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Maxim Institute - real issues - No 209

Maxim Institute - real issues - No 209
15 June 2006

www.maxim.org.nz

Working at Easter?
Flying the Flag
Bill to Amend the Rma Fails to Cross the First Hurdle

in the News:
Australian Government Says No to Civil Unions in the Act
100 Years Since the Death of "King Dick"
New Zealand Abortion Numbers FALL

WORKING AT EASTER?

The issue of Easter Sunday trading is receiving a fair bit of attention. Labour MP, Steve Chadwick's bill to allow districts to decide whether or not to allow trading on Easter Sunday passed its first reading on Wednesday, and will now be considered by a select committee. The vote was a conscience one, with 80 MPs voting for it and 38 voting against. A bill by National MP Jacqui Dean to allow shops involved in tourism to open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday also passed its first reading recently.

Easter Sunday trading and the place it should have in a society is a complex and controversial issue. As a nation, we recognise certain days as important; Easter Sunday, ANZAC day and Christmas day are times when New Zealand pauses to consider the role different events have played in shaping our nation and our lives.

Both supporters and opponents of Easter Sunday trading agree that with the many pressures families face today, having time with family is important. Some argue that maintaining Easter Sunday and Good Friday as holidays helps to protect this family time. Sue Bradford neatly summarised her opposition to Jacqui Dean's Bill during the debate at its first reading, "...the bill fails to address the underlying questions about workers' rights, the role of public holidays in family life, and the nature of sacred days in a country of mixed-faith heritages."

Conversely, many believe this is an issue of personal freedom. Jacqui Dean, when arguing for her bill said, "To me it comes back to freedom of choice. If we want to trade, we should be able to trade. If we want to shop, or not, that is our choice, too." With such divergent views on this issue, the select committee process for both bills will be an interesting one to follow.

Submissions on either Bill may be made to the Commerce Select Committee.

To read the Bill's, please visit:

http://www.knowledge-basket.co.nz/gpprint/docs/bills/20060511.txt

http://www.knowledge-basket.co.nz/gpprint/docs/bills/20060421.txt

To
find out more about making a submission, please visit:

http://www.maxim.org.nz/changeagent/toolkit/#submission

FLYING THE FLAG

The United States celebrates Flag Day this week; the anniversary of the adoption of the star spangled banner (June 14 1777). As the United States pauses to celebrate the flag, Congress gears up to debate a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit flag burning, it is a good time to reflect on the value of symbols in national life.

Flags are more than just pieces of cloth. As we saw during the debate on the referendum to change New Zealand's flag last year, flags are symbols of national identity and the focus of national pride. They are representations of history, heritage, values, institutions and the people who have died to defend them.

In times of war, the flag becomes a rallying point for a cause, the living symbol of a country. In times of peace, flags fly from buildings and national monuments, and litter the stands at international sporting competitions marking a common focus, union and energy of the country.

A supreme insult to a nation is to desecrate its flag. We have seen a few cases of such desecration in New Zealand, and they are magnets for controversy, precisely because the flag represents more than a scrap of cloth. It is the sign of our allegiance, the symbol of our inheritance and connectedness, of our country and her proud history. It is this impulse which prompted Victorian poet Rudyard Kipling to growl at those who were attacking the British flag, Hone Heke to chop down a flagstaff, or John Greanleaf Whittier to write "shoot this grey head if you must, but spare your country's flag". Our flag symbolises our values, inheritance and institutions. That is why we value 'a moth-eaten rag on a worm-eaten pole", because "the pole is a staff, and the rag is a flag."

BILL TO AMEND THE RMA FAILS TO CROSS THE FIRST HURDLE

On Wednesday a Private Member's Bill to amend the Resource Management Act 1991 was defeated in Parliament. The Bill

proposed to give the Environment Court the ability to require any party in a proceeding under the Resource Management Act to provide the Court with security for costs.

In general, if a person is unsuccessful in Court, they will usually have to contribute to the other party's legal costs. However, instances arise where the unsuccessful party can not afford to make this contribution. This results in the successful party paying a hefty legal bill, even though no case has been made against them. This Bill would have given the court the ability to ask a party to provide funds to the court, before the case is heard, to avoid this possibility.

The sponsor of the Bill, National MP Kate Wilkinson, hoped that the Bill would "improve the efficiency and fairness of processes under the Resource Management Act 1991 by limiting vexatious and frivolous objections."

The power to require a party to provide security for costs is available to other courts and had originally been available to the Environment Court before it was removed by the Resource Management Amendment Act 2003.

The Bill was defeated 48 votes to 71. Labour, the Greens, Untied Future, New Zealand First and the Maori Party voted against the Bill and National Party voted in favour of it. The Act Party did not vote.

IN THE NEWS

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT SAYS NO TO CIVIL UNIONS IN THE ACT

This week the Australian federal government effectively overturned new laws in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) which established civil unions for same-sex couples. The government believed it contradicted the Marriage Act, which specifies that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, because the civil union laws required a celebrant and a ceremony. Prime Minister John Howard said "The legislation by its own admission is an attempt to equate civil unions with marriage." "We don't find that acceptable" he said.

At the instigation of Attorney General Philip Ruddock, a regulation overturning the ACT law was signed by the Governor General on Wednesday, but it was not without opposition. The move to overturn the law was opposed by the Democrats and the Greens who put up a disallowance motion to force a debate in the Senate. On Thursday, the Senate voted 32-30 to reject the motion, and in doing so, effectively quashed the civil union law.

The federal government does not have the same degree of power to overturn State legislation as it does to overrule that of Territories. Thankfully for the government who opposes civil unions, several States will soon face elections, and are unlikely to want to raise such a controversial issue while courting voters.

100 YEARS SINCE THE DEATH OF "KING DICK"

This week marks 100 years since the death of Richard John Seddon, known as "King Dick", Premier and Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1893-1906. His term lasted 13 years and one month, ranking him as New Zealand's longest serving leader. MP in the Liberal interest for

Hokitika, Kumara, and then Westland, his term saw several important initiatives; the Old Age Pension Act, Women's Suffrage (which he bitterly opposed), and the extension of New Zealand's interest in the South Pacific. A strong supporter of our links with the Commonwealth, Seddon supported the second Boer War, the annexation of the Cook Islands, (Western Samoa and Fiji, his two other targets, proved more difficult), and he is also remembered for his speeches on the so-called "Yellow peril" of Chinese immigration.

Commonly remembered as a sympathetic, though paternalist ally of Maori, he was known as "King Dick" for his autocratic tendencies. He famously advocated the abolition of the Cabinet, with the phrase "a President is all we require". Prized for his connection with the common man, and as an advocate for the interests of miners, he is also credited with coining the term "God's Own" to refer to New Zealand. His 13 years in office, while controversial, made an important contribution to the shaping of modern New Zealand, and he is remembered as a vital, colourful, if flawed figure in the tapestry of our nation's history.

NEW ZEALAND ABORTION NUMBERS FALL

This week Statistics New Zealand announced that for the second consecutive year, the number of abortions has dropped. 17,530 induced abortions were performed in New Zealand in the December 2005

year, which is 680 (3.7 percent) fewer than in 2004 (18,210).

To read more, visit Statistics New Zealand:

http://www.stats.govt.nz/

TALKING POINT

"A moth-eaten rag on a worm-eaten pole, It does not look likely to stir a man's soul. Tis the deeds that were done 'neath the moth-eaten rag, When the pole was a staff, and the rag was a flag." Sir Edward Bruce Hamley (1824-1893)

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