Solidarity and resistance?

This is an odd call for support for the Greens resetting and restarting their campaign after a disastrous couple of weeks.

Odd solidarity with no James Shaw in that photo – I wonder if that is deliberate. He is supposed to now be the sole leader, heading efforts to rebuild a tattered party.

The post is by ‘weka’: The Greens: solidarity and resistance

Solidarity and resistance sounds like it comes from a century ago, when poverty was far more widespread and worse, and social welfare barely existed.

The Greens are an enigma for some, and this is understandable because they don’t fit into the neat political boxes that the establishment deem real. They also are an inherent challenge to the establishment just because of who they are, so we can’t expect those part of the MSM invested in retaining the status quo to tell the story straight.

In my opinion it’s always better initially to listen to what the Greens have to say themselves. Here are the words of Green Party people speaking in the past few days,

Green MP Marama Davidson,

We will not forget the thousands of you who came to us with your stories of hardship.

This is just the start. All of your voices, the voices who came to us in trust and faith – are our priority. Ending poverty is a priority. We have the plan, and the political will, and most of all we have every single one of your stories driving us on.

We are 100% behind our sole co-leader James Shaw who will take us through the rest of this election. We are 100% behind Metiria who will continue what she started in her ongoing campaign for the party vote. We are 100% behind our strive to ensure that everyone can live dignified lives.

Green MP Jan Logie speaking on Back Benches,

I tell you something. We are going to NOT let (Metiria’s) sacrifice go for nothing. We are going to double down and do everything we can to make that worthwhile. To end poverty.

Double down on a disastrous own goal that has severely weakened the Greens?

James Shaw, co-leader of the Green Party (video at 4 mins)

I am committed to ending poverty in this country.

We are the party that aims to end poverty. Frankly everybody else is interested in tinkering around the edges. We’re the only party that’s drawn a line in the sand and said we know what it takes to lift 212,000 children above the poverty line.

That was to be really clear that the Greens are still strong on the kaupapa of ending poverty.

For the people on the look out for the environmental side, there’s a plethora of solid Green Policy already in place and based around NZ becoming world leaders on climate action, cleaning up our rivers, and ending poverty.

Metiria Turei started the Green Party campaign last month with a speech that started the temporary rise and then dramatic fall of the Greens (and precipitated a dramatic turnaround for the better for Labour).

Green MPs and Green supporters were blind to the risks and to the damage being done to their party. They attacked anyone who pointed out their problems or who criticised Turei or the party. They happily criticised and rejected two of their own MPs who were troubled by integrity issues.

If they want to ignore all of the problems the brought upon themselves, or just blame others – in particular the media which is seen as just a part of the establishment to be resisted – then I don’t like their chances of repairing the substantial damage they have caused themselves.

No matter how Shaw tries to repackage the Green campaign today, if the Green supporters who remain active continue the Metiria mission it may take an election disaster to get the message through.

If Greens generally follow the gist of what weka has posted through the campaign then I think there’s a real chance of them dropping through the threshold and crashing out of Parliament altogether.

That would be a real shame, but the Greens seem intent on doubling down – and down, and down.

Calling for solidarity and resistance may turn the Greens around, but it could also make a disaster permanent for the socialist sisterhood.

Pay equity commitments

Jacinda Ardern speaking at a pay equity rally today, where amounts other things she committed to pay equity for mental health workers – that won’t be cheap so must be factored in to Labour’s spending promises, but I think it is just. and needs to be done urgently.

Pay equity to be a priority for Labour

Labour will make sure that the country’s mental health workers are a priority when it comes to pay equity negotiations, says the Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.

“It is very important for me to right the wrong created by National’s exclusion of mental health care workers in the TerraNova equal pay settlement

“We all want a just agreement that will stop the potential exodus of talented carers. It’s in everyone’s interests to ensure that these important workers are paid fairly, and that they continue their vital work.

“A settlement has become crucial for the country’s health as in the past nine years there has been a 60 per cent increase in Kiwis with mental health problems trying to access help through District Health Boards and other agencies.

“I want these mental health and addiction support workers left out of the pay equity deal to know that Labour will not let them down.

“The Pay Equity legislation the Government introduced this week will also be scrapped and redrafted when we are in office. The current legislation means we will never again see a settlement like the TerraNova settlement, or genuine pay equity achieved for our sisters, mothers, daughters and granddaughters. That’s just not right in 2017.

“Labour pledges that his will be a priority for us. This injustice must be righted,” says Jacinda Ardern.

Greens: Women who work for Govt to be paid fairly by 2020

The Green Party has announced today that it will make public sector chief executives responsible for achieving pay equity for employees of core Government departments within its first term in Government.

The Green Party will make gender pay balance a performance expectation for each chief executive across the core state sector. Green Party MP Jan Logie announced the move at a Pay Equity Coalition rally in Auckland today.

“Women have been underpaid and undervalued for too long. The Green Party will ensure that women who work for the Government are fairly paid by 2020,” said Green Party women’s spokesperson Jan Logie.

“The Government should be leading the way towards pay equity. It is a major employer so this will have a huge positive impact on the lives of women.

“At the moment, the Crown Law Office pays men 33 percent more than women. The State Services Commission pays men 22 percent more than women. Responsibility needs to be within each government ministry. Specifically, chief executives need to take action to address this unfairness.

“There has been a calculated decision to pay some people less than others, and women deserve to be paid more than they currently get.

“The wider public sector and private sector organisations with Government contracts will be required to report on their gender pay outcomes, advertise all starting salary bands and achieve gender pay balance by 2025 as a condition of their contracts.

“Chief Executives will be expected, with unions, to identify female-dominated jobs across the public sector. They will then need to do a proactive assessment for the skills, responsibility, experience, and work conditions of that job, and pay women what they would be paid if it was a similar male-dominated role.

“We have talked with experts and unions and we believe this timeframe is achievable.

“It’s time for a bold government move on pay equity, and the Green Party in government will make that happen,” Ms Logie said.

 

Resistance to inquiry into forced adoptions

The pressure on young women and girls to give up their babies for adoption, effectively forcing them, was awful, albeit in a different social age (our society has changed hugely since the 1960s).

The petitioner Maggie Wilkinson, and Green and Labour MPs are complaining after National voted against an inquiry at a parliamentary committee.

Newstalk ZB: Government accused of shutting down calls for formal inquiry into forced adoption

Waihi woman Maggie Wilkinson, whose just-born child was taken away from her at age 20 fifty years ago, started a petition urging an inquiry into institutional abuses.

Wilkinson says unmarried women at the time weren’t even allowed access to contraception. They were naive, and taken advantage of by the state.

“It was a great opportunity to take our children and give them to married people who had either missed the boat in having a family, because of war, etcetera,” she said. “It was a supply.”

Although Wilkinson’s petition was rejected by the parliamentary committee, she’s refusing to listen to those who say she should just “get over it.”

“I can’t [get over it] because there are women like me who are still alive and there are some women who died without holding their child, without seeing their child,” she said.

It was a horrible thing inflicted on mothers, and on the babies regardless of what there adopted life was like.

Green MP Jan Logie…

…isn’t happy the government MPs who have dismissed the matter out of hand, and is critical of their view that times and practices have changed.

“That is an argument in terms of dismissing it, [and] robs all of us in this country of an opportunity of understanding and giving those women some closure,” Logie said.

Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni…

…believes holding an inquiry is important, and she believes the same mistakes could happen again if citizens don’t reflect on and learn from the past.

“So many women, and broader families as well, were impacted by this, and so they deserve to have their experience recognised.”

In Australia…

…a Senate inquiry was held and then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a historic national apology in 2013 to women similarly affected.

The Senate committee report found unwed mothers were pressured, deceived and threatened to give up their babies, so they could be adopted by married couples.

Much like in New Zealand. It was perpetuated by the State but family of the mothers were also complicit, trying to avoid social embarrassment.

Newshub: Tearful calls for forced adoption inquiry rejected

Women who sat in tears sharing their stories of being made to give up their babies through forced adoption have been refused an inquiry into the practice.

Parliament’s social services committee has rejected a petition by Maggie Wilkinson who called for a full investigation into the practice, which saw hundreds of children put up for adoption between the 1950s and 1990s against their mothers’ wishes.

In a report from the committee, tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the committee acknowledged the “pain and suffering” women like Mrs Wilkinson and their children went through, but a majority found an inquiry wasn’t the best way to deal with the issue.

“Although we do not agree with many adoption practices from the 1950s to the 1980s, we note that these practices reflected the social values and attitudes of the time,” the majority found.

“We cannot undo what has been done before but we can stop the denial and silence and support people to move forward,” Ms Logie’s Green Party minority view says.

In their statement the party hit out at evidence presented to the committee by the Ministry of Vulnerable Children, which did not address the specific questions presented by Mrs Wilkinson and her backers, who also disputed parts of the official evidence.

They’re backing a broad and full inquiry and an apology.

The Labour Party also backs ongoing calls for an investigation.

“We moved a motion at select committee for an inquiry to be carried out; however, unfortunately this was costed down by the Government members of the committee,” the Labour minority view in the report says.

The first calls for an inquiry were to former National MP Trevor Rogers in 1992.

That’s a bit ironic.

The current National Government seems to be averse to inquiries into past injustices. They have also avoided an investigation into mental health abuses.

MPs on the Social Services Committee:

SocialServicesCommittee

 

Abortion law reform

This morning The Nation asked Is it time for abortion law reform?

The Nation has spoken to a number of women about their experiences. Some didn’t want to be identified.

The common theme is that seeking an abortion in New Zealand is a drawn-out process that adds stress and discomfort to an already fraught situation.

“It’s unnecessarily complicated, it’s out of date,” says Dame Margaret Sparrow, who has been advocating for abortion law reform for decades.

“I think it’s demeaning to women because women can’t make the decision for themselves – the decision has to be made by two certifying consultants.

“And also, I don’t think we need grounds for abortion – 98 percent are done on the grounds of mental health. I think that’s ridiculous.”

Under New Zealand law, abortion is a crime. But the law outlines a few scenarios where women can obtain an abortion at under 20 weeks’ gestation:

  • if the pregnancy is a risk to the physical or mental health of the mother
  • if there’s a substantial risk that the child would be “seriously handicapped”
  • if the child is a result of incest
  • if the women is “severely subnormal”.

Handicapped and subnormal are not terms you hear much any more.

The way abortion law works in practice in New Zealand is outdated and outlandish, demanding dishonesty from women seeking abortions as well as from doctors rubber stamping them – if the woman is lucky, otherwise it is degrading.

When a woman decides to seek an abortion, she first has to get a referral from her doctor. She has to undergo a number of tests, including an ultrasound.

She’ll see two doctors, called certifying consultants, who give the sign-off for the termination.

She’ll also be offered counselling. In some areas it’s compulsory.

Ms Ruscoe said for her, the process took a month.

“I had pretty much every side-effect it is possible to get. It made it really difficult to work, really difficult for me to keep it from people around me. Emotionally it was really difficult, it was stressful, it was pretty much the longest month of my life.”

For A, the process was similar.

“It was extremely tiring. It took every ounce of energy to be able to continue to just go through my day-to-day without letting everything go. That was hard.”

And a bad experience with a social worker made it much more difficult.

“It felt like I was at the mercy of everybody else and their opinions, and what they thought was best.

“It is my body and I made the best decision I could at the time and I don’t regret it.

The law needs to properly reflect modern public attitudes and practices. But MPs and parties don’t seem keen on doing anything about it.

But the Government says change isn’t necessary.

“We’ve made it quite clear it’s not something we’re planning to review at the moment,” said Minister of Justice Amy Adams.

“Our main concern is that the law is working as Parliament intended, and I haven’t’ seen any indication that that clumsy language is affecting its operation. That’s the critical thing for me.”

The whole way it operates is more than clumsy, it’s crazy – women just about have to claim they are crazy to get an abortion.

National isn’t the only political party apparently ducking for cover. The Labour Party wants a Law Commission review of abortion law, but justice spokesperson and deputy leader Jacinda Ardern declined to be interviewed for this story.

Her spokesperson says that’s because it’s a conscience issue rather than a party one.

That is, doesn’t want to do anything about it.

The Greens and ACT support decriminalising abortion. The Green Party’s Jan Logie says changing the law isn’t a topline priority, but it’s a fundamental human rights issue.

“When we have a law that is being loosely interpreted, we can feel grateful but we can’t feel secure. I really think that is another call for us to act and make sure our law reflects what we want.”

‘Not a topline priority’ means they won’t do anything about it. That’s a political way of appearing to support something but not doing anything.

The national government won’t do anything, and no one else is trying to do anything about.

There are no current Members’ Bills in the system on it.

Women are poorly served by their Parliamentary representatives on this.

 

 

 

 

Government appointed committee criticises abortion law

The Government appointed The Abortion Supervisory Committee reported to Parliament on Thursday and slammed the current laws covering abortion, saying they are an indictment and “some parts of the language is actually quite offensive, referring to people as subnormal”.

NZ Herald: Not updating abortion law ‘an indictment’, supervising committee tells MPs

The Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) made its annual appearance at Parliament’s justice and electoral committee today, reporting on how abortion law has been managed.

While calling for the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act, passed in 1977, to be updated, the ASC made clear the larger issue of more significant changes was a question for the public and Parliament.

Dame Linda Holloway, ASC chairwoman, told the committee that the legislation’s wording was causing “enormous administrative problems” for the ASC and health practitioners.

The law was not written in inclusive language, Dame Linda said.

“In fact, some parts of the language is actually quite offensive, referring to people as subnormal, for example. Really it is an indictment that we have statute like that on the books that is not being corrected.”

The abortion law referred to the “operating doctor”. Now many women who received abortions were medically induced.

“There is no operating doctor. Again, that can cause lots of challenges and hassle,” Dame Linda said.

What’s the chances of this being addressed by Parliament?

Asked by Labour’s Jacinda Ardern if the committee had a view on whether abortion remaining under the Crimes Act should be reviewed as part of the redraft, she said it held no opinion on that question.

“We believe that major reform of the Act is something for society and for Parliament.”

The strong criticism of aspects of abortion law comes amidst increasing political debate about the issue, with Labour, the Green Party and Act Party all calling for change.

Labour leader Andrew Little has called Prime Minister Bill English “deeply conservative” on abortion law, and says he believes the legislation needs to be reviewed and upgraded, and abortion should not be on the Crimes Act.

However, he will not commit to introducing legislation if in Government; Labour policy is for the law to first be reviewed by the Law Commission.

English said recently that while he opposes abortion he thinks the current law is working adequately. Under his leadership National are not going to initiate any changes.

But, while Labour are making noises about needing change, they also seem reluctant to do anything about it themselves.

The Green Party has already made abortion reform a party issue, rather than a conscience issue.

The Greens’ policy would decriminalise abortion. Terminations after 20 weeks would be allowed only when the woman would otherwise face serious permanent injury to her health or in the case of severe fetal abnormalities.

Its women’s spokeswoman, Jan Logie, said today that the ASC was clearly telling the government that the legislation had not stood the test of time.

Asked if she would introduce a private member’s bill, Logie said none would pass before the election and the national conversation would probably happen after September’s election.

So nothing will happen before the election. Any attempt to address the inadequate law that is being effectively ignored is likely to depend on who forms the next Government, and what sort of priority parties like Labour are prepared to put on reform.

It is likely to depend on the lottery of the Members’ Bill ballot should Greens submit a bill.

 

Reaction to Family and Whanau Violence Bill

The Family and Whanau Violence Bill that was introduced into Parliament yesterday.

Family violence is a big issue. Violence not only affects the well being of adults and children in families, it has adverse flow on effects in health, education, crime, imprisonment rates and employment.

I can’t find any reaction from Labour.

Green MP Jan Logie in Stuff – Overhaul of family violence laws goes before Parliament:

Green Party women’s spokeswoman Jan Logie said the Government’s reforms were “an important first step”, but she still had concerns about inconsistencies in ensuring the safety of children.

Logie wanted the reinstatement of the Bristol clause, which would refuse abusive former partners access to their children until their safety was assured, and was also concerned about a lack of funding for support services like Women’s Refuge.

“If we’re going to be asking these organisations to do this extra service and they’re struggling to stay open and meet the demand, then it’s not going to work.”

Justice Minister Amy Adams…

…said the safety of children was an “absolutely paramount consideration” both in existing law and the family violence reforms.

“We’ve done a lot more in these reforms, but broadly speaking, the underlying rationale still remains, which…has always and continues to put the safety of children right at the forefront of decision-making.”

Then-Prime Minister John Key announced the overhaul last September…

…saying the Government would not “shy away” from tackling family violence.

“The challenge of reducing family violence lies with all of us, with the Government, the police, social agencies and with everyone who knows that violence is occurring.”

Police Commissioner:

At the time, the announcement was welcomed by Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who said being able to identify family violence offenders more easily would make it easier for police to provide support.

Women’s Refuge media release:


Women’s Refuge welcomes The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill

The introduction of the much anticipated Family and Whānau violence legislation has been warmly welcomed by family violence organisation Women’s Refuge. The legislation introduced to parliament today places a far greater emphasis upon victim safety – a long overdue and applauded move. This change will see the justice sector required to place victim safety at the heart of much of their decision making, especially in to care of children and bail issues.

Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Dr Ang Jury says “we are very pleased to see the government has taken seriously the concerns and suggestions from those working at the coal face in crafting this comprehensive piece of family violence legislation; the strong emphasis on the safety of victims and their children is a great move”

Under the proposed legislation, processes around the granting and policing of Protection Orders by the Courts have been significantly strengthened. Information including risk factor information will now be made available to Police Districts when an Order is granted and breaches of Protection Orders will now be treated as aggravating factors at sentencing. In addition all bail applications before the Court must include careful consideration of victim safety.

“Incidents of family violence and abuse including breaches of Protection Orders are rarely isolated or ‘one off’ incidents, they are deliberate and frequently repeated. To see this reflected in the way the courts sentence is a significant step towards ensuring a victim’s safety is paramount”

Legislation changes will also include better recording and acknowledgement of family violence, better information sharing provisions between government and family violence agencies, the introduction of a code of practice across the sector, and the inclusion of new classes of offences. While Women’s Refuge has yet to see the details of all of these, they are positive about the proposed changes.

“We are pleased to see focused attention to strangulation and marriage by coercion with the introduction of these new offences. The inclusion of animal abuse in the new definition is also extremely pleasing as we know that threats of harm to pets are a frequent control tactic utilised by perpetrators; to see this explicitly recognised is a great step forward.”

The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill was introduced to Parliament today to overhaul the Domestic Violence Act, amend five Acts and make consequential changes to over thirty pieces of law.

More on Domestic Violence – Victim Protection Bill

There are two very good things about the progress of Jan Logie’s Domestic Violence – Victim Protection Bill – it is an Opposition MP’s genuine attempt to make a difference in the battle against the scourge of domestic violence, and it is an excellent example of how MPs from all parties can work together on a common worthy cause.

The first two speeches:

Introductions and parts of the rest of the First Reading speeches:

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE—VICTIMS’ PROTECTION BILL

First Reading

POTO WILLIAMS (Labour—Christchurch East):

I have to first acknowledge my dear colleague Jan Logie, who is an absolute champion for women, and I have to say, Minister Amy Adams, I am actually rather taken aback by the emotion you expressed at the end of that speech.

I have to say for many women in the House, this is a very personal issue. I just want to tautoko my daughters and granddaughter in the gallery. Heaven forbid that anything that happens to many of the women in our country happen to those beautiful children up in the gallery.

I must acknowledge Heather Hēnare, champion of this particular cause and supporter of many victims of domestic violence. Your work will go on and you will continue to be recognised for the amazing work that you do.

What this bill, I believe, attempts to do is to really start to normalise the conversations that we must be having in each and every workplace about domestic violence. It must bring it down to the point where we stop being scared of opening the door and shining the light on what is going on in many of the families that we occupy—that we live in.

Each of our families is touched in some way by the abhorrence of domestic violence: whether we are impacted personally, whether our children experience it, and whether we are supporting our sisters and our brothers through difficult times.

This legislation is saying: “You know what? It happens.” Let us own it. Let us get real about this everybody. Because it happens, and because we are good employers, we are going to allow people the time that they need to address those issues. Ten days is not much but, you know what, it is a heck of a lot more than we used to get, and it is a good start. It actually says “Yep. We have a responsibility here. We have a responsibility as employers to support our employees through this, and you know why? Because they are good employees and we want to keep them and it actually adds to our bottom line at the end of the day.” Let us get real; it is all about the cost benefit for the employer…

SARAH DOWIE (National—Invercargill):

I too join in the line-up of people here today who are very pleased to be speaking in support of this bill, the Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill, in its first reading, to see it through to the select committee stage to have some honest conversation about how we move we forward in protecting women, the majority of women who are subject to domestic violence, and those men the workplace.

I am pleased that Jan Logie has referred this bill to the Justice and Electoral Committee. I think that our committee is up for the challenge to have these discussions, and, as I said before, I am very pleased to be part of this movement right now that has unanimous support in the House.

I do want to pay tribute to Jan Logie, because, contrary to popular belief, MPs do speak to each other outside this house, and I can also report that I had a conversation with Jan Logie just before we came into the house here tonight and I could see her genuine excitement that

(a) her bill had been pulled from the ballot and
(b) that she would receive unanimous support to see this bill through to the select committee phase.

So, well done, Jan, for championing this, and well done for that achievement.

CLAYTON MITCHELL (NZ First):

It gives me great pleasure to stand on behalf of New Zealand First to, first of all, acknowledge you, Jan Logie, for bringing this bill to the House. With tongue in cheek and with serious sincerity, I think divine intervention has played a little part in this.

Being International Women’s Day today says a lot, and the only time I have seen that happen again was with Sue Moroney’s bill when it was to do with paid parental leave. It was just again that the stars aligned, so well done and great courage. It just goes to show that the passion that you have for resolving this comes through with your speech and you speak very, very eloquently of that.

I would also like to acknowledge the Minister for her words and her sincere thoughts, along with all other members who have spoken here today, and it gives me great pleasure as a male to stand up and speak to this.

The fact is that New Zealand First wholly supports this. We certainly would encourage the conversation to continue in select committee. I think there are some potential drafting issues but that is not here nor there. We would like to hear from small and medium sized businesses to see what their take is with regards to the period of time, the 10 days, that has been allocated for people who are suffering at the hands of domestic violence…

JONO NAYLOR (National):

There is no doubt that domestic violence is an absolute scourge on our society. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that, firstly, we need to do absolutely everything we can to eliminate it to ensure that we do not have victims of domestic violence in New Zealand but also that, secondly, we as a society need to do everything that we can in the meantime to support victims of domestic violence….

…I also just want to acknowledge the delegation of people who I had come through my office door in Palmerston North a couple of weeks ago, the local representatives from the National Council of Women of New Zealand.

They came to me and said: “Jono, we’d really, really like you to support this bill, at least to the first reading stage, to ensure that this very, very important conversation gets on the table in Parliament and is debated, so we can work through all those different sort of nuances”—as I referred to before—”to ensure that we get the very best legislation we can.”

I am really happy to support this, at least at this stage, to ensure that we have that very positive discussion, because, as I said when I opened this speech, it is clearly incredibly important that we not only eliminate domestic violence from our communities but do everything we can to support the victims of it, and I commend this bill to the House.

SUE MORONEY (Labour):

At the outset, can I first of all acknowledge that this is International Women’s Day. What better day to be debating this bill than International Women’s Day, which is a day when we all stand in solidarity with women right across the world in order to, yes, celebrate how far we have come, but also pause and think about what we have yet to do. This bill clearly falls into the latter bracket. I want to congratulate the member Jan Logie on her foresight in bringing this bill forward…It is the ballot goddess at work again to make sure that this got debated on International Women’s Day, because, sadly, this is an issue that does affect women, in more numbers than it does men. In fact, what we would wish is that it affected nobody.

I agree with the last speaker, Jono Naylor, in that all of us would want to not be dealing with this end of domestic violence.

All of us would want to be putting our energy into preventing it from happening, and that is the world we really want to live in: where there are respectful relationships and people can deal with the pressures in life and the stresses in life without battering the people closest to them, the people who should be able to rely on the love and support of family members, but instead are hurt and have violence meted out against them from the people whom they should have the most trust and warmth and understanding from.

Sadly, that is not the world we live in, and I will not rest until we actually address the front end of this, and actually stop that domestic violence from happening in the first place. But it does happen, and so this bill is going to be something that will be a huge relief for those people, predominantly women, whom this happens to.

CHRIS BISHOP (National):

Can I firstly acknowledge the sponsor of the bill, Jan Logie. I was not privileged enough to see her first reading speech, but I understand it was quite a remarkable speech, and I want to pay tribute to you, Ms Logie, for your sterling work in bringing this bill to the House.

…one of the things I have been very privileged to have done since I became an MP just over 2 years ago is to go and spend time with our women’s refuge in the Hutt and to deliberately get out there into the community, to some of our marae and to some of those community organisations that are dealing with the front end and the hard edge of this issue.

One of the things—I suppose the biggest lesson—that I have taken away from those visits and those conversations is that the size of the problem is truly remarkable. You know, it is just almost unfathomable, the extent of violence—almost always by men against women—in our communities.

As Minister Amy Adams said in her excellent speech, which I watched in my office, it is not just going to take the Government to do something about this problem; it is a whole-of-society issue that we need to address.

The Government will do its bit and we will lead on this, and I hope, actually, that we will look back on the 2014 to 2017 Parliament and people will say that that was the Parliament—the 51st Parliament—when the New Zealand Government and elected representatives got serious about family violence.

IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Labour—Palmerston North):

I would like to start where others have started, by congratulating the member in charge of this bill, Jan Logie. She was very humble in her first reading speech, by recognising that the work—as is always the case with these things—started outside Parliament with Women’s Refuge, with unions bargaining for changes through collective bargaining, and with all the other groups that, I am sure, have worked closely with Jan Logie on formulating this bill.

But the truth is it does actually take someone in this Parliament to put the bill into the ballot, and then, when it comes out of the ballot, to actually champion it, to have the negotiations and to work with colleagues around the House, especially the hard work to get to the point where it appears we will have unanimity when we come to the vote on this first reading.

So I want to acknowledge that work by Jan Logie. We all like to be humble in this place, but we have a job to do, and when those opportunities come up—when that bill comes out of the ballot—it does take a lot of work to get to the position that this bill has got to. So congratulations to Jan on doing that.

I also want to acknowledge the Minister of Justice, Amy Adams, for her leadership, because—I will say this gently, and like the previous member, Chris Bishop, I do not want to be party political—the Government’s initial response was negative.

I think it’s reasonable for Lees-Galloway to bring this up but god of him to say it ‘gently’ in the context of general cooperation on this Bill.

The Government’s initial response was that this would cost too much, and Michael Woodhouse, as the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, stated that on the record.

Clearly, some conversations have gone on within the National Government, aided, I am sure, by the lobbying from the member in charge of the bill, and it is pleasing to see that Amy Adams’ leadership has won through and the Government has decided that this is a worthy piece of legislation to at least take to a select committee, where we can have the conversation.

MAUREEN PUGH (National):

I too stand in support tonight of the Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill, in the name of Green Party MP Jan Logie, and I add my congratulations to Miss Logie on her initiative in writing this bill and also on her good fortune of having it pulled from the ballot. I did hear her speech tonight. It was an impassioned speech, and I congratulate you, Miss Logie, on your dedication to this cause.

In my own conversations with NGOs that work with victims of domestic violence, there is a clear need to support women at work who have fallen victim of domestic violence. For women who work in front-line roles where they must interact with the public, it is essential for them to have their privacy protected, especially if a woman bears the marks, the bruises, the impacts from a domestic violence episode.

Also at work an abuser makes it very easy for a woman to be trapped, to be captured in her workplace, and to become yet a further target for abuse. The most effective way that an abuser does that is through violent or abusive phone calls or emails. But also it becomes a risk for others in the workplace, and thereto lies the impact for employers making their workplace a safe workplace.

JAN LOGIE (Green):

It gives me hope to stand up tonight, after having listened to all the speeches in the House. I could think of it as personally gratifying that this bill, with the community we have brought to the House, has support. But mostly what I am feeling is the message that you are sending to survivors in the country, that we are, together, committed to making their lives better. We have heard their experiences and we are committed to making their lives better in every way that we can. I think that, for me, at least is a moment to mark in time.

I have heard really clear support for wanting to eradicate domestic violence, for us to use what tools we can as a country to do that, and to support the victims and survivors in the meantime. I have also heard a very clear articulation from all members in the House that yes, this is not just the business of Parliament or Government. All of us have a role to play in that, and that part of being a good employer is caring for your staff, and that this is one way to do that, and it will pay off for businesses.

I have heard mention that there needs to be some work around the drafting of the bill. I am really happy to acknowledge that. Part of the reality of it was that I had different legal opinions on the current status of the law in relation to flexible working hours, but particularly in relation to the Health and Safety in Employment Act and the extent to which it covered domestic violence.

What we have drafted is something—it is quite hard to get something right, when you are not actually sure of the status of the existing law. I really do see it as an offering for us to be able to work together to come up with the best solution. When we are all on the same page about the outcome, then that gives me hope that this process is going to get the result that we need. I will say it again—it is a result that could save lives, so it is absolutely worth hanging on to.

I did appreciate the comments that maybe we could loosen up a little bit. It is not something that people usually suggest to me. The flexible working arrangements and the need for the domestic violence documents in here were based on some legislation from overseas, in the UK. But yes, we do not want to make it more difficult. We want to clarify that flexible working arrangements should be used and should be available, and that that needs to be visible, I believe, to be able to have that intent realised. But we do not want to make it more difficult.

Somebody did mention the point about the fact that perhaps this would be too onerous for small businesses, and I thank the member Iain Lees-Galloway for asking businesses to come with solutions, if that is a concern for them. But I am going to push quite hard on this, because the international research—in Australia 1.6 million workers are already covered by these provisions, and for most of them, although the provisions are there they do not take them. It is very rare. They will take some. They take what they need. It is not a mandatory 10 days. It is up to 10 days, and you use it when you need it. The experience overseas as well as in businesses here is that people do not exploit that. It is a relationship of trust that is working. I would want to put people’s minds at rest on that point.

In the final few seconds—just for all those people who have been fighting for this for so long, and for those women who went back because they had no other choice or felt that they could not get out, I hope tonight gives you some courage. Kia ora.

Bill read a first time.

Bill referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee.

Full draft transcript.

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.

 

 

Domestic violence bill progresses

Jan Logie’s domestic violence bill passed it’s first reading in Parliament yesterday with all parties supporting it after NZ First and National announced that they would support it yesterday morning.

Logie has done well to get her Bill this far. This is a good use of the Private Members’ Bill system – submitting things that have a chance of succeeding rather than using them to futilely grandstand as sometimes happens.

If there is one thing that deserves all of parliament and all parties to get in behind is initiatives that will help reduce domestic violence, which is a major and insidious problem in New Zealand.

Violence is costly, in personal terms, in family terms and also for the country as a whole.

The Government is planning more.

RNZ: Overhaul of domestic violence laws on the way

A new group, the Backbone Collective, says courts are failing to protect women and failing to hold abusers accountable, and the system’s response for women who have experienced violence and abuse is broken and dysfunctional.

The collective wants to hear from abused women so it can change the way the justice system deals with violence against them.

The government plans to unveil sweeping changes to the country’s domestic violence laws in the next few weeks.

Women’s Refuge chief executive Ang Jury applauded the collective’s aims.

“The more stories we have from women who are interacting with the system, the better. Things can’t be fixed unless unless we actually do hear and provide the evidence that things do actually need fixing.”

But she said changes were under way, including an overhaul of legislation and the way the police handled cases. Police were training officers “to try and shift some of those responses that they know to be inappropriate and wrong.”

There have been various changes over the last few decades – it’s not long ago that police ignored what were referred to as ‘domestics’, leaving violence problems for families to sort out themselves. This was ludicrous when one partner was being beaten and intimidated and had limited ways out of the violence.

University of Otago dean of law, Professor Mark Henaghan, said it was a sad fact that people were still being killed in their homes and children were being abused, but to describe the system as broken was a step too far.

Courts, judges and police took domestic violence seriously and court orders could be granted quickly. “Throughout all the legislation it’s the highest principal, people must be safe, that’s what the law requires,” he said.

New Zealand has the highest rates of violence against women in the western world, costing the country an estimated $7 billion a year.

The problem isn’t just violence against women. Many men are also affected, as are children, and damaging them can ruin their lives and lead to lifetimes of problems – which can be expensive for the state through crime, the justice and prison systems and health and mental health systems.

Justice Minister Amy Adams acknowledged the country’s poor record on family violence, but said the government was making improvements across the entire system for dealing with it.

She expected to table new legislation in parliament in the next couple of weeks.

The government had sought views across the entire sector. “We’ve also been working on court processes, the way we support victims through the system, the way the judiciary gets information to support what they do.”

Good. Adams has made addressing violence as one of her priorities.

But legislation was only part of the solution, she said. “[Domestic violence] will stop when men and when perpetrators stop thinking it’s okay to abuse family members. And the government and the court system are part of that response, but fundamentally it’s about the attitudes we have as New Zealanders to each other.”

Professor Henaghan said it was a much bigger problem than just the courts.

“We’ve got to look at better ways to get people changing their attitudes towards their partners so they don’t use violence as a way of resolving their disputes.

It’s a society problem that society has to do more to address.

Non-violent people have to do and say more to make it clear that violence is not a norm and is not acceptable in a decent society. Remaining silent sends the wrong signals to those who think violence is ok.

Logie’s bill is a small step but a worthwhile one, and will add to the building momentum to reduce violence and violent attitudes.