cost of recouping that of $600,000″.

That works out to about $1 to $4 million until the end of the year out of the $479 million cost so you would have to wonder whether it is worth it.

At this stage it is impossible to tell how long isolation will be required – going by how Covid is increasing in many parts of the world including parts of Australia it could be some time.

Also from Parliament:

Hon Gerry Brownlee: What is legally challenging about saying to New Zealanders who are coming back to this country, having been away for quite some time, that the costs of their managed isolation, the cost of their re-joining the team of 5 million, is a charge that they need to meet?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: This is a complex legal area and, I know, an easy political sound bite, but the advice that we have worked through in a lot of detail with Crown Law is about whether any charge to enter a public health managed isolation facility, a requirement of entry to your own country, that is placed on all New Zealanders, constitutes a barrier of entry to your country. 

I don’t know why some can be charged if it is supposed to be legally difficult to charge people. And Government legislation is supposed to make whatever they want legal.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Why has the Government not come to Parliament to introduce a law that would make legal the charges that she apparently says cannot be applied, so that the taxpayers of New Zealand can be relieved of some of this extraordinary burden for people who want to come back and join the team of 5 million?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: Because this Government has come to this Parliament with a law that is not going to be legally overturned by the courts. What it does is it puts in place a regime that does not trample on the bill of rights and the rights of New Zealanders to return to their country. The member may like to look at the legislation that has been tabled this afternoon.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Where does the Minister think a law passed by the Parliament of New Zealand would be overturned by the courts?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: A thing called the bill of rights.

Not sure why the Bill of Rights stops them charging some but not others.

And I thought that checking legislation against the Bill of Rights was standard practice.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: So does her policy mean that a business person travelling offshore to gain new markets for New Zealand will pay for their managed quarantine when they come back but someone who had chosen to make a life offshore, perhaps for many years, will come back into this country to join the team of 5 million paying nothing?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: The regime that we have outlined today would see anyone that was leaving for a holiday or for business pay for their isolation and factor that into the cost of their trip overseas. 

This may delay people going overseas to try to do business. It could cost me my job.

Legislation for managed isolation payments

Legislation to allow the Government to recover some of the costs for managed isolation and quarantine will be introduced to Parliament today, said Minister of Housing Megan Woods.

“The Bill will allow the government to charge for managed isolation and quarantine facilities. We have carefully considered how to design a system that is fair on arrivals and not a barrier for returning to New Zealand, especially for those who might already be experiencing financial stress,” said Megan Woods.

“We want to share the costs in a way that fairly reflects the benefits to both the New Zealand public of having such a robust system, and those who leave and enter the country. 

“As Minister I am proposing to only charge New Zealanders who enter temporarily, or who leave New Zealand after the regulations come into force. Temporary visa holders would have to pay unless they were ordinarily resident in New Zealand before the border closure, and left before the border closure. I intend to seek Cabinet agreement to a charging structure of $3100 per person in a room, $950 for each additional adult and $475 for each additional child sharing the room. There will also be mechanisms to allow charges to be waived in full or in part,” said Megan Woods.

The COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill provides a legal framework to allow the Government to set payment terms, exempt groups of people and waive charges in cases of financial hardship. It will also ensure that recovered charges do not exceed the actual costs of managed isolation and quarantine.

“The legislation will be passed next week before the House rises for the parliamentary term, and will enable regulations to be developed. Further details of the charging scheme and when it will come into force, will be announced soon. Charges will not apply to anyone entering New Zealand and going into MIQ before regulations are in force.

It is forecast that more people will be travelling and arriving at the border. The Government has set aside a total of $479 million dollars to pay for the costs of Managed Isolation facilities until the end of the year.

Parliamentary Code of Conduct

There have been attempts to have a Parliamentary Code of Conduct for years. This is from 2007: A Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament- is the time ever right?

Greens, UnitedFuture, Māori and ACT signed that proposed code of conduct for MPs. But the time wasn’t right for Labour and National who refused to cooperate.

But times have changed. This term a number of disgraced MPs have led to the conduct of MPs becoming an election issue, with three MPs pulling out of re-election in the last couple of weeks due to very poor conduct.

Speaker Trevor Mallard, who has serious conduct issues himself in the past, is now promoting a Code of Conduct and an independent watchdog.

(Mallard has a battling staffer conduct in the courts at the moment after he outed them for alleged exual assault at Parliament, and they started defamation proceedings against him – see Speaker Trevor Mallard loses suppression argument in defamation claim)

He is now addressing MP behaviour.

Stuff: Parliament’s Speaker Trevor Mallard to MPs: ‘Behave or I’ll out you’

Exasperated Speaker Trevor Mallard has issued a stern warning to MPs, threatening to go public with their bad behaviour if they won’t appoint a complaints’ watchdog.

After a year of MPs wrangling over a code of conduct, Mallard has released the one-page document, urging the parties to sign up.

And he says if they can’t agree to establish an independent commissioner to investigate complaints, he’ll go public with the names of repeat offenders. “People have got to own their actions, basically,” he told Stuff.

“Some people are good but not everybody,” he said. “And then we have another group of people who probably just don’t get the fact that they are treating people badly. It is partly generational, but not only.

“And they are, what I would describe as, repeat offenders who I regularly get reports back … about how they treat other people around the buildings or officials.

“I’ll work with the Whips and talk to people, but I am only going to do it once. If things have been taken up with you, either with me or via the Whips, and you do it again then you can’t expect people not to make that public.”

“I find it really hard to believe. I want to make it clear, it is not only MPs. There are some staff members who treat other staff members appallingly. And there are MPs who treat other MPs appallingly.

“Our history has been one of not embarrassing either the institution or our party. I think we live a decade or two behind most workplaces.”

Before the recent disgraces Parliament has already been found badly wanting as far as behaviour goes.

In a sweeping review released last May, consultant Debbie Francis identified a systemic bullying and harassment problem within the corridors of power.

She recommended an Independent Commission for Parliamentary Conduct, to receive and investigate complaints or disclosures about MPs, as well as “a shared Parliamentary Workplace Code of Conduct”.

A cross party group of MPs, and two union representatives, have been working for more than a year on implementing Francis’ 85 recommendations. It is unlikely to get agreement on the establishment of a Commissioner, and caucuses are yet to give approval on the code.

Mallard said: “In my opinion, the party system or myself [as Speaker], neither of those work particularly well. What I’d really like to do is have someone independent who makes final decisions on whether people are outed or not. I would prefer that not to be my decision.”

It makes sense to have someone independent of MPs and parties overseeing their behaviour – actually I think it is essential, as long as they are given decent powers to deal with bad behaviour.

Of course some have tried to avoid accountability by turning on Mallard because of his past indiscretions.

Mallard has been working to make Parliament a kinder, gentler environment, with family-friendly policies. But his efforts are occasionally dismissed because of his own reputation as an enfant-terrible of politics.

“Like many people I have grown up. And my understanding of what is appropriate and acceptable has changed,” he said.

Trying to divert from accountability for behaviour now because of past crappy behaviour is bollocks, but it’s how some operate to try to remain untouchable.

The new code, which won’t be adopted until the next term even if agreed on by parties, says bullying and harassment are “unacceptable”. MPs will hold people to account for incidents and have a ”responsibility to speak up if we observe unacceptable behaviour, especially if we are in a position to help others.”

Code of Conduct here: Proposed Code of Conduct for MPs

Green Party will sign up to long overdue Code of Conduct

Green Party MPs will be signing up to a Parliamentary Code of Conduct, following its release from the Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard.

Green Party Workplace Relations spokesperson Jan Logie, who was on the Working Group for the Code of Conduct’s development, said:

“I welcome the timely release of the Code of Conduct for Parliament.

“The Green Party commit to signing up to it, so that our MPs and staff have guidance on best behaviour that keeps us all happy and thriving in our workplace.

“The Code of Conduct sets clear expectations on acceptable behaviours in Parliament. For too long this has not been clear, resulting in behaviours that have made people in Parliament feel unsafe, with an increased exposure to bullying and harassment.

“It has long been the case that Parliament, like other institutions, had work to do to ensure our spaces were free of harassment and bullying.

“What has been launched today is an important step in creating a workplace where everyone feels safe and valued.

“People deserve to have trust in Parliament. We look forward to the time when Parliament provides a positive example to the rest of the country.

“I remain focused on seeing the rest of the recommendations from the Debbie Francis review being acted upon.”

According to Stuff Labour then issued a statement claiming the caucus signed up to the code on June 30. “It did not disclose this to Stuff when asked about the code earlier this week”.

I can’t find a statement from Labour on the Code of Conduct. Given Jacinda Ardern’s promotion of niceness and kindness I expect they should be fully supportive of Mallard’s efforts.

National To Adopt Parliamentary Code Of Conduct

Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins will recommend to her National Party caucus colleagues that the party signs up to Parliament’s code of conduct.

“The Francis Report and more recent situations have pointed to a lack of respect for the power imbalances that occur within the Parliamentary environment and in the behaviours of some Members of Parliament.

“Robust parliamentary debate will occasionally be needed in the interest of good democracy, but bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviours should not be accepted in the parliamentary environment or elsewhere.

“I believe everyone who works at Parliament does so because they want to make this country a better place, even if we sometimes disagree on the best way to do that. But there should be no disagreement when it comes to treating people with dignity and respect.

“I will be recommending at National’s next caucus meeting that the party signs up to the code of conduct released by Speaker Trevor Mallard today.”

I can’t find anything from NZ First or the ACT Party., but this sounds promising with three major parties pledging support for a Code of Conduct.

All candidates standing for election should be acquainted with and pledge support for the Code of Conduct.

This won’t guarantee better MP behaviour, but it should help move them in a better direction at least.

I think that having senior MPs like Mallard and Judith Collins strongly promoting the Code of Conduct (and Collins has made it clear she will deal to anyone behaving badly), despite their histories of degrees of dishonourable conduct, is a positive sign that the winds of change are finally starting to reach into Parliament.