METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green)
: I just want to take a short call on behalf of the Green Party on this legislation, the Geneva Conventions (Third Protocol—Red Crystal Emblem) Amendment Bill. We are supporting its referral to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee. There are some issues that I just want to briefly explore, but the overall purpose of providing a third emblem to enable the work of these agencies, which provide a huge amount of humanitarian work to communities under great siege, is an important thing. If it means better and safer access for those agencies to those communities that need them around the globe, and for the people in those communities to those agencies, then that is a good thing.
There are a couple of issues that I would raise. One is that John Hayes talked earlier about the Pacific and said that this was not such a big issue here in the Pacific. Well, actually, it is. We understand that the international Red Cross has been kicked out of West Papua by the Indonesian Government and that the New Zealand Government has made no comment or statement at all in opposition to that kind of action. It is quite right that the international Red Cross is in a number of other countries in the Pacific where that is necessary. It is needed in West Papua, as well. People are dying there through the colonisation and the siege that they are under from the Indonesian Government, and yet the New Zealand Government is simply sitting by and allowing that to happen without comment. That is not acceptable—not acceptable at all.
I would also note that one of the issues that was raised—and this was touched on briefly by Phil Goff as well—was the issue that the Arab States did not support this convention at the UN, and we heard some of the background to that. There are legitimate concerns from those who work in humanitarian areas, on humanitarian issues, in Palestine that an additional emblem like this may give the Israeli armed forces and the Israeli State a means by which they can continue the oppression of the Palestinian people in some form. We do not know the details of that. We need to understand that better before we can have real comfort in progressing this legislation. I would expect that those issues will be explored at the select committee.
The overall intention of this legislation is good. There is no doubt, though, that there are areas—like the issue of West Papua, like the issue with Israel and Palestine—that are unsettled. There is no doubt that we have a responsibility as a Parliament, if we are to progress this legislation, to ensure that we do feel comfortable and are satisfied that those issues are properly resolved. We look forward to hearing from submitters at the select committee about that. No doubt our MP Kennedy Graham, who is responsible for
global affairs, will be very acutely aware of the international sensitivities that arise out of this legislation and its progression. Thank you.
Hon TAU HENARE (National)
: Can I say first of all that New Zealanders are not standing by and allowing anything to happen in West Papua. I have a great belief in our system, and that whether it is a Labour Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade or a National Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade they sit down with their counterparts, talk about things that are going on around the world, and do our bit. Secondly, can I say to Maryan Street that Robin Hood would have been proud of how long the arrow of her bow really was in terms of her criticism about the honourable Minister Tony Ryall.
Having said that little bit about Maryan Street’s speech, the rest of her speech was absolutely enthralling as a history lesson in terms of the Red Crescent, the Red Cross, and the new emblem that might help. But putting it in the context of my South Auckland way of thinking, the Red Cross symbol was used in the 1860s, and the Muslim nations thought that it reminded them of the crusades. That is basically how we got the Red Crescent. When the Israelis wanted to use some sort of symbol to denote the humanitarian work that was going on in the field, they were not too happy about having either the Red Crescent or the Red Cross, and so they had the Star of David. Following that, the Muslim people did not really want to vote in favour of having the Star of David recognised as the premium symbol of humanitarian aid in the field, so the Red Crystal appeared.
I actually think that—putting all politics aside—one of the real cool stories of the world is how symbolism has developed and how symbols can bring people together rather than set them apart, even those two symbols and what they represent. Now we have a third symbol to add to those great organisations and the great work of the international Red Cross and the Red Crescent. New Zealand has a longstanding position as a supporter of international humanitarian law and the role of the international Red Cross and the Red Crescent, so I was gobsmacked when the Hon Phil Goff started his speech about what we were discussing with such a sanctimonious tone that it was unbelievable.
I do commend this bill to the House, and as a member of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee I look forward to our progressing this bill in a timely manner. Thank you.
ANDREW WILLIAMS (NZ First)
: I rise on behalf of New Zealand First to support the Geneva Conventions (Third Protocol—Red Crystal Emblem) Amendment Bill. In looking up some background details to the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, it is always most impressive to see what the movement worldwide does do. We are all very familiar with the fact that every time there is an actual disaster or some sort of military conflict that so often the Red Cross and the Red Crescent play an important role in those situations. Looking up the facts of the organisations involved, I noted they are present in some 188 countries around the world, which is a very, very impressive figure. Most countries in the world do have the Red Cross and the Red Crescent present, and they include 97 million volunteers, members, and staff worldwide. So, again, they have a huge support base around the world providing humanitarian assistance. The principles of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent are something that we should be very mindful of. The Red Cross was founded, as we all know, in 1863—as a previous speaker said, in Switzerland—and it was founded to protect—
Hon Simon Bridges: Not even Winston was born then, Andrew.
ANDREW WILLIAMS: No, no, it was a little bit before New Zealand First was founded, but on very similar principles—principles like New Zealand First has. They are to protect human life and health; to ensure respect for all human beings; and to
prevent and alleviate human suffering without any discrimination based on nationality, race, sex, religious beliefs, class, or political opinions.
We are very happy to support this bill. We are somewhat concerned that it has taken since 2005, when New Zealand signed up to it originally—that some 7 years later the bill is finally in this House. That is a little bit disappointing. But quite clearly where you have a situation where you have Christian-based symbols and Muslim-based symbols, those cannot always apply in all situations around the world. Therefore the Red Crystal does serve the purpose of being another symbol that can be used in circumstances where it is appropriate.
We all know what the Red Cross has done for New Zealand as well, in terms of what it has done with the Canterbury earthquakes and natural disasters here in New Zealand. Whenever the Red Cross puts up its hand and says it needs the support of New Zealanders in an emergency, New Zealanders always respond, and they respond with huge generosity. The Red Cross and the Red Crescent are regarded as being very, very well operated organisations—NGOs—around the world, which have intervened in some of the most significant natural disasters that this world has seen, and in some of the most major military conflicts that we have seen over the last century or so.
In that respect, it should be noted that the Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations received the Nobel Peace Prize on three occasions: in 1917, during the First World War; in 1944, during the Second World War; and again in 1963. One could rightly argue that there has been a bit of a gap, and perhaps now that we are moving into this current millennium, they are overdue for another Nobel Peace Prize, because they certainly have earned it over the last 150-odd years.
New Zealand First is very happy to support this bill, and we will certainly commend it to the House.
SIMON O’CONNOR (National—Tāmaki)
: I am pleased to take a short call on this bill, the Geneva Conventions (Third Protocol—Red Crystal Emblem) Amendment Bill. We were speaking in the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee earlier today about immigration and New Zealand, and so forth, and some of the key themes that were coming out, of course, were humanitarianism, the duty of care, and the dignity of every person. I think that is a really good context to lead into this amendment bill.
The bill itself is very simple. It is bringing in a third symbol for use under the Geneva Conventions. Along with the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, we now have the Red Diamond, or the Red Crystal. These are symbols, as was rightly noted by a member earlier, that people understand and attach great meaning to. I think the bill is a great opportunity for the work of humanitarianism to continue. I always feel that a word of caution is needed in terms of having too many symbols, and it could be interesting to see what occurs in the future and whether we move towards a single one, once again. In the spirit of importance, but also levity, I noticed in my own research on this that Sudan had actually once suggested we have the red rhinoceros as a symbol, which I thought was interesting.
Hon Simon Bridges: How does that sound?
SIMON O’CONNOR: Well, it is very alliterative. But I do want to acknowledge the work of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, and those who will work under the Red Diamond. They do have an important role in protecting humanity and working for humanity’s best interests. It is a pleasure that this bill is coming before this House, and in accepting it we acknowledge the great work of the many men and women, now and in the past, who serve under the Red Cross, under the Red Crescent, and under the Red Crystal. Thank you.
Su’a WILLIAM SIO (Labour—Māngere)
: I am happy to take a short call on the Geneva Conventions (Third Protocol—Red Crystal Emblem) Amendment Bill, and to
just simply say, as my colleague the Hon Phil Goff has said, that Labour supports this bill, and why would we not? This bill simply introduces another symbol that will be recognised worldwide alongside the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, and the Star of David. Hopefully, it will provide some confidence in those parts of the world where we need to provide protection and support in times of war to people who need that protection.
I would just like to comment also that the Red Cross is a symbol that is very, very familiar in this part of the region. I do not know how familiar the Red Crescent is, and I do not know how familiar this particular symbol will be in the Pacific region. I would be interested during the select committee process to receive evidence from organisations like Israeli organisations, Turkish - New Zealand organisations, and groups like the Palestinian and the Pakistani organisations here in New Zealand. They will have experience and better information that will help New Zealanders understand just how important it is that New Zealand plays a strong leadership role throughout this region. We took such a role when we introduced a nuclear-free zone throughout this region. And I think we have also got to play a greater role in the international arena, because you cannot get away from globalisation. It is the way things are today.
I am aware that the Minister of Health said in his opening statement that this bill was not a matter of urgency. That really begs the question as to why—because once upon a time this bill was No. 48 on the Order Paper—we are suddenly debating it today when I suspect that there are more important issues that we should be debating. We have got our own symbols, like the “not for sale” symbol, in terms of what this Government has recently done, or the baby with the big eyes symbol, which is the parental leave symbol we are promoting.
Hon Simon Bridges: I was going to say don’t talk about Chris Hipkins like that.
Su’a WILLIAM SIO: No, it is not Chris Hipkins. It probably is Mr Simon Bridges.
But I have to say, given we are supporting this bill, that New Zealanders listening in to this particular debate will be wondering why on earth this Parliament, under this Government, is spending time debating something that should be a given. We should be supporting it. Why on earth are we not debating what this National Government is going to do about the 160,000 people who are unemployed? What is this National Government going to do about stemming the flow of New Zealanders who are leaving our shores to try to find a better life and a better standard of living in Australia? [Interruption] Yes, I can see you doing that. Look, I am standing between this House and dinner. My mum taught me that once you smell pork you have got to keep it short. So I simply say that we support this convention and say to that Government that it should know better. It should be debating more important things that are affecting people’s lives right at this very moment.
Dr JIAN YANG (National)
: I would like to add my support to the Geneva Conventions (Third Protocol—Red Crystal Emblem) Amendment Bill. As a former senior lecturer in international relations, I am just too familiar with topics like war and conflicts. When the Cold War came to its end in the 1990s, people were saying that we were going to see peace and, therefore, no more conflicts. As a matter of fact we have seen more conflicts since the end of the Cold War.
This bill is a good bill because it contains legislative provisions for New Zealand to become a party to the third additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which are the primary source of international humanitarian and armed conflict law. New Zealand has always been a strong supporter of international humanitarian law, and respects the noble humanitarian work of the 97 million volunteers, members, and staff of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in helping and protecting
innocent people around the world who have been caught up in devastating wars or natural disasters.
The road to adding this additional emblem began in 1992. Since then, many lives may have been lost because some countries do not recognise the Red Cross or Red Crescent symbols. This bill will no doubt help to save many lives, and not just those of New Zealanders, in armed conflicts around the world. It will help to continue the valuable work of New Zealand’s armed forces, aid agencies, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. I commend this bill to the House.
referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee.