Harré to Lead Internet Party
May 29, 2014
Harré to Lead Internet Party
Laila Harré – the woman who put through New Zealand's first paid parental leave law – will lead the Internet Party into the General Election.
Ms Harré, a Cabinet minister for the Alliance-Labour Government from 1999-2002, brings with her a wealth of political experience as a former Minister of Women’s Affairs, Youth Affairs and Statistics, and Associate Minister of Labour and of Commerce.
Ms Harré introduced the first paid parental leave legislation and saw it through the legislative process with a law that granted 12 weeks’ paid leave.
Her return to politics as leader of the Internet Party comes as a result of her concern that young Kiwis, in particular, have been left out of the political process. Ms Harré sees the Internet Party as a force to connect with young citizens and give them a strong voice in Parliament.
“Mainstream parties aren’t even trying to connect. It's hardly surprising that nearly half the eligible voters under 24 didn’t even bother at the last election. Parliament was somewhere they felt they had no place, and politics had become too distasteful, too petulant, to even rate as a spectator sport.
“This has to change and we will be the ones to do it.”
She believes the Internet represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for New Zealand to become a global leader in generating innovation, jobs and prosperity.
“And our young people get that. What they have lacked so far is a voice in Parliament. I'm here to change that.”
A qualified barrister and solicitor educated at Auckland University, Ms Harré says her experience of the Internet is much the same as many others who use it, but she is joining an organisation with expert personnel who have a vast knowledge of technology issues and solutions.
“Internet freedom is the free speech issue of our age,” she says. “The Internet creates the spaces in which our youth gather. The town hall meetings of the smartphone age happen online. The Internet Party is teaching me a valuable lesson – that we're the ones who need to change, to engage.
“But the Internet Party represents so much more than that. Our Action Agenda and policy development process clearly shows the depth and breadth of our vision for health, education, environment, the economy – all the things that New Zealanders care about.”
Ms Harré’s extensive background in employment relations fits well with the Internet Party's policy on jobs and innovation.
Since leaving Parliament, Ms Harré has had a series of employment-related jobs in New Zealand and the Pacific, including a United Nations programme in Fiji strengthening the position of women vendors in produce markets, a two-year job in Fiji running the International Labour Office's Strategies for Decent Work project, designing and managing human resources involved in setting up Auckland Council, and positions with one if the country's largest private sector unions, the National Distribution Union, and the NZ Nurses’ Organisation.
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