State opening of Parliament
State Opening Function
Tuesday 27 August 2002, 12.15pm
Ladies and Gentlemen
In a few minutes we will be privileged to hear a new work by one of New Zealand’s most talented composers, Gareth Farr.
The work is entitled waka in honour of the vessels that brought all of us to this country.
The commissioning of the work, performed by the NGC Wellington Sinfonia today, was made possible through sponsorship from the law firm, Bell Gully.
Gareth is one of New Zealand’s most important composers. His works have been commissioned and performed by the NZSO, the Auckland Philharmonia, the NGC Wellington Sinfonia, the New Zealand String Quartet and a variety of other professional musicians in New Zealand and overseas.
We are delighted to host this premiere by the NGC Wellington Sinfonia aptly entitled Waka in honour of the vessels that brought all of us to this country
The Sinfonia is a vital part of Wellington and the wider region’s cultural life, accompanying ballet, opera and other musical events. Each year its also presents a series of concerts in the city and in other centres. It has a season of the Pearl Fishers with NBR New Zealand Opera next month, Carmen with the Royal New Zealand Ballet in November and in December a performance of the Messiah with the Orpheus Choir.
I would like to pay special tribute to Bell Gully, which takes a strong interest in the performing arts, with its ongoing sponsorship of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Downstage Theatre. As part of its encouragement of excellence, Bell Gully has also developed close links with the Victoria University School of Music, which included sponsorship earlier this year of the university’s gala graduation concert.
As a devoted music lover, I am delighted to see one of New Zealand’s leading law firms take such an active interest in the arts, and help them reach a wider audience. The arts are an important part of New Zealand’s culture and just one of the many areas in which business and Government can work together for the benefit of New Zealand and its people.
Last year it brought opera to Parliament through sponsorship of the university’s production of Gianni Schicci – the first time a fully staged opera has been performed in the Legislative Council Chamber. It’s not often we hear voices raised in unison raised down here.
Speaking of voices raised in unison, I would like to introduce a choir from the South Wellington Intermediate School whose performance of the national anthem is an overture to Gareth Farr’s work. This group represents the 30 different cultures at the school. I was very privileged to visit the school in June to judge a speech contest as part of its cultural festival. I was most impressed at the standard of debate and the rich diversity of cultures represented among those talented young people.
I am pleased to welcome them here today.
Speech at reception to mark the 60th anniversary of New Zealand / Russia diplomatic relations
New Zealand Embassy, Moscow
13 April 2004
Excellencies, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am delighted to have this opportunity to join with you in commemorating the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries. The relationship has come a long way, in time and in substance, since the establishment of the New Zealand legation in Moscow on 13 April 1944. At that time we were preoccupied with defeating a common enemy - some of you will be aware that New Zealanders actively contributed to the efforts of the Allied Northern Convoys around Murmansk and Arkhangelsk - but just 6 years later, in 1950, the Legation was closed and would remain closed for almost a quarter of a century. A new kind of war - the 'Cold War' - had intervened.
Nevertheless, a degree of commerce and political contact continued. During the 1950's the Soviet Union purchased significant quantities of New Zealand meat, wool, and dairy products. In 1960 the then New Zealand Prime Minister, Walter Nash visited. August 1963 saw the signing of the first bilateral trade agreement.
In 1972, the Labour Government returned to power in New Zealand and shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Norman Kirk announced that his Government would examine the question of reopening the New Zealand mission in Moscow. He considered that for a small country like New Zealand, it was important for us to "have the means of making our views known, and getting them heard by the Great Powers".
In 1973 it was agreed that the Soviet Legation in Wellington should become a full Embassy and that New Zealand would re-open its mission in Moscow. I was privileged to visit Moscow in September 1973 with the then leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Robert Muldoon, shortly after the Embassy re-opened.
For New Zealand the 1970's was a turbulent time. Successive oil shocks and the entry of the United Kingdom, a principal market, into the EC took its toll on us economically. Soviet purchases of New Zealand products in the 1970's and 1980's helped to fill this gap.
Despite the ups and downs of the political relationship the commercial links continued to grow and develop. The mid-1980's is particularly highlighted in this regard with the establishment of the New Zealand-Soviet Business Council in 1986 and the SOVENZ Company - the only New Zealand owned trading office in the Soviet Union - in 1987. There were high-level visits, including a business delegation in 1986 led by then Minister of Overseas Trade, Mr Mike Moore, and a developing interest in cultural exchanges.
New Zealand companies were quick to respond to the advent of free-market commercial relations in the 1990's - even despite the uncertainties of the major political changes going on at that time. For example, the New Zealand Dairy Board established an office in Moscow and maintained its representation in St Petersburg and Vladivostok. The New Zealand Prime Minister, Mr Jim Bolger, visited in 1993 and a new level of people-to-people engagement, as Russia's borders opened to the outside world, became possible.
In 1997 Russia was one of our most important dairy markets and when the default of 1998 hit, it came as a major shock to us. In some ways, the economic relationship is still coloured by this event.
But looking ahead I am encouraged by what I have seen and heard so far. The economic relationship has been reinvigorated. A double tax agreement entered into force in 2003 and this year we welcomed the signing of a bilateral goods market access agreement. Those initiatives are underlying the decision by my colleague, the Minister of Trade Negotiations, Jim Sutton, to lead a trade mission to Russia next month.
The political dimension of our relationship is also entering a new phase of engagement. Russia's positions on international security and disarmament issues, the war against terrorism, and environmental issues are of keen interest to New Zealand. We also share a common and active interest in Antarctica and the Asia/Pacific regional processes.
Against this background I am optimistic that our relationship will continue to grow and expand in new and constructive directions and am grateful for the opportunity to be able to contribute to that process at this time.
I would like to close by raising a toast to the President of the Russian Federation, Mr Vladimir Putin, the Duma, and the Russian people.
Le Quesnoy, France
Sunday 25 April 2004
As dawn rose this morning in New Zealand people will have been gathering since before dawn at cenotaphs, memorial halls and soldiers' burial grounds from the main cities to the smallest towns.
Each year they come to remember the sacrifices made for them by their war dead, and in particular those of the two World Wars in which our countries fought side by side.
In Australia, New Zealand and many other parts of the world, this day is known as ANZAC day - Australia/New Zealand Army Corps - and it commemorates the day in 1915, when Australian and New Zealand servicemen landed on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Much has been claimed and more speculated about the tactical wisdom of that landing.
What is beyond question is the courage and tenacity of the men - some no more than boys - who found themselves in an impossible situation and died in the name of freedom.
Three years, and many famous battle sites later, New Zealand troops were to distinguish themselves again, here near Le Quesnoy, in one of the last major actions by New Zealand troops in World War One.
It has been described as our forces' most successful day on the Western Front.
On November 4, about 10 kilometres east from here, New Zealand captured 2000 Germans and sixty field guns.
The 90 New Zealanders who died in that attack were almost the last of the 12,483 who fell on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918.
A week later, on November 11, armistice was declared
We value deeply the ties between New Zealand and the people of Le Quesnoy that began in 1918 and which continue to flourish.
Earlier in 2004, you launched the year-long Oak and Fern project celebrating this friendship.
We are honoured to be with you today to commemorate our shared past and to look to a future of warm and strong links between our people.
As people gather here in peaceful, ancient Le Quesnoy and at home in New Zealand, to remember with deep thanks, the people who gave their lives for our freedom, I'm proud to reflect on New Zealand's changing role in world peace.
It is said that the appalling conditions at what was to become known as ANZAC Cove, in Gallipoli, shaped our identity as a nation. ANZACS were characterised as proud, hard working, world-conscious citizens, capable and willing to play a significant role in world affairs.
These days that role is focused on peace-keeping. Right now New Zealand has troops in Timor Leste, Kosovo, the Middle East, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Solomon Islands, the Arabian Sea, Bosnia and Iraq.
The role of peacekeeper carries its own dangers and can demand very different skills of today's soldier, but almost 90 years on from Gallipoli, New Zealanders and Australians continue to cooperate to maintain the peace and freedom our forebears gave so much to secure.
Signing the agreement on policing functions within the Parliamentary Precincts
Speaker’s Office, Parliament Buildings, Wellington
June 24 2004
Dave McGee and Legislative Counsel Debra Angus, the Commissioner of Police Rob Robinson and Dr Andrew Jack, national manager of legal affairs for the Police
- Arrangements for the maintenance of law and order within the parliamentary precincts have existed between my office and the New Zealand Police for many years
- While they have worked well, they have, thanks to their ad hoc development been largely undocumented.
- This agreement restates those traditional arrangements and provides explicit guidelines for the police when dealing with members of Parliament, parliamentary staff and visitors to the parliamentary precincts.
- It takes account of Parliament as New Zealand’s supreme law-making body and will support the Police in their work ensuring the efficient running of Parliamentary business and the safety of those who visit or work within the precinct.
- There will be no inhibition of the powers vested in the Police: Parliament is not a sanctuary and, subject to the law of parliamentary privilege, the ordinary provisions of the law do apply.
- Police will continue to be able to enter the grounds to investigate offences or maintain law and order without any prior request of the Speaker or the Parliamentary Service.
- The decision whether or not to prosecute an offender is a matter solely for the Police.
- Interviews with MPs should not take place in Parliament Buildings unless an MP wants such an interview to take place therein.
- It’s preferable that legal process should be served outside the precincts but if it is to be on a day in which the House is sitting or select committees are meeting it will not be treated as contempt if the permission of the House or Speaker is obtained first.
- New issues will inevitably arise for consultation and determination between the Speaker and the New Zealand Police and eventually become part of these provisions. I hope that process will be a smooth and successful as this has proved.
Speech at graduation of commissioned police officers
1 July 2004, 7.00 PM
The theme for your course this week encompasses ethical leadership – a phrase which the cynic might say is a contradiction in terms when we look back through history’s trail of wars, invasions, assassinations, genocides and other forms of assuming dominance by fear or force.
Leadership taken by such means is unworthy of the name.
More appropriate terms might be oppression and tyranny and they do not apply only to the leaders of obscure, far-off countries.
They can be recognised close to home in large corporations and small businesses; in hierarchical religions where the “fear of God” is the supreme threat; in sworn forces such as yourselves, and our defence agencies, where the badge of office is mistaken by those who lack character as a licence to dominate.
In our schools we regularly hear of, or read, reports of bullying by individuals or groups that seek to dominate children.
This is no longer, thankfully, lightly dismissed as ‘a passing phase’. It highlights how deeply-seated the need to lead and be led lies, how open that need is to distortion and how essential it is that leadership training be sound and firmly instilled.
Among the most heart-breaking examples of leadership without ethic are those in families where, for example, a self-appointed or de facto “head-of-the-house” emerges to hold sway by emotional or physical violence, manipulation or fiscal control.
In the course of your duties you will, no doubt, have encountered cases where a group or individual has been persuaded or manipulated into actions that have led to tragic outcomes.
On the global scene, we have all-too-recent examples of what results when leadership is not backed by ethics:
For instance, the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, the oppression of the Iraqi people, the manipulation on all sides of coveted oil reserves, the distortion of ‘facts’ to justify war and, most recently, the torture of prisoners of war and the pathetic justification by the perpetrators that they were merely following their leaders’ orders.
History holds countless examples of leadership which has, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, fooled ‘some of the people, some of the time’.
One individual based his leadership on the premise that “The broad masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.”
Eventually he held sway over millions and brought about the deaths of millions more.
He theorised that “The art of leadership consists of consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up that attention.”
His single adversary was the Jewish race: his name if you haven’t guessed already, was Adolf Hitler.
At the apparent opposite end of the political spectrum we have the likes of Joseph Stalin, whose theory of leadership was little short of a warning shot between the eyes but who came into power as Lenin’s successor by a combination of accident and design.
Lenin, at his best, would probably not have trusted Stalin to do more than take the minutes at a local party meeting but he was ill and Stalin was, if nothing else, a wily opportunist.
He understood that one way to power was the control of information and access and he made himself the indispensable conduit between Lenin and the Politburo.
With Lenin’s death in 1924 it would have seemed natural that the man who had apparently become the trusted confidante of the much-loved leader should be his heir-apparent, any dissenting Politburo voices having presumably been already terminally silenced.
Before and since these two examples, there have been better and worse leaders.
In the United States, president Abraham Lincoln changed history with the emancipation of slaves and was shot for it.
We will never know what might have come of Israeli President Yitsak Rabin’s peace overtures towards the Palestinians: he too was killed by an assassin’s bullet.
Other great leaders have been deposed or incarcerated because their goodness has been perceived as weakness or the following they inspired has inspired fear and envy.
Conversely we have seen charismatic but evil leaders get away with atrocities because no-one had the courage to oppose them.
The leadership you take on as officers in the New Zealand Police may not achieve world headlines but it is important that it be ethically sound and that each of you has the courage and will to keep it that way.
You will find that leadership carries with it weighty responsibilities yet in itself it need not be a burden. You will learn what things you alone must undertake, what can be delegated to others and you will develop the skill to let go in order that others may shine.
You will find it can be lonely when the mates with whom you once shared confidences and problems with over a pint, are now men under your command but are occasionally inclined to forget that.
I note that at least one of your speakers has referred to the need for passion in your chosen field. I would add to that compassion for those under your command, the victims you will encounter and, though it might often seem impossible, for the guilty you must deliver to justice.
To this mix you would do well to add a dash of humility.
Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating once said that ‘Leadership is not about being nice, it’s about being right and being strong’.
I leave others to consider how that has worked for Australia.
It is, of course, important to be right, but never to believe you are infallible and when, at times, you find you have been somewhat off-target, you find yourself respected for having the courage to admit it.
Courage is certainly a given in leadership roles not just in leading a team through a threatening situation but accepting your shortcomings.
You will have staff members who can out-perform you in some fields. There is no merit in your sweating to outrun, outshoot or out-think them – your job is to turn their skill to the overall capability of your team.
Sadly, the word ‘ethical’ is not heard as often as it should be, thanks in part to recently fashionable ideologies such as the ‘me’ generation, where personal rights seems to obscure public good.
Indeed, one of the tenets of our western society is that we combine together for the public good. Certain actions, functions and institutions exist because they protect and enhance the public good. The police force is one such institution.
You will often be in situations where you must put others first but a successful leader also shows self respect by keeping mentally and physically equipped for the job, up to date in practical skills and techniques, above the taint of scandal or intrigue, and true to yourself and the standards you have set.
For much of your career you will be led as well as lead, not just by your loyalty to your commanders and staff but by the needs of the public you serve.
Finally you should be ever conscious of the fact that you have gained leadership for no reason other than that you have proved you are good at it.
In the words of the Jewish scholar, Moses of Kobrun, ‘a leader must not think God chose him because he is great: Does a peg in the wall, on which the king hangs his crown, boast that its beauty attracted the king’s attention?’
You graduate today because you are skilled, you are sound and you will, without fuss or contradiction, do the job asked of you.
I congratulate you and wish you well in your chosen service.
Speech at reception for delegates to the 2005 Australia-New Zealand Association of Clerks at the Table
26 January 2005, 6.00pm
I am privileged to once again welcome you to Wellington and what I hope will be an enjoyable evening for you.
Earlier today I welcomed you as delegates to the 2005 ANZACATT seminar and this evening I am delighted to be able to extend that welcome to your partners and other family members.
Many of you will be visiting our Parliament for the first time and I hope you will find the occasion relaxing and enjoyable.
As always at functions here at Parliament House, we have chosen a selection of New Zealand wines to accompany our meal.
- Church Road Chardonnay
- Wither Hills Sauvignon
- CJ Pask Gimblett Road Merlot
Given that you will not be involved in formal dining every night during the seminar, you should also know that Wellington justifiably bears the title of New Zealand’s Café City, as I hope you will discover for yourselves.
And just in case you have been misled into thinking otherwise, New Zealand’s capital enjoys more sunny days than any other New Zealand city, bar Christchurch, and we are less buffeted by wind than Auckland – we just seem to get ours in more concentrated bursts.
Wellington is also the home of Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson and the brilliant Weta Workshop. The city currently has a character role in Jackson’s latest film, King Kong.
Should your sightseeing take you in that direction, be sure to stop off for a look at Kong’s transport ship, The Venture, currently moored at the Miramar wharf.
Incidentally, The Lord of the Rings, as you may have heard, brought home no fewer than 11 Oscars last year – but who’s counting?
Next month we will be hosting the Australian Cricket team here for the continuation of the Chapple-Hadlee One Day Series and, while I rather fancy our chances, given we are playing at home, the game of course, is paramount.
On a more serious note, events such as these ANZACATT seminars are about developing relationships and understanding between our respective parliaments and in particular, the people who work in a profession that is far from ordinary.
To you Wayne, your executive and organising committee, I extend my congratulations on organising what promises to be an excellent seminar here in New Zealand.
I wish seminar delegates a mutually profitable time together and all our Australian visitors a most enjoyable stay in New Zealand.
Welcome address to the 2005 ANZACATT seminar
Wednesday 26 January 2005
It is my privilege to welcome you all to Parliament House on this the first day of the 6th ANZACATT Seminar. It is an honour and pleasure for New Zealand to host this seminar especially as the majority of members of ANZACATT by far are from Australian Parliaments.
To the Clerks, deputy Clerks and staff of the Commonwealth and State Parliaments I welcome you. I note with a sense of achievement that all but one Australian Legislature is represented here today. I also extend a special welcome to our visitors from further afield and, in particular, to the guests from the Prince Edward Island Parliament, Canada, House of Lords and House of Commons, United Kingdom, and to Mr Carlos Hoffman, General Secretary of the Senate of Chile representing the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments.
I understand that many jurisdictions have taken the opportunity to send staff to the seminar for development and exposure to parliamentary matters. I want to congratulate you for taking that opportunity to strengthen the human capability within your Parliaments.
I noted from the ANZACATT Constitution that the objects of the Association, amongst others, are to:
- enable its members and other staff of Parliaments in Australia and New Zealand to:
- expand their knowledge of the foundations and principles of parliamentary systems and in particular parliamentary procedure in Australia and New Zealand.
- expand their knowledge and mastery of administrative practices that can ensure an effective governance of the human and material resources essential to the smooth operation of Parliament;
- foster the sharing of professional experiences, the common interest topics as well as collaboration among its members and other parliamentary staff.
Indeed from looking at the programme developed for the seminar I can only say as a parliamentarian that I am exceedingly impressed with the wide-ranging topics selected for discussion over the next three days. I note the programme will provide a mix of challenging and thought-provoking sessions dealing with matters of Parliamentary privilege and procedure affecting the institution of Parliament, as well as sessions focused on day-to-day issues faced by all of us. It is a great opportunity to further extend your development in these areas.
To Wayne Tunnecliffe, President of ANZACATT, the ANZACATT Executive Committee and Dave McGee, Clerk of the New Zealand Parliament, I wish you all the very best for a successful and prosperous three days.
The changing face of New Zealand Parliament
Address to the Diplomatic Club
Thursday 24 February 2005,12.30 pm
“Would it be more possible to stand still on one spot more majestically – while simulating a triumphant march forward – than is done by the Houses of Parliament?”
The speaker was 19th century Russian journalist and political pundit, Alexander Herzen and he was referring to the English Parliament and its Upper and Lower Houses.
Admittedly, a visitor sitting in on a session of the New Zealand Parliament here in Wellington might also have an uncanny sense of time having stood still.
Tradition is everywhere, from the buildings themselves to the configuration of the debating chamber, and even the proceedings of the House itself.
For example, every sitting day at 1.50pm, the House Bells ring a warning to all MPs that the day’s session is about to begin.
Eight minutes later the Two-minute Bell rings, then, at precisely 55 seconds to two, I leave my office preceded by the Serjeant at Arms bearing the Mace, and take the traditional route via the Speaker’s Corridor to begin the day’s business.
The origins of this procession lie in the early 15th century when one Nicholas Maundy was appointed ‘Serjeant at Arms for the Commons’ to be attendant upon the House of Commons or the Speaker.
This same tradition continues in various forms in parliaments throughout the world.
Were you to watch proceedings from the Public Gallery of the house, you would also quickly become aware that the daily Question Time and the debates that come after also follow what are apparently long-established and set formats.
Rules are, of course, necessary to ensure the proper hearing and consideration of the important business of the country but I can assure you these debates are usually anything but rigid and the rules that govern them – known as Standing Orders – are regularly reviewed and brought up to date.
But while today’s onlooker at the New Zealand Parliament might be inclined to agree with Herzen our history shows that not only have there been some monumental changes to the face - and body – of New Zealand’s Parliament, we have several times led the world in modernisation and the realisation of full democracy.
Unlike England and several of our Commonwealth counterparts, we long ago dispensed with an Upper House, or Legislative Council, as it was known.
In the absence of a second house in New Zealand, Select Committees perform a robust series of checks on the Executive as well as giving the public extremely good access to parliamentary deliberations.
The Select Committee system together with the introduction of MMP - Mixed Member Proportional Representation – has brought remarkable changes to the face of New Zealand’s Parliament, not to mention a much-increased number of MPs.
- Select committees have become more independent of Government control because a minority government does not have the numbers to control committee decision-making.
- This is because proportions in the House must be reflected in the committees and the chairperson – usually, but not always, a Government member - does not have a casting vote.
- Select committees can initiate their own inquiries. This has significantly increased the extent to which government activity is publicly scrutinised.
- With the increased number of seats and the emergence of smaller parties, we can expect to see a career in Parliament becoming an end in itself rather than a position in Cabinet being the main aim of a new MP.
- This might also mean the emergence of parliamentarians who are less inclined to toe the party line.
- Where, under the old First-Past-the-Post system we had the clear split between Her Majesty’s Government and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition the term 'Opposition' is becoming harder to define.
- It used to mean the party that wasn't in government. But this can hardly be the case for a party that has a confidence-and-supply agreement with the Government but has not entered a full coalition agreement.
- It would seem that we can now have various “degrees of opposition” and where once the Government might expect opposition from one quarter, it now comes from various sources and can make question time a daily endurance test for the Government.
- The emergence of several opposition parties has also manifested itself in how the front bench seats are allocated, again to fairly reflect the electoral proportions.
1985 saw another major change that was made in the interests of modernising the New Zealand Parliament.
In this year, the Legislative Department, which had existed since 1912 and originally headed by the Clerk of the House, was abolished and replaced by the Parliamentary Service and the Office of the Clerk.
This increased the autonomy of Parliament from the executive and modernised the organisation throughout.
At the same time, Members of Parliament were given funding to establish electorate offices and employ secretaries, enabling them to spend more time in their electorates and putting the job of representing the people of their electorates on a more professional basis.
While these are recent and important changes, New Zealand’s Parliament has been breaking new ground almost since it first sat in Auckland 151 years ago in May.
At that stage the country was in the hands of an acting governor, the unwilling R. H. Wynyard but within two years the young Parliament had taken over the reins for itself with the introduction of responsible government in 1856.
Democracy – the very foundation of our government was well developed from an early date and more advanced here than in other parts of the world.
The franchise under the Constitution of 1852 was very liberal and close to manhood suffrage – full manhood suffrage was gained in 1879.
- The Māori vote, and along with it the first four Māori seats, was established by legislation in 1867 and the first four Māori MPs took their seats following the 1868 by-elections.
- The number of Māori seats is determined by the size of the Māori roll.
- Every five years people are asked to choose whether they want to be on the general or the Māori roll.
- We currently have seven Māori seats and the Māori language is now an official language of speaking in the House.
- A Māori interpreter is seated in the House during all sessions.
- The two houses of Parliament that met in Auckland in May 1854 comprised 51 all-white, all-male landowners, merchants, lawyers and businessmen. Today we have a very welcome cross-section of races and religions and an increasingly even balance of gender.
- Women won the vote in 1893, were allowed to stand for Parliament in 1919. While they were somewhat slow to enter parliament – Elizabeth McCombs was the first female MP in 1933 – they now comprise about a third of MPs.
There have been big changes too in how the business of Parliament has been reported back to the country.
- Newspaper reporters have had a gallery in parliament since 1854 and in the earliest days before the establishment of Hansard, theirs were the only detailed reports of Parliament’s proceedings.
- The Press Gallery, complete with its own chairperson and rules of conduct, was formally established in 1870.
- Eventually newspaper staff were joined in the gallery by radio and television reporters and their cameras and
- The business of the house has been broadcast since 1936 and televised since the early 1990s.
- Plans are currently in hand to extend the present television coverage of Question Time to cover entire sittings of the House.
On a lighter note, it's no longer possible to hear the “click, click” of knitting needles from the former Ladies Gallery in the house, but more significant has been the disappearance of the whiffs of cigarette smoke and the click of billiard balls from the lounge adjacent to the debating Chamber.
Now known as the Grand Hall, this stunning room is a regular venue for New Zealanders from all walks of life to take part in celebrations, State functions and activities related to the many national and international conferences that are held in the adjoining magnificent former quarters of the long-defunct Legislative Council.
The relevance of Parliament
The New Zealand Business and Parliament Trust seminar session
Legislative Council Chamber, Parliament House
Wednesday 11 May 2005, 9.00 am
It is my pleasure, as Speaker and as the President of the NZ Business and Parliament Trust, to welcome you all to Parliament and to your seminar.
As Barry Dineen said in his introduction, this is the first time I have had the opportunity of addressing these seminars in my capacity as Speaker of the House of Representatives, but not the first time I have taken part in these seminars.
In the past 14 years the New Zealand Business and Parliament Trust has provided opportunities for groups such as yourselves from the business sector, to spend a day here in Parliament, learning about how the Parliamentary system works by hearing from key participants, seeing Select Committees at work and the House in session.
You will also have the opportunity to meet ministers and Members of Parliament, in particular those whose portfolios or interests reflect your own.
These seminars are complemented by Business Study Programmes that enable Members of Parliament to spend time in the business field and to experience the world from your perspective.
Each of these programmes is a valuable initiative toward greater understanding of the particular environments we each operate in.
The relevance of Parliament
Within our system of democratic governance, Parliament is the central elected representative body which provides a responsible government, scrutinizes and controls the actions of that government and generally holds it to account between elections.
Parliament is this country’s sovereign law making body.
New Zealand inherited the Westminster Parliamentary system and much of that history and tradition influences what we do and how we do it.
Our own history and experience has, however, brought some monumental changes to the face - and body – of New Zealand’s Parliament and indeed we have several times led the world in modernisation and the realisation of full democracy.
On the 24th of May 1854, just 14 years after the 1840 signing of the Treaty of Waitangi New Zealand’s Parliament – or General Assembly as it was then – sat for the first time.
Thus for all but the first 14 years since European settlement we have had an elected Parliament, a record that puts us pretty near to the top of the list of the world’s democratic legislative assemblies.
In fact if you accept universal suffrage - the right for all adults to have the right to vote - as an essential prerequisite for a fully representative, elected assembly, then New Zealand heads the list, having achieved full manhood suffrage in 1879 and female suffrage in 1893.
In another break with Westminster and several of our Commonwealth counterparts, we dispensed with our Upper House, or Legislative Council, in 1950.
In the absence of a second house in New Zealand, Select Committees now perform a robust series of checks on the Executive as well as giving the public extremely good access to parliamentary deliberations.
The Select Committee system together with the introduction of MMP - Mixed Member Proportional Representation – has brought remarkable changes to our Parliament, including a greater number of MPs representing a much wider public voice.
Select committees have become more independent of Government control because proportions in the House must be reflected in the committees and the chairperson – usually, but not always, a Government member - does not have a casting vote.
As a result a minority government does not have the numbers to control committee decision-making.
Select committees are also able to initiate their own inquiries and this has significantly increased the extent to which government activity is publicly scrutinised.
The increased number of seats and the emergence of smaller parties may well also mean that a career in Parliament becomes an end in itself rather than a Cabinet post being the main aim of a new MP.
There is also the likelihood that some MPs will be less inclined to “toe the party line”.
Under the old First-Past-the-Post system the demarcation between Her Majesty’s Government and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition was usually very clear:
“The Opposition” was unequivocally the party that wasn’t in government.
The same term can hardly apply to a party that has a confidence-and-supply agreement with the Government but has not entered full coalition.
Perhaps we might now speak of “degrees of opposition”: where a Government might have previously expected opposition from one quarter, it now comes from several sources, making Question Time a daily endurance test.
1985 saw another major change in the interests of modernising the New Zealand Parliament.
The Legislative Department, which had existed since 1912 and was originally headed by the Clerk of the House, was abolished and replaced by the Parliamentary Service and the Office of the Clerk.
This increased the autonomy of Parliament from the Executive and modernised the organisation throughout.
At the same time, Members of Parliament were given funding to establish electorate offices and employ secretaries, enabling them to spend more time in their electorates and putting the job of representing the people of their electorates on a more professional basis.
As I said at the start, this is my first opportunity to join you as Speaker of the House.
The title of Speaker derives from the practice of the early English Parliaments to elect from one member to “speak” for the Parliament in meetings with the King or Queen.
Because the House cannot sit without first appointing a Speaker the first task of a newly sworn Parliament to elect one to hold office till the first meeting of the next Parliament.
The Speaker chairs meetings of the House of Representatives, presiding over its deliberations, keeping order and determining points of procedure.
While the role is perhaps the most central and publicly visible and involves a degree of ceremonial there is quite a list of additional tasks and roles.
For example, I chair three Select Committees: Standing Orders, Officers of Parliament, and Business.
I am also the “Responsible Minister” for a several Offices of State, namely those of the Auditor General, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, the Ombudsmen, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and the Parliamentary Service.
The Speaker’s role in respect of each of these offices varies but includes chairing the Parliamentary Service Commission which represents all parties in the Parliament; safeguarding the rights and privileges of the House and its members in relation to proceedings in the courts; welcoming and hosting on behalf of the Parliament visiting delegations from other Parliaments; and acting as “landlord” responsible for the buildings and grounds of Parliament, in which role I have great pleasure in welcoming you here today.
The importance of ethics
Annual Awards, Waikato-Bay of Plenty Branch of the Institute of Chartered Accountants
Community Theatre, Clarence Street, Hamilton
Friday 20 May 2005
Thank you for inviting me to join you for your annual awards dinner. My congratulations to all whose achievements will be recognised later this evening and in particular to two members among you who are marking 50 years’ service to the profession.
Since the 1950s, when these two members were young graduates beginning on their careers, the field of accountancy has expanded and mutated to a very great degree.
In a 1964 speech British law lord, Lord Justice Harman, told an audience: ‘Accountants are the witch doctors of the modern world and willing to turn their hands to any kind of magic.’
Given all that has transpired in the 40 years since then we might liken the so-called “magic” of those more simple times as parlour games compared to the demands on today’s chartered accountants.
The increasing globalisation of commerce, growth of trans-national companies, advances in technology, finance, and political and social behaviour have radically changed the landscape for accountants.
But let’s begin with the positive.
Earlier this week on National Radio's business programme a commentator lauded New Zealand-trained accountants as versatile, well trained, honest and in high demand around the world.
This is very much the case. Scratch the surface of any of the big accounting firms in London, Sydney, Hong Kong - even the United States, and you'll find not just the odd Kiwi expat but a veritable horde.
These days many of the personal and small-business matters that would once have been done by a local accountant are now “do-it-yourself”, but our tertiary institutions continue to turn out accountants in ever-increasing numbers to keep pace with world-wide demand for our accountancy graduates.
The freeing up of financial systems in many countries in the past half-century has thrown up many challenges to the profession.
The boundaries that once contained individuals in a sovereign, legal and financial sense, as well as a physical sense, have been swept away or at the very least, blurred into obscurity.
The comfortable notion of a purely New Zealand, British, Australian or American jurisdiction has been changed.
Today, via the Internet, any individual can buy and sell shares in foreign companies and transfer sums of money wherever they wish in the blink of an eye.
Companies can operate in scores of countries but be resident on a Caribbean atoll that boasts three people, a palm tree and a letterbox.
The sheer complexity of the financial, trading and legal relationships this has created imposes a greater need and higher demands for accountability.
That means accountability in all senses – not just by executives but within the support systems and, in particular, the financial support systems, of which accountants and auditors are a part.
Consumers must be able to place their faith in the probity of these systems to ensure that business and investment continue to exist and develop.
Whatever the safeguards, crises will and do arise and inevitably, each time, the spotlight falls on those support systems and the people operating them, central among whom are accountants and auditors.
At the personal level, individuals rely on an accountant to offer the best advice and do the work needed to contribute to the success of small businesses or short-term transactions.
In a wider sense, Society expects the accountant to ensure that the financial transactions they plan and execute are consistent with the laws of the land, the integrity of the tax system, and the proscribed standards of social and ethical behaviour.
At the broadest levels, such as the global stage, companies look to their accountants and auditors to devise the most advantageous and efficient transactions possible.
But therein can lie the seeds of conflict: competing demands, competing loyalties competing jurisdictions – all can give rise to competing ethics.
History is littered with examples of such conflicts.
Think back to our own experience of the share market crash of 1987, and more recently the Enron and WorldCom scandals in the United States or closer to home, Australia’s biggest corporate collapse, that of HIH insurance, which involved the loss of $5 billion and this week saw lengthy prison terms imposed on its CEO and two other executives.
Justifiably or not, these events tainted the reputation of the accounting and auditing professions in greater or lesser degree.
And with that taint comes the call for greater regulation, for example: enforced separation of auditing and consultancy services provided by the same firm; rotation of auditors every few years; a ban on working for related parties.
These issues are well discussed in this month’s edition of the Chartered Accountants Journal. These articles, by Garry Muriwai and David Pickens raise the issues of professionalism and ethics at the core of your profession and I commend them to you.
The basic premise is that the likelihood of an Enron, Worldcom or HIH happening in New Zealand is remote and the local business scene is so small that many of the suggestions I have just referred to are neither practicable nor desirable.
Valid as that view may be, the increasingly “borderless” nature of business may well see some of those practices imposed almost by default.
As an example, large companies such as Carter Holt Harvey and Telecom have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, international financial reporting standards and presenting their accounts accordingly.
Of course, regulation will not ensure ethical behaviour because, at the heart, this comes down to people and their everyday practice ethical standards of honesty, transparency, and integrity.
Your profession, like many others, has a detailed code of ethics that aims to uphold “the high degree of responsibility and trust in the accountancy profession”.
In accepting membership of the Institute of Chartered Accountants you become bound by that code and at the same time, set apart from “others offering accounting services to the public.”
As members, you are required to “be straightforward, honest and sincere” in your approach to professional work; impartial and free of any conflict of interest; have a high standard of competence; work according to certain technical and professional standards; refrain from conduct that might bring discredit to the profession; and respect clients.
These words perhaps sound a little quaint or a little old-fashioned to those of you who still have several decades to go before reaching your 50 years service
They are not. They are words of commonsense. They are more than some sort of trade guarantee to pacify nervous clients. Certainly they will, if followed, maintain the high reputation of your profession
But they are also a personal insurance. By regularly reviewing your own attitudes and behaviour against them you will know that your work practices are sound, your career on-course, your business healthy.
Continuing education, peer review and professional oversight by a body such as the institute are all good measures in building a successful business, but in the end, the ethical standards guiding your work practices will be the guarantor of a long and satisfying career.
It may be “just another piece of paper” among all the certificates and papers you have gathered on your way to achieving membership of this Institute but to ignore your Code of Ethics is foolishness indeed and as someone – perhaps even one of your number - has said: “A fool and his money are soon audited.”
Looking back, moving forward
Address opening the Janus Women’s Convention
Wellington Town Hall
4 June 2005, 9.00 am
Distinguished guests, women conferees. May I first thank the organisers for the opportunity to participate in this convention through the opening address. For those of us who attended and addressed the first United Women’s Convention in Auckland in 1973 and followed it up in 1993 with a Unifem Conference in Auckland reflecting on the 20 years that had passed and speculating on the future, this convention is a timely reminder of the importance of looking back and moving forward - the theme of the convention.
The organisers are to be thanked for their hard work in making the convention happen and are to be congratulated on the assembly of such distinguished guest speakers and organising workshops on so many relevant topics.
I want to spend my time by following the theme of the convention. First I want to reflect on the importance of, and lessons learnt from, the women’s conventions of the 1970s. And in the course of those comments briefly to touch on some of the challenges ahead.
During the 1970s there were four women’s conventions – in Auckland in 1973, Wellington 1975, Christchurch 1977 and the final convention in Hamilton in 1979. All the conventions were organised by women, who gave their time voluntarily, with little funding or support outside what they gave each other.
Primarily the Conventions were the vehicle for women to collectively express their identity as women, to challenge the assumption that women’s primary role was that of wife and mother, and to organise a strategy that gave women a real choice over how they lived their lives. What many of us sought through that time was a recognition that women fulfill many roles throughout their lifetime and that we should not be stereotyped into one role for our entire lives.
At that time in the 1970s we sought recognition of our right to equal opportunities in the paid workforce. It is ironic that today there is a belief that measures to assist women into paid work are forcing women out of the home. Nothing could be further from the truth. The agenda of the 70s to give women genuine choice in their lives remains the same today.
The 1970s Conventions then were an attempt to ensure the aspirations and needs of women were taken into account by those who made decisions that affected the lives of women. They marked the beginning of a concerted attempt to see women as having a public role as well as a private role, and more importantly, that one role affected the other and that a woman should not be forced to choose her role but be enabled to fully develop her personality and her skills and talents for the benefit of herself, her family and the community as a whole.
The power of the early conventions in particular came from women discovering how much they had in common. Women found they were not alone in their need to develop beyond the constraints of a society that had failed to note the changing role of women. There was an excitement about moving beyond recognition of similar experience to developing the ways and means to provide women with the opportunity to have genuine life choices.
To effect the changes required meant women had to be where the decisions that affected them were made. This meant developing an agenda to work with men to change unfair laws, and it meant taking leadership positions within the community to ensure those laws were changed.
That challenge was not only theoretical but also real when it came to standing for election to various positions of authority. Without a clear and real commitment to the democratic process by both men and women in our society, such a challenge would not have been possible, let alone to have succeeded in many instances. I believe we underestimate the crucial role democratic processes play in the equality of women, or any group within our society.
It is worth reflecting why women have made more progress in fully participating within our society in the public sector, than in the private sector. One of the future challenges may be how women can more fully participate in all sectors at all levels.
Much of the energy of the early conventions came from campaigns to effect change in legislation. These campaigns provided a positive outlet for the talk at the conventions. The fact that some of these efforts were rewarded in change helped to sustain the momentum created by the conventions. For example, the establishment of the Select Committee on Women’s Rights in 1973 and the Report on the Role of Women in New Zealand Society in 1975 provided recognition by government of the need for change.
The Human Rights Commission Act 1977 set up a limited mechanism to challenge unlawful discrimination against women; the Matrimonial Property Act 1978 was an important step towards recognition of the economic contribution of women in marriage; the Maternity Leave and Employment Protection Act 1980 was an important recognition that women were struggling to combine the roles of paid and unpaid work; and finally the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act focused the whole country on issues relating to women’s reproduction. The only issue not confronted directly during this period was violence to women.
While the early conventions were occupied with identification of the issues and constructing an agenda for change, the latter conventions had to confront and acknowledge that there were real differences amongst women, and that any agenda for change for women had to accommodate that diversity. The needs and aspirations of heterosexual women, lesbian women, Māori women, Pakeha women, European women, Pacific women, women from the growing number of ethnic groups that were entering our community, and women with different religious and cultural beliefs were not always to same.
The response of the theorists to this diversity was post feminism and the politics of difference. For many the problems were just too hard and there was a retreat from political activity. The neo-liberal ideology of the late 1980s and 1990s, as implemented in the policies of structural adjustment, made it difficult for women to assert a voice in public decision-making.
For those who continued to develop and implement the programme for equality, the reality of dealing with difference was seen during the Women’s Forums in 1984. The forums accompanied the adoption of the women’s equality programme and the establishment of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and highlighted the deeply held difference amongst women on the role of women. A similar difference emerged during the campaign for women to achieve pay equity.
At the heart of many of the differences that began to emerge in the late 1970s and 1980s was the changing nature of the relationship between men and women. Because the lives of men and women are inextricably mixed, a change in the role of one will affect the other and that is what has been happening. One of the challenges facing us both is how to achieve equality within relationships. There may be as many ways as there are relationships. What is clear, however, and has been to some of us for some time, is that change is not only about passing legislation and introducing policies. That is important but it is not sufficient by itself to effect the changes required for women to achieve the reality of equality in their day-to-day lives.
My time is up and I must finish so you can hear the keynote speakers. I shall therefore conclude with these final observations. The Conventions achieved much. They gave energy to those who campaigned for women being treated equally, and to those who sought legal recognition of the aspirations of women to fully participate as equal citizens in our society. The challenge ahead is to retain what has been achieved; to acknowledge that each generation has its own challenges and therefore requires its own response; and to be constantly vigilant in the protection of the democratic principles and processes that enable women to fully participate as citizens.
Speech to ALTA conference
WEL Energy Trust Academy for Performing Arts, University of Waikato
Tuesday 5 July 2005, 5.00 pm
May I first welcome all our Australian guests to New Zealand and in particular Hamilton and the Waikato. Also a welcome to those from other parts of New Zealand. While I am biased, Hamilton is a much-underrated city that has developed its own culture including a passion for sport, rugby in particular.
I wish to thank Professor Farrar for the invitation to open the 2005 ALTA Conference. I have attended many such conferences since the 1970s. They were always a good opportunity to renew friendships and meet new colleagues.
It is always a pleasure to return to Waikato Law School. The youngest of the New Zealand Law Schools, it was founded in 1990 with a clear mission to teach law in context and to develop a bicultural approach to legal education. In the 15 years since the founding of the School, it has produced graduates that can now be found in many occupations, both in New Zealand and overseas. I have met many of them working throughout New Zealand in a variety of different roles in government and the private and community sectors.
As the Foundation Dean, I shared the School’s commitment to a different approach to legal education. My experience in policy development in the 1980s convinced me that good analytical skills combined with knowledge of the legal system were invaluable to making good laws.
The whole process of translating an idea or concept into a policy, then into a law is a fascinating one, but not well understood. A law degree that included an understanding of the relationship between law and policy is a good foundation qualification for such a career.
When I studied law in the 1960s the emphasis in law teaching was on case analysis. The law was what the courts decided. The nature of the common law was not explained well and normally covered in a few classes on precedent and the doctrine of stare decisis. There was no analysis on legislation as law, beyond a mention of the Statutes Interpretation Act in legal system classes. There was also no mention of how laws were made in Parliament, or any great understanding of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements beyond an analysis of the case Simpson v Attorney-General. The law degree itself did not admit of choice unless you did an honours degree and could choose from a limited range of honours courses.
Such a legal education was considered appropriate by the Council of Legal Education of the time. It assumed, correctly I may say, that the desired destination for all law students was the private practice law firm. Of course if you were a woman you were advised, as I was, to seek a career in the public service. I find life is full irony because while I did gain employment in a law firm on Queen Street in Auckland, I have in fact spent most of my life in public service. Teaching is for me the epitome of public service.
Of course much has changed since that time and I would argue for the better. Students are now required to have a different skill set to practice law in a variety of ways. I was reflecting on the changes to the law curriculum and in fact the whole approach to legal education when I recently read the latest report of the Council of Legal Education. The current requirement for five compulsory subjects leaves much room for the inclusion of a variety of specialist courses in the degree. While a career in a law firm is still the preference of most law students, there is an increasing number who seek alternative careers at some stage during their working lives.
This balance between diversity and uniformity has been worked out by the Council over a period of time and not without some controversy at times. Having been involved in some of those discussions during the establishment of Waikato Law School, I thought the process was a good one. The standard setting body – the Council – had identified there was a need for one standard to ensure public confidence in the quality of the core professional subjects. This standard is achieved through the moderation process, which also gave the law schools an authoritative independent means of assessing their courses against those of other law schools.
The Council recognised however that it was not necessary to have uniformity in the other courses that comprised the LLB degree. If law schools are going to respond to the demands of students and the marketplace, they needed the flexibility to structure the form and content of their degrees in ways that suited them.
The Council’s Report also reminded me of the theme of this conference ‘One Law For All’. It avoided the one-degree for all approach to legal education. It did this by identifying what were the essential elements of the law degree that required a uniform approach, while also recognising the need for law schools to have the freedom to develop their own approach to legal education. The translation of policy into law also requires similar skill of balancing the need for uniformity and diversity. The law must apply equally and uniformly to all citizens but to achieve that objective the difference that is part of our community must also be recognised. Without this balance there is law but no justice. And without justice there is no legitimacy for the state to enforce the law.
The theme of the conference is timely because ‘One Law For All’ has become a political catch cry that has considerable resonance in the community. It is often used in the context of policy or legislation that makes specific reference to a particular group or class of the community, especially women, Māori, refugees and immigrants. For example, the argument was raised recently in the debate on the Nga Rauru Kiitahi Settlement Bill. Objection was taken to the inclusion in Schedule 12 of the Bill of a reference to the spiritual values of Nga Rauru. This reference had no legal enforceability but was considered essential to Nga Rauru because it defined their identity as Nga Rauru. The two principal arguments against the reference to spiritual values centred on the need to maintain the principle of the separation between church and state, and secondly, that it would be impossible to define what exactly was meant by spiritual values and that such a notion was incapable of being included in legislation without a specific definition.
The first argument is an important one. I personally support the separation of state and church. The lessons of history are sufficient evidence for me of what happens once the authority and power of the state is used to proselytise one religion. In this Bill however, the reference related to how one party to the settlement identified themselves. There was no legal enforceability involved in this case. The argument then on close examination did not offend against the principle of separation of state and church. As was also pointed out, Parliament begins each day with a pray that is exclusively Christian.
The second argument also appeared to lack substance because of the lack of legal enforceability of the reference. It did though raise the argument of the role of the courts and appeared to cast doubt of their capacity to interpret such a provision. I would have thought it was not such a great problem. It was sufficient however for the National Opposition to withdraw support from the Bill. This is significant because it is the first time it has not supported Treaty settlement legislation. Such legislation does require a high level of support if it is to endure.
Listening to the debate, what was apparent was that there was a high level of intolerance to legal recognition of difference. This appears to be based on a concern that one group in the community is acquiring an advantage or preference over another group. Perhaps the best example of power of this concern was expressed in the criticism of what was called “closing the gaps” policy framework that was designed to address inequality of outcomes for Māori and Pacific Island peoples. These were labelled race based policies and in effect racist. The policy framework was then recast, as needs based policy. Such renaming may be more accurate because while statistically Māori and Pacific Island peoples do face greater inequality, not all Māori or Pacific peoples fall into this category.
It is also clear that the community feels more comfortable with policies that are based on need and not race.
The unease in a considerable segment of the community on race based policies stems from two factors. The first is the ambivalence in the community on the nature and role of the Treaty of Waitangi, and secondly on a lack of clarity as to exactly what is meant by the notion of ‘One Law For All’, in particular the misconception that equality and fairness mean everyone is treated in the same way.
While the courts have recognised the Treaty of Waitangi as a foundation document of constitutional significance, it is apparent that that view is not shared by a large section of the population. Even amongst those who accept the constitutional status of the treaty, there is division of opinion on the legal consequences of such recognition. The Treaty has not been incorporated within legislation, but reference to the principles of the Treaty is found in many Acts of Parliament. The consensus amongst Māori in 1989 was opposed to legal recognition of the Treaty itself. This debate took place during the discussion as to whether the Bill of Rights Bill should incorporate the Treaty and whether the Bill of Rights should be entrenched, that is, requiring a two-thirds majority for amendment. The result of this public debate was no legal recognition of the Treaty and no entrenchment of the Bill of Rights Act. An attempt to seek legal recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi intent was developed in the 1980s and 1990s through the notion of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. This device was an attempt to give expression to the Treaty through its inclusion in public policy decision-making The inclusion of the principles of the Treaty in legislation was largely aspirational and left it to the courts to interpret what such a section meant in a particular context. The result has been criticism from Māori groups that the Treaty is not taken seriously because its obligations are not enforced in law, and from sections of the European/Pakeha community that such references in legislation privilege Māori.
The future of legal recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi, in whatever form, is an issue in the forthcoming election, with one Party, NZ First, committed to the repeal of all such provisions. As a Minister who had responsibilities in the area of the Treaty, the translation of the Treaty obligations into legislation was a difficult one. The public policy choices were to follow the principles that had guided public policy since the 1980s, (the Government’s approach), treat the Treaty as a contract (an approach favoured by some opposition parties and some Māori groups), ignore all reference to the Treaty (favoured by other opposition parties).
The approach followed in legislation, where it was relevant to make reference to the Treaty, was to move beyond aspirational references to the Treaty and to try and translate the relevant Treaty obligation into a practical policy outcome. For example in the legislation reforming the health sector specific reference was made to Māori representation on district health boards to ensure Māori were part of the decisions that affected them. In policy terms recognition was also given to Māori health providers providing health services specifically for Māori.
There is not time in this context to explore the relationship between the Treaty, law, policy and politics. The whole debate surrounding recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi in legislation and policies however, highlights the conflict within the community over the explicit and formal recognition of difference in law and public policy decision-making. There are real and deep-seated concerns in the community that one group, whatever their status or needs, is treated differently from other members in the community. The fact that the difference is based on a foundation constitutional document, that is, the Treaty of Waitangi, makes little difference to the advocates of the ‘One Law For All’ notion. The Treaty has been constructed by these advocates as somehow privileging Māori.
Before there is widespread acceptance of the Treaty of Waitangi as a document of constitutional significance, will require not only a better understanding of our history, but also a better understanding of what exactly is meant by the notions of ‘Everyone Is Equal Before the Law’ and ‘One Law For All’.
The Treaty of Waitangi and so-called race based policy are not the only targets for the advocates of ‘One Law For All’. Sex-related legislation such as the Property Relationships Act, the Civil Union Act and the Prostitution Reform Act all attracted criticism from groups who considered legal rights or protections should not be extended beyond the existing legal categories. To a lesser extent the Human Rights Act is also criticised for privileging specifically identified groups.
While some of the criticism is purely politically motivated, it would be a mistake to dismiss all criticism on this basis. It is important to understand the fears and concerns that lie beneath the mantra of ‘One Law For All’. It is only then that rational argument can be directed in defence of law making that is inclusive of difference.
Over the past 30 years there has been a growing movement in New Zealand for the legal system to be more inclusive of the rights of those who have been previously excluded. Women’s demand to be accorded the active protection of the law, lead the movement in the 1970s. The renaissance of Māori during the same period highlighted again the relevance and significance of the Treaty of Waitangi.
The increasing number of peoples from the Pacific settling in New Zealand during this time raised the issue of ethnic diversity. The economic decline of New Zealand during this period also saw the threat of removal of existing legal protections that had been enjoyed by working people through industrial laws.
In the face of these challenges, policy makers sought ways to incorporate the legitimate demand for inclusiveness of legal rights, while not alienating that section of the community that assumed the same laws applied to everyone equally, and everyone was assumed to be like themselves. Women therefore should be treated in exactly the same way as men; regardless of the fact their reproductive capacity frequently placed them at an economic and social disadvantage.
Just as Māori were to be treated the same regardless of the Treaty of Waitangi obligations and a history of systematic disadvantage.
The reluctance to acknowledge that specific groups were discriminated against was seen clearly in the debate surrounding the Human Rights Commission Act 1977. Unlike Australia, New Zealand was not prepared to acknowledge legally that women were subject to discrimination and therefore specific statutory redress. The Australian sex discrimination legislative models were rejected in favour of the human rights model. This meant New Zealand developed an anti-discriminatory legal model under the guise of a human rights framework.
The Human Rights Commission Act was in essence an anti-discrimination law, that has had the consequences of making it difficult to develop an affirmative model for human rights.
The amendment of the Human Rights Amendment Act 2002 was an attempt to reconcile a remedies based process for acts of discrimination committed against one of the 23 prohibited grounds, with a positive programme to promote and affirm human rights in all aspects of public policy. It was an attempt to mainstream and implant human rights in all public decision making in a way where such matters were not seen as exceptional but part of the norm for law making.
It is this reconstruction of the norm for law making that has provided a challenge to some parts of the community who have had difficulty in understanding and accepting the reality of the increasing diversity of our community. This is a challenge that has been played out through the democratic process. Nation building in New Zealand has not been made of the stuff of revolutions. Rather it has been a slow evolution of institutions and policies to accommodate challenges that come from sections of the community who feel excluded from decision-making.
The evolution of the first past the post electoral system into a mixed member proportional system, with its accompanying minority governments, is a classic example of our attempt to incorporate diversity. The representation in Parliament of a greater diversity of political expression has meant that many of the differences in the community are more sharply highlighted. Hence the advocates of ‘One Law For All’ have a Parliamentary platform from which to express this view. The simplicity of the notion is very appealing. The response to it is more difficult to capture in a slogan that has resonance with the people.
If the trend towards greater inclusiveness through legislative recognition of the diversity of the community is to continue, then it is important that there is a greater understanding of the foundations on which our legal system is based. There needs to be an understanding of the role of Parliament, the role of the courts, and the relationship between these two institutions. The public comment during the Supreme Court Act highlighted the basic ignorance amongst many sections of our community, including the legal professions, on our constitutional arrangements. The tendency to overlook the necessary complexity of the role of Parliament and the role of the courts was particularly worrying. It did however highlight the need for a public debate on our constitutional arrangements, so that was a positive outcome.
In conclusion then, and to try to draw together the threads of a somewhat random wander through the conference theme, I just want to affirm the importance of a legal education that includes the traditional legal skills but also provides space for an understanding and exploration of the larger themes that are the foundations for the architecture of the legal system. Lawyers with such training have a major contribution to make to law making and the maintenance of a democratic system of political decision-making.
Education in ethics – challenges for Catholic schools – personal reflections
New Zealand Catholic Secondary Principals Conference
Portland Hotel, Wellington
31 July 2005, 7.15pm
Thank you for the invitation to address the conference. I accepted the invitation because I owe a debt to my teachers at St Dominic’s in the early 1960s. Having accepted the invitation I was then faced with trying to craft an address on matters I had not thought about for some time. It has made me analyse exactly what it is that I value from my Catholic education. I then tried to assess how those values have shaped the way in which I have lived my life. I also sought out experiences where I had to directly address the theme of this conference – Education in Ethics and remembered a long debate we had in legal education as to whether or not to teach ethics as a compulsory professional course. I shall therefore try to tie these threads together into a coherent address.
I realised when I started to think about my education that my entire education, apart from my final year at school, was in Catholic schools. I was what used to be called a ‘cradle Catholic’. My family, except my maternal grandfather, was Catholic and lived their lives within a small Catholic community. We went to Catholic schools, we attended mass every Sunday at St Josephs, (and for many years I accompanied my mother to daily mass at 6.45am), all our friends were Catholics, and we lived a Catholic lifestyle.
In many ways we lived in a Catholic ghetto with all the strictures of 1950s Catholicism, which was strongly influenced by Irish Catholicism and Marian worship. And I must add I had a very secure and happy childhood. We learnt the catechism by heart; we did not eat meat on Friday and observed the holy days and sacraments as part of our normal lives.
My parents were hardworking, honest, paid their bills and had little left over. They both shared the commitment to education, which they both did not have because of a lack of money, and ensured all the children got the best education possible. I was sent to St Dominic’s boarding school to get a good education as much as to get a good Catholic education.
My brother was sent to Sacred Heart for the same reason, and my sisters followed me to St Dominic’s. Education was seen as the key to a secure future. It was the means to earn a living and live an independent life.
When I arrived at St Dominic’s I came equipped with good skills in reading, writing, not so good in maths, but with a curiosity to learn and the knowledge that this required hard work. I was taught in the conventional methods of the time, according to the curriculum of the time. We were prepared to pass exams and most of us did. I doubt if it would be seen as a good education today but at the time it served its purpose.
I passed exams and was therefore qualified to think of a future that included going to university. I did not have the confidence however to think I could go to university so settled for training college with the thought of being a physical education teacher. It was only the intervention of cancer that changed my options and university became the most viable option to gain a qualification to earn an independent living.
I realize now of course that I gained so much more from St Dominic’s; what today is called life skills. I was encouraged to think for myself but within the context of Catholic doctrine.
We were encouraged to debate and argue through Christian values. The writings of Aquinas, Albert the Great, St Dominic, St Francis and others were taught in our religious studies classes. I suppose it could be described as critical studies in Catholic doctrine. I remember discussions with titles such as ‘Determinism and Free Will’ and the frustrations I felt as I passionately supported the assertion that the individual had free will and independence of thought and action, yet was confronted by Catholic doctrine that was founded on the will of God that seemed to leave little space for free will.
Having to confront all arguments in a contestable way, prepared for later debates on nature versus nurture in the role of women, and the arguments of the socio-biologists, and latterly the evidence of the geneticists. A similar debate on ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ raised those hard issues of personal responsibility and community responsibility. While I knew I had to own up for my own actions, I also knew when people were treated unfairly, it is everyone’s responsibility if we are to live in a peaceful secure society.
I forget much of the detail but what I was left with was a strong conviction that the truth was the best approach to address issues and make decisions. The motto of the school was veritas – truth – and the school took it seriously. I was to learn later that the truth is often hard to discern. It depended not only on having all the information, but understanding that what was truth for me was not for others. St Dominic’s has a strong traditional of public speaking, debating and drama. Through these activities it taught, or on occasions, forced you to articulate your ideas and thereby take responsibility for them.
It also gave you a curiosity and ambition to learn. I am less certain as to whether my Catholic education gave me confidence however. As I have said, I did not feel confident enough to go to university when I left St Dominic’s. I chose the easier option of Training College. I doubt however it was only my education that determined that decision. Issues of gender and family were equally important. The irony was that while we were not encouraged as young women to go out and challenge the traditional expectations of women, we were superbly equipped to do so. My colleague Marian Hobbs, who was also educated by Dominicans, and I have often discussed this contradiction within our education.
The Dominican education in many ways prepared me better than many of my academic colleagues when postmodern analysis became fashionable in the 1990s. I had been forced to work my way through the knowledge that there are many truths when life is seen from the perspective of others. I had been taught tolerance and the importance of respect for the views of others. I had also been taught the importance of having your own-grounded understanding of what is the truth of any situation. My study and experience of law and politics has taught me that it is hard work to effect the reconciliation of different perspectives within an accepted framework of laws and behaviour that applies to everyone equally.
I personally have found little difficulty in accepting the Christian ethical stance to my life. What I have found more difficult is how those values are translated from a personal life to a public system of rules, laws, and politics. I am grateful however that my education gave me a strong ethical foundation from which to approach such issues. I am even more grateful that my Catholic education gave me a strong commitment to what I can only describe as fairness. I have learnt through that education and my training as a lawyer to feel compelled to see all points of view. This is not a good quality to have in politics because it compels you to see the complexity of any situation. The modern media leaves little room for complexity.
Simple dogmatic assertions conform more easily into the 30-second sound bite. While then I hold strong personal views, as do most people, on many issues, I have rarely been able to have the confidence to assert those views dogmatically.
I sometimes think that my education and training in the pursuit of the rational has made it difficult for me to assert a political position that may adversely affect others. I recognized this flaw in my political make up which is why I did not stand for Parliament after I resigned as Labour Party President. That is why I went back to university to try and make sense of what was happening to our society as a result of the policies of structural adjustment.
I never regretted that decision because it gave me the opportunity to found a new law school that had a principled approach to the teaching, and hopefully the practice, of law. It does affirm the importance of rational decision making, while recognizing the law must accommodate the diversity within our community while maintaining fundamental principles of justice. Those principles are essentially based on the Christian ethic – everyone is treated equally and in accordance with the principles of natural justice – the right to be heard, the right to be represented at any hearing, and the right to be judged in a fair and unbiased way.
During the time I was Dean of Waikato Law School, I was involved in the debate as to whether law students should be compelled to take a course on ethics. Some legal educators felt it was important for students to understand that as professionals they had obligations to the court and to their clients that were not enshrined in law. There were ethical standards that they were expected to abide by in the conduct of their business. There were those opposed the idea on a variety of grounds, including the pragmatic – there is not enough space in the curriculum – to the principled, that lawyers were providing a service to clients and the market principles would operate to ensure ethical behavior, therefore no course was necessary.
In many ways the arguments mirrored what was happening within New Zealand society. The policies of structural adjustment threw into doubt not only economic practice but the values that it had been assumed underpinned our society. We were forced to confront whether we were a society where the rights of the individuals prevailed over all else. The notion of collective responsibility and of Government having responsibility for the economic and social well being for citizens was thrown into doubt. We saw the state withdraw from health, education and social welfare on the basis that it was an individual responsibility. Professionalism gave way to managerialism.
As Dean of the law school during this period, my time became preoccupied with funding, efficiency initiatives and accountabilities that were all process and little substance in my experience. I felt we had lost the plot and forgotten our core business of educating our students to be good professionals who gave a service to their clients, the law, and community. The debate on ethics was fought out in this context and it is to the credit of the Council of Legal Education that a debate did take place and a good compromise was arrived at where ethics are taught, but the Schools determined how this would happen.
I strongly supported the inclusion of an ethics course because it taught me as a student to confront real life issues and think them through to a decision. It made the theoretical real. It gave principled guidance on how to cope with situations such as conflict of interest, how far the responsibility of the lawyer went to the client, and what was the nature of the responsibility to the court. It also taught you that a principled approach was good practice because the truth has a way of finding itself into the open. I felt that such issues were as relevant today as they were in the 1960s, regardless of the economic theory of the time.
I have continued to believe an ethical approach in public life as well as private life is important. Many reasons can be given for this but for me the most important is that our whole democratic system of government is founded on the notion that people are treated equally and fairly. Without an agreed ethical framework to reconcile those principles with the reality of the diversity within our community, we will get corruption. One of the greatest threats to democracy is corruption that is seen by the continuing concern of many countries to achieve stable democratic government. While we in New Zealand have little evidence of corruption, it is important to be constantly vigilant.
I am therefore pleased that Parliament is about to agree to the inclusion in Standing Orders of the requirement for members to declare pecuniary interests on an annual basis, not just when there may be a conflict with specific legislation before Parliament. While not all parties support this change, most do which is encouraging. This may seem like a small matter but it is a beginning. I live in hope that members will ever agree to a code of conduct, but in the meantime I note limited tolerance in the community to the excesses of behaviour in Parliament. The basic problem is that bad behaviour is rewarded with the appropriate media coverage, which is of course the desired outcome.
In conclusion then, while I support the notion of education in ethics, the challenge is what ethic and how to teach it. Catholic schools have a long tradition and expectation to have an ethical approach to education. I am a grateful product of that education. I am aware that I may not be seen as a good Catholic but that does not mean the ethic as opposed to the dogma of a Catholic education does not remain with me. It does.
While it took me some time to understand the difference between dogma and ethics, my education gave me the tools to do so. It gave me a commitment to the rational pursuit of the truth, with an understanding that not all things in life can be explained by the rational. I am not sure if that makes sense but it is the best I can do at the moment.
The challenges of cultural diversity
New Zealand Diversity Forum
23 August 2005
May I welcome you all to this NZ Diversity Forum. May I give a special welcome to the youth representatives who are with today. It is an event of significance because it demonstrates the commitments made at a similar forum a year ago are enduring.
As you will recall in early July last year 16 Jewish graves at Wellington Bolton Street cemetery were found to have been desecrated. Three weeks later, in the morning of August 2004 about 100 Jewish Graves and the Prayer House at Makara Cemetery were found to have been desecrated.
The reaction to these actions was outrage and condemnation, mixed with an uneasy concern that such events had taken place within our community. A community we thought had a high level of tolerance to difference, whether it is racial, cultural or religious difference.
Parliament at its next sitting on Tuesday 10 August, passed the following motion proposed by the Acting Prime Minister Michael Cullen:
‘That this House deplores recent attacks on Jewish Graves and a Jewish Chapel in Wellington; recalls the terrible history of anti-Semitism stretching over many centuries, culminating in the Holocaust under Nazi rule; and expresses its unequivocal condemnation of anti-Semitism, violence directed against Jews and Jewish religious and cultural institutions, and all forms of racial and ethnic persecution, and discrimination.’ (Hansard pg 14715, 10 August 2004)
The motion was strongly supported by the other parties represented in Parliament. Dr Cullen also tabled a message signed by ethnic community leaders, religious leaders, mayors, councillors, business, trade union leaders and community groups throughout New Zealand. And the then Speaker, Jonathan Hunt took the unusual step of adding a personal comment to the motion and signalling his intent to send all contributions to the debate to the Speaker of the Israeli Knesset.
The emotional reaction at the time varied from anger against the perpetrators, to concern for the indignity, hurt and fear visited on members of the Jewish community, to embarrassment that such acts of intolerance had taken place in our country New Zealand. The events were so serious that words alone were not enough. Action was required to ensure we collectively addressed the bigotry that had surfaced within us.
James and Helen McNeish were amongst the first to seek a way forward and organised a rally in Parliament grounds on August 24, which was followed by a forum hosted by the Speaker Jonathan Hunt at Parliament. That forum was the forerunner of today’s event. It was chaired by the Waitakere Mayor, Bob Harvey and the Race Relations Commission Joris de Bres and addressed by Professor Paul Morris of Victoria University.
At the Forum a ten-point New Zealand Diversity Action Programme was unanimously adopted. Over forty national and local organisations have now become partners in the Programme and have contributed sixty projects to support it. The past year has contributed its own challenge to cultural diversity with the London bombings and the vandalising of Auckland mosques.
The work begun a year ago did not begin a moment too soon. Tolerance has to be nurtured through understanding, which comes with information, education, debate, listening, and practising in our day to day lives not only an acceptance of difference but an embracing of the diversity that is a part of our communities. It tales time and constant attention. That is why this Forum is an important part of that process.
We have the Human Rights Commission, the Office of Ethnic Affairs, the NZ Commission for UNESCO and Te Papa Tongarewa to thank for today.
I want now to introduce our keynote speaker today, Cindy Kiro, the Children’s Commissioner. After Cindy has spoken we will turn it over to our four panellists for their comments. We are fortunate today to have Mark Soloman, of Ngai Tahu, Margaret Austin from UNESCO, A’eau Semi Epati, a Lawyer from South Auckland, and the former Mayor of Dunedin, Sukhi Turner.
Bridging the democracy gap in international relations: a stronger role for parliaments
Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliament
United Nations, New York
7-9 September 2005
The first Speakers’ conference, on the eve of the Millennium, pledged its commitment to international cooperation with a stronger United Nations at its core. This commitment was expressed through the assurance to make Parliaments, through which the people’s voice is heard, work more closely with the United Nations. Through this close working relationship it is hoped that real meaning can be given to the opening words of the United Nations Charter: “We, the peoples of the United Nations”.
The principles that underpin Parliamentary democracy, when applied to international relations, can contribute greatly to world peace. Elections conducted through genuine democratic processes result in Parliaments that can represent the will of all people represented in the society. Democratic processes require that everyone be treated equally, that there is an observance of human rights, and, most importantly, there is respect for the rule of law. That is why Parliaments can contribute to international cooperation and world peace. Through their Parliaments, people have an opportunity to contribute directly to international cooperation.
The challenge for Parliaments is to find the means to ensure the people’s voice is heard on international issues. The New Zealand Parliament is responding to the challenge of the Millennium conference in a number of practical ways. All legislation is scrutinized to ensure it complies with our Bill of Rights and Human Rights Acts. If it does not comply then the Attorney-General or Minister responsible for the legislation must report to the Parliament. This provides greater compliance with human rights as well as greater transparency to executive decision-making.
The Parliament has also changed its Standing Orders to incorporate a new constitutional convention that the executive does not ratify or approve international treaties without reference to the Parliament. While the New Zealand constitutional arrangements give the executive the authority to make international treaties, there has been a growing concern that such obligations should be subject to scrutiny and approval of the Parliament.
The Standing Orders now require that such treaties be referred to a Select Committee for consideration and public submission if necessary, and also that the members of the Parliament be fully informed of the implications of the Treaty through the presentation to Parliament of a National Interest Analysis. This process means all MPs and members of the public are better informed of the role of international obligations, and the commitment to those treaties is greater because of the transparency of the process.
The foundation of democracy and international cooperation is a commitment to, and observance of, the rule of law. The rule of law requires everyone to be equal before it and all people and institutions observe that human rights. Adherence to the rule of law requires institutions to administer the law. Those institutions must have legitimacy to be effective. This means they must be free from corruption, to administer the law without fear or favour, and apply the law with justice.
The previous conference recognized this reality through its support for the International Criminal Court. That Court is now a reality and New Zealand is strongly committed to it. Ours was the 17th state to ratify the Rome Statute and it has ratified the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities. This ratification is incorporated in our International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act. It is essential that all states support and promote the International Criminal Court if the democracy gap in international relations is to be closed.
While the International Criminal Court responds to the need to address serious crime after the event, it is also essential that Parliaments take preventative action. New Zealand supports recommendations of the United Nations High Level Panel on the threats and challenges to international peace and security. In particular, New Zealand supported the recommendations on the concept of the ‘responsibility to protect’ within the UN framework as a basis for progressing a new consensus on international action.
The challenge for Parliaments is to ensure there is greater understanding of the effects of globalisation and international relations on the well-being of domestic representative democratic parliaments. We endeavour to do this through greater transparency of executive decision-making, promotion of information and knowledge of international matters, and the exchange of meetings amongst parliamentarians.
The International Parliamentary Union has an important role to play in fostering the environment of greater understanding and cooperation amongst Parliaments. Granting observer status at the United Nations for the IPU is an important recognition of the role parliamentarians can make to promoting greater international cooperation and world peace.
There is no easy road to bridging the democracy gap in international relations. The commitment through this conference for Parliaments to work with the United Nations to achieve this goal is an important step forward.
Speech at introductory seminar for new Members of Parliament
Legislative Council Chamber
21 September 2005
Welcome and congratulations
After Parliament ended last month, a certain Member of Parliament told his staff as he headed into the election campaign that he was off for his “job interview”
The comparison is not wholly inaccurate, though the process is, on the whole, more protracted and the interview panel more daunting and demanding than is generally the case.
You, the successful “applicants”, are taking on a task the like of which very few, if any, of you will have previous training.
As in any new job you will find there are days when you wonder if you will ever find your way through the morass of paperwork, telephone calls and intrusions on your time, let alone grasp the mechanics of your new role.
My advice would be, in the first weeks before Parliament opens, to focus firmly on learning as much as possible of the detail, the rules and regulations which govern the life of an MP.
You may have come here with a mandate to make or change laws: you will, equally, find that you are bound by a range of legislation, protocol and custom. And from now on everything you do will be open to public scrutiny.
In the course of today you will meet some of the people whose job it is to ease your path, see that your needs are met and ensure that you are in the best position possible to represent and work for the people who elected you.
Parliament is in the charge of the Speaker. The Speaker is elected by the House itself. He or she is ultimately responsible for the maintenance and safety of the physical campus and for the efficient running of its many functions as well as the conduct of the House and its business.
Among the offices which come within the Speaker’s jurisdiction are those of the Ombudsmen, the Controller and Auditor General and the Parliamentary Commission for the Environment.
The two main areas of the Speaker’s responsibility, and the ones with which you will be the most intimately involved, are the Parliamentary Service and the Office of the Clerk.
The Parliamentary Service, which was set up in 1985, provides administrative and support services to the House and its members and administers payment of funding entitlements for parliamentary purposes.
The Parliamentary Service is headed by the General Manager Joel George, who is in turn responsible to the Speaker. Ultimately, though, it is the Parliamentary Service Commission, chaired by the Speaker and made up of MPs from all parties represented in the House, which decides the functions and policies of the Service.
The Office of the Clerk, headed by Dave McGee, is primarily concerned with the legislative side of Parliament, matters affecting the House, including its governance and, in conjunction with the Speaker, the House rules otherwise known as Standing Orders.
An important new responsibility of the Clerk’s Office, and one that will affect you all, is the Register of Pecuniary Interests of Members of Parliament that was established and incorporated in Standing Orders last month.
Dave McGee will go into more detail about this during his time with you this afternoon but basically, members will have to make annual returns of pecuniary interests which will be recorded in the register.
As is the case with most seminars of this nature, you may reach the end of today as much bewildered as enlightened. You will have a broad knowledge of what you can look for in the way of support in your new role, but most importantly, you will know what is available and have met some of the key people providing it.
Speaker-Elect acceptance speech
7 November 2005
Honourable members of the House of Representatives may I thank you for the honour and privilege of electing me as Speaker. In this election I follow a line of distinguished men who held this office. I am in fact the 28th Speaker to be so elected by our House of Representatives. New Zealand has a long and proud tradition of Parliamentary government. We are in fact one of the longest continuously operating national legislatures in the world.
The strength of our Parliamentary democracy has been the flexible way in which it is responsive to the will of the people. New Zealand is one of only three countries that do not have a written constitution, yet this lack of a formal document has not prevented us enjoying stable government.
The reason for this remarkable achievement is undoubtedly complex and the subject of academic research. Two factors do stand out however. The people of New Zealand value their Parliament and actively participate through elections, select committees, and public comment in its performance. Secondly, those elected to represent the people in Parliament respect and understand the trust that has been placed in them. Rod Donald, who tragically died on the weekend, understood better than most what this trust meant and dedicated his Parliamentary life to the service of the people he represented. His Parliamentary service is an example to us all.
It is the role of Speaker to ensure the business of the Parliament is conducted in an orderly manner so it is fair to all parties represented in this House. I follow in the path of many distinguished Speakers none more so than Charles Clifford the first Speaker who set the standard for all those who followed him. He was said to have combined ability, firmness and impartially with dignity and good temper. I shall endeavour to be a worthy successor in that traditional.
As the Speaker-Elect I will now obey the instruction and go to the Governor-General at 4.30pm and I invite those of you who can to accompany me there.
The value of a St Dominic’s education
St Dominic’s College senior prize giving
29 Rathgar Road, Henderson
9 November 2005, 7.30 pm
Thank you for the invitation to be the guest speaker at your senior prize giving. I am pleased that this year my Parliamentary duties have enabled me to attend. The term of the new Parliament has now officially begun with the swearing in of Members of Parliament and the election of the Speaker on Monday, then the official opening on Tuesday. Today the Parliament acknowledged the death of a former Prime Minister the Rt Hon David Lange. As a mark of respect for his contribution, the Parliament rose early after the speeches were completed. Thus I was able to attend this evening. Tomorrow we are back into the business of Parliament with the first Question Time, which gives an opportunity for the Government and the Opposition to front each other and for the Speaker to try and maintain order while they do so.
I accepted your kind invitation because I owe a debt to my teachers at St Dominic’s in the early 1960s. I owe those teachers and the school a debt because they prepared me so well for the life I have been fortunate enough to lead. I confess at the time I probably did not appreciate the education I received. You never do when you are young because you believe there is always something better to be experienced elsewhere. You are often convinced you know better than your teachers and parents, and on occasions you may well! It is the fate of the young to challenge the old and for the old to resist the challenge. If this struggle is conducted with respect for each other’s position, then the young emerge wiser to create an even better world than that delivered to us by our elders.
St Dominic’s taught me how to challenge accepted wisdom, and how to accept that wisdom when it was tested through my own experience. The school equipped me intellectually and ethically to pursue what has been to date a fulfilling life, if a difficult one at times. I have tried to analyse exactly what it was that a Dominican education gave me. Intellectually it taught me to think rationally. I was taught to question, to think independently, and to work hard. I must say that none of these qualities has necessarily made for an easy life. It is often easier to go with the flow and accept without question what you are told. If however you are to take responsibility for your own actions and live an ethical life, then it is often necessary to question and ask the why question. And as such make yourself unpopular from time to time.
Almost without realising it, I also gained a strong ethical framework from my teachers. It was a Christian ethical framework with an emphasis on social justice and service to others. It also placed a strong emphasis on being truthful – the school motto of veritas was invoked constantly. Being honest with oneself is about as difficult as being honest with others. The pursuit of truth of course can take many different forms as I have found in the various careers I have experienced as a lawyer, as a teacher, and as a politician. One thing I have learnt over the past 40 years however is that the truth really is the best policy.
I am conscious as I give this address that the world you are about to enter is a very different one from the one I entered in the mid 1960s. I am therefore equally conscious that my words may not be relevant to your experience. It is probably a curse of getting older, that you feel you want to share some of your experiences in the hope that they may be useful. I promise you I shall try to keep my comments short.
The first point I want to make is that your life will be what you make of it. This does not mean you will not face adversity. Of course you will, we all do. How you deal with the problems you confront is what is important. The year after I left St Dominic’s I was diagnosed with cancer which resulted in my left leg being amputated above the knee. It is difficult to describe the feeling of being confronted with the fact your life plan was now not possible. I had planned to go to Teacher Training College to qualify as what was then called a physical education teacher. I was also told there was no guarantee that the cancer would not return. The physical pain was beyond endurance at times because pain control in those days was not good. The sense of frustration and fear about the future was also constant.
It was also true however that I immediately began to plan, in a practical way, how I would cope in the future. I knew I needed a job so I could earn a living and be financially secure. I decided to go to university and train as a lawyer. Why? I am still not sure why – nobody in my family had ever been to university - but it seemed the right thing to do and I decided to trust my instinct and just do it. This was a very important lesson. Trust your own judgment. Listen to others but in the end you must take responsibility for your own life. Fronting the reality of my circumstance and getting on with something positive was scary but the right thing to do. My family was constant and courageous in their support. They let me make the decisions and they supported them however hard it was for them not to interfere when they thought I had overreached myself.
The second point I want to make is always treat yourself with respect and expect others to do the same. I learnt the importance of this lesson when I went to university and eventually obtained a position in a law office as a law clerk. While at university I was vaguely aware that women were treated differently from men. Somehow it was assumed once I got my degree, I would not want a job. Law practice was not an occupation for women I was told. Why not I asked? I needed to earn a living, I was qualified, therefore I should be treated the same as male law clerks. There was no rational response to my question except it was not usual for women to practice law, especially in private practice. While I was fortunate in obtaining employment with a man who treated me well and paid me well, I soon discovered this was not the norm.
Thus began for me what has turned out to be a life long journey – the pursuit of equality for women and the right of all people to be paid and treated fairly in their employment. This deep-seated sense of injustice when people are not treated fairly has led me into take on jobs I had never dreamed of and situations I wish I had never had. The reality is though that the campaigns for equal pay, equal employment opportunities, paid parental leave, quality child care, recognition of women’s financial contribution to a marriage or partnership, the right of people with disabilities to have access, have borne some results. This means you, as young women will go into the paid workforce and into relationships on a very different basis than the women of my generation. This does not mean you will not still encounter prejudice and discrimination, but you are better positioned to counter it and to get on with your lives.
I must state however that if you challenge accepted practice then you will encounter criticism and opposition. Do not be deterred however. Just remember you can always learn from those who criticise or oppose you. And however hard it may be, treat those who oppose you with respect, because that is what you seek. I must say I find this advice difficult to apply in practice on occasions. The field of politics at times is loose with the facts and is highly competitive. Remember though our democracy has always protected the right to disagree. History tells you those who challenge today and are seen as radicals or dissidents, frequently lead the way to a better community for all.
Finally may I say that you are leaving school to embark on the next stage of your lives, whether that is into further education or employment, at a crucial time for New Zealand. As a country we have led the world in our search to build an economically, socially and culturally just community in which every individual citizen should have the maximum opportunity to fulfill their potential. We have never been afraid to experiment as is witnessed by changes in the 1890s, 1930s and 1980s/90s. At the present time we are seeking to balance the realities of globalisation with the maintenance and development of a community that reflects our values of inclusion, diversity and stability.
It is an exciting time because our distinct identity as New Zealanders is being recognised. This is particularly seen in the creative arts, the sports field, and our contribution to world affairs. It is the task of your generation now to continue on this pathway. It will provide you with individual opportunities, while at the same time require your contribution to its development. Your education will have prepared you well for the task ahead. May I wish you every success.
Speech at the launch of the Warren & Mahoney book
Grand Hall, Parliament House
Tuesday 29 November 2005, 5.30 pm
May I offer you a very warm welcome to Parliament for the launch of the Warren and Mahoney Book New Territory to celebrate 50 years of practice. It is appropriate the launch is held in this magnificent hall that displays so well the work of Warren and Mahoney. In fact, the firm has been responsible for all of the design and refurbishment of the buildings now currently occupied by Parliament – Bowen House, the Parliamentary Library, Parliament House and the Executive Wing – the Beehive. The fact that these buildings are so different, yet the refurbishment has been in such a way that retains and enhances the character of each building is a testament to the creativity and professionalism of the firm.
For those of us who work within the complex, I must say we will be pleased to see the end of the refurbishment – it is like living on a building site at times, though every effort has been made to provide the least disruption. In particular we are looking forward to using the banquet hall with the beautiful newly laid timber floor, and the main foyer, early in the New Year.
We are grateful, however, to Warren and Mahoney for the care and concern they have shown in their work in the Parliamentary complex.
Of course the Parliamentary complex is not the only government work that the firm has undertaken. Looking through this magnificent book we are here to launch tonight, we are reminded of the number of public buildings the firm has been responsible for. Others can speak tonight more knowledgeably and eloquently of the significance of the contribution the practice of Warren and Mahoney have made to the public space of New Zealand. I think it can be said to be without equal, its contribution to New Zealand public architecture.
The book, however, is a good illustration of how a truly great enterprise has the capacity to adapt and change without losing the essential quality of the work. A major new development embraced by the firm is the sustainable development and urban affairs work programme. The New Zealand Urban Design Protocol was launched by Prince Charles in March this year. It is a major step towards making our towns and cities more environmentally sustainable and livable. More than a hundred government, property sector and professional organisations have now made a voluntary commitment to urban design initiatives. I found the discussion in the book on EDS increased my awareness of the importance of this development.
A guide to best practice in sustainable buildings is also being developed, based on an Australian model. This is to encourage the design, construction or renovation of homes to be healthy, comfortable and environmentally sustainable. Government is supporting this initiative through the Govt3 programme (a sustainability programme for government departments).
For some these initiatives are long overdue. A drive recently through the canyon of high-rise apartments on Hobson Street in Auckland made me realise why I had left Auckland for the more open spaces of Tauranga. A recent visit, however, to the Flatbush Town Centre gave me a whole new perspective on the relationship between such a centre and its surrounding environment. Yet even there I can see the high rise crowding the harbour views and sense of perspective. The discussion on urban design in the book gave me much to think about in terms of my own city of Tauranga. As New Zealand begins to mature as a society, however, I trust we will come to value more the thoughtful contribution our architects make to our community.
Although not of your profession, I found this beautiful book an irresistible read. The intelligent construction of descriptive text, photographs and essays discussing relevant issues to architecture has left me wanting to know more about your world, and to appreciate the contribution it makes to the quality of our lives.
Celebrating New Zealand’s partnership with Asia
Asia Forum of Wellington’s annual fundraising dinner
Grand Hall, Parliament Buildings, Wellington
1 December 2005, 7.00pm
Thank-you for your invitation to speak to you this evening and reflect on the increasing importance of New Zealand’s partnerships with our Asian neighbours.
In doing so I am aware that while recent years have brought much closer links between New Zealand and the countries of Asia at the intergovernmental level, the people of Asia and New Zealanders have a shared history that reaches much further back than current headlines would seem to indicate.
Back in the 1860s, Chinese goldminers were the first non-Māori and non-Europeans to come to this country in significant numbers.
They came in response to invitations to rework the Otago goldfields. Many regarded themselves as simply ‘passing through’, with the intention of returning enriched, to their wives and families in China.
Others stayed. Men such as Choie Sew Hoy, with his invention of the ‘Sew Hoy’ or ‘New Zealand’ gold dredge revitalised the flagging gold industry by reopening worked-over riverbeds and flats and brought renewed prosperity to the region.
Another was Chew Chong. A friend of Sew Hoy’s, who likewise was attracted to the goldfields but eventually settled in Taranaki – and gold of a very different texture:
Appalled by hygiene standards in butter production he bought a dairy factory, wrapped his product in parchment paper and introduced New Zealanders to the ubiquitous one-pound pack.
Heartening though these stories may be, life for early Asian settlers in New Zealand was not always like this. That’s why where wrongs were done there has been a process of reconciliation initiated by the present governments.
As a wiser, more mature nation we cherish our Asian heritage – from wherever in that vast expanse it has made its way. Increasingly, as a country, we are coming to celebrate our place as part of this flourishing and vital region.
I don’t think it over-states the case to say that New Zealand’s view of Asia in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries was shaded by suspicion and ignorance.
World War II was certainly a turning point – even if a highly tragic one - in bringing home to New Zealanders that our future is closely bound into events in Asia. Following on from that conflict New Zealand began what one might call a two-pronged association with Asia. On the one hand we became part of various security-related arrangements, such as ANZUS, SEATO and the Five Power Defence Arrangement. We participated in some of the major conflicts of that era: the Korean War, the Emergency in Malaya and the war in Vietnam. We had military forces stationed in Malaysia and Singapore. And we had military cooperation projects with a number of Asian countries.
On the other hand, we began to reach out to Asia in new ways. Trade with Asia, and particularly exports from New Zealand of primary products, became more important for the national economy. And we began to import consumer products from many parts of Asia. The Colombo Plan, soon followed by NZODA, drew us into new relationships and increased people-to-people contacts. We joined some of the new economic-based institutions based in Asia such as ASPAC, ESCAP, and a number of other specialised bodies such as SEMEO (Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organisation).
The beginnings of a wider outreach to Asia is discernable in the fifties and sixties but for the most part, I think it’s fair to say, social and cultural links were sparse and tentative.
Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s decision to recognise China in 1972, was a watershed in our developing independent relationships with individual countries.
Kirk saw that New Zealand needed to look beyond traditional European links and direct more of its attention to the Asia-Pacific region. The time had come to engage seriously with Asia in all its manifestations. We had moved on from the main legacy of the Second World War and the Cold War - a security-oriented view of Asia. Now we began to appreciate Asia as an opportunity, not a threat; as a positive part of New Zealand’s future and not a danger to our existence.
Under the Kirk Labour government there was a major expansion in our diplomatic efforts in Asia and a new lease of life given to inter governmental relations. Some may recall his trips to India and Bangladesh in an extremely uncomfortable Hercules transport aircraft. At the same time, trade, tourism and wider people-to-people connections set off on a new path of expansion and formed the basis for the next stage in the development of our relations with Asia.
Two decades later, by the mid-1990s, New Zealand was well embarked on a policy of active engagement with Asian economies.
The Prime Minister returned last week from participating in the APEC leaders’ Meeting, held in Pusan South Korea. That was her 6th attendance at this summit-level meeting which brings together Heads of Governments from both North and South East Asia along with the other major Pacifc Rim countries. New Zealand has been an active member of APEC since its formation in 1989 and gains considerably from the opportunity APEC meetings afford for high-level contact and the chance to engage with Asian economies and discuss issues that impact on the region as a whole.
In two weeks time, the Prime Minister will attend the first East Asian Summit (EAS), to be held in Kuala Lumpur. The EAS is part of the evolving architecture in Asia of inter-governmental contact. This inaugural meeting will bring together the 10 countries of ASEAN, plus China, Japan and Korea together with India, Australia and New Zealand. At this stage, it is not clear how the EAS will develop and what is important to us is that New Zealand is a founding participant. that speaks volumes for the depth of relationships we are developing with Asian nations. I would also note an important distinction between the EAS and APEC. While the fundamental purpose of APEC is to review and take action on economic issues, the agenda of the EAS is open and any issue of concern to members can, in theory, be addressed.
I am encouraged, first, that the pattern of dialogue and communication in the region is expanding and, second, that we have a seat at the table.
In other concrete ways we have moved to solidify our relations with Asia. On the trade front we have signed free trade agreements with Singapore, Thailand and the Pacific Four (Chile, Singapore, Brunei and New Zealand). We are involved in talks about Free Trade Agreements with China, Malaysia and ASEAN. Asia takes more than one third of our exports, and its relative importance as an economic partner is only likely to increase as the economies of Asia continue to grow strongly.
I do recall from my own previous portfolios the number of important linkages built up with Asian countries in the field of law. Some of these relate to high-level Ministerial visits, or exchanges among legal practitioners and academics. I see from the latest report of the New Zealand Ombudsmen that in the last year they hosted delegations from Korea, Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia, China and Vietnam among many others. This all helps in building the understanding of each other’s systems.
We have expanded or made new ties with Asian countries on several fronts: politically, economically and diplomatically (and in this context I would note the Government’s decision this year to accede to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation), but vital though such high-level contact is, in the midst of all the international headlines and the future ambitions, our people were looking to other equally important ties.
Wherever you look in the statistics about those Asian countries with whom we have formal ties, you’ll find education, jobs, sport and ‘visiting’ (or tourism if you insist) – the ‘people’ things - rating highly.
Students and new migrants from Asia continue to bring fresh ideas and values into our communities. We see Asian influences featuring strongly everywhere: in art, music, fashion and architecture.
Even eating out, particularly in our larger cities, now ranges from Pacific Rim to Asian Fusion with most Asian cultures represented.
Back when the Asia-impetus was gathering momentum, the government recognised that no matter how clear the benefits, rapid change would not be achieved without preparation.
New Zealanders needed to have a good understanding of the different cultural, ethnic, political and religious backgrounds of our Asian neighbours and for this purpose the Asia 2000 Foundation, now the Asia-NZ Foundation, came into being.
In its 10 years it has supported New Zealanders working and studying in Asia, and promoted cultural events such as the Indian Diwali, celebrated recently here in this Hall, as was the Chinese New Year back in February. The Muslim celebration to mark the end of Ramadan was also scheduled to be held here (note: shifted because of Parliament opening!)
Today our collective knowledge of Asian cultures is at a stage where Asia is no longer thought of generically as a tropical, foreign region, distant and exotic in equal measure, but rather as a culturally diverse and dynamic region with which New Zealand's future is closely linked.
But as with all worthwhile relationships, there is always room for advancement.
In 2003 Prime Minister Helen Clark asked for ways in which New Zealand could strengthen, sustain and re-energise our Asia ties. The result was Seriously Asia with its centrepiece forum, its 200-plus ideas and contributions, and a renewed determination to engage more with our Asian neighbours.
Following on from the forum the Government has decided to fund a Seriously Asia Action Programme that included projects that would, among other benefits, strengthen Asian communities in New Zealand, build relationships with potential future regional leaders and create stronger business networks.
A diverse menu of activities is being implemented under the Seriously Asia banner. These include Prime Minister’s Fellowships under which emerging Asian leaders are invited to come to New Zealand, the visiting academics programme under which, as the title suggests, university exchanges are facilitated, the China Fellowships programme, the ASEAN Media Exchange programme. A number of other initiatives are being pursued such as building links with ‘Track 2’ organisations in Japan and India; an ASEAN leaders Exchange Programme, a Muslim Youth Leaders Exchange programme, a Southeast Asian business Seminar.
I would highlight, too, the very successful New Zealand Exhibition at the Aichi Expo in Japan. The New Zealand Pavilion, emphasising as it did New Zealand’s special physical environment and culture, was a way of taking New Zealand to Asia and projecting our image to a very large and responsive audience. The four million people who visited the New Zealand Pavilion reacted positively to our clean and green, smart and innovative brand image. The Japanese organisers and the International Bureau of Expos cited the New Zealand Pavilion as being among the best at the Aichi Expo. Our success was a tribute to an all-of-government effort, strongly supported by the private sector.
I have spoken about the significant increase in our linkages with Asia that has occurred over the past twenty years or so. But there is still much room for improvement. That was the message of the Seriously Asia exercise. For me, and reflecting back to what I said at the beginning about the early Chinese immigrants to New Zealand, a key message is that we need to break out of our comfort zones and tap into the skills and expertise held by New Zealand's Asian communities. These communities are the 'human bridges' between this country and the Asia region to which our future is inextricably linked. And this Asia Forum dinner is an example of building bridges. You have been very patient listening to this speech now is the time to eat and converse and cement those ties that bind us all.