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Heather Roy's Diary

Heather Roy's Diary

Silenced From The Start

Following the reading of the Budget by the Finance Minister, there is a 14-hour debate. Because everything at Parliament works on proportionality, each party is allocated so many minutes of debate - in this case broken up into 10-minute speaking slots.

ACT's allocation was a 20-minute Leader's speech, four 10-minute speeches and one five-minute speech. I was given the five-minute slot, which just happened to be last on the list, before the Minister had the 'right of reply' - the last 10 minutes of the debate.

I arrived in plenty of time to give my contribution, which was to be mostly related to health. I had also planned to speak briefly about the $4 billion surplus, which means workers are being over-taxed, and the Government's assumption that it can spend people's money better than they can themselves. The America's Cup money ($33 million) was also to get a mention. However, when the time came, the House was told we had exceeded the time allowed for debate, and the National Party speaker before me had his time shaved by a minute - I was off the list completely. When questioned, the Speaker tersely told me there was nothing he could do - his hands were tied. In the final instance he gave me 20 seconds. I got the feeling I was supposed to be grateful! I always think it's a pity to waste a good speech, so have posted it on the ACT website. You can access it through this link : htt If you would like the 20 second version it is available at: http://www.act.org.nz/item.jsp?id=24106

Institutional Racism Puzzled as to why the House had run out of time, Richard Prebble consulted Parliament's books of rules - Standing Orders gives the protocols for procedures in the House, and Speakers Rulings gives previous rulings relating the Standing Orders. They revealed the problem. There had been no Points of Order that we had heard. These can often take up time during debates. Many of Labour's Maori members give part of their speech in Maori - these must be translated for the benefit of the majority of the House. The time for translation doesn't come out of the recorded time for that member but, meanwhile, the clock is ticking. So two opposition speakers were sacrificed in the name of Institutional Racism - political correctness again wins the day.

Pay Equity - officially on the agenda Margaret Wilson has announced that a taskforce will look into the issue of pay equity, initially in the public sector, to "set a good example". What she is saying, of course, is "watch out private sector, you're next". New Zealand achieved pay equality (equal pay for men and women doing the same work) in 1972. However, there have been, mainly feminist, mutterings for some time about achieving equal pay for work of a similar nature. The example often used is police and nurses. This is comparing oranges with apples - the two professions do very different work. We also now have men choosing nursing as a career, and women becoming police. The important thing is that opportunities exist equally for both men and women - something we have achieved. This is another example of the Labour's politically correct social engineering. It will be the taxpayer who is burdened with the cost of

Industrial action looms again Five North Island District Health Boards face strike action from nurses, which will give them no choice but to cancel all but essential services. Health Minister Annette King has been speaking to nurses groups and raising their expectations by encouraging them to seek higher salaries. At the same time, she is funding DHBs for only small wage and salary increases (around two percent). As opposition Health Spokesperson, Annette King won the nursing vote by implying they would be paid more under Labour - she has failed to deliver. The Government has given clear support for national awards, and the Nurses' Union has taken the first step by insisting on multi-employer contracts. Individual DHBs are unable to negotiate with their own nurses. Nurses have had their expectations raised, but DHBs are underfunded against these. In addition, the industrial relations framework puts DHBs under

Breathing space for the Prime Minister Parliament has gone into recess for the next two weeks. The Prime Minister must be breathing a sigh of relief as she will not have to answer any tricky questions from opposition MPs on Free Trade with the US, her recent gaffes on Iraq and the Americans, or whether she remembers signing off policy documents.

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