Parliament

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

 

Pita Sharples: Appropriation Bill


Appropriation (Continuation of Interim Meaning of Funding for Parliamentary Purposes) Bill

Dr Pita Sharples; Co-leader of the Maori Party

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Every year, on the 9th August, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is celebrated. It is a day which provides the world with an opportunity to focus on indigenous peoples - to address the issues of exclusion, of discrimination, of poverty, of marginalization that are still very much part of the daily reality for many indigenous peoples.

On the August 9th this year, was marked by another significant event – and that has been referred to as ‘credit crunch Thursday’ - the day that the world banking community took fright. It was a day when simply all international banks stopped lending to each other, on the brinks of a complete financial meltdown.

And so here we are, just three months later, throwing caution to the wind, allowing the liberal use of taxpayer funds for political party spending.

This Bill extends the interim - and narrow - definition of electioneering in order to validate the range of spending allowed under the auspices of taxpayer funding.

So where does August 9 fit in the greater scale of things? How does the credit crisis, the disparate economic outlook of Māori New Zealanders feature within the argument over election funding?

Well the answer is nowhere.

And this is one of the most serious issues that we have regarding the funding entitlements for parliamentary purposes.

That the payment of funding entitlements does not occur in a vacuum.

And so when we look at the context of estimated spending for this Appropriation Bill, we can not ignore other realities such as the fact that bankruptcy levels in New Zealand are now at an all-time record high. New Zealand households now owe some $78 billion dollars - a five billion increase in this financial year.

So having established that this Appropriation Bill has nothing to do with financial reality, it only remains to be seen what the funding entitlements for parliamentary purposes really stands for.

In this Bill, the provision will apply to the close of 30 June 2009 for funding to be used by the performance of an individual Member of Parliament or political party in meeting their roles and functions.

We in the Māori Party have supported the pursuit of tikanga such as accountability, transparency and integrity in association with the funding of political parties and election campaigns.

But this is where the challenge of this legislation is so apparent.

Because of course its origins are anything but in line with tikanga. Its origins are based, firmly and squarely, in legislation which validated the invalid spending for purposes deemed improper by the Auditor General after the 2005 Elections.

What we know is the confidence and trust of te iwi Māori is essential towards enhancing democratic political participation.

And the question we must ask is when we look at this Bill, what is the record of honesty that we know of the parties sponsoring this Bill? Can we really trust any party who can support retrospective legislation to condone past illegalities?

Can we trust any party who can call for strict rules of sub judice to be applied in debates in this chamber, but then go outside and suddenly it’s open season on matters before the Court?

Integrity and honesty is hardly the image, however, that we associate with parties who have variously interpreted the rules regarding the broadcasting spend or parliamentary funding to serve their own needs.

There is no way to entertain corruption, illegalities, invalid spending or abuse of power in the running of democracy.

And so we look towards this Bill, as with any Bill, to ascertain how it can guarantee the active exercise of responsibility,

If one was to believe yesterday’s front page Herald editorial, that active exercise of responsibility being debated in this Bill is being potentially undermined by backroom deals being struck by Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First in the secret election spending laws being dreamt up outside of this Chamber.

So while all other political parties are being lulled into a false sense of innocence that basically this Bill is nothing more than a temporary stop-gap to continue interim definitions of funding for parliamentary purposes, some other players are merrily reforming electoral spending laws.

What presumably is going on behind closed caucus doors, are laws to favour the political parties that are putting the Bill together.

And this, hilariously, is meant to be a Bill which is about how to enhance participation in the democratic process.

Madam Speaker, in the interests of supporting transparency, good governance and ethical practices in our parliament, we in the Māori Party want to share four important concepts which could be helpful in the legislative process.

The concepts that we believe complement transparency are:

 Rangatiratanga (chieftainship)

 Kaitiakitanga (sustainable protection of taonga)

 Kotahitanga (unity of purpose)

 And manaakitanga (mana enhancement).

We believe these four concepts are central to the pursuit of a healthy political democracy.

The Bill before the House today, is merely an exercise to adjust the timeframe which were due to expire on 31 December 2007.

But while this Bill is just to stretch out the time boundaries, at the same time the Electoral Finance Bill is spinning along regardless.

The question that we are of course curious to know, is whether the Justice and Electoral Select Committee will keep to the original timeframe anticipated for the Electoral Finance Bill of reporting back by the 25th January 2008, or whether, miraculously, there will be suddenly sufficient agreement behind closed doors for the process to be sped up before Parliament breaks up this year.

We return again to this central concept of democracy - and enhanced political participation.

Remembering that this Appropriation Bill is based on the premise set up by Auditor General Kevin Brady that there needed to be fairness in matters of parliamentary expenditure, we cannot help but be influenced by the power of messages put forward from groups such as the Law Society or the Human Rights Commission regarding electoral law reform.

The Law Society stated in their submissions on the Electoral Finance Bill, and I quote, that the Bill would:

“make participation in our parliamentary democracy and arduous and perhaps even legally dangerous undertaking for ordinary New Zealanders”.

And the Human Rights Commission has famously described the restrictions on election activity as a “dramatic assault” on fundamental rights, which “undermines the legitimacy of political processes”.

Madam Speaker, just as this Government could carelessly, callously disregard the priorities and world views of indigenous peoples, by voting against the Declaration the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; it would appear that they are also seemingly oblivious to the fact that democracy is generally considered to be about sanctioning a system of decision-making processes which promote free and equal rights of participation.

Not three parties in; all other parties out.

And it is perhaps useful, to conclude with the wisdom of Aristotle, who has said, and I quote:

“if liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost”.

It is because these factors are not found in this Bill, that the Māori Party has no alternative but to vote, in protest, against the Appropriation (Continuation of Interim Meaning of Funding for Parliamentary Purposes) Bill.

Ends


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Reaction

Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced

 

Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>

ALSO:


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>

ALSO:

Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>

ALSO:

Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>

ALSO:

Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election