Is the baby a political pawn?

May 22, 2013

Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta wants more baby-friendly rules for parliament after complaining she had to take her baby into the House during urgency on Friday.

But is it parliament’s problem or Labour’s?

Parties are permitted to have 25% of their MPs absent and Labour could give Mahuta priority. Was there no other MP who could take the late slot on Friday?

The House isn’t unlike a casino with its artificial light and noise. Was there no quieter, darker place for mother and baby than the chamber?

MPs have to be in parliament but they do not have to be in the House. If she had to be in the buildings, why didn’t Mahuta stay in her office with her baby?

Parties can ask for a pair – ie Labour could ask National to take away an MP to cancel out Mahuta’s absence. Did Labour seek a pair?

Ruth Richardson wrote in her autobiography that Labour refused her a pair when she was feeding her baby.

That was about three decades ago.

If Mahuta is using her baby as a political pawn the party hasn’t improved in that time.

Life with a new baby has its challenges under the best of conditions. Trying to balance breastfeeding and full-time work make it even harder.

But the cause of working mothers won’t be advanced by MPs playing silly beggars by deliberately making parenting more difficult for political purposes.


Southland party at Parliament

August 23, 2012

Invercargill MP Eric Roy is reviving the Southland party at Parliament:

Oysters, chocolate, meat and “sheep on a spit” will be a few of the delicacies National MP Eric Roy will be serving in Parliament next month to bring displaced Southlanders together for a night of cheese rolls and southern company.

Mr Roy said the Southland Party in the banquet hall of the Parliament building used to be an annual evening.

However, it had died out about seven years ago.

In its heyday, the night attracted about 400 Southland people to the Beehive, he said.

“It’s about networking and showing off Southland. It was always a good way for us to reconnect – people are saying it’s time we did it again.”

Mr Roy was calling on any Southlanders based in Wellington, as well as any Wellingtonians with Southland connections, to come out and party “Southland-style” in the capital.

A very protein-laden meal was promised with lots of hay bales, swedes and cheese rolls, he said. . .

I’m not sure about the protein content of hay bales but presumably they’re for sitting on not for eating.

The party’s Facebook page is here.


Next election already too close

December 1, 2011

The exact make-up of the new government has yet to be confirmed but the next election already seems too close.

The Herald opines that it’s time to consider a four-year term and I agree.

It takes months for a new government and its ministers to get up to speed which leaves a little more than a year for progress before everything slows down in election year and finally stops altogether during the campaign.

The uncertainty isn’t good for business:

Massey’s senior finance lecturer Dr Alexander Molchanov was part of a team that studied stock market volatility across 50 countries in the six-month lead up to an election and in the year after.

They found countries that hold national elections have more volatile economies than autocracies because investors and businesses are put off by the risks associated with political uncertainty.

The study also revealed that markets do not always settle down the year after an election.

“Export-oriented industries in particular, such as we have in New Zealand, show higher volatility when political risks are high,” says Dr Molchanov.

 That shouldn’t be construed as an argument for no elections but it’s not only business which would benefit from a longer cycle.

A man employed in the social service sector who works with ministries and politicians told me he was frustrated by three yearly elections because just as everyone was getting up to speed the campaign and post-election changes interrupted them.

A slightly longer cycle would help the economy and save money.

It costs millions of dollars to run an election. Adding an extra year to the cycle would mean we’d have to pay for three elections in 12 years rather than four.

A slightly longer cycle would reduce the costs for and demands on volunteers too. Julie at the Hand Mirror gives an insiders’ view on what it’s like to have a candidate in the family and supporters also work very hard during a campaign.

One reason for a shorter term is the constraint it places on governments when we don’t have an upper house. But the election shows that with MMP it would be difficult, almost impossible, for a single party to gain an outright majority.

The consitutional review panel is considering the parliamentary term. The recommendations won’t be binding and if it went to a referendum the public’s disdain for politicians might well find the option of a four-year term would lose.

That would be a pity. Government would be more efficient and slightly less expensive with a four term year and the country would benefit from a slightly longer gap between the interruptions imposed on it by elections.


Maori seats not needed

October 18, 2009

The Maori Party is aiming for 18 seats in parliament by 2017.

I hope they succeed because that will prove there is no need for Maori seats.


Meanwhile back in the real world . . .

May 16, 2009

The oppposition is filibustering over two bills  to establish the Auckland supercity.

Down here on the right side of the Waitaki we might regard supercity as an oxymoron with or without Auckland attached, but that is a debate for another post.

The opposition is filibustering because that’s what they do when they know the government has the numbers and all they can do to pretend they’re not impotent, is to delay the inevitable. No doubt if the boot was on the other foot, at least some of those those complaining about the waste of time and money would be squandering it and defending it as a valid weapon in their democratic armoury.

Meanwhile back in the real world how many constituents have been at best inconvenienced  because the appointments made to see their MPs yesterday and today have had to be cancelled? How many functions at which MPs would have played an integral role will now have to go on without them?

All because their elected representatives aren’t working in their electorates as they normally do for a good part of the time from Friday to Monday inclusive. They’re stuck in Wellington, petending it’s still Thursday, while the farce which democracy becomes in such circumstances grinds slowly to its inevitable conclusion.

UPDATE: With a hat tip to Macdoctor I see that Tariana Turia walked out of the debating chamber  yesterday because while she opposes the bills she is unimpressed by Labour’s behaviour.

Mrs Turia said her party was strongly opposed to the legislation, but said Labour had taken it too far and was wasting taxpayers’ money and valuable constituency time.

“But for the first time ever, I walked out of the House totally disgusted with this behaviour, which Labour thought was very amusing.”

She understands the importance of constituency time and once again the Maori Party shows it’s more concerned about people, and shows Labour up for concentrating on politics.

This is why they lost the Maori seats, why there was a bluewash through the provincical seats and why they lost the election.

Politics might matter in Wellington but here in the real world they should come a very distant second to people.


Parliament’s seating plan

December 9, 2008

A new parliament and a new look. The  seating plan will be easier to see if you follow the link, but here’s a compressed version:

scan10005

Hat tip: Kiwiblog


An oath in any other language

December 6, 2008

The complaint by Labour’s new Managere MP Sua William Sio  because he can’t be sworn into parliament in Samoan had the talk back callers running hot yesterday.

I agree that Parliamentary Services is not being unreasonable. New Zealand has three official languages, English, Maori and sign, MPs are sworn in three at a time and it would take too much time if other languages were used.

Most callers used this argument but there was a distrubing number who were simply racist and used this story to exercise their prejudice.

However, there was a glimmer of hope. Most noted that Maori is an official language and it would be acceptable to use it and I suspect that level of acceptance wouldn’t have been evident a few years ago.


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