- Date published:
8:37 am, August 9th, 2019 - 105 comments
Categories: abortion, climate change, immigration, law, law and "order", nz first, Parliament, political parties, Politics, uncategorized, winston peters - Tags:
Coalition Government is a complex thing. Having to manage relationships between three disparate parties and over 60 members of parliament would be more than enough to age you early.
Overall Jacinda Ardern and Labour have managed things well. But there has been the occasional glitch. And there has been a chilling effect on how far this Government can go in terms of environmental and humanitarian crises.
Take for instance news this week that Iain Lees-Galloway met resistance to his proposal that extended family members of the victims of the Christchurch massacre should be allowed to stay here. What could have been so difficult about this decision. Surely anyone with a heart would say yes?
But for some reason when the proposal hit Cabinet it became more complex. Lees-Galloway was very diplomatic in the way he described things but I sense there was quite a debate about what was appropriate. And what was wrong with allowing the adult daughter of a mother who lost her spouse to the massacre to remain in New Zealand?
I do not know what happened in Cabinet but NZ First are historically not sympathetic to immigration. I would hazard a guess they were behind the change.
Climate change is another example. The modest methane proposals, although understandable in the long term, are more difficult to understand in the short term. Reducing methane may give us some head room as we look for means to achieve carbon neutrality.
The repeal of the three strikes law is another. The law was a sports slogan masquerading as a serious policy proposal. Clearly to its MPs it was better to appear to be tough on crime than engage in a serious discussion about why our criminal justice system is failing and what we can do to improve it.
And over the past week we have seen New Zealand First do its best to distort the Abortion Law Reform debate with a very late decision to seek a referendum on the subject, one that caught spokesperson Tracy Martin by surprise.
Tracy outlined the background in her speech on the introduction of the bill:
I first met with Minister Little to discuss abortion law reform in December 2018. In the months that followed, the Minister and I, with our advisers, met on several occasions to get to a place of comfort that we had a Cabinet paper and then a bill that reflected a desire by some to shift a woman’s voluntary choice to terminate a pregnancy out of the Crimes Act and into the health Act. I did my best to ensure that I removed my personal view and followed the instructions of my caucus.
I reported back to the New Zealand First caucus a number of times over those months around progress. At no time during those negotiations did the New Zealand First caucus raise the issue of a referendum clause or instruct me to raise that topic with Minister Little, and so at no time over those months did I raise it with him.
But then things changed:
At the New Zealand First caucus meeting which began at 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday, 6 August, a member of the New Zealand First caucus requested that they put forward a Supplementary Order Paper to insert a referendum clause into the legislation, in line with the New Zealand First historical position on this issue. He received majority support from the caucus. This is how democracy works: the majority prevails, while the minority have the right to their views without persecution.
At that meeting, the New Zealand First caucus resolved that they would cast nine votes in favour of the Abortion Legislation Bill at both the first reading and the second reading and introduce a Supplementary Order Paper 292 in the name of Darroch Ball for consideration at the committee of the whole House.
It is not hard to see what NZ First’s other female MP thought:
Proud of you @TraceyMartinMP— Jenny Marcroft MP (@jennymarcroft) August 8, 2019
Add to this Shane Jones’ calculated insults to the protesters at Ihumātao and it is clear that NZ First will risk instability and the fracturing of Government relations so that it can pander to its conservative support base.
There are rumours that Simon Lusk is in the background providing advice. Things do not end well normally when this occurs.