Green flip-flop on waka jumping riles NZ First

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

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

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

Introduce and pass a ‘Waka Jumping’ Bill.

From the Labour-Green agreement:

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

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

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

Rt Hon DAVID CARTER (National):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then Tracey Martin from NZ First spoke:

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

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

Hon Members: Ha, ha!

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

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

Chloe Swarbrick spoke for the Greens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ayes 64

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

Noes 55

New Zealand Labour 46; New Zealand First 9.

Bill read a first time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaw rejected that criticism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GINNY ANDERSEN (Labour):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BARBARA KURIGER (National—Taranaki – King Country):

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

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

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

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

JAN TINETTI (Labour):

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

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

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

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

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

DAN BIDOIS (National—Northcote):

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

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

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

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

Greens want Government to adopt electoral reform bill

Greens are pushing for electoral reform. Golriz Ghahraman is introducing a member’s bill, and her party wants the Government to adopt it. That would require NZ First or National support to get it over the line.

Proposed changes:

  • Ban foreign donations to political parties to “stop unfair influence and potential corruption in politics”
  • Overturn a ban on prisoner voting
  • Enable Māori to change roll types at any time
  • Lower the MMP threshold to 4%

If foreign donations can be effectively banned it should be a worthwhile change.  They coukld be suported by National. In January (NZH): National floats ban on foreign donations

Calls to ban foreign donations to political parties received a shot in the arm yesterday after National Party MP Nick Smith signalled reforms were needed to ensure the integrity of the New Zealand electoral system.

… in a speech last night to Nelson Rotary, Smith went public with his call for electoral finance reform, saying he wished to promote “a ban on foreign donations.”

“The existing electoral law does put limits on foreign donors, but needs strengthening. Only Kiwi citizens and residents should be able to donate to political parties or to campaigns that seek to influence an election outcome,” Smith said.

Prisoner voting is a human rights issue. Excluding people from voting on things that directly affect them is undemocratic.

Andrew Geddis:  Taylor strikes again (but still has no right to take his place in the human race)

The Court of Appeal has upheld Arthur Taylor’s challenge to the ban on prisoner voting under the NZ Bill of Rights Act … except that he personally shouldn’t have been able to bring the case in the first place, and he still won’t be able to vote. But still – exciting!

I’ve been writing on the issue of prisoner voting generally, and jailhouse lawyer Arthur Taylor’s various challenges to the 2010 law preventing it in particular, for quite some time now.

Māori roll changes is not a big deal, but the current system seems odd, where voters can only switch rolls during a designated Māori Electoral Option period.

One could be cynical about the proposed threshold drop to 4% given the closeness to this of both Greens and NZ First. I ask why 4%? Why not 3%? But 4% may be a pragmatic increment – I would strongly support any lowering of the threshold, which currently favours larger parties, hence their reluctance to make it more democratic.

Source NZH: The Green Party will introduce a members’ bill which would ban all offshore political donations

75% of Parliament means Labour plus National. They should support it. In the past they have been too self interested to implement lower threshold recommendations, but the new reality means it may be in their interests to lower it. It’ is also in the interests oif democracy.

Ridiculed ‘teacher’ bill dropped

A New Zealand First members’ bill that would have restricted who could call themselves a teacher has been dropped. Sometimes ridicule can be effective.

Newshub:  NZ First drops ‘severely flawed’ Bill restricting use of word ‘teacher’

New Zealand First has abandoned a controversial Member’s Bill which would have placed restrictions who can call themselves a teacher.

On Monday, MP Jenny Marcroft announced she had withdrawn the ‘Education (Protecting Teacher Title) Amendment Bill’ after a “positive discussion” between her party and the office of the Minister of Education.

She says the launch of the nationwide initiative ‘Education Conversation 2018’ over the weekend has given her renewed confidence in the country’s respect for teachers.

“Add this to the multiple trains of work the Minister of Education is undertaking and I see a real commitment to raising and recognising the status of our teaching profession which gives me confidence that my Member’s Bill is no longer needed.”

The Bill would have meant that only those who have trained and are qualified as teachers can use the title in order to “lift the status of teachers”.

It would have become an offence, punishable with a $2000 fine, to connect the word with any unqualified person or business. People who were not qualified would have had to use the title of lecturer, tutor or educator instead.

The proposed Bill was harshly criticised by National, which NZ First MP Tracey Martin called “scaremongering”.

I think it was criticised and ridiculed quite widely.

National education spokesperson Nikki Kaye: Coalition Govt finally sees sense on teacher title bill

The withdrawal of the Education (Protecting Teacher Title) Amendment Bill is a big win for hardworking swimming teachers, music teachers, ballet teachers and other teachers affected by the bill, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“It’s clear that National’s campaign against this flawed bill has succeeded. The lack of work on the bill to determine the number of people affected, the costings, and the general impact that the bill would have had meant that it was destined to fail.

Fair enough for Kaye to claim some credit for National, but there was other pressure as well.

“The bill’s misguided attempt to raise the status of the teaching profession by stopping those who have not gained recognised teaching qualifications from calling themselves ‘teachers’ was not even supported by the teaching profession.

“It’s extraordinary that it got to Select Committee with the support of Labour and the Greens despite opposition from the Government’s own Attorney-General David Parker.

“It’s good that Jenny Marcroft has recognised the overwhelming opposition to the bill she inherited from Tracey Martin and made the right call to drop it. Her heart was in the right place but the bill was not well thought-through.

“People who teach swimming, music, dance or art make a significant contribution in our communities and should have every right to call themselves teachers. Fining them for using that title would have done nothing to raise the status of qualified school teachers.

“There are far better ways to raise the status of teachers. We need to make sure we have high quality graduates choosing teaching as a career and investing in professional learning and development opportunities.

If this bill had been passed the Government would have worn the ridicule, including Labour.

I presume NZ First discovered they wouldn’t get the numbers so it was better to withdraw it rather than have it fail.

 

Maori seats should be ‘entrenched’ or scrapped?

Last week a bill seeking to ‘entrench’ the Māori seats in Parliament was drawn from the members’ ballot last week. Are the Māori seats an important part of our democracy, or outdated and unnecessary under MMP?

RNZ: Bill to protect Māori seats selected

The Electoral Entrenchment of Maori Seats Ammendment Bill introduced by Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene ensures Māori seats have the same protections as general electorates seats.

Mr Tirikatane said that under the Electoral Act the provisions establishing the general electorates are entrenched, meaning only a 75 percent majority can overturn them.

However, only a majority of 51 per cent is needed to abolish Māori seats.

Mr Tirikatene said the bill was about fixing the constitution.

“We should be able to have equal protection just like the general seats.”

The protection of Māori electoral seats was vital, Mr Tirikatene said.

“I think they’re unique to Aotearoa, it symbolises our Treaty of Waitangi partnership and they’ve been a long standing, important part of our parliamentary democracy.”

‘Entrenchment’ is a curious term to use here. If the bill passes it would make it a lot harder to get a big enough vote in Parliament to scrap the Māori seats so it may effectively entrench them, but it doesn’t guarantee they would always be retained.

Entrenchment (Oxford):

1 [with object] Establish (an attitude, habit, or belief) so firmly that change is very difficult or unlikely.

1.1 Establish (someone) in a position of great strength or security.

‘by 1947 de Gaulle’s political opponents were firmly entrenched in power’

1.2 Apply extra legal safeguards to (a right guaranteed by legislation)‘steady progress was made in entrenching the individual rights of noblemen’

2 [with object] Establish (a military force) in trenches or other fortified positions.

Origin: Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘place within a trench’): from en-, in- ‘into’ + trench.

Labour currently have about 37% of the vote in Parliament, and 100% of the Māori seats, they would easily stop them from being scrapped if a 75% vote was required. Greens also support retaining the Māori seats, and while National have previously had a policy to scrap them they have softened on this.

Winston Peters and therefore NZ First have strongly supported scrapping the seats.

So does Barry Soper: Seven Maori seats are obsolete

The seven Maori seats in Parliament should be scrapped. The need for them has long passed.

Originally they were only meant to be there for five years to give Maori the right to vote in the general election 150 years ago this year. That was extended by another five years but in 1876 it was extended indefinitely.

The Royal Commission, which proposed our MMP electorate system, said if it was adopted the Maori seats should go. It rightly argued that under MMP all parties would have to pay attention to Maori voters and their concerns and they felt their continued existence would marginalise those concerns.

Around that time the seats came the closest they’ve ever come to abolition with an Electoral Reform Bill, but it failed after strong opposition from Maori.

The seats have been something of a political football ever since. The First MMP election in 1996 saw them all going to New Zealand First, which lost the lot of them just three years later. At the last election Winston Peters promised a binding referendum to consider their abolition and on reducing the number of MPs to 100. His coalition deal with Labour’s put paid to that.

Before the 2008 election John Key promised to get rid of the seats but in his first coalition deal embraced the Maori Party which served as National’s insurance policy right up until the last election.

And today there are the most Maori MPs ever in Parliament, 29 with our indigenous culture’s heritage, or 24 percent of Parliament and most coming from the general electorate roll.

All of the political leaders with the exception of Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw lay claim to Maori heritage. So surely Maori are, or should be, better catered for then ever before.

The seats have become redundant, other than a political crutch for Labour, they serve no purpose and rather than entrenching them, Parliament should be doing away with them.

Should the seats be protected for Māori, or are they give an unfair electoral advantage to Labour?

Is this a real problem, or a self interested jack-up?

Would Tirikatene be an MP if there were no Māori seats? Possibly now via Labour’s list, but probably now not if he hadn’t already been an MP.

The bill would require the support of NZ First or National to pass, so it seems far from guaranteed.

What about public support? 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll August 2017:

  • Should be kept 55%
  • Should be abolished 13%
  • Should be abolished some time in the future 23%

Is the Tirikatene bill trying to fix something that isn’t broken?