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Hansard (debates)

Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill — In Committee, Third Reading


Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill

In Committee

  • Debate resumed from 28 September 2011.

CHRIS HIPKINS (Senior Whip—Labour) : Consistent with the discussion at the Business Committee yesterday, I seek leave for all of the remaining questions on the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill to be put as one question and voted on as one question.

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there anyone opposed to that course of action? It appears not. Leave is granted.

Clauses 16 to 23 agreed to.

  • Bill reported with amendment.
  • Report adopted.

Third Reading

GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) : I move, That the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill be now read a third time. I do so with great pleasure. In fact, I am sure members across the House will have great pleasure that we have now reached the momentous stage of the third reading of this very important piece of legislation—a piece of legislation that this House has dealt with thoroughly. I do not think there can be any doubt anywhere in the House that we have dealt with this matter thoroughly, and that the Royal Society now has a greater prominence in our political history and discourse than it has ever had before, as a result of us being able to examine each clause of this bill in significant detail. I want to note for the record that the memorandum of understanding signed between the Royal Society and the Council for the Humanities to set in place the changes to legislation to incorporate the humanities within the Royal Society’s ambit gave the Royal Society 5 years from 2009 to achieve legislative progress. Is it not great that halfway through that period we reach today—

Chris Hipkins: Ahead of schedule.

GRANT ROBERTSON: —that is right, Mr Hipkins; we are ahead of schedule—and we have the Royal Society Amendment Bill before the House to do just that? I want to thank all members of the House for their participation in this debate. We had a number of extremely interesting and informative contributions. We heard from a member of the Royal Society, Moana Mackey, although fortunately she did not go too much into her dissertation topic on blowflies and sheep, which is a subject I would encourage all members to engage with Ms Mackey on. As a member of the Royal Society, she is fully aware of the importance of the bill. Other colleagues on all sides of the House participated well in the bill.

What the bill does is incorporate the humanities into the Royal Society’s work. That is a good thing. It allows those who have contributed in the area of the humanities to be recognised, allows for the humanities to be advanced in a way that is appropriate to the importance of the humanities to our society, and also allows for other types of science to work more closely with the humanities in the development of knowledge—

Dr David Clark: An excellent thing.

GRANT ROBERTSON: —an excellent thing indeed, Dr Clark—in New Zealand. It is a bill whose time has come—finally—and I think we on this side of the House are extremely glad to be able to say that we support this bill. The Royal Society itself I am sure will be pleased to see it pass. It has already been acting in a way that the bill prescribes. It has already been including the humanities in its decision making. There are new structures within the Royal Society to allow for that. The bill also made some other minor technical changes around changing the name of the academy council to the academy executive committee, in order to avoid confusion. As I have noted in many of my other calls on this bill, there was some dissent. It is important to note that that dissent existed within the Royal Society, but I think in the intervening period the society has got on with doing what it needed to do. Therefore, this legislation will pass—3 years ahead of schedule—and will put into place formally in law the very thing that the Royal Society wanted.

COLIN KING (National—Kaikōura) : It is good to speak during the third reading of the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill. One does so with a level of a heavy heart, in the sense that during the 49th Parliament we had a strange situation occur where the Labour Party trivialised the democratic process in this House, tried to draw this particular bill out, and made the whole process a considerable farce.

In actual fact, it was a talking point among those who were waiting within the Royal Society to see this process concluded that it was quite a shameful process. It is really a dark blemish on the conduct of the Opposition in the way that it conducted itself over this. When you consider it, one would have expected a lot more dignity around dealing with a process that was to do with an organisation that goes right back to the very founding days of New Zealand. When you look at the Royal Society of New Zealand, you see it was set up in 1867, and for the bill to be held up by some juveniles on the other side of the House was quite shameful.

Hon Member: Shameful.

COLIN KING: It was indeed. It is worth reminding those people over there—

Sue Moroney: Didn’t you go to the select committee hearings? It was already in place.

COLIN KING: We have Sue Maloney—Moroney—it is sort of catching these days—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Order! That was out of order.

COLIN KING: Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker, for that reminder. Sue Moroney, who was also part of that Parliament, was doing her utmost to support the member who was promoting this bill in drawing it out to a level that was an embarrassment to the Labour Party.

It is appropriate that we are now at the stage of giving the go-ahead to this piece of legislation. It was dealt with very professionally in the Education and Science Committee, where Mr Grant Robertson was very collegial, but when it came down to the issues around another piece of legislation that was going to go through the democratic process, Labour started playing games.

It was resolved back in 2008 that the Royal Society should extend its compass to include humanities, and, effectively, it has done that. It is not the only royal society or science body to extend and widen its scope to humanities. It has been done in other countries, as well.

While it was doing that it also saw fit to conduct some housekeeping. This bill basically brings the Royal Society to a stage where there is consistency and clarity around some of its terms and traditions. One is the 3-year process around elections, and the other was to do with the academy council and the point where you have the council of the society. So that has been tidied up. It is quite appropriate. It makes good sense.

When we look at the definition of “humanities”, it is quite interesting. Whilst the Labour members filibustered away for the better part of 12 months and obstructed the process of democracy, we did learn one or two things, and, as it says, “humanities” includes English and other languages. It is quite interesting. There was a lot of debate around the process of that, because in the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill there was the term “American studies” and we were sort of bemused at why that should be in there.

When we look at that definition of “humanities” today, it included “English and other languages, history, religion, philosophy, law, classics, linguistics, literature, cultural studies, media studies, art history, film, drama, and American studies”. So there is a difference, and it is quite clear. Although there is English language, there is a distinctive difference between that and American studies.

It is the object of the society to move to advance and promote in New Zealand not only the sciences and technology but also humanities. That is quite a major step forward. When you consider the Royal Society in the context of those 140-odd years—145 years, but it could have been 144 years if Labour had not filibustered and tried to obstruct the processes of democracy—it is actually quite a step change. Effectively, when you stop and think about the Royal Society, our relationship with it here in Parliament has been through the wonderful sessions that we have enjoyed in Parliament itself, where it has had eminent people come forward and articulate very, very important contributions towards not only modern technologies and science but also what is especially relevant in the context of New Zealand being situated geographically on so many fault lines.

I am very confident that, empowered with this legislation, the Royal Society will endure for many, many years more. Considering that it has lasted 145 years, I am quite confident that it will go on for many centuries. However, in time we will see that this will no doubt come together again, and there will be further clarifications around what is necessary to keep the Royal Society vigorous, focused on the horizon, and rewarding those eminent people who make a contribution, whether it is to technologies, to science, or to humanities.

It will foster in New Zealand, within the community, a culture that supports technologies, sciences, and humanities, and that is very important. It will encourage, promote, and recognise excellence within the sciences, technologies, and humanities. It will provide an infrastructure and other supports that are necessary to the professional needs and development of science, technologies, and the humanities.

By doing so, it will establish and administer the membership’s codes, because when you think of some of our very eminent contributors to technology, science, and the humanities, they do need to be recognised. Anything of that nature really does hold up a role model and example to our younger ones coming on. It was quite significant that inside the Education and Science Committee today we heard that we still do not have enough scientists coming through, and we should do all we can to achieve that.

What we should not do, though, is stand in the way. We should never stand in the way of the democratic process, like Labour did when it used this particular bill to obstruct the structured process of democracy. It was a major dark moment for the Opposition during the 49th Parliament.

On that basis, I take great comfort in seeing that this pre-eminent organisation can now get on with its business with a very well-refined bill. It gives me great pleasure to support this bill, and I commend it to the House.

SIMON O’CONNOR (National—Tāmaki) : It is in absolute delight with this robust and continuing debate that I stand in support of the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill. As we know, it is here to incorporate the humanities into the Royal Society, bringing about a series of minor changes—minor changes—which for some reason took an incredible amount of time to go through, and a very great number of clauses. But before I discuss that, I should acknowledge the honourable member who is sponsoring this bill for leading the process. I think it is always important to give thanks. As someone with my own member’s bill—

Hon Member: Beg for forgiveness.

SIMON O’CONNOR: —indeed, beg for forgiveness. There are very important lessons we could all learn. But as someone here with my own member’s bill now, I am incredibly keen on aspects of very important legislation, to be able to stand and make sure I understand the process fully and to engage with it. So I am incredibly grateful for this chance, post my maiden speech, to stand to speak on this topic, to follow the lead of the honourable member, and to have a chat.

I thank my colleague Colin King for his words as well, because learning is important. I said in my maiden speech that ideas are powerful, and something like the Royal Society of New Zealand is ultimately about ideas. When we talk about the filibustering or the slowness of the nature in which this bill has had to come through Parliament, at one level that is a good thing. Thoroughness is good; rigor is important in study. However, there was a rigor mortis. There was a rigor mortis, I think, in what was happening. But, you see, the flip side to all of that really was that that whole filibustering, that dragging everything out, and slowing it down was completely against—completely against—the intent of the society in wanting to celebrate ideas. Ideas, importantly, are always about progress. It is all about progress. One of the most unfortunate elements, I am told, as this bill has dragged its way through, was trying to block one of the great ideas and bills that was put through last year.

As we stand here though, I just need to say—as we are talking about support of course, and with my constitutional bias—that I do need to let members across the way, in particular, know that my support for this bill is not due to the title “Royal” being in there. I do know that it is a jolly good reason to support a bill, but that is not the reason. This bill is ultimately about knowledge and it is about learning. It is a bill that is important for advancing and celebrating learning in the area of the humanities. More often than not, for those who know their history, there has always been a great division between the humanities and the sciences and this has always been rather counter-productive.

This bill, and again I do thank the honourable member for bringing it forward in that timely manner, shows that incorporating humanities into the Royal Society of New Zealand will allow a far more holistic, robust, and, some could say, organic approach to research in this country. In fact it is going to ensure that the humanities are recognised for being the major contributor to New Zealand society that they are. It is a delight to be able to stand and take a call, because I am someone who has benefited from the humanities over the years, having studied and worked in a lot of the areas of which the bill’s digest talks to, actually—particularly a love of philosophy. It is marvellous to see that being incorporated—and it is good philosophy too, not the stuff that pops out these days, the sort of pop philosophy, but, you know, good stuff and something that the Royal Society would happily celebrate. There are things like theology, of course. One must acknowledge that, and our colleague across the way, of course. It is great to see that religion and theology are going to be acknowledged by the Royal Society. As someone, too, who has enjoyed the arts, media, and film, again it is tremendous that the Royal Society now is going to embrace this.

Again, when we do look at the humanities in fact they derive initially from the liberal arts, the earliest forms of learning that humanity has known, and so it is great to actually be able to draw this into a bill—to draw it in beside the sciences so that together they can help New Zealand progress in the way that I am sure we all want it to do. When we do talk about benefit, though, I think it is really important to make the distinction that science is about talking about the nature of life. The humanities is actually trying to find what the meaning is, and bringing those two pieces together under the umbrella of the Royal Society is going to bring great strength, robustness, and rigour to New Zealand.

I think also it is really good to see that the Royal Society is going to be celebrating the contribution that so many of our academics, in particular, play in the humanities. There is the chance to become a fellow or an honorary fellow—whatever the appropriate other gender title would be—and the chance for them to be—

Simon Bridges: “Fellow-esses”.

SIMON O’CONNOR: “Fellow-esses”, yes, “fell-esses”, ladies—I should really work on this. But I think it is really important to acknowledge that this bill is going to give the opportunity to a large number of New Zealanders who have great success in the fields of the humanities to be recognised for what they to do, to be members, to be fellows. I think that is really important, not only for what they do.

Simon Bridges: I thought we passed this bill last year!

SIMON O’CONNOR: Well, if only we had, Mr Bridges; if only we had. But here is this opportunity now.

Simon Bridges: This is like Groundhog Day.

SIMON O’CONNOR: I know; it just goes round, really. But I think it is important to add words. Words, as I have said before, are powerful, powerful things and it is a marvellous thing that this bill is here. I just want to come back, though, to the importance of celebrating success. That is something I believe in very strongly, and one of the reasons I came to National actually—celebrating success. This bill provides that opportunity to celebrate the success of those who work in the humanities of New Zealand. Twice a year, of course, we have the royal honours where great Kiwis across the spectrum are recognised. Well here is another opportunity under this Royal Society to celebrate humanities in New Zealand—those people who are contributing in marvellous ways.

Simon Bridges: I want to know why Bob Clarkson hasn’t been given a knighthood.

SIMON O’CONNOR: Well, exactly. Maybe this is something that could be considered in a future bill—not just fellowships but titles with those as well.

I come back to what are really the core purposes. The Royal Society is now here not simply to celebrate science but here to also celebrate the humanities. That is absolutely the most marvellous aspect of New Zealand society. I for one, who again has benefited so strongly from the humanities, say it is great to be standing here today and celebrating that in so many different ways.

As I said at the start, there has often been a division and I think it is absolutely marvellous that groups that are often celebrating division and are always worried about things are actually, after a very long time, prepared to come together and to celebrate that. So of course—

Simon Bridges: Why worry? Be happy.

SIMON O’CONNOR: Oh yes, but we do continue to speak, because ultimately I think what we come back to with all of this is that the Royal Society is an opportunity for Kiwis to speak. We do it in all sorts of different ways. There are some of us standing here in the House, and there will be some outside who choose to protest—not necessarily on this bill—but this Royal Society is a chance for Kiwis right across the academic and intellectual area now to celebrate.

It is an absolute delight to stand up here in support of this bill. Again, it has taken a long time to get here. I think it is important to echo that. I am a great believer in echoing what has happened. As this bill has taken a long time, I think it is important too that my gift in response is to reflect that back in this performance, to make sure we go through it bit by bit. That is my celebration, that is my gift, and I do notice now of course that this bill will bring in theatre; this will bring in theatre. So this is my small contribution to that theatre, to reflect it back at you, that ability to just sort of discuss and debate, to keep repeating those aspects, and to drive them home. I feel that by doing that you will all experience—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Order!

SIMON O’CONNOR: So, once again, thank you.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Before I call the next member, I just want to inform the member that you have to be careful in using the word “you”, because you are actually referring to the Speaker. If you look at Standing Order 104, I think it is, you actually speak through the Speaker, to the House.

SIMON O’CONNOR: Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker. I think that echoes the whole point of the learning that this bill is all about. So thank you.

MOANA MACKEY (Labour) : Dearie, dearie, dearie me! Oh my Lord! I find it particularly ironic that we are sitting here being lectured on how Labour filibustered the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill by members who are now filibustering the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill. It would be fine if the speeches showed any understanding at all of what the Royal Society is or what it does. I think members might need to go a little bit further than Wikipedia when they are researching the Royal Society. What we learnt from Colin King is that science is good. The member who just took his seat, Simon O’Connor, likes the fact the title has got the word “Royal” in it, because he supports the monarchy, and it is all about robustness, and goodness, and technology, and science, and good things like that.

Hon Member: Eh.

MOANA MACKEY: Eh. That is the extent of understanding on the opposite side of the House about this incredibly important organisation, the Royal Society of New Zealand.

As a member of the Royal Society I am personally affronted—personally affronted—that the Government will not let this very good piece of legislation pass so that the Royal Society can get on with doing what it has been doing, as Colin King said, for 145 years. I am very, very comforted by the fact that Colin King informed the House that he has no reason to believe that the Royal Society will not continue for another 145 years. I am sure it will come as a great relief to this organisation that Colin King has confirmed its existence in New Zealand will carry on into the future, and, by the way, science is really, really good and important. Well, the reality is the Royal Society has been operating in a multidisciplinary way for a long time, and this bill merely reflects that fact.

The member who took his seat said that science and the humanities have been at odds with each other for ever. Well, that is actually not true. When Captain Cook came out on the Endeavour he brought a number of people working in the humanities with him. He brought artists. In fact, it was normal for scientists and people working in the humanities to work together all the time. In fact, often that line was blurred. It has really only been in recent times that we have seen this separating out and this distinction of science versus social science versus humanities. So it is good to see the Royal Society reflecting the multidisciplinary approach. In fact, when the Royal Society first started in the UK it was perfectly normal for all these different disciplines to work together and actually draw on the strengths that each different discipline brings.

It is important to note that, as my colleague Grant Robertson said, this move was not unanimously supported by members of the Royal Society. There were some who were concerned that this might dilute out the focus on what is seen as pure science. But I personally think that when you look at the work that is being done, you see that multidisciplinary science is incredibly important. That is why the last Labour Government set up the centres of research excellence—to try to get industries, universities, and Crown research institutes, across all disciplines, working together on topics that are of significant economic, environmental, and cultural importance to New Zealand. That is why we set those COREs up—as they are called—and they are working very, very well. Multidisciplinary sites are the way of the future—very much so. So it is great that the Royal Society of New Zealand is picking up this approach in its constitution and in the way it organises itself.

I do not believe that it will have a negative impact on the role the Royal Society plays in promoting science. It will merely extend out the areas in which it tries to draw public attention and political attention to what under this Government in particular is a lack of science funding and a lack of support for scientists. Getting rid of scholarships that keep postdoctoral scientists in New Zealand is not a smart idea if you really want to see science at the heart of our economy. We hear a lot of rhetoric. Over the last few years we have heard a lot of rhetoric from the National Government about the importance of science, and it has not been backed up by action. All we have seen is funding cuts.

Hon Steven Joyce: Rubbish!

MOANA MACKEY: All we have seen—oh, the Minister of Science and Innovation says “Rubbish!”. Yeah, well, he should perhaps go out and talk to some scientists about how happy they are. I have a friend who has a PhD and is very well qualified, and she is being fired from a Crown research institute because of health funding cuts. Science funding comes from right across the budgets, and the National Government manages to slice away at science funding by cutting other budgets like health funding. Well, she is now looking at where she can go and work overseas, because the funding simply is not here in New Zealand to have those opportunities for scientists. So it is great that Colin King thinks science is good, but, in fact, if you are really serious—

Colin King: It’s not good; it is excellent.

MOANA MACKEY: Oh, he thinks it is excellent. It has been upgraded from good to excellent throughout the course of my speech—good to excellent. But that has to be backed up. It has to be backed up by proper support from the Government and by more than just a photo opportunity with the Prime Minister. I like the Prime Minister’s science awards; I think they are a good idea. I like having a Prime Minister’s science adviser. I would rather see him be more independent—

Iain Lees-Galloway: Well, maybe if the Prime Minister listened to him from time to time.

MOANA MACKEY: That is right. It would be nice if the Prime Minister actually listened to his science adviser from time to time.

One of the things the Royal Society has been particularly effective at is promoting scientific issues. There was a lot of controversy when the Royal Society actually signed a petition in favour of genetic modification research. It has not been afraid to take controversial positions. So, far from what members on the opposite side were kind of saying, which is this idea that somehow the Royal Society is going to control what science is studied in New Zealand, that somehow it is going to control or dictate—I think the member said there were certain parts of philosophy he did not like—the fact is it does not do that. The Royal Society is not about telling scientists what they should and should not do. It is about the promotion of science, it is about the promotion of scientific issues, and it is about the setting of professional and ethical standards for the members who belong to the Royal Society.

I suggest that members on the other side might want to come along to some of the Speaker’s Science Forums, which are run by the Royal Society here in Parliament. They are a very good opportunity not only to see the kind of amazing research that is going on in New Zealand but also to learn a little bit about what the Royal Society actually does—what it actually does.

Simon O’Connor: You’ve got time—keep telling us.

MOANA MACKEY: It is an indictment on the National Party research unit that it could not even go on to the Royal Society website and print off for the members who are filibustering and making speeches what the Royal Society actually does.

As I said, I hope we can pass this bill now. I am about to take my seat so that Catherine Delahunty can give her contribution. Let us then pass this bill into law. I congratulate Grant Robertson on the excellent role he has played in shepherding this bill through Parliament. There is no doubt that there is not a single member of Parliament who does not know about the Royal Society now and is not aware of the intricacies of the legislation governing it. I commend this bill to the House, and I say could we please not have any more dreadful filibustering speeches from the National Party. As a member of the Royal Society, I find very, very offensive and worrying the level of scientific illiteracy on the other side of the House.

CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green) : Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker Robertson. It is great to take a call, finally, on the third reading of the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill. It has been an exciting, dynamic process to date. I was on the Education and Science Committee, and I really enjoyed working on the Royal Society bill. One of the members previously referred to it as a farce. Well, farce is a form of theatre, and this is about the humanities going into the Royal Society. Farce often occurs in this House of Parliament. It is quite a normal part of our experience as MPs to witness and sometimes participate in farce. However, this farce was more enjoyable. I am not sure that it was enjoyable for the Royal Society, but it certainly was for some of us, because we had some wonderful MPs, some of whom are no longer in Parliament, make glorious contributions on the nature of science and the nature of these debates. I actually enjoyed it, because rather than abusing each other we were actually talking about something that is really important to everybody and in a way that was reasonably civilised. That is pretty unusual for this particular Parliament, which is unfortunate, because I think the public would like us to reach that level more often.

Farce or not, it was an interesting debate, and I think the Royal Society members who presented at the select committee would have been astonished to see what happened to their little bill and how it turned into a cause célèbre. Grant Robertson did an excellent job of raising its profile. It was well supported by many members of the House, and it played its part, as bills do, in the history of this House. Of course, it was contextual, and there were other things going on in the background, but I do not think any party in this House can really accuse anyone of never making use of things such as bills to delay other bills, etc. We all need to own what we do.

Colin King: Oh!

CATHERINE DELAHUNTY: We all need to admit what we do, Colin, because we all do things for perhaps less than pure reasons, which brings me back to the bill. Pure science—it was really interesting meeting some of these scientists, because the concept of pure science, as Moana Mackey has said, is somewhat outdated. People no longer talk about purity in science, and in some ways that is a good thing. For a long time we have moved on from the idea that only the physical sciences, only the pure sciences, can be included in the Royal Society or any other kind of scientific endeavour. But there is something lost to science that this bill does not cover, and that is the independence of science. As a person who spent many, many years in front of hearings, panels, resource management hearings, town and country planning hearings, mining hearings, etc., there is a real lack of independent science. Since the loss of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research—which I am old enough to remember and which actually made a real contribution in this country—what we struggle with is that the Crown research institutes and even groups like the Royal Society, which are always looking for funding, have to find money to allow them to do things that they want to do. In that process they often lose focus on the idea of public-good science, and we had an example of that at the select committee today. Public-good science is not necessarily well served by this bill, but the Royal Society does its best. It has actually brought up many good issues in this country, not all of which the Green Party has agreed with. I think on the GE one you would have to say that we were robustly in opposition to the Royal Society’s position. However, we do think this bill is important, because we do think the humanities are inseparable from other forms of science.

Having worked in social science, having taught social science, and having been involved in many, many causes and things associated with the humanities, I think humanity is always good to have. No matter what you are doing, it is always good to remember that you are a human. It is good to remember that we are not living in an ideologically pure, theoretical, scientific universe; we are actually living in a universe where our humanity, especially in science, needs to be present. Otherwise, we invent things like nuclear weapons. Otherwise, we invent things like chemicals that have intergenerational capacity to destroy people’s lives. So it is very important that the humanities are included in the Royal Society’s work, even though some of the scientists, in a kind of—dare I say it—dualistic and patriarchal manner, were a little bit nervous about it. But, as Moana said, the majority of them have already moved on. This bill was really about recognising what already is rather than breaking new ground. The ground was broken quite some considerable time ago.

What I would be hoping for the Royal Society—and it would be interesting if we ever became a republic, because what would you call it? Would you call it the “Republic Society”? It does not have quite the same ring to it. But it would be quite interesting. I would also be interested in whether we would change the word “fellow” and get a little bit more modern with that, as well. What would we call it? I have got this strange addiction to the word “person”—that actually you could refer to people as “people”, rather than having to give them a gender. But maybe I am a little bit advanced for the Royal Society, and maybe it is impossible to distinguish between scientists; they all have to be given these obscure titles.

Back to the Royal Society bill. I think it was a very interesting debate and I really enjoyed aspects of it, but I do think that it is very important that the Royal Society continues to develop. For example, in terms of mātauranga Māori, a form of science that the Royal Society has yet to really fully acknowledge—it is starting to—we really need to recognise that there are many ways in which science is expressed, and not just in Pākehā terms. There are some exciting scientific projects going on in Aotearoa that I know people are involved in that include mātauranga Māori and Pākehā science in a wonderful coming together, in a very humanitarian coming together, to deal with challenging issues such as toxic sites—which is one of my particular portfolios and interests—from both cultural perspectives. There is science in everything, just as there is humanity in everything, and the more holistically we approach these issues, the more effective we will be in creating societies that are environmentally sustainable and fair. The Royal Society bill really did appeal to the Greens, because it is about taking a more holistic approach to the whole thing.

Apart from that, I did witness some of the disquiet that some of the members had at the select committee, but I do feel that they were expressing a minority view. I mean members of the Royal Society, not members of Parliament. In fact, for once, everyone on the select committee agreed. There was a glorious calm, a genuine interest in the issue, and then we got to Parliament and into the House, and everything went into its usual state.

It is very important that we acknowledge public-good science, and that is one of the things that I hope the Royal Society will continue to do. But, again, as I said, it is constrained.

I just wanted to say that David Clendon and I are really thrilled to take a call at this point, because we have enjoyed the ride, we have enjoyed the process, and we think that the Royal Society bill will go down in history as one of the more passionately debated bills of such import to the nation that we have ever heard. I am not being frivolous; I actually think that at the heart of this, as I think another member said, is that learning is what we are human for. We learn good things or bad things, but if we do not have a focus on recognising that we learn all the time, we do not advance as a culture or as cultures. Whether the Royal Society bill has really changed the culture, I do not know, but I do feel as if we certainly gave it a very, very good airing. Thank you.

SCOTT SIMPSON (National—Coromandel) : It is very much of a privilege for me to speak in this debate on this Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill at this time, particularly so as the new member for Coromandel following the previous speaker, Catherine Delahunty. We have both travelled from that iconic part of New Zealand, a place of beautiful beaches, and lovely bush, and scenic attractions, to participate in this important debate. In doing so, and rising to support the progress of this bill through the House, I am conscious that in the entire 145 years that the Royal Society has been in existence, since it was incorporated as a body corporate, at no time in that 145 years has it ever probably had as much scrutiny as it has in this House over the last 12 months. The reason for that scrutiny, of course, was that this was the bill that, ironically, was used so shamefully, so dramatically, and so cynically by members opposite to filibuster that very, very important piece of legislation around freedom of association for our university students to be members of their student unions.

I find that shameful filibustering to have been completely reprehensible. It was, indeed, a misuse, I think, of the process of this House that such a minor piece of legislation, albeit important, was used in such a wilful manner. The filibuster was, in fact, a shameful piece of this House’s history, but it did, however, provide an opportunity for members both at the Education and Science Committee and, indeed, in the House through the various stages of progress of this bill, to study and investigate the Royal Society in a way that I suspect nobody fully intended when the bill was first introduced by the member for Wellington Central.

The functions of this small piece of legislation are, however, very important, because in a small little country like New Zealand we need to make the most of our academic and scientific study, our research, and our investigation, and we need to make the most of what is available to us no matter what the core academic discipline. I come to this House with a background in one of the humanities, in law. Although I have never practised law, I did study it to keep my parents happy, and qualified with an LLB from that very fine academic institution, the University of Auckland. I am just delighted as a student of one of the humanities that the kind of study and research and academic rigour that can be applied from that area of academic pursuit can now be included in the good work of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Humanities are, of course, academic disciplines that study, as the name would suggest, the human condition. Of course, those studies primarily use analytical, critical, and/or speculative methods of study, rather than the purely empirical approaches taken with the natural sciences. Examples of the humanities studies have been alluded to by my very good friend and colleague from Kaikōura. They include the ancient and modern languages, literature—as I have mentioned—the study of the law, history, philosophy, religion, which of course will be of interest to my colleague the member for Tāmaki, and the visual and performing arts, including these days music and theatre.

Simon O’Connor: Social media.

SCOTT SIMPSON: Social media indeed, maybe. Indeed there could be social media. These days the realms of definition are extended and I am one who supports the extension of that breadth.

Sciences are, however, by definition seeking a more testable explanation in predictions about the world and what occurs in our world. Humanities look more at the human side of things, as indeed the name suggests, so this bill will strengthen the society by extending its work, by extending its reach, and by extending its output. I do not accept for one minute that by including humanities in the work and goals of the society it will in any way dilute the output and good work of the Royal Society. Indeed, it is my view that the reverse will be true. By extending, growing, and stretching the realms of study, research, and investigation, the society and our country, New Zealand, will benefit.

Humanities share the evidenced-based approaches to science. Countries similar to our own such as Scotland and Canada are nations that have academies that already accommodate across the range of academic disciplines, including the humanities. I think that is a very desirable approach and that for a small nation such as us that is an appropriate way to foster study, research, and innovation. Like the member for Tāmaki, who spoke earlier in this debate, I too share a desire to see our little country continue to punch above its weight in terms of our output, in terms of our academic rigour, and in terms of the science and approach our sharpest, brightest brains can bring to our society and our nation.

A desire to integrate the structure and function of research in New Zealand combined with a recognition of the need to build on and integrate the very complementary knowledge provided by different academic disciplines across the range of modern studies is, in my view, a very good thing indeed.

I want to just comment briefly on a matter that was raised by Catherine Delahunty in her address in this debate. Extending the rights, honours, and privileges of fellowship, membership, and recognition to those with the appropriate level of study, research, and innovation from the humanities section of academia is entirely appropriate, and, in my view, completely overdue. I welcome those initiatives. I am not prepared at this stage to enter into a debate as to what may or may not be the best way of naming those things or those people, but it seems to me appropriate that for a society with such a rich heritage, with such a diverse background, and that has been so important to our nation’s forward advancement over the 145 years that it has been in existence, a name such as “fellow” is entirely appropriate. I do not think that it is in fact a sexual stereotype in terms of gender. It is a bit like using the term “chair” or “chairman”. In fact there are probably plenty of other examples.

The genesis of this piece of legislation goes back to November 2008. It has had a long gestation. Part of the reason for the length of the gestation, of course, was the way that the legislation was held up, slowed down, and, indeed, in my opinion, almost ridiculed, last year by members opposite. I think that that only cheapened the intent of what was a very important but relatively minor change to the structure and form of the Royal Society. The decision to make the change was based on a desire to integrate the structure and function of research in New Zealand, and a recognition of the need to build on and integrate complementary knowledge provided by the full array of academic disciplines. I am in favour of that. I have risen and I have spoken now for some few minutes in support of that, and it is my intention to continue to do that, because that is, I am sure, why we have come here: it is to advance New Zealand, and it is to advance our opportunities as a nation, and the Royal Society does it in a most admirable way. It has a fine tradition, a fine heritage, and one that we as New Zealanders can all be proud of. It is with very great pride and a sense of honour and privilege that today I speak in support of this bill. Thank you.

TRACEY MARTIN (NZ First) : I rise on behalf of New Zealand First to speak in favour of this bill. I would like to acknowledge that due to circumstances beyond our control, this is the first time we have had an opportunity to speak on this bill. New Zealand First would like to take this opportunity to recognise the work done by the previous members of the Education and Science Committee, and to make particular mention of the previous chair of that committee, the late Allan Peachey. I do note, however, that while I mention that we have been absent for the progress of this bill up to this point, as I listen here today I am somewhat glad for small mercies.

The Royal Society of New Zealand has had a proud history of encouraging, promoting, and recognising excellence in the areas of science and technology, and it is with pleasure that we support a bill that expands the society’s objectives to include the advancement and promotion of the humanities in New Zealand society. I also note that the society has a role in advising the Government from time to time. The New Zealand First Party welcomes anybody who can advise the Government on how to be more human.

I believe that it is also worthy of note that this bill began its life outside of Parliament and was brought here after a full and robust internal consultation process by the society itself, and with the overwhelming majority support of the society’s fellows—I see no problem at all with the word “fellows”. Hence, I would assume the relative speed by which the select committee has been able to address these amendments, and it is not the intention of New Zealand First, I would wish to assure the society and my colleagues, to impede its progress any further.

New Zealand First does wish to use this opportunity to recognise previous comments made in this House about the visionary way that the Royal Society sees economic potential for New Zealand through the bringing together of the best of our talent and the best of our brains, once this bill is enacted. I would like to close by quoting Mr Garth Carnaby, the president of the Royal Society of New Zealand: “For the first time there will be an organisation in New Zealand that promotes excellence in research and scholarship across all disciplines and all areas of knowledge.” New Zealand First supports this bill.

LOUISE UPSTON (National—Taupō) : I am very proud to speak in the third reading of this bill as a former member of the Education and Science Committee. This was a topic on which we did some serious work on the committee, so it is nice to have it finally in the House for its third reading. But I do want to start by commending the speaker from New Zealand First who preceded me, Tracey Martin. It would have been great to have heard more about New Zealand First’s commitment to the Royal Society in New Zealand—we only got a glimpse of it then. So thank you for that and I look forward to further contributions. I also want to just take a moment to pay tribute to the former chair of the Education and Science Committee, the late Allan Peachey. I think it has been very fitting also today to hear a contribution from the new member of Parliament for Tāmaki, Simon O’Connor.

So in terms of this legislation I was a bit horrified to find that one of the Opposition members was accusing this side of the House of not having a real understanding about the Royal Society, and I do want to correct one of the members opposite by saying that I had quite a lot of involvement on one particular project with the Royal Society when it was around the promotion of science in schools and in the whole awards programme that was put together to do exactly that. I think that is one of the things that is really important in terms of the work that the Royal Society does.

Clearly, this is an organisation that has been around for quite some time. We have had some of the history, and I could go over that, but I think we have covered that well. I could come back to that, maybe, a bit later speaking in this third reading. For an organisation that has been around since 1867 it is incredibly important that the opportunity is taken to review the way the organisation is structured, in its shape and form.

Although there is obviously consensus in the House about passing this legislation, I do want to just bring to the House’s attention that it was not all smooth sailing in the select committee, that we did actually have some submitters who were opposed to this, who were unhappy with the consultation that was undergone around this time, and I think it is important that we do recognise that a full democratic process should be undertaken in this instance, where a proper select committee scrutiny was provided, and there was definitely not full support from the submitters who appeared before us. If you look back to when you have an organisation that has a number of branches involved and a New Zealand - wide organisation, sometimes what happens is that there is some tension between the branches and the New Zealand - wide, or the national, organisation. That led to some tension, and it led to some very strongly worded submissions that were opposing this piece of legislation. So I do hope in the interim, given that there has been quite a passage of time since it was first introduced, that those branches have managed to deal with those issues and complaints that they had at the time, and that they have been able to work with their New Zealand - wide organisation in overcoming their opposition. Clearly it would not be healthy for the Royal Society of New Zealand—such an esteemed organisation—to have tension within its own branch structures. So I am hoping that with the passage of time—and I do say it has been quite lengthy—there has been the ability for the Royal Society to mend those bridges and to resolve any of the issues that it had within its branches.

It is quite interesting, because we talk about the fact that we do have broad agreement for this bill, and I am actually looking at some of the Hansard notes from Grant Robertson, who of course now is the deputy Labour leader. He spoke very strongly and he used words about consensus and collaboration in the House, which are all fantastic words and they are good examples of when the House can work together incredibly well. But as those of us who were in the 49th Parliament know, and as those who were interested in the bill following on the members’ day Order Paper know, actually it descended into quite a level of complaint and criticism. And if I was the Royal Society, I would be fairly annoyed at the amount of time that this bill actually took due to the Labour Opposition being so vehemently opposed to the voluntary student membership bill that followed behind it. So although Grant Robertson, who is the member of Parliament in charge of this bill, talked about consensus and collaboration, it was absolutely anything but. Given that we are talking about science, and given that this is the Royal Society and its mandate, I thought I would give evidence of some of that delay.

I am now looking at some of the speeches in the Committee stage. It was interesting when we had discussions about the title. I know how many Committee stages you, Mr Assistant Speaker Tisch, have presided over and how you would appreciate that debate on the title clause at the Committee stage generally moves quite quickly. But instead we had the then member of the Local Government and Environment Committee David Shearer, who is, of course, now the Leader of the Opposition, speaking at quite some length about whether we should describe, define, or go into some detail about the word “a”. There was lengthy, lengthy description about “a”, whether the word should be in there, and whether it was clearly defined. If we did not think that that was riveting enough, we then moved on to a definition of “the”. So for Labour, which now has the member that I refer to as its leader, it is a bit tragic if it has to spend so much time defining words like “a” and “the”.

Then, of course, we got on to some really chunky discussion, and that was the definition of “society”! I can tell you, if I was the Royal Society I would have been highly insulted. It would have been offensive to the society that members of the Opposition took to this important legislation with such frivolity and with absolutely no rhyme or reason other than a clear intention to disturb the progress of the House, when it was a bill in the name of one of its own. That is quite staggering. Just to remind you, that person now is Labour’s deputy leader.

Actually, this side of the House does take science seriously, and it is great to be in the House with the Minister of Science and Innovation, the Hon Steven Joyce. Of course, he is also the Minister for Economic Development and the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, which is a fantastic bundling of those important areas that, to this side of the House, are extremely important. I am speaking to this because one of the Labour speakers suggested that National is not that interested in science. Well, that is absolute rot. I want to give some examples of why we are interested. If you look at the Primary Growth Partnership, you will see it is investing almost $500 million in research and innovation in the primary and food sectors. And we have seen just in the last few weeks information out from Statistics New Zealand showing the level of exports growing, and the growth in particular of the dairy sector. So, clearly, research into this area is vital.

Today in the House we have seen in question time some questions around fracking and its use in geothermal energy. In my own electorate, in Taupō, science and innovation is alive and well with the Clean Energy Centre, which of course is focusing on the development of further geothermal techniques, which are so important in terms of achieving our renewable targets. So the areas of tertiary education, economic development, and science and innovation are so interwoven with this Government’s economic growth agenda. They form part of the 120-point economic development plan; I could talk for 10 minutes solely on what we are doing with the high-tech sectors. There is just so much information to cover with the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill and the importance of science and making sure that we get it right. This side of the House is giving it the attention that it is due, so I am proud to support this bill in its third reading.

IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Labour—Palmerston North) : I rise to give my support to the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill and to note the bizarre contributions from the National members, who now seem to be filibustering it. We have quite some interest in getting it moving along now, so all I would like to do is note my great support for this piece of legislation.

NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) : I am very pleased to speak on the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill. This is a very important piece of legislation to me on a number of levels. Firstly, I am proud to be standing here as the chair of the Education and Science Committee, and I want to acknowledge the former chair of the Education and Science Committee the late Allan Peachey—an incredible New Zealander who had a commitment not just to science but also to education. I just want to acknowledge him this evening.

The other person I want to acknowledge is the new Minister of Science and Innovation, the Hon Steven Joyce. I think it is very significant—and it has been mentioned by members earlier in other speeches—that he has the portfolios not only of science and innovation but also of tertiary education and skills. The reason that is relevant to this legislation is that if we want to show how much we value the Royal Society of New Zealand and the work of the society, then we must approach it from a number of different angles. It cannot be about just one organisation; and I am going to address some of those issues later on in my speech.

But at the outset I want to touch on that issue of value. On this side of the House we have been very clear that we value science, not just through the way that we approach tertiary education, and not just through the huge investment that we have been making in the area of science but also in the way we value it in this Parliament.

There has been mention this evening of what the passage of this bill has been. I know that there are probably a number of people around New Zealand at the moment celebrating that tonight is the night that this piece of legislation goes through, because they have been waiting years for this legislation. These people, who are associated with the Royal Society of New Zealand, were subject to the filibustering of the Labour Party. We know, and we have heard in this House, that the Royal Society has been waiting a very long time for this piece of legislation, and it is so important.

As one of the few members of this House who has a science degree—I have a Bachelor of Science in genetics—and also a law degree, I say that what this bill is about is recognising not just the role that the Royal Society plays in terms of science but also the importance of the humanities. As someone who has both a Bachelor of Science in genetics and a law degree, I consider myself adequately balanced in both the sciences and the humanities. And so it is a very important piece of legislation.

I think we just want to make that point: if you value science, then you probably should not be holding up a bill that is so important. There are so many people from the Royal Society who are respected, but they have had to wait years, and I know they will be sitting around New Zealand celebrating at this point in time as we, hopefully, pass this bill through the House. Anyway, I just wanted to touch on some wider issues in terms of science investment.

We have also shown how much we value science by the Prime Minister’s appointment of Sir Peter Gluckman. I am very fortunate to have had a little bit to do with him in the last couple of months. He is, I believe, one of the most trusted New Zealanders, and I think that shows the value that New Zealanders are placing on science.

Also I was fortunate to be able to attend the Prime Minister’s Science Prize ceremony, where there was an outstanding New Zealander, Bailey Lovett, who won, I think, the Prime Minister’s Future Scientist Prize. I want to acknowledge her this evening. But what it shows you—and it comes back to the points I made at the beginning of my speech on this bill—is that it cannot be about just a piece of legislation going through the House and one organisation. Although it is doing great work, we must also invest in our young people, and I think the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes are an outstanding example of how we are investing in some of our young people. But also it is about tertiary education reform. Obviously the Minister is doing a lot in that area, but we have also put significant money in.

I look forward to being involved in projects like the Wynyard Quarter innovation precinct and projects like the advanced technology institute. We have announced that that is a significant amount of money, but also that there will be centres both within Auckland and Canterbury, and I look forward to those discussions about where that science infrastructure exists within New Zealand. As I said before, you can have national organisations like the Royal Society of New Zealand, but you must also have good science infrastructure. It is not just the investment in people, whether it is through the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes, but it is also that investment in good science infrastructure.

The other point that I would like to make this evening is just to pay tribute to some of those outstanding New Zealanders who have come before us in this House, but also who have come and made a significant contribution. I know lots of people often mention Ernest Rutherford, but he did win the Nobel Prize, I believe, for chemistry in 1908. It is important to look back, when you have an organisation that has been around for a significant period of time, like the Royal Society of New Zealand, and occasionally reflect on those outstanding New Zealanders who have made a contribution. They have made a contribution not just in New Zealand—which is going to lead me on to my next very important topic—but they have made a contribution internationally. And that is what I want to touch briefly on.

It is a freaky coincidence, but we had GNS Science in front of our select committee today on the contribution that New Zealand makes to science internationally. That is where I think the Royal Society of New Zealand has a very good reputation internationally. GNS Science was in front of our select committee today, and unfortunately we are all aware in this House—members are very aware—of the situation in Canterbury. There is a huge amount of science that is going into some of the issues in terms of seismology in Canterbury. GNS Science in itself has got an extra $3 million around natural hazards research.

There are a lot of things that are happening in the world, particularly with many more international disasters—whether they are tsunamis or earthquakes—and there are some quite incredible areas whereby we need to be investing, and this Government is investing. We saw that through that extra $3 million that has gone into an organisation like GNS Science. But just to wrap up, in terms of our science investment, we acknowledge this evening that this side of the House does value science. We value science through how we invest money in infrastructure, and we announced a significant amount of that in the Budget.

We also value science through how we invest in our young people, how we value science through our tertiary education system and our secondary schools, and how we value and uphold those science leaders within our community—those who have come before us, like Sir Ernest Rutherford, and those who exist today, like Sir Peter Gluckman.

That leads me to some of the provisions within this bill. As members have already mentioned, one of the key areas and the key amendments in this bill is around that recognition of the humanities. One thing that frustrates me is that sometimes members think that certain sides of the House care only about maybe economic reform or science particularly. But, actually, what is great about the amendments that are going through here and what is great about the Royal Society’s shift to recognise humanities is that it shows how well they are balanced. But I think it is also part of a wider global movement, which is understanding that sometimes the solutions to some of these problems are complex and involve not just looking at issues from a science perspective but also understanding issues from a humanities perspective and some of the social consequences. So that is what these amendments were about in terms of the committee.

I think it is also important to just take you through a little bit of the history in terms of this decision by the Royal Society to extend its academy to include researchers from the humanities. There was a memorandum of understanding signed by the society and Te Whāinga Aronui, the Council for the Humanities, in 2010. We also know that this approach is not happening just in New Zealand; it is also happening in other jurisdictions like Scotland and Canada. So I think that is very important, because, as I said before, we know that this is a wider movement in terms of the way that we address domestic and global issues that we face, both in New Zealand and throughout the world.

So in conclusion it has been an absolute delight to speak on this bill. On this side of the House we value science, both in terms of our science infrastructure—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member. Her time has expired.

DAVID CLENDON (Green) : It is a pleasure to have almost the last word on a bill that has had a very protracted journey through this House. Its time in the House was, of course, extended by the rearguard action against the particularly appalling legislation, the voluntary student membership bill, and the Greens look forward to being part of a future Government that will turn round that bill and give us some legislation that puts a proper support around students and, indeed, our tertiary institutions.

The Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill is something dear to my heart and we have been very pleased to support it. My own academic career, if you like, has bridged the gap between arts—or humanities—and science. I was fortunate to do a Bachelor of Arts at Auckland University in the late 1980s, having come to tertiary study as an adult. There were remarkable people there at the time. Some of the lecturers and teachers were people like Barry Gustafson, Andrew Sharp, Linda and Graham Smith, Colin Lankshear—good thinkers, people who understood both the history and the present moment, and who anticipated some of the shifts in education and, indeed, in science that were inevitable as a result of the so-called neoliberal revolution of the 1980s and 1990s.

From that, I then went to Lincoln University to do a master’s degree in science. And it was a real revelation to me, I have to say, having come from one world view informing learning and knowledge in an arts context, to go to do a science degree and discover people coming from a fundamentally different world view, and holding a different set of expectations and experiences about teaching and learning. It was a revelation, and I think that, as Moana Mackey has commented in her contribution, we are now coming back to a place, even in the Western tradition, where, historically, there were remarkable men and women who understood natural science, who understood geology and astronomy and biology, but also knew their classics, knew their history, knew their culture, and this is a step back towards formalising a better integration of those two very different perspectives. C.P. Snow, who in the 1930s—1931, I think—delivered his seminal lecture, Two Cultures, captured very well the extent to which science and humanities had got locked into their separate silos for a variety of reasons, and were creating different languages, and, more important, they were making us almost unable to share knowledge, to share experiences, across so-called natural science and the humanities.

This bill is a step towards, as I said, formalising what is actually almost these days common practice in bringing together multidisciplinary approaches—multifunctional approaches, even—to solving problems and dealing with the challenges, scientific, cultural, social, and economic, of the 21st century. I was fortunate this morning, in fact, to be on campus at Lincoln at its orientation programme. I was there as part of the Greens on Campus. It was rewarding to see the waves of students desperate to find out more about the Green Party and to get involved with us, of course. But, more so, it was interesting to talk particularly to some of the postgrads, who are now doing things like postgrad degrees in international conservation management and postgrad degrees in ecosystem management. And these are relatively new disciplines. Historically, you would study ecology, or you might study biology—whole organism biology, molecular biology—or you might study planning. These disciplines are now being brought together in programmes that will enrich us as New Zealanders, the individuals pursuing those programmes. My own experience of teaching ecosystem management, for example, requires you to have a good understanding of the core principles of ecology, which in my view should inform economics, but also should aid us in understanding the day-to-day impact of the human relationship with the natural world, with ecosystems upon which we depend and that we are capable—and have proven ourselves capable—of extensively modifying, not always in ways that are positive for us or those ecosystems.

So it is a pleasure to be part of the wrapping up phase of this bill, if we like. I believe the Royal Society will continue to go from strength to strength. I think it is important to acknowledge, as my colleague Catherine Delahunty mentioned, that in this coming together of science and humanities, we should acknowledge and even pursue the contribution that forms of indigenous knowledge have to make, not least of all mātauranga Māori. Those remarkable people, those Polynesians came to New Zealand and became tangata whenua, became Māori. They survived and thrived in this place, because they were very good at observing natural cycles. They developed over not very many generations an extraordinarily subtle and complete understanding of the biology, of the geology, of the meteorology of this country in a way that enabled them to survive and to thrive. They also embedded that within a cultural framework that acknowledged the metaphysical and the spiritual, and I think what I consider the false distinction between so-called objective scientific knowledge and the metaphysical and the spiritual is something that has not served us well. I think, in all humility, that bodies like the Royal Society and scientists generally are now starting to re-engage with the spiritual, with the non-objective world, if you like, and I think that will serve us well into the future.

So I will just wrap up my brief comments. I say again that the Greens wholeheartedly support this. It has been an interesting journey in more ways than one, and we do wish the Royal Society well in its future and, indeed, the scientific endeavour upon which our future economic well-being certainly will, in part, depend. Kia ora.

PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te Atatū) : I have always wanted to attend a session of the “Young Nationals Toastmasters workshop”, and that is what it has felt like this afternoon. It is an experience I always wanted to have, and it is fantastic to be here and to share in this learning moment for the National backbench.

It is a sorry moment; today we are going to see the back of the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill. It is like saying goodbye to an old friend. It has been part of our life for a long, long time, and so many Wednesday afternoons have been whiled away as we listened to the warbling of our colleagues on this bill. I am pleased to say that Labour supports the third reading and the passage of the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill.

  • Bill read a third time.