Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Speech on Parental Leave Bill

Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Paid Parental Leave for Self-Employed Persons) Amendment Bill 2005

Hone Harawira; Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau
Tuesday 2 May 2006

Mr Speaker, Te Ururoa Flavell gave our support to this Bill at the First reading, because it was consistent with the Maori Party’s recognition of the importance of financial security for whanau.

That financial security has never been more important than it is now, with:
o record numbers of people on low incomes;
o record numbers of people on special benefits;
o record numbers of food parcels being distributed; and
o record numbers of children living in families below the poverty line.

That financial security is especially urgent for Mäori, particularly in light of the finding by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People, who noted, and I quote, “the underlying institutional and structural discrimination that Maori have long suffered”, and who also noted that: ‘disparities continue to exist between Maori and non-Maori with regard to employment, income, health, housing, education [and] the criminal justice system’.

I raise the Special Rapporteur’s report because of the importance of this House recognising the huge impact that poverty has on our society, especially given that this government refuses to accept the need to measure poverty, or to even acknowledge a poverty line.

As if refusing to acknowledge poverty, will mean people won’t notice that it exists.

Well folks, it don’t take too much analysis to work out who is most affected by poverty - with or without a line in place. Gisborne, Whangarei, Whanganui, Porirua and Rotorua are the regions with the highest levels of poverty, and surprise, surprise, they are all regions with high Maori populations.


Mr Speaker, when times are tough, any threat to employment is bound to increase pressure on a household, whether people are employed in the workforce, self-employed, in casual work, in multiple employment, or in seasonal employment.

Our original doubts about the Paid Parental Leave Scheme were because self-employed people had been left out, when a very significant proportion of the population, more than 360,000, consider themselves to be self-employed.

In fact, the number of self-employed Mäori has increased by more than 200% over the past twenty years, so this matter has huge significance for the Maori Party who are the only Party to have taken up the challenge of defending Maori rights and advancing Maori interests.


On another level Mr Speaker, this whole House acknowledges the considerable anxiety being expressed by both Labour and National, about the unprecedented growth in Mäori political participation, since the birth of the Maori Party, and rightfully so, and not before time too I might add.

Last month, Labour President Mike Williams called in his Maori MPs and their staff, to work out how to deal with the rise and rise of the Mäori Party. He said there was an urgent need for Labour’s Maori MPs to be, and I quote: “making more of an impression on the Maori electorate and getting organized”.

He also criticised the ‘sluggishness’ of Labour’s Mäori MPs, but was not prepared to accept that Labour’s own insultingly bad treatment of its Maori MPs was a major reason why Maori were switching in droves to the Maori Party.

Then over the weekend, deputy leader Gerry Brownlee told a National Party conference that National needs to be preparing for the Maori Party to hold the balance of power after the next election.

Again, acknowledgement of the ever-increasing role that the Maori Party is playing in the politics of Aotearoa.


And yet fascinating as all this is, the real challenge before government should not be in scheming to undermine the Mäori Party, but in preparing for the real challenge of an ever-increasing Mäori population, and increasingly, the rapid rise of Maori who are politically mature, and self-employed.

Thirteen percent of self-employed Mäori are under thirty compared to only 6% of non-Mäori, and that proportion can only be expected to rise, given the youthful profile of the Mäori population.

So how does all this relate to the legislation before the House today?

Well, to state the obvious - Maori make up 15% of the population - and we’re growing, fast.

And as both Labour and National have recognised, Maori people and their Maori Party are here for the long haul - and that means Government needs to start planning.

Planning to deal with the increasingly higher numbers of Maori men and women who are self-employed and ensuring that they can access paid parental leave.

And planning to enable those Maori who are self-employed casual and seasonal workers, or multi-job workers, to access paid parental leave as well.


Mr Speaker, the House has been focussing on the impact of extending the fourteen week paid parental leave scheme to the self-employed, but it would be remiss of us to leave this debate today, without again challenging the promotion of work over and above the unique and vital role of parenting.

This government seems to have abandoned support for the critical role that good parenting plays, by depriving beneficiary parents of any support from the Working for Families package; and by the ruthless slashing of funding for Plunket-Line from the end of next month.

The Mäori Party is committed to providing support for all parents - whether they work or not, to ensure that all children in this country can rise out of the poverty trap to which 250,000 of them have been consigned by this government’s legislation.


Mr Speaker, I also come to this debate aware of the message of May Day - to look out for a

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Perils Of Using PPPs To Meet Auckland’s Roading Needs

More than once, the coalition government has ruled out using public private partnerships (PPPs) to fund the country’s infrastructure needs in health and education – apparently private profiteering in those areas is recognised as being undesirable. Not the same story though with transport, and the reasons for that differential treatment are mystifying. Earlier today, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced that one of two new roads that the government would be co-financing would be a PPP – namely, the Penlink project that will link the northern motorway to the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.



HiveMind: Fair Enough? How Should New Zealanders Be Taxed?

Have Your Say - Scoop and PEP invite you to share your issues, ideas and perspectives on the NZ tax system with other New Zealanders using Scoop’s HiveMind tool. This Tax HiveMind is intended to complement and feed into the review being run by the Government-appointed Tax Working Group (TWG), which is looking at the fairness, balance and structure of the tax system with a 10-year time horizon. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Thompson + Clark & Russia’s World Cup

Daily, the coalition government keeps running into examples of the toxic legacy left behind by National – and just as regularly, even the simple fixes are proving stubbornly difficult to enact. Take the case of the security firm Thompson + Clark ... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The GCSB’s Security Hang-Up With Russia

So our GCSB has chimed in, alongside its British, Australian and US allies, with warnings about a “fresh wave” of Russian cyber attacks, although the warning has been curiously framed. More>>


PM's Europe Trip: CHOGM & Bilateral Meetings

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in Europe for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London and meetings with counterparts in Paris and Berlin. More>>


Addressing Climate Change: No New Offshore Exploration Permits

The Coalition Government is taking an important step to address climate change and create a clean, green and sustainable future for New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. More>>


Road Safety Summit: Actions To Improve Identified

The Local Government Road Safety Summit held last week identified actions that will lead to lasting changes to road safety in New Zealand, says Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter. More>>





Featured InfoPages