robson-on-politics 8 August
The Electoral (Vacancies) Act
What really happened? Harry Duynhoven, born in New Plymouth, had Dutch and New Zealand citizenship when he entered Parliament. In 1995 many people outside the Netherlands lost Dutch citizenship due to a law change. After a great hue and cry, that was reversed and those affected were allowed to reclaim their birthright.
The Electoral Act provides that a candidate can have dual citizenship and be elected an MP, but an MP who takes a second (or a third or fourth) citizenship loses their seat. Harry's case however is a grey area - the law is not clear when an MP loses then recovers an overseas citizenship.
So the Privileges Committee was asked to advise Mr Speaker. We conducted extensive hearings and produced a detailed report saying that a majority believed that the New Plymouth seat was vacant and that we believed a law change was justified. Parliament then decided to fix the problem for the term of this parliament and to ask the Justice and Electoral Select Committee to recommend solutions to all the curly questions arising.
And just because someone has dual citizenship does not mean they will betray New Zealand; some of the greatest damage has been done to this country by people who held only a New Zealand citizenship. Remember the Business Roundtable and asset sales? See: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=377 and the report of the Privileges Committee: http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/Content/SelectCommitteeReports/i17c.pdf
. . . and the work of the Privileges Committee
I devoted a lot of my time over the last fortnight to chairing the Privileges Committee. It must act properly and provide an opportunity for natural justice. The first time I saw a Privileges Committee, it was a disgrace. Issues on Alamein Kopu were pre-determined.
I, as chair, and John Carter (Nat MP) as deputy chair are determined that Privileges will act in a judicial manner. It will set down rules so we will not have a repeat of what happened this time, when Richard Prebble said he had made up his mind before he had heard the evidence.
See: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=378 and the report of the Privileges Committee: http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/Content/SelectCommitteeReports/i17c.pdf
Looking forward to no nukes
Wednesday 6th was Hiroshima Day. I sent a white poppy to all MPs, and many wore one. In wearing mine I not only remembered the tragedy, but I looked forward to the day when nuclear weapons are eliminated altogether.
Jobs matter and the Jobs Party delivers
The Progressives believe that every person out of a job deserves the best assistance possible to find real employment. We believe that every individual job seeker has something unique to offer the community and our economy. The old rallying cry of "Peace, Jobs and Bread" is all about empowering people. This week the coalition launched a $105 million package of initiatives which aims to seriously address both skill shortages and the urgent need to get more New Zealanders into real jobs. We'll help 22,000 people get into paid employment over the next three years.
Great news this morning that unemployment is down to 4.7%, a sixteen year low. During National's time in Government in the 1990's unemployment was always over 6% and the last time the unemployment rate was this low was December 1987. There are now 1,911,000 people in jobs, 37,000 more than a year ago.
See the Stats NZ release at: http://www.stats.govt.nz/domino/external/pasfull/pasfull.nsf/web/Hot+Off+The+Press+Household+Labour+Force+Survey+June+2003+quarter?open _____________________
Labour-Progressive better than the alternative
Speaking on Wednesday I noted that the Labour Progressive minority coalition regularly comes to Parliament and ask for approval of spending plans and new laws. We get approval because one or more other parties know that we are a better government that the National-Act alternative.
In the year since the election, Parliament has passed 42 laws where there was opposition. On 34 of these, or over 80%, the government gained the support of at least two parties - more than a bare majority. MMP is working.
See: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=372 _____________________
Last Friday I was in Dargaville and my programme included a visit to the Courthouse upgrade which I initiated. Good to see real progress. Both local newspapers came out to interview me, wanting to know what the Progressives are doing inside and outside Parliament.