Red Alert

Archive for the ‘members’ bills’ Category

Privacy Bill to be Debated

Posted by on May 16th, 2013

Today, my Bill to give more tools to the Privacy Commissioner to deal with privacy breaches was drawn from the members’ ballot.
The Bill gives the Privacy Commissioner the ability to undertake investigations into agencies and require them to become compliant with the Act.
Currently the Privacy Commissioner can only act on complaints from individuals – the Bill would allow her to instigate investigations and require information-handling audits.
It is timely, given the huge number of embarrasing privacy breaches happening under this Government.
From ACC to EQC, through to the deliberate privacy breaches committed by Minister Paula Bennett against two sole parents, the breaching of New Zealanders’ private information has been rife under National.
If they are serious are about addressing these issues, then they will support this Bill, as will other Parties across our Parliament.
Having had three bills drawn out of the ballot in the last 12 months, I’m keen to get to the races to see if I can pull off other trifectas!
Now, for my next bill….

Mondayising a step closer but Key doesn’t trust Kiwis

Posted by on March 28th, 2013

It’s been a while since I last posted on my Mondayising Bill.

In short, the Bill ensures that hard-working Kiwis get all 11 public holidays every year, not just five out of seven.  Since it was made clear that the commemorations for Waitangi and Anzac stay on 6 Feb and 25 April respectively, there has been overwhelming support for the Bill.

When the Waitangi or Anzac day commemoration falls on a weekend, a day off will be preserved for Kiwis to spend with their friends and families.  It is an issue of fairness.  In seven out of eight Australian territories, they already do this for their national day and also for Anzac Day.  It works well.  Attendance at commemorations has continued to grow.

In yesterday’s question time, it was embarrassing to hear John Key implying that NZers couldn’t be trusted to honour our war dead in the way that happens in Australia, where they mondayise already.

To suggest that a day off with friends and family a couple of days after the commemoration will somehow cheapen the day – is loopy. We mondayise in New Zealand for other holidays that have full recognition.  Christmas is a good example.  When Christmas falls on a Saturday, no-one puts off celebrations in outrage that a public holiday will follow in a few days’ time.  A long-weekend will mean it is more likely that people will travel to be with family to attend commemorations.

Most employers support this Bill.  Ordinary New Zealanders support this Bill.  The majority of MPs and political parties support this bill. It is fair. John Key should get in behind this bill and support it.  Anything else looks like Grinch behaviour, sour grapes or something worse.


Hands-off Government let export education drift

Posted by on March 19th, 2013

Lincoln Tan of the New Zealand Herald reports

A Ministry of Education report to be released this week is expected to show a 6 per cent drop in overall fee-paying student enrolment. The annual Migration Trends and Outlook, released last Friday, reported a 7 per cent drop in international student approvals to 68,980 – the lowest since 2008.

Of course it does not look good because the Government has been hands-off. It just let the sector grow when time is right or deteriorate when it is not, like the situations we are in now. No coordinated marketing, no leadership, no policy to give quality providers a boost and bad apples a boo.

The Labour list MP has a private member’s bill in the ballot that is seeking to tighten rules about small private schools having international or national titles in their business names.

The Bill has already generated some attention. For those who have not seen much of the Bill, here is the Q&A, which is self-explanatory.

 Education (Naming of Private Training Establishments) Amendment Bill Q & A

 1. Q: What is the purpose of this Bill?

 A: This Bill will stop misleading naming of PTEs and provide a boost to the image of the Export Education industry by ensuring that private training establishments (PTEs) are profiled correctly and accurately. The Bill will be one of the measures that are designed to promote NZ education providers collectively in the international market.

Currently there is minimal (and patched-up) regulation for the naming rights of PTEs which is causing great harm to our Export Education market in Asia and around the world. Many countries (particularly in Asia) have strict guidelines which reserve international, national or regional titles to reputable education providers whose names match their international, national or regional status. Therefore PTEs which boast regional or national titles in their names are attractive to Asian students and their families. However, a number of PTEs (although it is a relatively small number) in NZ have abused their naming rights and have created a credibility issue for the NZ Export Education system with the term ‘ghetto education’ being used in China and other countries to describe the state of the educational facilities in NZ, which is detrimental and unfair to the majority of the education providers in NZ.

This Bill will ensure that PTEs are profiled accurately and correctly and that New Zealand remains a top quality international education provider.

2. Q: Who is likely to benefit from this Bill?

A: The majority of New Zealand’s PTEs. This Bill is designed to protect them.

3. Q: Who is likely to be offended by this Bill?

A: A very small number of poor providers in the export education sector who are providing poor outcomes for students, flaunting the rules and damaging NZ’s overall reputation. The “ghetto education” – as so termed in overseas media – referred specifically to them.

4. Q: Will the Bill impose more regulation?

 A: No. This Bill seeks to help manage performance rather than impose more regulation.

 5. Q: Why this is a scaled-down version?

 A: The original Bill was drafted over a year ago and we have since undertaken consultation with the export education sector. We listened to them and have taken their advice. Generally speaking, under the current economic environment, the New Zealand export education sector needs help to compete with the UK, US, Canada and Australia who are seen as top quality international education providers.

The Bill in the current form deals with only one issue, which is the naming rights of PTEs.

The accurate and correct profiling of PTE’s will help promote the image and profile of NZ export education as a whole.

6. Q: Why does the Bill not cover border control in respect of the exemption for offshore education advisers providing advice on student visas and permits?

A: Two reasons: the loophole can easily be closed by removing the exemption by an Order in Council – this is the Government’s call and we urge the Government to seriously consider this.

Secondly, evidence shows that these issues were caused by a small number of poor providers. One of the reasons why these poor providers existed in the first place is that under the current legal regime they were allowed to profile themselves in an inaccurate (or passing off) manner and attract more international students to them than other providers who pay more attention to quality and sustainability of their establishment. Many of these poor providers are also aided by a “larger than usual” amount of commission paid to agents.

7. Q: Will this Bill impose any fiscal burden to the government?

A: No. This Bill will not cost a lot, if at all, to implement. With reliably profiled PTEs, we will attract more top-quality students to study in New Zealand. The flow-on effect will be felt throughout the country. So this Bill is good for NZ’s economy.

8. Q: Will this bill help prevent New Zealand from attracting the ‘bad’ students who tend to fall into trouble in NZ?

A: Yes. This bill will improve the level of export education in New Zealand which will have an instant flow on effect and lift the quality of international students attracted to study in New Zealand.

9. Q: What motivates you to write this Bill?

A: As Labour’s spokesperson for Export Education, my dream is to see New Zealand become a world leader in top-quality export education. As many international students do stay and become our residents after graduation it also goes deeper than just export education.

Because some of these students are our future New Zealanders – we must get it right from scratch and attract the best quality students to New Zealand.

10. Q: Isn’t it the case that no matter how good the Bill is it may not be drawn from the ballot and even if it does, it will likely be voted down?

A: True, but the Government will be forced to address the issue with more urgency.


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Today’s members’ bill ballot

Posted by on December 6th, 2012

New Zealand First had the luck of the draw, with two of their bills being drawn in today’s ballot for the two available spaces on the Order Paper. Their bills were:

  • Sentencing (Protection of Children from Criminal Offending) Amendment Bill – Le’aufa’amulia Asenati Lole-Taylor
  • Social Security (Clothing Allowances for Orphans and Unsupported Children) Amendment Bill – Tracey Martin

You can see the full list of bills after the break. (more…)

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Today’s members’ bill ballot

Posted by on November 8th, 2012

Today at 12noon there’ll be a ballot for members’ bills, with five places available on the Order Paper. Each Labour MP has a bill in the ballot so hopefully we’ll get some bills drawn.

I’ll post the results just after midday.

The full list of bills in today’s ballot is after the break.

Update: the following bills were drawn:

7. Climate Change (New Zealand Superannuation Fund) Bill – Eugenie Sage

29. Electronic Transactions (Contract Formation) Amendment Bill – Paul Goldsmith

18. Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill (No 2) – Hon Damien O’Connor

30. Employment Relations (Statutory Minimum Redundancy Entitlements) Amendment Bill – Sue Moroney

21. Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools) Amendment Bill –  Hone Harawira


Now for something completely different

Posted by on November 2nd, 2012

Next Members’ Day, my bill, the Local Government (Public Libraries) Amendment bill will have its first reading in parliament.

The bill, originally drafted by Labour MP Grant Robertson, was drawn from the ballot a couple of months back and as its sponsor, I’ve been on an exploration of the wonderful services our Public Libraries and librarians provide.

I admit that while I’ve been a fan of public libraries for years, going back to my childhood and the childhood of my son, I haven’t been a regular visitor recently. So this bill has re-ignited my passion for libraries, for books, for knowledge, for history. It’s been wonderful seeing the national treasure of our public library services, from the small local library to those with bigger collections.  These are indeed national taonga.

Public libraries play an important role in our communities. They give everyone access to information and improve literacy and reading.  They are community hubs for a range of activities, and they help strength local communities.

Who could ever imagine that our libraries could be at risk, yet with the government’s focus on Local Government costs, with a nasty bill due to be reported back soon, increasingly, strapped Local Authorities may turn their attention to library services and more charges.

New Zealand has no legislation that guarantees free public libraries. We are out of step internationally with countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada – all of which protect free public library services via legislation. We are not meeting UNESCO guidelines where public libraries in principle should be free of charge and the responsibility of local and national authorities, financed by national and local governments.

My bill will help New Zealand meet UNESCO guidelines, address the issue of user charges and ensure that NZ’s public libraries are an essential component of any long-term strategy for culture, information provision, literacy and education.

Our Library services should not be bound by an individual’s ability to pay, but that is becoming increasingly the case. Statistics show that introduction of user charges result in lower usage of public libraries and this in turn directly impacts on our communities’ literacy outcomes – it adds to inequality by denying access to those who can least afford to pay.

Then there’s our precious collections, which store our history.  Imagine these being developed on a user pays basis?  Do we really want unbalanced, profit-driven libraries that cater only for immediate, popular choices, rather than non-profitable alternatives?

We are becoming an e-society, but without libraries and free access to e-government and other services, the digital divide will expand.  It’s almost impossible to do anything these days without access to the internet – even looking for a job, where advertisements and applications are usually done on-line. Information about government services are increasingly only available through the internet.

Libraries play an important role in bridging the digital divide for those without personal computers or other devices.

There’s many reasons for this bill, but the most important one is keeping our public libraries free for all users.

If you want to support the bill, go to the Keep Public Libraries free facebook page or the website for the Library Information Association of NZ (Lianza)

Most important of all, let your MP know where you stand on this issue.

Be Careful Who You Quote

Posted by on October 25th, 2012

In a desperate bid to find a reason to oppose my bill to extend paid parental leave to 6 months, Business NZ rolled up to the select committee citing the opinion of Member of the European Parliament as evidence that employers in NZ might stop employing women of “child-bearing” age.

“Absurd legislation such as this closes the door on opportunities for young women and consigns them to a role as second class citizens, trapped at home by stupid legislators,” said the un-named MEP in Business NZs submission.

A quick google search revealed him to be Godfrey Bloom from the UK Independence Party.

Turns out, Godfrey has a lot to say about women.

“No self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age.” For example. Closely followed by:

“I just dont think (women) clean behind the fridge enough” and “I am here to represent Yorkshire women who always have dinner on the table when you get home.”

And Godfrey also has something to say about NZ. Wikipedia reports that he was filmed in 2009, congratulating the French for bombing the Rainbow Warrior.

My advise to Business NZ is simple. Don’t make assertions that denigrate both women and NZ employers and use an MEP of questionable repute to justify your position.

Its a very bad look and the issue deserves better treatment than that.

Members’ bill ballot today

Posted by on October 18th, 2012

There were two spaces on the Order Paper today, and the following Bills were drawn:

  • 13. Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 (Application to Casinos) Amendment Bill – Metiria Turei
  • 28. Employment Relations (Protection of Young Workers) Amendment Bill – Rino Tirikatene

A full list of the Bills in the ballot is over the break.


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Assisted dying – the social conversation

Posted by on September 25th, 2012

So much has been said recently about my End-of-Life Choice bill which is sitting in the ballot waiting against the odds to be drawn out.  The conversation has been stimulated again by Evans Mott’s trial (discharged without conviction for helping his wife to prepare for her lonely suicide), and the death of Gretha Appleby (pronounced by the coroner recently to be self-inflicted, which is what she always said she would do when she thought the moment had come for her). Here is Tony Nicklinson’s story, as told by his daughter. Read it and tell me if you don’t understand yet. Then keep talking.

Today’s Members’ Bill Ballot

Posted by on September 20th, 2012

Today at midday there’ll be a ballot for members’ bills, with two places available on the Order Paper. A preliminary ballot will be held to determine which of the following bills will be entered in the main ballot:

20. Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools) Amendment Bill – Hone Harawira
22. Education (Food in Schools) Amendment Bill – David Shearer

In my view, the Clerk’s decision to conduct a preliminary ballot to determine which of these two bills, which have similar aims, goes into the ballot is the wrong one. While the goals of the two bills are similar, the means of achieving them a very different. The test needs to be whether the bills are substantially the same in their ‘content’, not whether they are the same in the outcome they seek to achieve.

For example, if two bills were put up around the transportation of goods from Wellington to Auckland, and one sought to do so via rail and one via road, if we used ‘outcome’ as the criteria for determining whether they were the same, only one bill would go in the ballot, yet clearly the bills are very different in their content. We’ll be relitigating this for sure, but for today at least, only one of these bills will make it into the ballot.

You can see the full list of bills in today’s ballot after the break. I’ll post the results just after midday.

Update: Hone Harawira’s Bill made it into the ballot and the following were drawn:

Conservation Natural Heritage Protection Bill – Jacqui Dean
Electricity (Renewable Preference) Amendment Bill – Charles Chauvel


Who can argue against transparency for publicly owned Ports?

Posted by on September 18th, 2012

Tomorrow, my members’ bill, the Local Government (Council Controlled Organisations) Amendment Bill will have its first reading.

The bill is straightforward.  It will remove the current exclusion of publicly owned ports from access to information under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act and Official Information Act requests.

Every port in New Zealand is wholly or majority owned by Councils, yet the ratepayers who own them have no right to request information about how they are run.

The issue came up again last week when Auckland Councillors were denied information about the amount of public money spent on consultants, advertising, public relations and legal actions during the Ports of Auckland dispute. 

But it’s not only about the Ports of Auckland. It’s about every port in New Zealand.  Hundreds of millions of dollars of public money is tied up in local authority owned port companies, but the public can’t even ask questions.

The principle of the Official Information Act is that the public own the information about publicly owned entities and therefore should be able to access that information, subject of course to the legislation.

Who can argue with that principle?

We will see tomorrow.

By The Numbers

Posted by on September 11th, 2012

Yes, I am trying to steal David Clark’s thunder- but I’m not the only one.
A few weeks ago at the Women’s Expo in Tauranga, the National Party had a stall.
They decided they needed a fresh idea – a “hook” to get women interacting with them.
They needed something to get attention, something that would let women know they were on their side.
Problem was, National are out of any new ideas of their own and their current policies are bad for women.

So here’s what they chose to ask the women of Tauranga about :-

“Should Waitangi Day and AnzacDay be Mondayised when they fall on a weekend.”

Expo-goers were asked to put a dot under “Yes or “No” and I have it on good authority that it was a landslide to the Yes vote.

I wonder of the Nats will now reverse their opposition to this excellent Labour Bill after this feedback from the good folk of Tauranga. Or will they continue to ignore them?

Meanwhile, around the corner, the Labour stall was promoting another excellent Labour Billl – my proposal to extend paid parental leave to 6 months which was also enjoying great support.

So, “by the numbers” when it came to great plans for the future embraced by the people of Tauranga:

Labour – 2
National – 0
Women of Tauranga thinking about Labour’s great policy ideas – Heaps!

Red Alert Today’s Members’ bill ballot

Posted by on August 30th, 2012

Today at midday there’ll be a ballot for members’ bills, with four places available on the Order Paper.

You can see the full list of bills in today’s ballot after the break. I’ll post the results just after midday.

Update: the following bills were drawn:

53. Oaths and Declarations (Upholding the Treaty of Waitangi) Amendment Bill – Te Ururoa Flavell

43. Local Government (Public Libraries) Amendment Bill – Darien Fenton

39. Land Transport (Admissibility of Evidential Breath Tests) Amendment Bill – Scott Simpson

2. Care of Children Law Reform Bill – Jacinda Ardern


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Today’s Members’ bill ballot

Posted by on August 16th, 2012

Today at midday there’ll be a ballot for members’ bills, with three places available on the Order Paper.

Labour has 34 bills in the ballot today. That’s one for every member. Not a bad effort!

You can see the full list of bills in today’s ballot after the break. I’ll post the results just after midday.

Update: The following Bills were drawn from the ballot today:


Minimum wage bill gathers traction

Posted by on August 1st, 2012

I’ve already put some of the arguments in favour of raising the minimum wage.  Here are a few more:

– A minimum wage of $15 an hour will mean extra earnings of $427 million a year for our lowest paid workers.  Most of that money will be spent on essentials – food, clothing and health-care – and will go straight back into the economy.

– David Parker rightly points out that the minimum wage has to be one families can live on, that rewards hard-work, and that helps stem the flow of thousands of people to Australia where wages are much higher.

– Minimum wage increases have lagged behind productivity increases over last 20 years.  For the health of our communities they need to increase in a sustainable fashion.

– If Government future ambitions for growth are to be realised, the fruits will need to be shared.  My bill helps ensure that is the case.

– Inequalities are growing since National’s 2010 tax package which increased GST, and gave the biggest tax cuts to those already wealthy. These growing inequalities begin to be addressed by my bill.  Women, Māori, Pacific people, youth and part-time workers are more likely to benefit from an increase in the minimum wage.

If you’re new to this debate, Ch9 News in Dunedin has a background piece on my bill. It’s worth a look.

Keep Our Assets Bill Drawn

Posted by on July 27th, 2012

Yesterday my Labour colleagues and I had an outstanding result from the Members Ballot with four Labour bills drawn.

If successful my State-Owned Enterprises and Crown Entities (Protecting New Zealand’s Strategic Assets) Amendment Bill will see key state assets New Zealand Post, Kiwibank, Kiwirail and others protected for future generations.

It protects essential state assets such as New Zealand Post, Kiwibank and Kiwirail from attempts to sell them off for short term profits. Any government trying to sell these assets will need a 75 per cent majority in Parliament or win a referendum. That’s a fair policy.

We know Kiwis oppose selling our assets. This bill ensures strategic assets sales will need to pass a much higher hurdle, which is only fair.

The need for this bill is clear for all to see. The government is going hell for leather to sell off our essential assets despite massive opposition.

This is the acid test for the government. If National doesn’t support this bill it will be clear they are readying more assets like Kiwirail for sale. I call on all parties to support this bill and protect our assets.

I think New Zealanders will be very supportive of the fact that we are putting in place provisions that will stop sale of other assets.

People will sleep better knowing the Government had to either go to a referendum or get 75 per cent of Parliament before they can sell off Kiwibank.

This is just another way we can stop the sale of strategic asset sales and to keep them for generations to come. Kiwis all across the country are signing the Keep Our Assets petition in droves and to date the Keep Our Coalition has collected over 160,000 signatures, and is well on our way to forcing a referendum. Sign it today.

Why the Minimum Wage Needs to Rise

Posted by on July 26th, 2012

I’m stoked that my Mondayising Members Bill has successfully proceeded to select committee.  Members Bills provide the opportunity to pass legislation against the Government.  A sensible idea and sufficient luck mean positive change becomes possible from the opposition benches.

It looks like the heavens are smiling on me.  I have just now heard that I’ve had a second bill drawn.  This time I aim to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour.

I’m convinced that the minimum wage needs to go up sooner rather than later.  There is too much inequality in NZ. The poverty inequality drives is destroying lives and wasting the opportunity to get the best out of our people.  I’ve previously explained how this has come to pass and why it is hurting us.

Critics argue that too high a minimum wage risks growing unemployment.  At some point this is undoubtedly true.  If the minimum wage went up to $30/hour, a bunch of businesses would go under.  That wouldn’t be good.  On the other hand, if the minimum wage is too low, the Government ends up dishing out subsidies to families to keep them out of poverty (or worse, it chooses not to give out subsidies to keep them out of poverty). 

A direct link between minimum wage and employment has never been successfully drawn.  Expect a Nobel Prize for any economist who manages it.  What we do know is that a lot of the rhetoric does not match reality.  National raised the minimum wage just 70 cents in their last 9 years in Government and unemployment soared.  Labour raised it $5 in their last 9 years and towards the end of their time enjoyed the lowest unemployment in the Western World.

A $15/hour minimum wage seems to have consensus in New Zealand as a figure that will not cause unemployment, but comes closer to a living wage. 

Interestingly, a lot of small and medium businesses routinely pay this wage because they know their workers, believe in them and understand how close to the poverty line they live.  It tends to be a few rogue larger firms that screw their workers down to the lowest common denominator. 

The costs of treating poverty related illnesses low-paid workers and their families bear are carried by all of us through the health system too.  So we effectively as taxpayers end up subsidising rogue employers and their bad practices.  This is bad for NZ socially and economically and it needs to stop.

I argue for increases in the minimum wage over time on the basis that it stops bad employers from exploiting low wages as a means of generating wealth.  Instead they have to explore ways of working smarter and increasing productivity. Most employers get this.

But fresh thinking from those who subscribe to a mean understanding of human nature suggest that even they should support minimum wage increases.  Of particular interest to me this week is a recent article written from a very conservative economic perspective that shows why even Act Party acolytes ought to get in behind this change.

Today’s members’ bill ballot

Posted by on July 26th, 2012

Today at midday there will be a ballot for members’ bills, with five places available on the Order Paper.

You can see the full list of bills in today’s ballot after the break. I’ll post the results just after midday.

Update: the following bills were drawn:

59. State-Owned Enterprises and Crown Entities (Protecting New Zealand’s Strategic Assets) Amendment Bill – Hon Clayton Cosgrove

55. Resource Management (Restricted Duration of Certain Discharge and Coastal Permits) Amendment Bill – Catherine Delahunty

37. Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill – Louisa Wall

47. Ombudsmen (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill – Hon Shane Jones

40. Minimum Wage Amendment Bill – Dr David Clark


Today’s Members’ bill ballot

Posted by on June 28th, 2012

Today at midday there will be a ballot for members’ bills. There are four places available on the Order Paper after the House managed to get through quite a few first readings yesterday. Labour has 33 bills out of 65 in the ballot, so our chances are looking good.

Members Day is one of the few opportunities opposition and backbench MPs get to set the agenda and debate the issues that we really care about. I’m really pleased my Labour colleagues have embraced this opportunity and all put something up for consideration (my colleague Lianne Dalziel had her Bill drawn in the last ballot and is presently working on a replacement).

You can see the full list of bills in today’s ballot after the break. I’ll post the results just after midday.

Update: The following Bills have been drawn from the ballot. Congratulations to these MPs: 

  • Overseas Investment (Restriction on Foreign Ownership of Land) Amendment Bill (Russel Norman)
  • Habeas Corpus Amendment Bill (Chris Auchinvole)
  • Local Government (Salary Moderation) Amendment Bill (Annette King)
  • Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises Bill (Todd McClay)


Lack of PPL Dragging us Down

Posted by on May 10th, 2012

Our lack of paid parental leave is holding us back from being the best place in the world to raise children.
This was confirmed by the “State of the World’s Mothers” report released this week by Save the Children.
Even though we were placed fourth in their 13th annual report, its clear that our low rate of PPL was a key reason we slumped to 19th place when rated on their breastfeeding policy scorecard.
The report shows that 88% of NZ babies were breastfed at some stage, but that by 3 months that fell to just 56% and the data wasnt even available for NZ babies aged 6 months.
It is also of concern that NZ rated just 25th/44 countires on Save the Chidren’s scorecard for children living in developed countries.
I want NZ to be the best place in the world to raise children. Extending paid parental leave is one practical way we can achieve this.