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MANA in Parliament, 14-16 August

Government Bills

This week the debate continued on the Appropriations (2012/13 Estimates) Bill and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Bill (the EEZ Bill), both of which MANA is continuing to oppose.  The government put up an amendment to the EEZ Bill to introduce ‘sustainable management practices’ which sounded all good in theory but – funnily enough – the government failed to add in all the bits and pieces that actually put ‘sustainability’ into action, making it meaningless.  However, and unsurprisingly, the amendment passed and was supported by all of the government parties and NZ First.  MANA opposed it; see the website for Hone’s media statement “No EEZ Road for Tangaroa”.  The EEZ Bill is part of group of changes, including the Foreshore and Seabed Act Mark II (the Marine and Coastal Area Act),  that the government has put in place in the last few years to make it easier for companies like Petrobras and Rio Tinto to drill and mine our natural resources.  The EEZ Bill will be passed into law next week.

Member’s Bills

Wednesday was a Member’s day and a number of interesting bills were debated including one to restrict the ability of foreign companies to buy up land in Aotearoa.  MANA was very happy to support the Bill but unfortunately it didn’t receive enough votes to continue on the process to become law.  Another was the Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises Bill that seeks to ban the wearing of patches in places like the offices of government departments – Housing Corp, WINZ etc.  MANA has opposed the bill.  Hone issued a media statement condemning the bill as yet another example of being “seen to be doing the right thing, rather than actually doing the right thing”.  He outlined that the best way to address the issue of gangs was to give people other options – show them you care, eliminate poverty, create jobs, and so on – all of the things the government isn’t actually doing.  Given the Bill is being championed by a government MP, Todd McClay, it looks likely to become law in the coming months.  Parliament is often just about having the numbers, rather than what will actually work.

Further MANA comment and activity

  • The Electoral Commission launched their Review of the MMP voting system:  Proposals paper.  Key proposals are that the party threshold to be allocated list seats be lowered to 4% (it’s currently 5%), and that the one electorate seat threshold to be allocated list seats be abolished.  While many political parties supported the proposals, MANA was disappointed.  Hone issued a media statement saying that the 4% threshold to have a member in Parliament was too high and meant that too many votes wouldn’t count.  If you’d like to make a submission on the proposals, a form can be downloaded from www.mmpreview.org.nz.  Submissions close 7 September 2012.
  • The Australian High Court ruled in support of their government’s decision to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.  This bodes well for the same to be done here in Aotearoa.  Complicating the situation, however,  are some of the trade agreements that NZ has with other nations – including the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) currently being negotiated in secret talks between the NZ government, the USA government and others.  If the government does not negotiate to have certain investor clauses removed, the TPPA would enable tobacco companies to sue NZ for lost profits from plain packaging, totalling in the mega millions.  See the MANA website for Hone’s media release on this.
  • Parliament itself was in the news this week, for refusing to pay their cleaners a decent wage – shame.  MANA is fully behind their bid to be paid $15/hour.  See the website for Hone’s statement.
  • Protests against the government’s Glen Innes housing project escalated again this week when six people were arrested for resisting the removal of another state house from the suburb.  The government’s plan is to sell the land to their property developer mates for high-cost housing – although the protests have succeeded in causing a six month delay because many families are simply refusing to move from their homes.  MANA has called for a moratorium on the development so negotiations between the government and the community can take place.  See the MANA website for John Minto’s release on this.

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