MANA in Parliament, 19-21 February 2013

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Government Bills up this week

The government progressed a number of bills through Parliament this week, and again, MANA continued to oppose them all. They included the:

International Finance Agreements Amendment Bill to bring New Zealand law into line with voting changes at the International Monetary Fund. The bill also enables any future changes to be made via regulation rather than legislation i.e. by a Cabinet decision and not via Parliamentary scrutiny which MANA was not prepared to support. The bill was passed into law on Thursday.

Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Amendment Bill which continues to side-line the need for a democratically elected local body and deny local citizens their right to elect their own councillors and all so the government can appoint their own commissioners who will further weaken land and water allocation protections to pave the way for more farming and irrigation in the Canterbury region. There is already an over-allocation of water rights in Canterbury which erodes water quality and this bill will make the situation worse. MANA has and will continue to oppose the bill at all stages in the parliamentary process. The bill will be up for its third and final reading next week.

Local and Members Bills

Whanganui MP, Chester Borrows, continued to push the local councils bill to privatise the Cold Creek water supply in South Taranaki against the express wishes of the four local iwi

Ngati Ruanui, Taranaki, Nga Ruahine, and Nga Rauru. The South Taranaki District Council continues to push for the transfer without having undertaken any meaningful consultation with marae, hapu and iwi leaders for many years. To add insult to injury, the Crown has told Taranaki and Ng? Ruahine that there are no assets to return to them as part of their Treaty settlement negotiations, and here they are giving the green light for the council to divest itself of water supply to a private limited company. MANA has and will continue to oppose the bill at all stages in Parliament.

David Clarks Holidays (Full Recognition of Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day) Amendment Bill came up for second reading this week. The purpose of the bill is to enable these days to be celebrated on a Monday if they fall on a weekend, giving us a guaranteed public holiday. MANA is thrilled to support the bill and the second reading vote will come up next Members Day. It looks likely it will be supported all the way and become law later in the year tauke!

Christchurch school closures

Early in the week Education Minister, Hekia Parata, announced which schools in Christchurch will remain open and which ones will either merge or close or be moved as is to happen with one of the two kura kaupapa Maori. While some schools and local communities were very relieved to find theyll remain standing, others were gutted to learn of their fate and all continue to raise big concerns over the upside-down process used by the government in coming to these decisions. And many schools and communities facing closure are also asking how their kids are to get to schools located in other suburbs. See the MANA website, www.mana.net.nz, for Hones media statement on the announcement. The general feeling about this and many of the other decisions of Minister Parata was very aptly demonstrated at Te Matatini over the weekend as she came forward to present one of the awards instead of polite applause, she was greeted by a mass booing it was one of Matatinis many highlights!

Public submissions on charter schools bill

This week Parliaments Education and Science select committee continued to hear public submissions on the Education Amendment Bill to establish charter schools. A number of teacher organisations presented, including the NZ Teachers Committee and the PPTA, and talked about the importance of quality registered teachers to student success as charter schools will be able to employ non-registered teachers. Other groups such as QPEC (Quality Public Education Union) and the TEU (Tertiary Education Union) talked about the poor learning results from charter schools in the US where accountability is to profit margins rather than student achievement. Te Huarahi Maori Motuhake of the PPTA said that while some Maori are looking at charter schools as a way to be able to set up and operate their own schools, it was important to take note that privatisation has meant worse not better outcomes for Maori. The committee will continue to hear submissions in the coming weeks.

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