Abortion Bill passes first reading 94-23

Following speeches by many MPs in parliament today the Abortion Bill passed it’s first reading by 94 votes to 23. Three MPs didn’t vote.

This is a large majority, but it’s just the first of three votes, with some MPs wanting the Bill to progress to public submissions, but with no guarantee of supporting it all the way. NZ First MPs all voted for it but have imp[lied they may not support the final vote unless it goes to a public referendum (although their messages have been missed).

Here are the votes split up:

YES VOTES:

Labour: ARDERN Jacinda, DAVIS Kelvin, LITTLE Andrew, ROBERTSON, Grant, TWYFORD Phil, WOODS Megan, HIPKINS Chris, SEPULONI Carmel Jean, CLARK David, PARKER David, NASH Stuart, RADHAKRISHNAN Priyanca, HUO Raymond, LEES-GALLOWAY Iain Francis, TINETTI Jan, SIO Aupito Tofae Sua William, PRIME Willow-Jean, O’CONNOR Damien, FAAFOI Kris, ALLAN Kiri, JACKSON Willie, CURRAN Clare, DYSON Ruth, WILLIAMS Poto, WALL Louisa, WOOD Michael Philip, ANDERSEN Ginny, LUXTON Jo, RUSSELL Deborah, CRAIG Liz, LUBECK Marja, MALLARD Trevor, EAGLE Paul, COFFEY Tamati, STRANGE Jamie, McANULTY Kieran, WARREN-CLARK Angie, O’CONNOR Greg, MAHUTA Nanaia, HENARE Peeni, WHATIRI Meka, WEBB Duncan.
National: BENNETT Paula, CARTER David, BRIDGES Simon, ADAMS Amy, TOLLEY Anne, GUY Nathan, KAYE Nikki, McCLAY Todd, COLLINS Judith, BARRY Maggie, GOLDSMITH Paul, MITCHELL Mark, WAGNER Nicky, BENNETT David, SIMPSON Scott, KURIGER Barbara, DOOCEY Matt, HUDSON Brett, McKELVIE Ian, BAYLY Andrew, BISHOP Chris, DOWIE Sarah, MULLER Todd, SCOTT Alastair, SMITH Stuart, KING Matt, FALLOON Andrew, LEE Denise, STANFORD Erica, VAN de MOLEN Tim, YULE Lawrence, BIDOIS Dan, WILLIS Nicola.
NZ First: PETERS Winston, MARK Ron, MARTIN Tracey, TABUTEAU Fletcher, BALL Darroch, MITCHELL Clayton, PATTERSON Mark, JONES Shane, MARCROFT Jenny.
Greens: SHAW James, DAVIDSON Marama, GENTER Julie Anne, SAGE Eugenie, HUGHES Gareth, LOGIE Jan, SWARBRICK Chlöe, GHAHRAMAN Golriz.
ACT: SEYMOUR David.
ROSS, Jami-Lee.

NO VOTES:

Labour: SALESA Jenny, KANONGATA’A-SUISUIKI Anahila, RURAWHE Adrian, TIRIKATENE Rino.
National: PUGH Maureen, BROWNLEE Gerry, WOODHOUSE Michael, SMITH Nick, UPSTON Louise, DEAN Jacqui, MACINDOE Tim, LEE Melissa, BAKSHI Kanwaljit Singh, PARMAR Parmjeet, YOUNG Jonathan, HAYES Jo, O’CONNOR Simon, RETI Shane, BROWN Simeon, HIPANGO Harete, PENK Chris, LOHENI Agnes, GARCIA Paulo.

ABSENT:

National: WALKER Hamish, NGARO Alfred, YANG Jian.

That was supplied from Stuff who have good coverage with summaries of the MP speeches here – Live: Abortion Bill’s first reading in Parliament

On Tracey Martin (who was put in a very difficult position by her party):

Tracey Martin in tears

NZ First MP Tracey Martin came to tears as she lays out the speech she was going to make on the bill.

She says she was ready to make a personal speech about why she supported the bill, but the context of this week’s news means she can’t.

Martin was the lead negotiator with Andrew Little on this bill from NZ First as the women’s spokeswoman for the party. She told the media on Tuesday morning that the party would not be seeking a referendum on the issue. But later that morning at a caucus meeting NZ First resolved to attempt to introduce a referendum at committee of the whole house.

This led to a somewhat embarrassing media situation on Tuesday afternoon when it all came out on the way into the House.

Martin is detailing this whole story to clarify things.

She confirms that NZ First will block-vote in favour for first and second readings.

I presume she has been able to present the actual party position and won’t be contradicted again.

Aupito William Sio will support the bill at first reading:

Pacific Peoples’ Minister and Labour MP Auptio William Sio is speaking for the bill, at least in the first reading, despite opposing abortion himself.

“I value life,” Sio says.

“I am looking at this debate from the perspective of a father who does not support abortion.”

He says he would want his daughters to not abort – but would support them in their choice, whatever it was.

“I do not support abortion, but I am on the record that I support a woman’s right to choose.”

I respect him deferring to his daughters and to women despite his personal views.

 

Dunne to support Genter’s medicinal cannabis bill

When Green MP Julie Anne Genter’s medicinal cannabis bill was drawn from the Member’s ballot Peter Dunne said he would decide on whether he would support it or not when it cam time to vote on it at it’s first reading in Parliament.

Dunne said he had major reservations about the bill and it was unworkable.

However Dunne has now said he will support the bill at it’s first reading when he was taking part in a panel discussion  at the Drug Symposium.

RNZ: Peter Dunne to back first reading of medicinal cannabis bill

Today Mr Dunne said he’d been talking to Julie Anne Genter and he will vote in support of the bill in it’s first reading.

“There are a lot of things in the bill that would need to be changed before it could proceed further, but I think it’s a useful discussion to have, and to see where the Select Committee gets to”.

Getting Dunne onside at least for the first reading is a success for Genter, but the bill will still requite support from NZ First or from at least a chunk of National if they are allowed a conscience vote.

At the symposium MPs from the ACT, Maori, Green and Labour parties said they would all support the bill, but more votes from wither NZ First or National would be needed.

National MP Chris Bishop said his party hasn’t made it’s mind up yet.

“It’s one of those issues where we do want to have a good discussion about it as a Caucus. We may decide to have it as a conscience vote where MPs can vote individually. We may also decide to have it as a party vote where the National Party takes a party position.

Polls show there is strong public support for changes to cannabis and drug law, especially related to medicinal cannabis.

It would be a travesty of democracy if Parliament didn’t allow this bill to at least progress past the first reading.

 

Adams: Domestic violence – Victims’ Protection Bill

Minister of Justice Amy Adams spoke in support of Jan Logie and domestic violence bill yesterday in Parliament – see Logie’s speech Logie: Domestic violence – Victims’ Protection bill

Adams has made addressing domestic violence one of her priorities. She has some concerns about the bill, and some of her Caucus colleagues do to, especially the cost to businesses. But the cost of unresolved domestic violence can also be costly to businesses.

…last year in New Zealand we had notifications to police of family violence upwards of 105,000 times over the year. That is once about every 5 minutes.

If that is not appalling enough, and it is, police will tell us that, actually, on average, a woman victim—where it is a woman victim—will often have suffered episodes of violence up to 21 times before an initial reach out for help is made.

When you think about those two facts, beyond anything else, 105,000 to 110,000 notifications a year represents the very smallest part of the scale of the problem.

At this stage Adams is “going into it with an open mind, registering some genuine concern about the bill as drafted, but very happy to engage in the process.”


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE—VICTIMS’ PROTECTION BILL

First Reading

Hon AMY ADAMS (Minister of Justice): I am very pleased to come and take a call on the Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill tonight and on this issue. Can I begin by just acknowledging the member whose name the bill is in—Jan Logie—for her very genuine commitment to this issue.

I know that it is one that the member feels, and has felt for a long time, very strongly about. I want to acknowledge her not only for her work on the bill but also for her work in the area and the work that she has done with me as we have discussed issues around domestic violence in the time that I have been the Minister of Justice.

Can I just reflect on one of the aspects of Ms Logie’s speech, which is to share her joy when Parliament can recognise issues that are of importance to us all. I have certainly found, in the time that I have been working on these issues, which is the entire time I have been the justice Minister, that right across Parliament, actually, it is probably the one issue where party affiliations go by the by. I want to just acknowledge not only Jan but all of my colleagues across Parliament for their work on the issue.

I have got to say that I have been utterly appalled, as I know other members of the House have, at the sheer scale of this issue in New Zealand. I have said from the outset that I certainly do not claim to stand before any group and suggest that I have all the answers.

But what became patently clear to me very early on is that, as a country, the first thing we had to do is ensure that right across New Zealand, the conversation is had about the importance of the issue, the scale of the issue, the severity of the issue, the trauma it causes, and the intergenerational flow-through effects of those families that experience family violence.

Let us be quite clear that whether or not the victims are getting physically assaulted and whether or not the violence is interpersonal violence between partners, everybody in that family—everybody in that whānau—is affected, particularly when it involves children. They suffer tremendous trauma.

I am sure this House will know that last year in New Zealand we had notifications to police of family violence upwards of 105,000 times over the year. That is once about every 5 minutes.

If that is not appalling enough, and it is, police will tell us that, actually, on average, a woman victim—where it is a woman victim—will often have suffered episodes of violence up to 21 times before an initial reach out for help is made. When you think about those two facts, beyond anything else, 105,000 to 110,000 notifications a year represents the very smallest part of the scale of the problem.

I must say that I never thought I would be in this House long enough to hear a member of the Green Party quoting John Key with respect, and ka pai to you; I think that is a great step forward, Jan.

Jan Logie: Building bridges.

Hon AMY ADAMS: Yes, building bridges. But you are absolutely right. The former Prime Minister was equally absolutely right when he said that this is a problem for everyone—everyone.

I am not in any way shying away from the responsibility of Government to lead in this space and the responsibility of this House, but, equally, we kid ourselves if we think that this Parliament or any Government can fix this on its own. If there was a bill that you could pass, if there was a programme you could fund that would put an end to it, no Government would have said no to that. We all acknowledge that.

That is not to say that we cannot do more, and that is why, with my colleagues, Anne Tolley in particular, but colleagues across all the portfolios that impact on this space, 16 in total, we are overturning every rock and asking every question about what we can do better, because we have to do better. But it has to be more than Government; it has to be a problem for New Zealand and every New Zealander.

The point I made when I made the commitment on behalf of the National Government to support the bill, certainly through to first reading and through to select committee, was that what we do know and what we must know is that whatever the answer is, business has to be a part of that. I am in absolute agreement with the member on that.

Actually, I think that there is far more common ground that the member and I share on this than we may differ on, which is not a bad starting point. But, nonetheless, it is incumbent on us to test carefully everything we do. Although the issue is significant, serious, and real, with anything in this space, we have to be very careful to ensure that we get our responses as right as we can.

What we absolutely know, what I agree with the member on, and what we have a chance to discuss, is that that does have to involve how we support these victims and their employment.

I agree with the statistics that the member quoted around the impact on victims and the additional trauma, difficulty, and challenge if they also lose contact with employment relationships.

Equally, we know that someone going through particularly serious domestic violence when they are trying to get out of an abusive relationship, or trying to stay in one safely and successfully, will put needs, pressures, and requirements on that victim and their support network that are unique to them. Again, it is incumbent on us to think about how the system supports that.

Although, in terms of the Government, we are not yet sure whether the answers in the bill as drafted are exactly the right mix, we are very happy to have an open conversation and explore that.

Can I also say and put on record my—”delight” is the wrong word in this context—great pride, I guess, in New Zealand, that so many parts of New Zealand and the public and private sector have already taken steps down this road. I have been an employer; I have run businesses.

You know when you run businesses that your staff are your biggest asset. Frankly, it is just good business and good economics to look after them. It is not about doing something because you have to do it; it is about investing in the people who pay you far more in dividend when they have a happy, productive, and successful life.

I also know, as a mother of young children who had to balance things, that when businesses are prepared to be flexible with you, it engenders a loyalty, a commitment, and a productivity that I have always thought paid itself off in spades.

I do want to acknowledge, with pride in my fellow countrymen, the businesses that have seen this and that do work—and I know they are many and varied—to support their employees when they are in situations of domestic violence. I also want to acknowledge that across the Public Service we are seeing a tremendously strong response in this respect.

We tested it with our 10 biggest Public Service agencies—no, I think all of them—covering 84 percent of all public sector employees, who all had arrangements in place to think about and work through how they would respond to an employee in this situation.

What I think would be very valuable through the select committee process is to hear more and learn more from those businesses that have put arrangements in place—what has worked, what they have found works best, and what has not worked.

The member, in her introduction, made reference to the five pieces of legislation that this bill amends. Each one of those will have its own impacts that we need to carefully understand. I will admit to some nervousness around, for example, the width and the concept of the domestic violence document and how we frame that, how it works, how we set it up, and what impact that has on victims.

We do have to tread very carefully around how that is, simply, operationalised. These are things that I think are worth exploring.

I think it is also worth reflecting if those 110,000 incidents that I calculated last year would have qualified under the domestic violence document heads. That would be a conservative estimate because we only know what is formally reported. There is a huge continuum of circumstances in that.

Parliament and laws are, by definition, blunt instruments. I think we have to be very careful to ensure that our response is not so blunt across that huge continuum of circumstances for New Zealand men, women, and children who are represented in those 110,000 incidents and that we are able to arrange a framework that is proportionate, responsive, sensitive, and appropriate from that whole continuum.

All incidents are serious, and we take none of them lightly, but there is a very different support system required, for example, when the police are called out to a very heated verbal argument, to obviously where a woman and children are desperate to get out and keep themselves safe.

We have to ensure that our responses recognise those differences and reflect the needs of parties in each case. This is a discussion that we are interested in having because, as I said, how we think about and support domestic violence victims is a multi-faceted approach. We have a huge programme of work under way looking at a number of aspects, but we are never so closed-minded that we are not prepared to consider other aspects.

What I will say though, is fundamentally—and on New Zealand women’s day, or International Women’s Day, I am going to be unashamedly gender-biased for one moment because, actually, in most of the serious cases, it is women who are the victims. Yes, men are victims, but more often than not it is women who are victims.

If you want to know when the women of New Zealand will be safe, it is when the men of New Zealand respect them and stop beating them. Fundamentally, we can keep women safe and we can do what we can to support the women, but if we want to stop this, we have to change the behaviour of the men who beat the loved ones in their life. Nothing will change until we change that.

Can I just end by again welcoming the discussion, welcoming the debate, going into it with an open mind, registering some genuine concern about the bill as drafted, but very happy to engage in the process.

Logie: Domestic violence – Victims’ Protection bill

Jan Logie’s Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill

This bill amends the Domestic Violence Act 1995, Employment Relations Act 2000, Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, Holidays Act 2003, and Human Rights Act 1993 with a view to enhancing legal protections for victims of domestic violence.

It was introduced and passed it’s first reading yesterday with all MPs voting for in favour. It will now go to Select Committee for consideration.

Read the Bill here.

Logie introducing the bill:

Transcript:


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE—VICTIMS’ PROTECTION BILL

First Reading

JAN LOGIE (Green): I move, That the Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill be now read a first time. I nominate the Justice and Electoral Committee to consider the bill. My speech today is for every victim of domestic violence who ever felt trapped and for every person who knew a workmate was being abused but did not know how to help.

It is no secret I used to work at Women’s Refuge, but the resilience and the strength of the women I worked with has always stayed with me.

I remember one woman in particular who left with her children when the violence escalated. She had been living under siege for years but he said he would kill her if she left. It was incredibly brave of her to leave, and she was not sure it was the right thing to do. He had racked up debt in her name and she was struggling to imagine how she would pay rent, childcare, and everything else as well as pay off that debt.

She was also understandably scared that he would kill her or her children. She needed her job to pay off the debt and look after her kids. She was a sitting duck at work. I called her boss and explained the situation and tried to organise time off for her, a change of shift, or a different work site for a while. They said “No.” I remember that night driving her up to the door of her work and she was lying down in the back of the van as I drove up to the door. Her fear was palpable, and I suspect mine was as well. She went back to him the next day and I do not know how things worked out. This situation will be different in some workplaces today but not all. People ask “Why do women go back?”, this is why. Victims of domestic violence are in the most danger when they leave. I absolutely understood her decision to go back, and I still feel the frustration and powerlessness of not having been able to help her.

Most victims, however, find it really hard to stay in work. The impact of the abuse has a profound impact, and often they struggle to concentrate at work, their partners actively try to make them quit, or get them sacked by using all the petrol when they need to go to work or disappearing instead of taking the kids to school etc. Without a job victims become more isolated and dependent.

Domestic violence reaches into workplaces all over our country. Evidence shows stalking, constant emails, phone calls, and attacks in or outside the workplace happen. Recent research funded by the Women’s Refuge, of New Zealand women who had been in a violent relationship showed 60 percent were in fulltime work before the relationship but that fewer than half of those women managed to stay in work through the relationship.

At any one time in this country over half of New Zealand businesses could have a staff member experiencing domestic violence. Workmates are often the only people who know, but we cannot expect them to automatically know what to do.

This bill is about saving lives. It provides victims with a pathway to safety and protects them from the effects of the abuse in the workplace by providing up 10 days’ leave every year, which can be used to cover time lost through injury or other impacts of the abuse.

It can also be used for counselling, moving house, settling kids into a new school, dealing with the Family Court, or safety planning.

It also clarifies that victims can request flexible working arrangements to minimise the impact of the abuse outside or in the workplace, and that domestic violence is a workplace hazard that employers should create the environment to be able to identify and mitigate. F

inally, it adds being a victim of domestic violence as grounds for non-discrimination to the Human Rights Act so victims cannot be sacked or otherwise penalised for the behaviour of their abuser.

International research has found that although CEOs think domestic violence is a major problem they underestimate its impact in their companies. I suspect the same is true here. The argument that these policies will cost businesses too much is amoral. It assumes the domestic violence is not already costing businesses, well it is. It is costing them great staff and it is reducing productivity. Economist Suzanne Snively’s research shows that the provisions in this bill, if we get them right, will provide a net benefit to businesses in terms of increased productivity as well as, I hope, knowing that they are doing the right thing.

Last year former Prime Minister John Key said “It’s easy to think this [family violence] is someone else’s problem. But it’s not [someone else’s problem]… if you are a New Zealander who cares,” and in this case I agree with him. This bill helps workplaces and employers show they care and make sure every victim of domestic violence gets the support they need. If someone is in danger and we can help we should. That is the right thing to do. Everyone deserves a safe workplace where they can get the support they need to leave a violent relationship. Being protected at work and getting the help to leave should not come down to luck. We need a standard across all of our workplaces.

Last year after hearing thousands of submissions the Victorian Government Royal Commission into family violence found that having a supportive workplace provides financial security to victims at a major time of need and that work colleagues are among the most common source of support for victims. They recommended national employment standards and specific leave provisions, pretty much what this bill intends to do.

I bring this bill to the House in the context of social change. This bill did not just appear out of the brilliance of my own mind. Progress is being made internationally and here at home.

I really want to acknowledge the New Zealand Public Service Association Inc. (PSA) who started championing and providing an evidence base for these policies way back in 2011, and all the other unions including FIRST Union, E tū, New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA), and New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) that have been putting these policies on the table at bargaining for a long time now.

It has been wonderful to see Countdown, The Warehouse, GCSB, GNS Science, ANZ, and many other smaller businesses and agencies responding and putting these provisions in place.

The chambers of commerce and Business New Zealand publicly supporting this discussion, I think, is a milestone for this country.

Of course I want to acknowledge Shine and Women’s Refuge who have been working with businesses for years to develop supportive policies as well as research to support this work. National Council of Women of New Zealand, Zonta International, and the New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women have all been championing this cause for a few years now too.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue has set up business work network using her power to promote these policies. That is the context of this bill. All of these groups and people get that we are in this together, that domestic violence is something that we all have a stake in reducing.

For me, politics becomes inspiring when we work in partnership with the communities to solve problems and create social change. For me, that is the Green way of doing politics. But I really want to acknowledge with gratitude and appreciation all of my parliamentary colleagues who are supporting this bill tonight.

My faith in humankind has really taken a leap. I think it is a testament to the importance of the issue, but it is also a signal to survivors who are watching this that we care, and we should. Today we are starting a process that, if we get it right, will save lives and support victims, so that going back or quitting their job is never again the better option.

Today is International Women’s Day, and although this bill will apply equally to victims of domestic violence, regardless of gender, the majority of victims are women and children, so it seems a very appropriate day to be having this debate.

I hope everyone listening will go away thinking that in Parliament we are prepared to listen, engage, and get this right. Let us be bold together.

 

 

TPP legislation passes first reading

The Trans-Pacific Partnership legislation passed it’s first reading vote in Parliament by 62 votes to 59.

Voting with National were ACT’s David Seymour, Peter Dunne and Labour MP for a few more months (possibly) Phil Goff.

NZH: Trans-Pacific Partnership legislation passes its first hurdle

In January, Labour leader Andrew Little gave Mr Goff special dispensation to do so, because during Mr Goff’s time as trade minister he started the negotiations for the agreement’s predecessor.

Fellow Labour MP David Shearer had told the Herald he personally supported the TPP, but later said he would be voting along party lines.

This seems to have happened without much protest – what has happened with the tens of thousands who desperately wanted to stop the TPPA?

Perhaps they have moved on to more important things, like stopping old ladies from going to the bank – see What to do with unspent $1m? – and the organiser of that Dunedin protest was inj fact prominent in Anti-TPP protests.

A report on the TPP was last week presented to Parliament after public hearings around the country.

In its minority report, the Labour Party expressed strong opposition to the TPP, saying the Government had failed to effectively represent the long-term interests of New Zealanders.

“As it stands, we cannot support the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement,” the Labour Party said.

New Zealand had “weakened” its sovereignty for relatively small gains, Labour said.

The Green Party and New Zealand First also expressed their opposition to the agreement in their minority reports.

Yet it rolls on regardless.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Amendment Bill will now go to the Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Committee where public submissions will be considered, the majority of which may have been organised by the Greens.

Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill introduced

Andrew Little’s introduction of his Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill in Parliament yesterday. It passed it’s first vote 61 to 60 thanks to the deciding vote of Peter Dunne.

Draft transcript:

Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2)

First Reading

ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition): I move, That the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2) be now read a first time. I nominate the Government Administration Committee to consider the bill.

It sometimes looks from the outside that much of what we do in this House does not look like it has a lot of significance, or at least you do not get to see the significance of it. Sometimes it feels that way too when you are sitting in this House.

But the bill that we are considering now will help thousands of New Zealanders, and most importantly, it will help thousands of young New Zealanders.

This bill does some very important things to improve the lives of New Zealanders, many of whom are on low incomes, and many of whom are presently in substandard housing.

The principal that sits behind this bill is a pretty simple one: that no New Zealand adult or child should have to live in a house that makes them or their children sick. It is that simple. Every Kiwi kid deserves to grow up in a home that is warm, safe, and dry. As parents, and as a parent myself, I would not accept anything less for my own child.

This bill does a number of things.

It sets standards for private rental housing, and in fact, public rental housing too. Standards are set after 6 months of the bill coming into effect, and then new leases that are in existence 12 months after the legislation comes into effect will have to comply with the standards that have been promulgated.

Then, 5 years after the legislation comes into effect, every lease would have to comply.

The bill would require the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to set standards for heating and insulation.

The standards will have to describe what constitutes adequate methods of heating, adequate methods of insulation, adequate indoor temperatures, adequate ventilation, adequate draught-stopping and adequate drainage.

The regulations will have to describe suitable measures for each of those points.

The legislation will allow for exemptions to be provided for in the regulation.

I make those points to be very clear, because some of the objections that have been registered by the Government in the last 24 hours, or at least its Minister for Building and Housing, have misled New Zealanders about what in fact the bill does.

However, it is interesting to note the change in position that the Minister has taken. Two days ago, the Minister was concerned that the bill: “requires properties to be insulated at a pace that is totally unrealistic.” A day later, he said that the bill was slow in timing, and that “it has a timetable four years slower for insulating rental properties than the Government’s Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill.”

I am looking forward to the Minister’s contribution tonight because I would like to know what the third positon that bumbling Nick Smith is going to take on this particular bill.

When the Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills was making his submission on the Government’s legislation that merely requires rental housing to have the 1978 insulation standard complied within 4 years’ time, he said that right now 42,000 New Zealand children a year are going to hospital for respiratory infections, bronchial problems, asthma, and things associated with unhealthy homes—unhealthy homes that are unhealthy because of dampness and lack of ventilation that allows mould spores to proliferate.

That is the problem that we are trying to fix. It is a reasonable demand to have in the 21st century that New Zealanders in rental accommodation have a minimum standard that at least keeps them healthy.

The idea that we continue to allow 42,000 Kiwi kids to have to go to hospital for avoidable and preventable infections is just totally intolerable.

The Children’s Commissioner also said that up to 15 deaths of children a year are at least partly attributable to unhealthy homes—that is a disgrace. We can stop that, and tonight’s vote will be the first step towards doing just that.

Every rental property should be insulated, should be weathertight, and should have adequate heating. I do not think it is too much to ask.

I have had a lot of correspondence from a lot of New Zealanders in recent weeks and days. The mother of a child who has been repeatedly unwell because of the house that they live in wrote to me. Her name is Estelle, and she was living in Auckland at the time.

She told me in her email that her house had no insulation, it was damp. Mould was growing on her son’s toys. He got asthma and he had to go to hospital, and what she told me was that she carried the guilt of her unwell son with her until she was able to move out of that house.

She felt so guilty that she could not keep her child well. She is on a low income; she got the best house that she could afford, but it was an unhealthy home, and she should not be put in that position.

No parent in New Zealand should be made to feel guilty about the conditions in which they are often forced to accommodate their children, and no child in New Zealand should be in a position where they have to get sick like that.

This matters to all of us in New Zealand because we want to be part of communities that are strong and vibrant and where everybody gets a fair chance.

You see, when a child lives in a home that makes them constantly sick, that means they have to take days off school, that means that mum or dad might have to take time off work as well—that affects the household and it affects that child’s future.

And if we are serious about being a country that fulfils our commitment, and that basic Kiwi Dream that no matter the circumstances into which you are born, we will have a country, an education system, a health system, and housing that means that you can lift yourself up and be the best you can be throughout the rest of your life.

When young children live in houses that make them sick they are denied that opportunity. This is about fairness and justice and equality.

It is hardly surprising that we have ongoing problems with housing and accommodation in New Zealand when we see what is happening with houses and home affordability in New Zealand.

In the city of Auckland, the average price of an Auckland house is now nine times the average income.

We have the lowest home ownership in 64 years—that is a symptom of the fact that more and more people are dependent on rental accommodation.

This bill is about standing up for those New Zealanders.

This bill gives voice to New Zealanders, who have been suffering and struggling in silence for far too long, and this is about doing the right thing and the decent thing; it is about doing the Kiwi thing.

It is sad that the National Party, so far, has expressed its opposition to this bill, and my colleague Phil Twyford is going to go through some of those objections.

But it is interesting that the Commissioner for Children had this to say in relation to a Budget promise made a few years ago by this Government that undertook to make homes healthy again.

He said that the Government’s bill that was currently going through this Parliament failed to meet that promise.

He said that the Government made a promise to New Zealand children that we would make their houses healthy, and three years on from that Budget promise the Government’s bill will do little for children living in cold, damp, mouldy housing. It is a wasted opportunity, and a broken promise to our children.

I urge Government members to fulfil their promise, vote for this bill, and make a pleasant life, a safe and healthy life in rental homes in New Zealand a reality for the children of New Zealand and their parents. It is that easy for this house tonight to do that, and I urge the Government to support my bill.

Nikki Kaye’s marriage equality bill speech

Amongst some excellent speeches on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill was this from Nikki Kaye.

Video: Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill – First Reading – Part 2

Transcript (draft):

MARRIAGE (DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE) AMENDMENT BILL

First Reading

NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central):

I am pleased to support the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill . Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

I want to congratulate Louisa Wall on bringing this bill to the House. Today is an important day for New Zealand, because I hope that we are on the cusp of passing a piece of legislation that will strengthen the rights and freedoms of a significant group of New Zealanders.

In this House there is huge diversity. We were born in places across New Zealand—from Takapuna to Ruatōria to villages in Samoa. We have MPs of different ethnicities—Samoan, Korean, Chinese, Pākehā, and many more. We have MPs of different faiths—Muslim to Sikh to Christian. We are a House of Representatives. We reflect the diversity of New Zealand, and our families are all so different.

What binds us together is a shared sense of justice, fairness, and a heartfelt belief in this amazing democratic, hard-working country. My grandfather fought for our freedom, as did many members’ relatives, in this House.

Ronald Reagan once said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same”. New Zealand has a proud history of leading in issues of equality.

This bill, in my view, is about justice and the basic right of every New Zealander to have equality before the law.

Civil unions gave us a step forward in that it conferred many rights to New Zealanders who had been deprived of them in the past. However, it did not guarantee every New Zealander the ability to marry the person they love. It did not guarantee an equality of status relationship.

I go further and say that this bill not only confers on every New Zealander an equality before the law in terms of their relationship but gives a dignity and an acceptance to a group of New Zealanders who not long ago were criminalised for the people they love.

I stand before you today as a member of the National Party. As the National Party, we have a strong history of bringing together different groups of New Zealanders.

Recently, the Prime Minister commented on the founders of the National Party. He said: “… they thought that the individual freedom promoted by National involved many diverse groups with conflicting interests. Tolerance was the key to working through those conflicts—giving everyone a say, but ensuring the Party ultimately focused on the good of the country as a whole.”

That is why I accept that being a champion of freedom is also about accepting that others may hold strong opposing views and that they have the right to voice and exercise those views in this House.

We may vote differently on this side of the House on conscience issues, but we are bound by equality of opportunity. We are a party that has always treasured freedom of choice. We are a party that is often regarded as the unwelcome hand of the nanny State reaching into the homes of many New Zealand families.

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge some of the people and the liberal members in the past who have fought on this side of the House for freedom. Venn Young proposed the first attempt at homosexual law reform, Marilyn Waring dedicated her time in Parliament and her academic career to issues of equality, and the Rt Hon Jenny Shipley proposed and helped pass the human rights legislation.

I also stand before you today as the member for Auckland Central. I represent the wonderful suburbs of Grey Lynn, Ponsonby, and Rocky Bay, and a huge lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

But at a personal level, regardless of the fact that I am a member of the National Party and the member for Auckland Central, I support this bill because I actually believe it is the right thing to do. I know the arguments in opposition.

I do not believe that tradition is a good reason to block same-sex couples from the ability to marry. If we had accepted in this House the arguments of tradition, then women would have never got the vote, and women would not be sitting in this Chamber this evening. In terms of religion, there will be ministers and people of different faiths supporting the bill and some who oppose it.

Some have raised issues of religious freedom, and I believe that those issues can be worked through at the select committee.

I know how important this bill is for many young New Zealanders. Young New Zealanders overwhelmingly support this bill.

When I look to the future of this country and the many people who will come after us in this House, I believe that if this legislation does not pass today, it will eventually pass. I meet young New Zealanders every day who are very diverse. They are more diverse than their previous generation. They have a high level of tolerance and respect for people’s differences. They do not shun those differences; in fact, they celebrate them.

I stand here as a New Zealander with eight siblings. I have had lots of parents; several step-parents . I have a mother who has a boyfriend of 25 years and I have a father who has had several marriages. Dad, I think you have used my quota!

The point that I make is that New Zealand family structures are very diverse, and a major reason that I support this bill is that I want every New Zealander to have—and I cannot deny any New Zealander—the ability to marry the person they love.

I stand here as a New Zealander who believes not just in equality of the law but also as someone who has seen people prejudiced and teased in the broad light of day in this country.

I have seen the subtle prejudice: the people who say that their partners are not invited to work functions, the people who feel uncomfortable holding hands walking down the street, and the people who may not be invited to the family Christmas. I see it through my electorate office. I see it in the street.

The prevention of prejudice is not just the role of parliamentarians in this House. Our country would be a lot stronger if we all practised the values of greater tolerance, respect, understanding, and compassion for fellow New Zealanders.

I have met through my office people who are scared to come out to their friends, their families, their colleagues, and their community.

In fact, the saddest result of prejudice that I have seen has been—and is reflected in—the high number of youth lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender suicides. Some of these people have taken their lives because they cannot see themselves as being accepted. They cannot see themselves being happy.

This Parliament has an opportunity through legislation to help change that. I will vote for marriage equality so that every New Zealander can marry the person who they want to love.

This bill enshrines a principle that society supports loving and committed relationships between two people. In all of the over 10,000 constituency queries that I have had, I have never had anyone who has said that they want to be married to more than one person.

As a legislator, I support New Zealand having laws that recognise the value of two people making a commitment to each other in law. My idea of strong family policies is initiatives that support the well-being of children and education and health, and that enable two committed people to be in a relationship and have that recognised in law.

That is why I believe that the institution of marriage can actually be strengthened by enabling more people to marry. I want to acknowledge some people who have been on this road and have fought for freedom within our party.

I want to acknowledge Sean Topham, Shaun Wallis, and Megan Campbell. I want to acknowledge Tau Henare. Kia ora, Tau.

I am pleased to support this marriage equality bill in the House, because I believe that this bill is fundamentally about justice, freedom, and equality of opportunity. It is actually a reason why I am a member of the National Party. Our country, in my view, will be a much better place for enabling every New Zealander to walk with a little more freedom this evening.

I commend this bill to the House.

 

Felix Marwick on the marriage equality bill

Reporting on the reporter – Felix Marwick is the chief political reporter for Newstalk ZB. Yesterday he tweeted…

Normally I don’t take sides on matters political. But I’ve decided to make an exception

…and linked to a statement on his views on the bill: Political Report: The many opinions on marriage inequality

After the bill passed it’s first reading Marwick commented:

Best quality debate I’ve seen in parly for a long time

Must admit the 78 was more than I’d expected. I thought low 70s might be possible. Worth getting out of the sickbed to watch

(The final vote was 80-40).

Conscience vote debates do tend to bring out the best in our MPs. Gives ppl a chance to gauge their character. Not so easy with party votes

It’s the first time I’ve watched a full bill debate. There were a number of excellent speeches, notably (for me) from Louisa Wall, Nikki Kaye and David Clark (my electorate MP in Dunedin North).

Parliament often (justifiably) gets criticised, but this was representative democracy at it’s best – that’s how it seemed to me, but I guess it helps that the speeches and the outcome fit my own views.

Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill speeches

It’s possible that if an alternative marriage equality bill had been drawn from the Member’s ballot it would have been as successful (at this first reading stage) as Louisa’s Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill.

Regardless, Wall has risen to the occasion as a new MP and shown many far more experienced MPs how to do a great job. She has presented and promoted her bill with knowledge, dignity and passion.She has listened to criticisms and arguments against her bill and she has answered them.

This shows in her two speeches in the debate in parliament last night. Video of her opening and closing speeches:

Transcript (draft):

MARRIAGE (DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE) AMENDMENT BILL

First Reading

LOUISA WALL (Labour—Manurewa):

Kia ora, Mr Speaker. Tēnā koutou katoa. I move, That the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill be now read a first time. I nominate the Government Administration Committee to consider the bill.

I am proud to be the sponsor of this bill before the House, which seeks to define marriage as between two people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. It is generally known as the bill that will enable marriage equality between consenting adults, underpinned by principles of love, fairness, and equality of opportunity for all New Zealand citizens.

The bill has attracted passionate reactions from a number of quarters, and the result of that passion has seen statements that reflect a diversity of opinions across our society. This ability to engage and to make a statement and to have a say about this issue is fundamental.

I want to highlight that this is an important aspect of a modern democratic society. The starting point for this bill rests with our role on the international stage.

In 1944, when the founding document of the United Nations’ charter was being developed, New Zealand pushed for a stronger focus on human rights. In 1948 we again played an important and effective role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights .

We saw the need for such a declaration and participated in its instigation and development. This is not surprising, given that we led the world in enabling women to have the right to vote. We did that in 1893 and it took the United States another 27 years to reach that same point.

That sexual orientation is a ground of unlawful discrimination is not a matter of dispute. In 1993 we as a country amended the Human Rights Commission Act 1977 to outlaw discrimination on a wider variety of grounds, including sexual orientation. This is what we must always remember when we discuss this issue.

This issue will make all citizens and people of New Zealand equal under the law, given that currently same-gender couples cannot obtain a marriage licence from the State.

What my bill does not do is require any person or church to carry out a marriage if it does not fit with the beliefs of the celebrant or the religious interpretation a church has. Section 29 remains in place and makes it clear that once a marriage licence is obtained by a couple, it does not oblige a minister or celebrant to marry that couple. That is the situation now and nothing will change.

Because we have freedom of religion in New Zealand, no religious body is bound to marry a couple if that marriage is at odds with its religious belief. For churches and religious institutions, such discrimination would be justified under section 5 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 , based on the right to freedom of religions, specifically the manifestation of religion and belief, under section 15 of this Act.

It is the State’s role to uphold our laws and our international obligations, and to ensure that everyone has equality under the law. The church can discriminate, but the State should not and cannot.

We as parliamentarians belong to the only institution in New Zealand—our Parliament—that makes our laws and upholds not only these laws but our international obligations as well.

It is not the State’s role to sanction heterosexuality or homosexuality. We recognised that as a country in 1986 when we decriminalised homosexual acts. Nor is it the State’s role to judge the marriages of its citizens.

Civil marriage is the legal concept of marriage as a governmental institution, irrespective of religious affiliation in accordance with the marriage laws of the State. Marriage as an institution pre-dates Government and Christianity . It has been part of civilisations and cultures, and has over that time changed dramatically. Same-sex marriage between men was not uncommon in the days of the Roman emperor Nero .

The Catholic Church initially saw the institution of marriage as tainted and undesirable, and advocated chastity and celibacy. Once the church adopted and adapted marriage, it was for life. It could not be dissolved. Married women assumed the identity of their husband and he received all her property. By marriage, the legal doctrine of coverture meant a woman had no legal status. She could not own property, enter into contracts, earn money, or obtain an education without her husband’s consent.

The church and State has at different times refused to marry people who had been divorced, refused to marry people of different faiths, and refused to marry people of different races. Those restrictions have changed because they were not fair and just. Women were not able to be guardians of their children upon a divorce or separation. A law was needed to change that.

For women to own property required law changes as recently as 1884. A woman was only able to obtain a divorce from her husband if there was another cause alongside adultery, such as extreme cruelty, desertion, or incest. A man, however, could obtain a divorce immediately on the basis of his wife’s adultery.

These are all part of the historical matrix that is marriage. Thankfully the need to change some of the laws has been recognised and implemented. With women obtaining the right to vote and finally having legal status, the greatest transformation of marriage began. There are a number of shocking historical facts that surround this subject, and we baulk at how in a civilised society this could happen.

Today is the time to open the institution of marriage to all people who are eligible. There is no reasonable ground on which the State should deny any citizen the right to enter the institution of marriage if he or she chooses. That is not the process of inclusion.

To any person concerned about their own beliefs and how they wish to celebrate marriage, it is important to always remember that this bill allows a couple to only obtain a marriage licence. It does not mean that a minister or celebrant must marry the couple. Section 29 of the Marriage Act 1955 says that, and this will not change.

Some people have suggested that the Church cannot share its view about marriage because of section 56 of the Marriage Act. Section 56 says that a person cannot state that another person’s marriage is not legal. That does not concern the general view of marriage but is directed to an individual, and the reality is that once sanctioned by law, the marriage is legal, and no Church person should be stating otherwise.

I want to highlight two specific consequences if my bill becomes law. Under section 3 of our current Adoption Act a joint application to adopt can be made by only spouses or the birth parent and his or her spouse. A spouse is a marital partner, so if you are married, you are spouses.

Therefore, under the current wording of the Adoption Act same-sex marital partners as spouses would be able to make a joint application to adopt. There are shortcomings in our current Adoption Act, and the Care of Children Law Reform Bill, which is also in the ballot, would be unaffected by this bill.

Also an obvious consequential amendment is to section 30(2) of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 . This provision limits a trans person who is married and who gets a Family Court declaration under section 28 of this Act to change their sex details from having those details amended on a birth certificate. This section should be deleted.

A marriage stood strong through the significant change of one partner transitioning from one sex to another should remain recognised under New Zealand law. How any person’s marriage is performed has never been the State’s business, whether it be cultural, religious, or civil, it is the decision for the couple and their whānau .

What this bill will do is enable that decision to be made and for all people to have the same choices about how they make a commitment to one another. Where it requires a licence, the State should not exclude any citizen who is otherwise eligible. To exclude two people from obtaining a marriage licence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity is not tolerable.

We have an opportunity as a Parliament to rectify this discriminatory, unequal, and unfair application of the law. Kia ora.

Closing speech:

LOUISA WALL (Labour—Manurewa):

Kia ora anō.

In this closing reply I would like to acknowledge that the fight for all New Zealanders to be recognised as equal citizens under the law is one that has been fought in Aotearoa for around 50 years.

To that end I wish to acknowledge two women who are here tonight, who are the litigants in the Quilter case that brought this issue to the fore and recognised that changes necessary to bring about equality were matters for Parliament. Jools Joslin and Jenny Rowan applied for a marriage licence in 1995 almost 10 years after homosexual law reform, and were denied.

They and two other couples challenged that action through the High Court and the Court of Appeal. They then took the matter to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to test that denial against the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Incrementally their courage in challenging the discriminatory implementation of the provisions in the Marriage Act set the platform for the consideration of this bill tonight.

I want to acknowledge all people involved in the campaign for marriage equality.They are people from across the political spectrum representing rainbow groups, queer-straight alliance groups, human rights advocates and groups, our religious leadership, and communities and many others who are fighting for legalised love, and those who have blogged, those who have shared their stories in the media, and those who have led meetings and discussions in our families and communities—thank you for your solidarity in advancing the rights of other New Zealanders and proud citizens of our country.

I specifically want to acknowledge our Pacific and ethnic communities. I mean no disrespect to you. Your beliefs and values and those of your heritage countries of origin are valid.

The purpose and intent of this bill is very clear. It means that the law and the social and civil institutions that that law governs apply equally to everyone. It means that a couple who so choose can apply for, and receive, a marriage licence from the State.

What it does not do is affect a person’s own beliefs about marriage. The fact that a couple wants to make a commitment to each other by marriage is a cause of celebration, and it can only benefit our society and families as a whole. Marginalising and discriminating against particular sectors does not benefit society and families.

It is a simple choice. Do we support discriminatory laws or not? I know I do not, and, hopefully, that is true of most of the members of this House. History tells us that the struggles for the gay community, as with any minority, have often been cruel.

What has been heartening in this discussion has been the positive response from younger people across the board. It is a generational issue, but it is also an issue about personal experience, and the fact that when you have a friend or a whānau member who is gay, you do not want them to suffer or have fewer rights than you. That is not fair or just.

Equality for all New Zealand citizens under the law is not a moral issue. It is an issue of the inherent equal value and worth of every New Zealand citizen in a modern democratic society. The State currently discriminates. That is not fair or just. We should be valuing and including all members of our society.

The State does not limit a New Zealand citizen in their ability to get a passport. If you are a New Zealand citizen, fill in the forms correctly, meet criteria that apply to all people, and pay the fee, you will get one.

The State does not limit a New Zealand citizen in their ability to get a driver’s licence. If you are a New Zealand citizen, fill in the forms correctly, meet criteria that all people must meet, and pay the fee, you will get one.

So why do we tolerate the State not giving New Zealand citizens a marriage licence, based purely on their sexual orientation and gender identity?

We know why many of the churches do not support this bill. It is fundamentally because their first principle is that homosexuals are sinners, and homosexuality is a sin. But in New Zealand there is clear and transparent separation of church and State.

It is about time that that separation was recognised, within the context of marriage in New Zealand and in the State’s role in the Marriage Act, through the issuing of a marriage licence.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.