Members’ Bill ballot today

The last Members’ Bill ballot of the last term was in June. The first ballot of the new term will be today. As they can only be submitted by members who are not Ministers this provides an opportunity for all national MPs, and new Ministers will have had to drop their bills or hand them over to other MPs who are not Ministers.

David Farrar has a list of 48 bills in 1st members’ bill ballot with numbers per party (with number of non-minister MPS):

  • Labour: 24/26
  • National: 15/56
  • Greens: 5/5
  • NZ First 4/5

National MPs who were Ministers would not have had bills already prepared, hence why so few are in the ballot. I expect that by early next year National will have over 50 bills in the ballot.

Going by that list Labour Ministers have handed their bils over to new MPs.

Graeme Edgeler commented:

It’s likely some will be added before the ballot is held tomorrow.

But has the opposite happened? Farrar’s list doesn’t correspond with the list on Parliament’s website which has just 24 bills listed under Proposed Members’ Bills.

There could be changes by the time of the ballot at noon. Three bills will be drawn.

 

 

 

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“It’s unnecessarily complicated, it’s out of date,” says Dame Margaret Sparrow, who has been advocating for abortion law reform for decades.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The way abortion law works in practice in New Zealand is outdated and outlandish, demanding dishonesty from women seeking abortions as well as from doctors rubber stamping them – if the woman is lucky, otherwise it is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.

 

 

 

 

Members’ bills

Three new Members’ bills were drawn today.

Carmel Sepuloni’s Social Security (Pathway to Work) Amendment Bill

This bill removes the disincentives to engage in part-time work by lifting the threshold of how much persons can earn before their benefit is reduced by abatement rates.

Dr Russel Norman’s Climate Change (Divestment from Fossil Fuels) Bill

This Bill will direct public fund managers to divest from companies directly involved in the exploration, mining, and production of fossil fuels

Clare Curran’s Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill

This bill amends the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013, establishing a Technical Advisory Board to which matters must be referred in instances where the Minister will be required to exercise his or her discretion or prescribe an additional area of specified security interest.

Three futile Members’ Bills drawn

There was a Members’ bill draw today, with 68 competing in the ballot.

Convention Centre Act Repeal Bill – Tracey Martin (NZ First) – would repeal the Sky City legislation.

Environmental Protection Authority (Protection of Environment) Amendment Bill  – Meka Whaitiri (Labour) –

Whaitiri said the current law had a “glaring omission” in that it didn’t actually make protecting the environment a goal of the Authority.

Her bill would amend the Environmental Protection Authority Act to add an additional  objective that the organisation must aim to protect, maintain, and enhance New Zealand’s environment.

Fighting Foreign Corporate Control Bill – Fletcher Tabuteau (NZ First)

…would affect the TPPA – it would prohibit New Zealand from entering international agreements that include provision for investor-state dispute resolution.

Source: Aimmee Gulliver at the very useful Beehive Live.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog isn’t impressed – Three silly bills.

Some members bills are very good. But none of them got drawn from the ballot today.

These are all rather silly backwards looking bills.

I predict all three bills will fail to get past first reading.

They probably will fail at the first reading.

Sky City repeal bill: NZ First want to have a second vote on a law that has already been passed. Considering that we have avoided any injection of taxpayer funds into the convention centre, their timing is pretty bad for them.

The (second one) complains that the Environment Protection Authority is not required to protect the environment. This flies in the face of the reality that the EPA has declined almost all the major off shore projects before it on environmental grounds. This is a bill to fix a problem that does not exist.

And the third bill is the most stupid. It would, if retrospective, force NZ to withdraw from basically every international trade agreement we have ever signed, pull out of the WTO, and never take part in any future trade deals. And NZ First claims to be pro-exporters!

They look like politicking bills rather than being aimed at having any chance of success.