Increasing the number of women MPs

There has been discussion recently on gender quotes for MPs.

A survey has shown that most women don’t want legal quotas, and 45% of women think that either nothing needs to be done or we don’t need more female MPs.

From The Nation – Lisa Owen interviews Jackie Blue, Jan Logie, and Rachel Petero

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue has called on all political leaders to commit to a 50% quota of women in cabinet

She’s also called for New Zealand to follow Australia and the UK and require all larger companies (employing more than 250 people) to publish details of their gender pay gap, with fines for those who don’t comply.


It some ways it would be good if MPs represented the electorate in approximately proportionate numbers – but that is if there are sufficient numbers of female candidates who are about as good as male candidates.

And it depends on what voters want.

A survey after the 2014 election showed that:

  • 5.2% of women want legal MP quotas
  • 11.6% of women want parties to voluntarily increase the number of women MPs
  • 28.6% of women want more women encouraged to participate in politics
  • 32.1% of women think that nothing needs to be done, numbers will increase naturally
  • 12.9% of women think that there is no need to increase the number of female MPs.

Danyl at Dim-Post: Gender quotas again

  • On the other hand, political gender quotas are really not very popular with either men or women. The NZES asked about them after the last election.


And regardless of what number of females candidates stand it comes down to what voters choose – and about half of voters are women.

There’s a lot of comments on this at Dim-Post, and Kiwiblog has a new post on this: Women don’t want quotas

I think that two related things are necessary to even the gender balance – encourage more women to get involved in politics and stand as candidates, and substantially improve the nature of our politics and the behaviour of parties and MPs.

I’m not surprised it is difficult to attract more women to the dirty muckraking attack style politics that is currently prevalent.

Government announcement on refugee quota

The Government announcement on raising the refuge quota, from Minister of Immigration Michael Woodhouse.

Govt announces increase to Refugee Quota

Today the Government announced that it will increase the size of the Refugee Quota from 750 to 1000 places per year from 2018,” says Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

“We take our international humanitarian obligations and responsibilities seriously, the increase today demonstrates our commitment to meet the needs of some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” says Mr Woodhouse.

“New Zealand has a strong record in the resettlement of refugees. Last year we committed to resettling 500 Syrians over two years on top of our annual quota of 750.  This means for the next two years we are taking 1000 refugees.

“Today’s announcement to increase the annual quota to 1000 from 2018/2019 is an appropriate response. We want to ensure the refugees we take settle well and contribute meaningfully to life in New Zealand, while not putting unreasonable strains on social services.

“We want to be sure people have the appropriate support and services they need to resettle in New Zealand like housing, health, education and translation services,” says Mr Woodhouse.

“The new quota of 1,000 will cost an extra $25 million a year. This is on top of the $75 million a year we currently spend on quota refugees”.

The Government has also agreed to pilot a new community sponsorship category in 2017/2018. The details of the pilot are still being worked through and will be announced next year.

“The offers of support from the New Zealand public in the wake of publicity around the significant displacement of people globally is commendable and the Government is keen to explore how that support might be used to the benefit of refugees,” Mr Woodhouse says.

Immigration New Zealand will also start a process to select a further refugee settlement location to assist the accommodation of the extra intake.

“There are currently six locations where refugees are settled once they have completed their reception at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, with Dunedin the most recent settlement city. I expect another location will be announced sometime in 2017,” says Mr Woodhouse.

The annual refugee quota is just one part of New Zealand’s total refugee and humanitarian programme. There are also 300 places available each year for family reunification and an additional 125-175 asylum seekers have their claims approved each year.

“The new Refugee Quota Programme represents an increased contribution from New Zealand to the resettlement of refugees and highlights our commitment to help address the ongoing global refugee crisis,” Mr Woodhouse says.

Refugee quota tweaked up

The Government has announced a small annual increase in New Zealand’s refugee quote, from 750 to 1,000.

This is on top of the 750 Syrian refugees that have been arriving here and will continue to arrive over a 3 year period.

Woodhouse: Not enough simply to relocate to another country and leave them, there’s significant investment to be made – quality not quantity

Says it’s about quality of settlement of refugees not quantity.

Says he’s satisfied with the background check process currently in place for people coming in to NZ.

Newshub now has details: NZ to increase refugee quota to 1000

New Zealand will increase its refugee quota from 750 a year to 1000. Prime Minister John Key said the change would be from 2018.

The increase will be the first change in 40 years.

It comes after a recommendation from Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse was taken to Cabinet this morning.

That level of increase was backed by three parties – Labour, the Greens and United Future. The Act Party supported a higher quota, but stopped short of doubling it.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has supported an increase in the quota, provided general immigration numbers are brought down significantly.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed that it has capacity for 1500 refugees a year if funding for community services is increased.

In the whole scheme of things that will make little difference apart from allowing the country to claim it is doing a bit more of it’s share.

But for 250 people a year it will make a huge difference to their lives.

Greens, Kermadec sanctuary, Treaty of Waitangi

When the Government announced the Kermadec ocean sanctuary the Greens applauded it.

But the Greens are usually also staunch about Treaty of Waitangi issues, and so far they appear to be virtually silent over the Maori protest about the lack of consultation over the sanctuary and the scrapping of fishing quota given as part of a Treaty agreement.

Greens applaud great start by Government over Kermadecs

The Green Party is excited by the news that the Government is creating an ocean sanctuary at the Kermadecs and hope that more is to come.

“We’re delighted the Government has picked up the Kermadec ocean sanctuary concept that has been in a Green private member’s Bill drafted by Gareth Hughes several years ago,” said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“The Green Party has plenty of other great initiatives and ideas and we’re more than happy to work with any party to get the best outcome for New Zealand and its people.

Last month in parliament Sage pushed for more sanctuaries:

Eugenie Sage questions the Minister for the Environment about deep sea marine protection

Eugenie Sage: Given the widespread support for the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, is he really convinced that his new marine protected areas legislation cannot provide a simple process to create new marine protected areas in the exclusive economic zone, which comprises 94 percent of our ocean environment?

Two weeks later…

Eugenie Sage speaks on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill first reading

The Green Party is very pleased to be supporting the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill, establishing a new marine reserve in New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone around the Kermadec Islands. We have had a member’s bill in the ballot, prepared by Gareth Hughes, for some time, to establish a marine protected area at the Kermadecs. We congratulated the Government when it announced its intention to create this ocean sanctuary at the United Nations in the run-up to an international oceans conference last year.

We are very pleased to support the bill.

Sage went on to praise the bill and the sanctuary, but did raise a concern about the lack of “engagement with Māori interests prior to it being announced”.

There was one concern: the departmental disclosure statement did note that because of the secrecy around the project, there was not engagement with Māori interests prior to it being announced.

That was disappointing, but we note that there has been extensive consultation with Ngāti Kurī and Te Aupōuri subsequently.

Te Ohu Kaimoana has raised a concern about the potential impact on fishing rights allocated to iwi under the fisheries settlement, but I would note that there has been no fishing undertaken in the Kermadec region using the settlement quota in the past 10 years, so Te Ohu Kaimoana seems concerned about the potential fishing rights rather than the actual ones—and the biodiversity values far outweigh the fishing values.

So Sage expressed ‘disappointment’ that there was no Māori consultation but doesn’t refer to any Treaty of Waitangi commitments, instead saying simply that that “the biodiversity values far outweigh the fishing values”.

What about the importance of a fishery quota agreement made with the Government?

Yesterday six prominent Maori leaders slammed the decision to create the sanctuary, saying they weren’t consulted and it takes fishery quotas off them that they were given in a Treaty of Waitangi agreement with the Government.

See Kermadec sanctuary and Treaty of Waitangi

So far Greens appear to have commented very little on this.I can’t see anything on their website in News or on their blog. Nothing on their Facebook page.

Leader Metiria Turei has a ‘Protect our deep oceans’ image prominent on her Facebook page but no mention of the Maori protest there.

Eugenie Sage did link to Māori leaders fight Kermadec sanctuary plans on her Facebook page yesterday, but added these comments:

Currently at Kermadec science symposium where speakers are outlining the many wonders of the Kermadecs. We need to keep parts of our oceans for nature, free from fishing, mining and drilling and other exploitation. Not sure how TOKM thinks that will be achieved without the law changes. Is TOKM saying that quota rights are absolute ?

TOKM refers to the Māori fisheries trust Te Ohu Kaimoana which filed a case against the sanctuary in the High Court in Wellington last month.

There has been a big public discussion about the value of protecting the last six years and as Harry Burchardt of Ngati Kuri said this morning, the establishment of a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary and protection of Rangitahua, the stopping place is a decision equivalent to making Aotearoa nuclear free.

Greens are usually staunch about doing things properly when there’s any Treaty of Waitangi issue.

Except when there’s something that’s more important to them, like a marine sanctuary?

Kermadec sanctuary and Treaty of Waitangi

Prominent Maori leaders have criticised the creation of the Kermadec maritime sanctuary, saying that it was done without consultation and without proper regard to the Treaty of Waitangi.

This will reignite tensions between Maori and National, but also puts the Greens in a potentially tricky situation. They are usually staunch about any Treaty of Waitangi issues but welcomed the Kermadec sanctuary announcement.

NZ Herald reports: Maori blast sanctuary move

Six leaders of Maoridom – including three knights and two dames – have slammed the Government’s decision to create a huge ocean sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands without consultation on the Treaty settlement it affects.

Sir Tipene O’Regan was joined yesterday by Dame Tariana Turia, Sir Mark Solomon, Sir Toby Curtis, Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and former Labour minister Koro Wetere (via video) at the headquarters of Te Ohu Kai Moana Trust, which is legally challenging the Government’s lack of consultation.

The Government made the decision in secret so that Prime Minister John Key could announce it at the United Nations in September last year.

Sir Tipene said the Government had been pressured by international lobby groups to set up the sanctuary.

“We’d like to see them … stand by the agreements which a previous National Government solemnly entered into.”

Agreements on fishery quotas given to Maori as party of a Treaty of Waitangi deal.

The deal gave the Maori Fisheries Commission 20 per cent of all quota and $150 million to be used to acquire part of Sealord.

The Government has introduced a bill that would extinguish the 840 million shares for quota stock in the Kermadec fishery management area without consultation or compensation – on the basis that Maori have not used their fishing rights there.

Sir Tipene and Te Ohu said whether or not they used them was not a reason to extinguish the right.

I think that’s a fair point.

If someone buys a piece of land and does nothing with it for a few years the Government has no right to just take it over and use it for something else, no matter how laudable the use.

“This unilateral action [is a] straight-out traducing of the indigenous right to development … we have been cut off before it can take place.”

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the group was “overstating the impacts in respect of fishery and Treaty settlement obligations and under-estimating the opportunities for economic and scientific gain”.

This may be an unpopular Maori protest. I think most people will see the  sanctuary as generally a good thing, and I suspect the Kermadec area was not a significant indigenous area, but I think there should have been appropriate consultation.

There is no argument that the Government’s proposed enlargement of the Kermadec Sanctuary cuts across aspects of the 1992 Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries settlement and does so without consultation. The only question is if it is justified.

Conservation zealots believe conservation trumps everything.

Others who have taken a close interest in Treaty settlements in the past 25 years are variously appalled, and gutted the Government could have made such a decision without reference to the affected party.

It looks like the sanctuary is a good idea but done badly by Nick Smith and the Government.

It could be that Maori end up supporting the sanctuary, but Smith seems to have stuffed up – again – and some serious repairing of damage needs to be done and seen to be done to sort this out.

Sanctuaries are important, but so is sticking to agreements made by Governments.