Red Alert

Posts Tagged ‘Members’ Day’

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.

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)


Futile (and desperate?)

Posted by on May 9th, 2011

As the Parliamentary Term draws to its close, the chances of MPs getting a new members’ bill from the ballot are almost zero.

Tau got a bit of free publicity over Easter by saying he would be putting forward a members’ bill to allow shop trading on Easter Friday. Desperate in Te Atatu?  Sounds like it.

Now Roger Douglas has joined the ACT, with this press release today saying he’s going to resubmit his members’ bill to strip young workers of minimum wages.  His members’ bill on the same topic was roundly defeated last year. Roger’s on his way out, thank goodness, but Don Brash will gladly pick up the mantle.

Problem for Tau and Roger is that there ain’t going to be any more ballots this term of parliament.  Unless, that is, all MPs with members bills up for first readings withdraw them and I can’t see that happening.

Only six Members’ bills awaiting first reading can be on the Order Paper on each Members’ Day.  We have six already, but also in front of those bills are :

  • Local and private orders of the day :  These take precedence, and there are currently two at committee stages, with third readings to come.  There’s likely to be more.
  • Two controversial bills awaiting committee stages and third reading : Voluntary Student Membership Bill (Heather Roy) and Secret Ballots for strike action (Tau Henare).
  • After that, there comes two second readings of NACt MP bills, followed by committee stages, and if they get to it, third readings.

Then, and only then can we begin on the first readings of members’ bills that are already on the Order Paper.

Given that Members’ Days are only held every second sitting week, and the government’s predilection for using Members’ Days for urgency, I can confidently predict there will be absolutely no more ballots for members’ bills this term, including those of Tau Henare and Roger Douglas.

Thank goodness for that.