End of Life Choice Bill

David Seymour’s ‘End of Life Choice’ Bill was drawn from today’s Members’ ballot. It is unlikely to be debated before the election, so a new intake of MPs will get to decide whether it progresses through Parliament.

I hope that it at least passes the First Reading vote and goes to select committee for consideration and for public submissions. From there it will depend on what form the bill ends up taking, in particular what safeguards are included, and then it should be up to conscience votes.

End of Life Choice Bill

This bill gives people with a terminal illness or a grievous and irremediable medical condition the option of requesting assisted dying.

It is a controversial subject and will no doubt be keenly debated, and there is likely to be  a lot of lobbying.

From ACT: Campaign to legalise assisted dying begins now

The End of Life Choice Bill has been drawn from Parliament’s ballot.

“The campaign starts now,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“We are long overdue for a compassionate response to the anguish faced by the small but significant minority of grievously and irremediably ill, or terminally ill, people. Current law leaves them no choice but to endure intolerable suffering and loss of dignity in the final days of their lives. The End of Life Choice Bill would allow people who so choose and are eligible to end their life in peace and dignity, surrounded by loved ones.

“Polling consistently shows strong support for allowing assisted dying for those with terminal illness or who are grievously and irremediably ill. It’s time to translate this support into action. This issue will likely be decided by a conscience vote, so I encourage all supporters of this cause to write to their local MPs and urge them to support the Bill at first reading so that the issue can be thoroughly considered through the select committee process.

“This is a debate which will take place around the country, not just in the media, but online and at homes and churches. I hope people respectfully engage in the discussion with friends and family, and also submit on the Bill as it reaches select committee stage.

“A copy of my Bill, together with further information including answers to common questions and criticisms, can be found on the campaign website, lifechoice.org.nz.”

Is ‘forced marriage’ bill necessary?

A Members Bill  “aims to crack down on forced marriages”, but how much of a problem is it trying to fix?

It is said to target ethnic groups such as Indians and Pacific Islanders but traditionally in New Zealand pressure to marry has come from Christians of European ethnicities.

National MP Jo Hayes had her Marriage (Court Consent to Marriage of Minors) Amendment Bill  bill drawn from the ballot last week.

This bill proposes that 16 and 17 year olds who wish to marry must apply to the court, and sets out how the court is to consider the application.

Getting courts involved in consent to get married looks like an unnecessary interference by the state unless it is addressing a real problem.

NZH: Marriage Amendment Bill in first reading to prevent forced underage marriages

National List MP Jo Hayes believes forced marriages between teenagers are “slowly creeping into New Zealand society” and that the problem exists primarily in Pacific and Asian communities, where parents can pressure a young girl into marrying an older man for financial security.

She said some young girls were treated like slaves once coerced into wedlock.

Hayes said the bill would sort out which marriages were between consenting teenagers and which were forced.

At present, the legal age to wed is 18, but 16 and 17 year olds can marry with their parents’ consent.

Is it actually a problem? And if so would court consent fix the problem? And if it’s a problem why have it for a limited age range?

“I think [the teenagers] do it for their parents sake. I think it’s hell on earth for some of them.”

Marriages and relationships entered into voluntarily are as likely to to turn bad, and probably do in far greater numbers.

The numbers of young people getting married has dropped significantly over the last half century.

Teenage marriages were more common in the 1970s. In 1971, a total of 285 boys and 2304 girls aged 16 and 17 were wed.

In the most recent data, for 2015, 12 boys and 36 girls were married aged 16 or 17. That was a slight increase on the previous year when 33 girls and 9 boys were wed.

I wonder what data, if any, Hayes has on the ethnicities involved in forced marriages.

Labour’s spokesman for Pacific Island Affairs, Su’a William Sio, said he had not heard of forced marriages happening in Pasifika communities.

“I’m not sure what she’s aiming at. Certainly in the Pacific community, look this is the 21st Century. That just doesn’t happen.”

Indian community leader Jeet Suchdev said forced marriages were not a problem he had observed.

He said he did not personally feel teenagers were mature enough to marry and believed most Indian parents in New Zealand would agree.

“Our tradition is to try and get a good education, after [that] they want to get married.”

There could be exceptions in any ethnic group.

Forced or pressured marriages were more common when giving birth ‘out of wedlock’ was frowned on by New Zealand society – and this was mostly a religious (Christian) pressure.

Anecdotally ‘shotgun marriages’ were common, with angry parents rushing their children to the alter to try to avoid family embarrassment.

A worse problem has been brought up again recently, where pregnant girls were hidden away (sent ‘up north’ for a few months) to give birth. And often forced to give their babies up for adoption. See Harrowing tales of ‘forced adoption’ amid call for inquiry.

That doesn’t happen any more, or at least I hope not. More liberal attitudes to de facto arrangements, sole parenting, contraception and abortion has changed things markedly.

I remember in the early seventies a girl sitting school certificate at school while pregnant – her family supported her being open about being pregnant, which was very unusual then.

In the late seventies I sort of pretended to be married when I moved town, it just seemed easier at the time to appear to conform. Now few care whether couples are legally married or not.

It seems like Labour may support the Hayes bill. Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern said…

…Labour would support any way to combat forced marriage. But sometimes marriages occurred outside the law.

“The marriage doesn’t have legal standing but it has religious standing. It’s the same consequences for these young women.

“You can put laws in place, but if people aren’t going to conduct ceremonies within the law then it become a blunt instrument.”

That seems to be sort of a yes, but acknowledges it doesn’t prevent non-legal forced marriages.

The Green Party have not yet decided their position as the bill is yet to go to their caucus.

If Labour supports the bill (and National block votes for it) then it doesn’t really matter whether any other parties back it or not as there would be plenty of votes.

Ardern said the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill, which is before the select committee, has proposed a new offence for the coercion of marriage with a sentence to imprisonment for up to five years. This would cover marriages not governed by New Zealand law or those not legally binding.

“We’re very supportive of taking action.

So there is already a bill that tries to address any forced marriage problems. So why would we need another bill?

“People are surprised to hear forced marriage is an issue in New Zealand, but it absolutely is.”

But how much of a problem? And how can it best be addressed?

I’m very much against forced marriages of any type, but I’m not sure that requiring court consent for young people to marry is going to solve much if anything.

Young people could still be pressured into convincing the court that they are happy about getting married.

Or families could just wait until the person or people getting married are both 18 or older.

So I wonder how big a problem the Hayes bill is trying to address (the numbers suggest quite to very small), and how effective it would be.

I really question whether the ‘Court Consent to Marriage of Minors’ bill is one that has sufficient merit to add to our statutes.

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:



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.


Unanimous support for domestic violence bill

So this means all parties will support Jan Logie’s private members’ bill through the first reading. Good move.

Stuff: Govt support first stage Green Party bill for additional leave for domestic violence victims

The Government will support a Green Party bill to allow domestic violence victims an additional 10 days annual leave, through the first hurdle.

They actually mean National and all other parties will support it at this stage.

There was a chance the bill could have progressed without National Party support – Labour and Act had already confirmed their backing of the bill past its first hurdle.

Interesting to see ACT supporting a bill that will cost the Government and/or employers more money.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced the Government support, a U-turn on its previous stance, would at least see the bill to select committee.

The Government still had concerns about the bill, but Adams said it held enough merit for wider discussion, as part of the Government’s domestic violence work.

“And we want to have the opportunity to discuss at select committee, what sort of support employers can add to that piece of work.”

Prime Minister Bill English last month, said his would not support it. Employers could already offer specialised leave to domestic violence victims. While Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse had said the bill would be too costly to businesses.

Cost is always an issue with bills like this.

But the cost of domestic violence is a much bigger issue, and better ways of dealing with it should be explored.

Green Party social development spokeswoman Jan Logie said it was a welcome change from the Government.

She’s done well to get the support to progress her bill.

I was hoping. When victims support agencies, women’s organisations, human rights organisations and business are all saying the want the discussion, I think the Government certainly would have been on the wrong side of things not to.”

Arguments that it would cost too much were not backed up by research, Logie said.

“Actually, the research is really clear that domestic violence is costing business great staff and productivity now. And what this bill is about, is setting up a system to help mitigate that cost, so that they can keep great workers.”



Organ donor law success for first term MP

The Member’s Bill put forward by rookie National list MP Chris Bishop, providing for financial assistance for organ donors, has passed into law. This is part due to the luck of the draw but it is also a success for the hard working Bishop.

First term MPs have quite varying profiles.

Many seem to disappear into Parliament, hardly to be heard of again. Some of them bail out without standing again, like ex-Palmerston North mayor and National list MP Jono Naylor who announced recently he was opting out.

Some make an early impact and fade. This has happened to Labour’s David Clark, who had an inherited Member’s Bill drawn just after he was elected and got some attention, media rated him as someone to watch, he raced up the Labour pecking order, but seems to have slipped into obscurity outside his electorate city Dunedin and making a racket in the House.

David Seymour has managed to attract a bit of attention in his first term. He had a daunting task establishing himself in his Epsom electorate and trying to resurrect the Act Party in Parliament.

James Shaw came into Parliament at 13 on their list in 2014 but jumped the queue to become co-leader after Russel Norman resigned.

Another Green MP, Marama Davidson replaced Norman as next on the list last year and has had some success in establishing a profile.

Maori Party list MP Marama Fox has done a good job and has been rated as a success. Maori MPs in particular seem to have public profile problems as they tend to work quietly with their constituents – see the Parakura method and Insight into Māori politics.

Old school parties tended to frown on new MPs trying to make a name for themselves.

Sir Keith Holyoake, New Zealand Prime Minister from 1960 to 1972, famously counselled first-term Members of Parliament to ‘breathe through their noses’, suggesting that it was in their best interests to keep their heads down and mouths shut.

Perhaps this recommendation is instrumental in the low profile of first-term MPs in New Zealand and the subsequent dearth of information available about these individuals.


But Bishop has done more than breathe through his nose, showing that something can be achieved by new MPs.

New law gives financial assistance to organ donors

Parliament has passed legislation to give financial assistance to organ donors while they recover.

The members’ bill, in the name of the National MP Chris Bishop, provides 100 percent of the donor’s earnings for up to 12 weeks after the operation plus childcare assistance for those who need it while they recover.

This is a very good achievement for Bishop, and unlike many Member’s bills it will be very beneficial. It not only financially supports those who donate organs, it should encourage more to donate.

Bishop also did very well in his first election in 2014, pushing incumbent  Trevor Mallard in Hutt South hard and giving him a scare ending up with 16,127 votes to Mallard’s 16,836.

Mallard has opted out of standing again in an electorate, hoping to get in on Labour’s list (on current polling that is far from guaranteed) and hoping Labour wins so they give him the job of  Speaker.

Bishop has also been working hard in the electorate so has a good chance of establishing himself as an electorate MP.

He is a hybrid MP, having worked for a public company (Philip Morris) and has also worked as a staffer for Steven Joyce.

Bishop hasn’t heeded the ‘breath through the nose’ advice, but Holyoake was from a very different era (he was Prime Minister from 1660-1972 and died in 1983) and Bishop is a new breed of MP.

Karako’s members’ bill may do some good

Following on from the much scorned Members’ Bill from National backbencher Nuk Korako, Vernon Small rips into National’s handling of Members’ bills.

From Korako’s inconsequential lost property bill reveals dark side of Govt tactic:

Which brings us back to how the Government is manipulating the once-a-fortnight members’ day by stacking the ballot with Government backbenchers’ Bills like Korako’s lamentable deposit.

It wasn’t so long ago, with the Government able to determine its legislative programme, that the members’ ballot was seen as the route for Opposition and minor parties to put forward issues they saw as important.

When the Government had a strong majority there was little concern about what – or how many – proposed laws where wheeled up from the biscuit-tin ballot.

If the Government of the day objected, they could just knock them over like so many skittles. Next!

But with slim majorities, and especially with competing parties in the House since MMP was adopted, it is no longer so simple.

UnitedFuture’s Peter Dunne and the two Maori Party MPs are able to deliver a majority against the Government and it can no longer be sure of the numbers on slightly left of centre issues, especially at first reading.

There are plenty of examples. Last week there were two: David Parker’s move to bring contractors inside minimum wage laws and Andrew Little’s healthy homes bill. Before that were Sue Moroney’s (vetoed) extension to paid parental leave.

Hence the new tactic of stacking the ballot with as many National MPs’ measures as possible. Then the odds are lessened of an Opposition measure, with the potential to embarrass, being drawn.

Having said that, there are small but worthy measures Government members can justifiably put into the ballot. Paul Foster-Bell’s move to exempt RSAs from the need to obtain special liquor licences to serve alcohol on Anzac Day is a clear case in point. 

But others that are worthy and bring out the best in Parliament – such as the marriage equality law or ACT MP David Seymour’s proposed assisted dying bill – can potentially be displaced by National’s members’ ballot-stacking.

And even if the Government hits “flush” on Korako’s strained attempt, there are others lurking in the wings.

For example, you have to wonder in the harsh light of day if Matt Doocey still thinks his Companies (Annual Report Notice Requirements) Amendment Bill is such a good idea.

Do we really need a full members’ day debate on an amendment to remove the requirement to provide a written notice of an annual report to shareholders? 

Brownlee and his fellow ministers may not like it, but if the kind of ridicule being heaped on Korako’s nano-“bill” is the only antidote then so be it.

Opposition parties also abuse and misuse members’ bills too, but Small is justifiably blasting National here for what they do.

Prompted by Korako’s much lamented and eminently lamentable bill. Korako (and the luck of the ballot) may have done some good bringing this up.

Lost luggage bill

For some reason there has been a lot of comment about a Government MP getting a Members’ bill drawn from the ballot.

Apparently it was a waste of a Members’ Bill slot for a trivial matter.

RNZ: MP bagged over lost luggage bill

A bill on the best way for airports to advertise lost luggage has been roundly mocked, but the MP whose name it is under insists the bill is no laughing matter.

National MP Tutehounuku (Nuk) Korako has had his member’s bill drawn out of the ballot, which means it will be debated in Parliament.

In frustration, some MPs have said their “more important” member’s bills haven’t been drawn, while Labour’s Grant Robertson and others reacted on Twitter with the hashtag #NoLuggageLeftBehind.

But many opposition Members’ Bills have no chance of success so are wastes of slots as well.

It has now been reported that it may be incorporated in a Government bill.



Edgeler gets support for racist law reform

Graeme Edgeler has posted New Zealand’s most racist law at Public Address, in which he details a ridiculous and racist law, and proposes a way of fixing it. And he seems to achieved his current goal of getting it into the members’ bull ballot.

One person can potentially make a difference at a supposedly politically dead time of year.

Edgeler first does some groundwork, discussing members bills and how to be effective using them.

There a lot a reasons to advance a members bill. From opposition, it can be a good to force an issue onto the agenda, sometimes hoping to get the law changed, but other times, knowing you don’t have the numbers, but wanting to force the government to make an unpopular decision.

Getting a law right is hard. Even the professionals stuff it up (and not all that infrequently). If an MP wants to actually pass a good law from the back benches (or from the opposition), they’re well advised to make it a simple one (or be really really careful!).

He then proposes a good use for a members bill.

I’ve got a simple idea. We should repeal New Zealand’s most racist law.

Sections 30-36 of the Maori Community Development Act 1962(originally the Maori Welfare Act) are laughably offensive.

Early last year there was a rash of instances of tourists having their car keys taken off them by people who had decided they were unsafe to drive. It stopped after a few instances, with police (and even the Prime Minister) warning against it.

What few of the people quite rightly objecting to the mild vigilantism probably realised is that the law actually specifically provides for circumstances when people can have their car keys taken away from them.

If the driver is Māori.

Or if the driver is non-Māori, but is in charge of a vehicle near a meeting place, or a lawful gathering of Māori.

It is also illegal to serve alcohol at a gathering of Māori. A Māori Committee can grant a licence to serve alcohol at a gathering of Māori, but only if that gathering is not for the purposes of a dance.

Māori wardens are empowered to enter hotels and to order quarrelsome Māori to leave.

This reads like it comes from one of those lists of ridiculous laws that are still in force, when New Zealand usually seems to be represented by a claim that it’s illegal to fly with a rooster in a hot air balloon (which I’m pretty sure isn’t true).

But it’s worse than a ridiculous law. It’s a racist law.

It has no place in New Zealand. It should never have been the law. And it certainly shouldn’t be law now.

There are a bunch of MPs who do not currently have a bill in the members’ ballot. Well, here’s an idea for you: propose the repeal of sections 30-36 of the Maori Community Development Act. I’ve evendrafted a bill for whichever MP wants to take this up.

And he seems to have had some success.

New Zealand has criminal offences applying only to Māori. New post: New Zealand’s most racist law publicaddress.net/legalbeagle/ne…

If no one else has taken it I will.

A couple of other MPs have expressed general support, but none have said they’ll adopt it, so it’s there for the taking.

Great. Done.

That’s only initial success, it is still to get into the ballot and then would need to be drawn to get considered by Parliament, but it’s admirable to get this far at a time of the year when politics is generally regarded as on holiday.

One person can potentially make a difference in New Zealand politics, if they do suitable research and preparation, pick battles that can be won and pick a good time to promote their cause.

If Edgeler’s bill does get drawn from the ballot and considered by Parliament it should have a good chance of success.

And not surprisingly the Maori Party backs call to change ‘racist’ law:

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell agreed the legislation was outdated.

“The circumstances in which it was written was back in the 1960s and the circumstances at the time were far and away different from what we experience now. I think the former minister recognised that, as did the Maori Affairs select committee, we believed it was about time to have a review and attempted to take out the parts that could be dealt with.”

Mr Flavell said a 2014 Waitangi Tribunal review of the law found parts of it needed amendment, and he had been discussing how to go about that with the government and Māori authorities.


Member’s Bill on Medical Cannabis

In Mid-October Helen Kelly admitted to have used cannabis to self-treat her cancer, NZ Herald reported MPs back calls for medicinal marijuana.

Union boss Helen Kelly’s call for better access to medicinal marijuana has been backed by MPs from both sides of the House.

Ms Kelly, who is terminally ill, has admitted to using cannabis oil for pain relief and wants Government to improve access to the drug.

It was also reported that Damien O’Connor was drafting a member’s bill in support of medical cannabis.

Labour’s West Coast MP Damien O’Connor is drafting a bill private member’s bill which would improve access to cannabidiol.

He started work on the bill after the death of a Nelson teenager Alex Renton, who had taken a hemp-derived treatment for repeated seizures.

Last week the Greymouth Star also reported on this:

MP to draft medicinal cannabis bill

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor is drafting a private member’s bill to allow the medicinal use of cannabis.

You need a subscription to see the whole article but it was republished by the ODT:

O’Connor drafting medicinal cannabis Bill

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor is drafting a private member’s bill to allow the medicinal use of cannabis.

He says high profile cases such as terminally ill trade union leader Helen Kelly, who is using cannabis oil for pain relief because it does not make her sick like morphine, have helped changed public attitudes.

He stressed he was not advocating the decriminalisation of cannabis.

Mr O’Connor said today he had believed in the benefits of medicinal cannabis since the 2000s, when he was on a select committee which backed its use.

He said Labour Party technical staff were now helping him draft a private member’s bill.

There has been suggestions that O’Connor may have fibbed about who he is consulting with.

Every drug had some side effects, and it was important they were minimal and not harmful. Cannabis would have to be prescribed by a GP, and GPs in turn would need to be comfortable with it. It would need to be of consistent quality.

“It’s really important no one pushes too hard, too fast,” he said, as that could derail the process.

“People like Helen Kelly and others exposing the careful use of it – people understand there’s value.”

The value of medicinal cannabis products is still up for debate as the growing number of products haven’t been comprehensively tested yet.

Drafting the private member’s bill would take some time. He was also talking to other political parties including Health Minister Jonathan Coleman.

I presume he will also talk to Peter Dunne, odd that he doesn’t mention him here. Dunne as Associate Health Minister has represented the Government on cannabis matters.

I hope O’Connor also actually consults with people in New Zealand that have useful knowledge on the use of medicinal cannabis.

As a Member’s Bill this will go in an occasional draw with 60-70 other bills, with 3 or 4 usually drawn at a time.  So the chances of progressing this through a Member’s Bill are low.