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House of Representatives
21 December 2011
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Adjournment — Sittings of the House

[Sitting date: 21 December 2011. Volume:677;Page:65. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]


Sittings of the House

Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Deputy Leader of the House) : I move, That the House do now adjourn until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 7 February 2012, and that the sitting days in 2012 be as follows:

February 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 28 and 29;

March 1, 6, 7, 8, 20, 21, 22, 28 and 29;

April 3, 4 and 5;

May 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31;

June 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 29 and 28;

July 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26 and 31;

August 1, 2, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30;

September 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27;

October 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25;

November 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 27, 28 and 29;

December 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20.

What a year we have had. Can I start by thanking our Speaker for presiding over this House throughout 2011. I thank the Clerk’s Office, the Hansard Office, the Parliamentary Counsel Office, security staff and messengers, all the House staff, VIP drivers, Bellamy’s staff, the Diplomatic Protection Squad, Parliamentary Service, Ministerial Services, the cleaners who work here through the nights, and the groundspeople who make our Parliament grounds look so good and keep them accessible for the public to enjoy. I wish them all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and as the Minister of Police can I tell them to drive safely, lock up their valuables, and keep themselves and their families safe.

Can I also add my congratulations to the Speaker on his re-election, and to you, Mr Roy, as Deputy Speaker, and the two Assistant Speakers. We all look forward to another good year of management of this House.

It has been an extremely eventful year that has had its challenges. There is no doubt that some of the challenges this country has faced have been unprecedented, but we have also seen wonderful success. Our thoughts are with the people of Christchurch. They have had two severe earthquakes—in February a disastrous one and then one in June—but, of course, they live with the thousands of aftershocks that occur on almost a daily basis. At this time the House’s thoughts are with them as most of those families continue to battle to get some sort of normality back into their lives.

Our thoughts also go to those families from the Pike River mine disaster, who will face a second Christmas without their boys home, and all those who have suffered this year through the elements, both in my area, the Bay of Plenty, where we have seen unprecedented rainfall causing enormous slips and damage to life and property, and, just recently, the Nelson floods. I also want to mention the Rena and the disaster that that wreaked on the beaches of the Bay of Plenty. But the extraordinary resilience of New Zealanders has to stand alongside that, from Christchurch to the example of the Rena, where we saw thousands of New Zealanders who were so concerned about what was happening to their local beaches that they volunteered for the clean-up in a way that has not been seen anywhere around the world. That sort of action makes you proud to be a New Zealander.

But I guess if there was ever a time that we all felt really proud to be a New Zealander it was during the Rugby World Cup—not just when we won it, although that sure was a magic moment, but during the whole time of the Rugby World Cup, when New Zealanders opened their hearts and communities to the rest of the world. Some of those extraordinary small gestures that were made to our visitors by New Zealanders made us proud to be part of this great country.

Then we come, of course, to the wonderful end to this year with the re-election of a John Key - led National Government. That was the best news for us. We also want to pay tribute to our support parties: ACT, United Future, and, of course, our colleagues in the Māori Party. Again, what a wonderful country we live in. We have a safe and organised democracy, and we even got to make a choice about the system of voting we want to have in an orderly and sensible manner. If you contrast that with some of the sacrifices that some people around the world in countries like Libya and Egypt have had to make—the ultimate sacrifice in some cases—to actually be able to play a part in deciding who governs their countries, it is beyond me why we still have so many people who make the choice not to vote. At a time like this, so many people decided not to vote.

However, I extend our congratulations to all those MPs who are returning. It is great to see so many familiar faces surviving the election process, and a welcome to all of those 26, I believe, new MPs who are taking places in this extraordinary debating chamber for the very first time. I want to pay tribute to a man on the Opposition benches—Phil Goff. He has a fine parliamentary record. Being the leader of an Opposition party is probably one of the toughest jobs in Parliament. It probably runs a close second to being a National Minister of Education; it is up there. He ran a fine campaign as the Leader of the Opposition.

To the new leadership of the Labour Party, David Shearer and Grant Robertson, I say welcome and congratulations. I think you are going to have to do a bit better in the House than you did today, because even some of your own members went to sleep. However, we will see next year, because 2012 will undoubtedly bring many new challenges. Today’s world is a very challenging place for a small trading nation like New Zealand, tucked down at the bottom of the world, but this National-led Government has laid out its plans to change our fortunes and build a bright future for New Zealand in today’s Speech from the Throne. We have a fantastic leader in John Key and a wonderful front bench who will take this country forward.

I want to close by thanking the people of the East Coast electorate, the city of Gisborne, and the communities on the East Coast, who will be the first to see the 2012 year—the towns of Whakatāne and Ōpōtiki, and the communities of Edgecumbe and Matatā, who will face 2012 fighting against that creeping disaster that is called Pseudomonas syringae pv. Actinidiae. It is not going to be an easy year forthat part of my electorate. But I want to thank them all very much for the privilege of representing them again here in Parliament. I look forward to continuing that throughout 2012.

GRANT ROBERTSON (Deputy Leader—Labour) : Can I begin by congratulating the entire team of presiding officers who have been selected. Lockwood Smith obviously is returning as Speaker, and I think, as was noted by Trevor Mallard’s seconding of that motion yesterday, the respect for Lockwood Smith around the House is universal. Personally I have come a long way in terms of my relationship with Lockwood Smith, which largely began with me shouting at him through a megaphone when he was the Minister of Education. I am sure he appreciated my wisdom then, as he does now. I also want to congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and the Assistant Speakers, Lindsay Tisch and Ross Robertson. I am sure all members in the House will be looking forward to Ross Robertson furthering his views on the flow and ebb of rivers across New Zealand.

I particularly want to congratulate all members, especially new members, in this House on being here. We all know how hard individuals work to get into this place, and I want to acknowledge every member in the House for the hard work that they have done to get here. I am particularly proud of our four new members: Andrew Little, Rino Tirikatene, Megan Woods, and David Clark. They are a great new addition to our team and I look forward to seeing them contribute in a number of ways over the next period. As many of you know, David Clark is in fact a Presbyterian minister. Despite being a Presbyterian minister, I think he is already taking confessions, certainly from members of the Labour caucus and perhaps from members of the National caucus, as well. So we have a diverse team on this side of the House.

If I was to offer some advice to new National members—it is perhaps not my place to do so, but I will do it anyway—it would be to watch some tapes of Paul Quinn, because I think that is where they will learn how to behave in this House. If you follow Paul Quinn’s advice you cannot go wrong, I say. Speaking of departed members, on this side of the House we will miss Aaron Gilmore. We will miss Aaron Gilmore, but no doubt he will be particularly busy at this time of the year, preparing his reindeer and getting the presents ready for his big day on 25 December. But having said that, he may have other jobs. I put this question in front of the House. Who has seen Aaron Gilmore and Kim Jong Un in the same place at the same time? That is the question I put in front of the House today. But in all seriousness, I do wish all members well, commiserate with those who have lost their seats, and congratulate members on being in this House.

I also want to begin with thanking the staff in this building who help us: the Speaker’s office staff; the Clerk and her staff; the Hansard reporters, who even manage to make my grammar look correct; the cleaners, who are in this building night after night, working, in many cases, for just on the minimum wage and who do a fantastic job, and we all owe them our respect; the library staff, who in particular I think have helped Opposition members greatly with their research skills, and we thank them; the messengers and gallery staff, who are unfailingly polite and offer us excellent service throughout the year; and the security staff in particular. I think of the security officer who was involved in the incident just before Parliament broke up. That was the kind of dedication and commitment that security staff throughout this building show. Again, they are unfailingly cheerful and polite, and even managed to give Mr Banks the boost that he was in fact Winston Peters.

I also want to thank the Bellamy’s staff. I was particularly interested in Gerry Brownlee’s comments about this catering committee. I have not heard of it before. I think Gerry and I can share that responsibility well, actually, and I look forward to working with him on it.

I also want to thank our own staff within the Labour Party: the leader’s office, the executive assistants, and our out-of-Parliament staff. This is a particularly difficult time for all of our staff as we transition out of an election and into another Parliament. I want to ensure that we all acknowledge, right across the Parliament, the excellent work that is done by our staff.

I also want to wish all of the people of New Zealand a happy and safe Christmas. I want to echo the comments from Anne Tolley about the people of Canterbury and Christchurch. There is no doubt that, as we reflect on 2011, that is the fundamental and defining moment of this year for New Zealanders. I think we all know people in Christchurch—the MPs in this House, and others who have worked so hard. I want to acknowledge all MPs from the Canterbury region, because I know that they have all put in an effort. I want to make a particular mention of Brendon Burns as an MP who lost his seat and place in Parliament. That is the democratic process, but I do not think anyone can deny the effort that an MP like Brendon put into looking after his constituents. He lost two electorate offices in two different earthquakes. Although I know that all Canterbury MPs worked hard, he is one who will not be here in the future and I do want to acknowledge his role.

The election on 26 November clearly did not have the outcome that we were looking for, but I want to acknowledge two people right now. The first of those is Phil Goff as our leader. Phil Goff ran a fantastic campaign. I have seen very few people around the country who have not acknowledged that. He stood up in the campaign and in the debates and put forward Labour values in a way that we can all be proud of. His energy levels and commitment in a campaign that was very difficult were remarkable. The thousands of New Zealanders who got the “Yeah, gidday” from Phil Goff know that every day he got out of bed with that level of energy, and I think that is a fantastic thing to do in a very difficult situation. I want to say right now that Phil Goff has my respect for that.

The other person whom I want to mention is Annette King. One of the things Annette King did, as well as being the deputy leader of our party, was that she drove our policy agenda. This was the most progressive policy that a Labour Party has put out in a generation. It included some tough decisions. It included some things that were the right thing to do, but were difficult to put out there. I want to give credit to Annette King for that. She drove that policy formation. She is still here, as is Phil Goff, contributing, but they are two people whom, when we look back at the election, despite the disappointing result, we want to give credit to.

The disappointing result is something we do have to accept. As David Shearer said today, we do have to make changes. We have to review; we have to renew. But one thing I want to make absolutely clear in this House is that the values of the Labour Party endure. The values that have brought all of us on to this side of the House endure: the values of people before money, of social justice, of opportunity, and of inclusion. Those values we hold dear. Yes, we must relook at what happened to us, but we will never give up those values. We will never forget the people whom we are fighting for across New Zealand.

As disappointing as the result was, for me perhaps what was more disappointing was the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who did not vote at all. This is an issue right across the House, not for any one party, but for all of us to take some responsibility for ensuring that the politics that we are part of is something that New Zealanders engage in. Too often, as I have travelled around New Zealand, I think people believe politics is something that is done to them, as opposed to something that they are part of. The challenge for all of us is to make sure that we connect with New Zealanders and make the politics that we are part of something that they are proud to be part of. We need to change the way we approach issues, we need to use technology better, and we need to talk to people about the realities of their lives in a way that they connect to. That is a responsibility we should all take, and I can say that the Labour Party is taking that seriously.

The Government won this election and we have to respect that. But I want to reiterate the point that my belief is that there is no mandate in this Parliament for asset sales. Every single poll we have seen has said there is no mandate for asset sales. No matter how much the Government benches want to pretend there is, there is not. Every single member over there knows that when they were in public meetings in the election campaign, asset sales were unpopular. They know that New Zealanders do not want their future sold, and we need to make sure in this House that we are clear about those views of New Zealanders.

I can say for sure that this Labour Party will lead the opposition to asset sales, and we will ensure that we actually put together a future Government that we can be proud of. We will work seriously with other parties with whose values we align and whose policies we can support. We are here to provide a positive vision for the future. Was there not a contrast today? As one commentator put it, David Shearer offered hope; John Key offered Bob Hope. That is what we got today. We got a vision and a positive future over here, and we got the corny jokes on that side of the House. Well, my message to John Key is that it is time for him to get serious. This Labour Party is getting serious; it is time for John Key to get serious, as well. The change is coming on this side of the House—John Key needs to know that.

Mr Speaker, I wish you and everyone in the House a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. We look forward to coming back in the new year to take the fight to the Government and offer our positive vision for New Zealand. Thank you.

METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) : Tēnā koe, Hone, for your acknowledgment; much appreciated. Kia ora. First, of course, are the Christmas best wishes and safe holidays to all of those who are here in Parliament, all those people here who make doing our job as MPs possible. We get all the glory and all the privilege of being in this job, but we are not the only ones here who make doing this job possible. From the Greens to all of our parliamentary staff here and across the country we say thank you. To the security people who keep us safe, the catering staff who keep us fed, and the travel office that keeps us moving, thank you for all your work. To the porters who are here in the Chamber—who are almost universally ignored; it is their job to be invisible, but they provide services to us and we could not do our job if they did not—we thank you for your work over the last year. You work long hours for not great pay, and we thank you for that. To the select committee staff, Hansard staff, library staff, the Clerk’s Office, information technology staff, buildings staff—and there will be lots whom I have forgotten—again we cannot operate and do our job representing the people of Aotearoa New Zealand without you and we thank you for all the work that you do. To the cleaners, whom we know are appallingly paid here but who keep our workplace healthy and functional, again we want to thank you. You too are a silent, invisible workforce in this place, and we appreciate the work that you do, on behalf of the Greens and, I think, on behalf of all members.

This has been a great year to be a Green. Thousands of hours of our work have delivered the best election result for the Green Party yet, and we are only just getting started. You might remember 1996; we began our parliamentary time as just a few members within the Alliance. We have continued to grow as an independent, principled political force that is now cemented as the third-largest political party in Aotearoa New Zealand. We thank all of our members, our supporters, and our voters, who helped to get us here. We are in the process of creating a greener Aotearoa, a richer New Zealand where everyone is cared for, our environment thrives, and our economy is resilient, ready for the challenges of the 21st century—a modern, progressive Aotearoa.

My co-leader, Russel Norman, today began our Green parliamentary term reminding us of the common values that are shared by us all and reflected in the holiday period to come. I do not think it was expected by members that he would do such a thing. But those values are common: compassion, justice, sustainability, love—love for our country, love for our people, a love that is honoured by our actions and not just by our words. I have to say that it was with great distress, although no surprise, to hear the Speech from the Throne today perpetuate this National Government’s attacks on beneficiaries and to hear the Prime Minister in his address today restate the myth that work is a path out of poverty. The truth is that it is not. For the two in every five children who live in poverty whose parents work, work is not the pathway out of poverty. Work is the trap, because work is not properly paid. There are not enough jobs in this country and those jobs are not paying enough for our families to survive. With the minimum wage so low and with the prospect of the youth wage being reintroduced, there is simply no relief from this Government for our families who are struggling.

Families who have found themselves without work deserve compassion and fair treatment, particularly those who are caring for children, and particularly women. This Government’s intention to effectively abolish the domestic purposes benefit, a benefit used most by older women with children whose husbands have left them, is a direct attack on women and their children. It is in my view the most misogynist Government policy we have seen in some decades. Forcing these women to relinquish their responsibility as mothers to work in miserable, poorly paid, inappropriate jobs and to leave their children in unsafe situations, in poorly regulated, low-quality childcare under the duress of poverty, for fear of losing their benefit, is misogyny in practice. This Government will leave children in unsafe situations. It will be the children who pay for this misogynist policy, and their mothers will be blamed if anything goes wrong, while National Ministers sit back and enjoy their luxury holidays. There is no luxury here for the families who will suffer under these policies. I am joined by my Green colleagues in condemning this misogyny, and we commit to fighting alongside other Opposition members for New Zealand women and for their children, against these vicious anti-women, anti-children attacks.

But it is not just in the Government welfare policy that we see this kind of—in my view—sexism play out. Women’s productivity remains ridiculously underrated and underpaid. That is a fact made very plain by my colleague Catherine Delahunty’s member’s bill, and the weird antics of Alasdair Thompson—I do not know if you remember; it feels like a million years ago, but it was not that long ago—who really set out the values there really clearly. We need only to reflect, of course, for an example. If you want an example, we need only to reflect on the example of the woman who cleans John Key’s office. There is a woman in this building who cleans John Key’s office at night. He does not see her; he is busy doing his other things. She is in his office in the evening. She is cleaning his office and his kitchen.

Hon Trevor Mallard: No, she’s in his office in the mornings, actually.

METIRIA TUREI: In the mornings? Early in the mornings she is cleaning his office and his kitchen. She is cleaning his toilet and kitchen so that he has somewhere safe and clean to eat from and somewhere safe and clean to poo in, right? She gets $14.50 an hour for the cleaning of John Key’s office—the cleaning of his kitchen and the cleaning of his toilet. She cannot afford to buy proper Christmas presents that she wants to get for her grandchildren, because she is so poorly paid. This is a Government that will happily keep the minimum wage at just $13-odd an hour. They are quite happy to keep her on $14.50. They think that is all she is worth, but I know that the Green Party, the Labour Party, the Mana Party, and the Māori Party all agree that this woman’s work is actually worth much more, and that she deserves respect, she deserves compassion, she deserves justice, and she deserves a proper wage for doing a proper job. But this Government—National, John Key—does not care about that, and that is a shame. I am really disappointed in that. We can see the misogyny not only in the welfare reforms but even in the failure to acknowledge that people should be paid a decent wage for a decent day’s work, which is reflected in the sexism and misogyny of this Government.

I acknowledge my party for the fact that we are the only caucus that has more women than men—eight women and seven men. [Interruption] Six? Thank you. Maths is not my great thing. I think that is really good. That is about the Green Party embedding into our decision making the respect for women and the respect for women’s leadership at the highest levels. But it is no surprise that women are reluctant to become involved in the political process, when even as we saw today when Winston Peters made, in my view, quite a sexist and racist comment, that comment was not censured by the House. This House becomes a hostile place—

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think there are two points of order. One is that it is out of order to accuse members of making racist comments, and, secondly, this was a matter that was dealt with by way of a point of order and ruled on by the Deputy Speaker previously.

METIRIA TUREI: Speaking to the point of order, yes, the matter was ruled on by the Deputy Speaker. The Deputy Speaker said he would park the issue and we would continue with the debate. I think it is a matter of right that I am able to raise these issues in my speech as part of a debate without necessarily re-raising the issue of the point of order itself.

Mr SPEAKER: We do not need to take up a lot of time on this. All I ask is for members to be a little thoughtful about what they say. As the Hon Trevor Mallard has pointed out, to use the word “racism” or “racist” in this House we know is offensive to people. I know that the member did not accuse anyone of being racist, but did refer to some comments as being racist. All I ask is for a little more care in the use of language.

METIRIA TUREI: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would note that if it is impossible for members to even raise the issue in this House—to not even be able to use the words to try to discuss the issues in this House—then this place becomes a hostile place for those who may suffer from those attacks, or from those comments, or who take personal offence. If you cannot even say the words, then that is a problem. This place is hostile to our communities. We have just come out of an election where thousands and thousands of people have voted for us to be here to represent their views and concerns. We in the Greens take that responsibility seriously. We are here to speak for our people, so this Parliament must enable us to have the opportunity to have those debates in a real way, and to make sure that this House properly reflects the needs of all New Zealanders and their concerns, and that we can talk about those things in a robust way that does not shut down debate, and certainly does not allow for the ongoing personal abuse of others, whether in this House or outside. This is a problem that we have here.

Mr SPEAKER: The member’s time has expired.

METIRIA TUREI: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Tēnā koutou katoa.

BARBARA STEWART (NZ First) : Firstly, on behalf of the New Zealand First team, we would like to say congratulations to the team of Speakers. We look forward to working with you over the next 3 years. We want to take this opportunity to pay tribute, too, to the many thousands of supporters and volunteers around the country who helped return New Zealand First to Parliament. You worked tirelessly, and you achieved a great result for our party. Thank you. We must pay tribute, too, to our leader, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, whose commitment over the past 3 years has been a key factor in our success. He has travelled extensively throughout New Zealand to ensure that New Zealanders will have a voice in our Parliament. He will ensure that they have a fair go. I also want to thank the team of messengers, security staff, gallery staff, catering staff, the cleaners—whom we have heard a lot about—the travel staff, and all of those who maintain the House and ensure that it operates smoothly. It is a very big job. We may have left somebody out, but we do not mean to. So thank you to everyone who ensures that this House runs smoothly.

I must say it is good to be back. Now is the time to pick up from where we left off. We are determined in New Zealand First to be a constructive and progressive force over the next 3 years. We remain steadfast in our message, and we stand firmly by our principles and values, as we have done for all of the years that we have been here.

But now the holiday season is upon us. It is a time for family—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I say to both members interjecting on either side to please show some courtesy.

BARBARA STEWART: It is now a time for family; it is a time for reflection, togetherness, and some understanding. As we move towards the new year it is important to reflect upon what truly matters to us as New Zealanders. Our thoughts go to those people who have been devastated by the disasters that have happened throughout the year. We wish them a safe and happy Christmas. We also want to wish members on both sides of the House a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and, of course, we wish a merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all New Zealanders. We look forward to confronting the big issues in 2012 and to working towards a fairer New Zealand. New Zealand First is looking forward to working with all of you next year. Can I say, take note: our new team is keen to begin. On that note I will say have a great holiday season; we will catch you next year. Thank you.

TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki) : Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou katoa. I missed the opportunity before to congratulate you, Mr Speaker, as you were not in the House at the time, but I wish you all the best for the year. I appreciate your assistance over the last 3 years as the Speaker.

Earlier I paid tribute to those who have passed on. One of the things that I find pretty much gut-wrenching, actually, when you are in Parliament, is hearing about the many of those who have passed on—in particular, of Te Ao Māori. I want to name a couple of them for the record and also acknowledge the huge contribution that they have made over time, and in particular in 2011.

I think about Dame Kāterina Mataira, the mover and shaker with respect to kura kaupapa Māori, Te Ātaarangi movement, and many other language initiatives. I think of Tā Hēnare Ngata, who was buried about a week ago; Alamein Kopu, who was spoken about earlier; Jim Perry, educationalist; Carmen, of course, just recently; Sir Paul Reeves, and his contribution to the country; Whetū Tirikātene-Sullivan—āe, Rino, tē āhuatanga kei a koe [yes, Rino,and what you contribute]—Pae Rūhā, language advocate; and Waru Allen, a pakeke who followed us on the campaign trail from the top of the East Cape all the way down to Wellington with his wife. He was buried about 2 weeks ago. I think of Te Kauhoe Wano, a broadcaster and a young man in his prime taken way, way, way ahead of the time that he should have had. He had so much ahead of him. He will be sorely missed. I acknowledge his family from Taranaki.

I also think about and acknowledge the various speeches earlier about Ōtautahi/Christchurch, the loss of 181 lives, and the devastation that those people down there have to live with. I have got to say that it sort of came home to me about 3 or 4 weeks ago, when I was in Christchurch and walking down towards the main centre, to look up at those motel rooms and see them still there, with the curtains just blowing in the wind and no one around. It really does make you think about life and about those families who have lost loved ones over the year—in particular, those from Ōtautahi.

I want to also, while I am on that topic, acknowledge Rahui Katene and the huge work that she did. Others have talked about those members of Parliament who have gone on, and I acknowledge Rahui because she spent a long period of time down there with other members from both sides of the House working as best as they could for those communities. She is no longer with us, but I acknowledge her huge efforts. E Rino, kei a koe i nāianei.

[It is over to you now, Rino.]

I want to acknowledge also that we have just had an election. One of the things that really comes home to me in elections, as other speakers have spoken about, is just the sheer suffering that many people face around Christmas-time. I went in amongst communities where you could walk through and basically just about fall through the floor, and there was not too much help around. I have been into communities where there is no furniture and have walked around those places where the tamariki have not got a lot on, even in the coldest of times. So I acknowledge that all of us in the House, no matter what political persuasion, need to think about the pani me te rawakore and those who are suffering, especially over the next period of time. Christmas is going to be a hard time, and I heard on the radio this morning that the number of women who are going into refuges has gone up in a big, huge spike. I hope that all of us can think about those who might suffer from abuse over this Christmas period and make every effort that we can to deal with that scourge that is amongst our community.

But it is Christmas and, leaving all those negative things aside—it is a year, personally, that I would rather get rid of, kiss goodbye, and look to the new year—we have been very fortunate, as other speakers have spoken about today, to have people around us who do care. They care about how we do our job and they give us their support. In that regard, I want to acknowledge, as others have, all of those involved in the Office of the Clerk: Mary Harris, the Deputy Clerk, the Table Office, the library team, which provides the information that is so vital in terms of providing us with solid advice, the Hansard Office—ka nui te mihi ki a koutou—and the interpreters. Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou e hoa mā e whakarongo mai nā ki tēnei o ngā kaupapa. Waimaria te Whare Pāremata i a koutou i tō koutou māia ki te tuku i ngā kōrero o roto i te Whare Pāremata ki roto i te reo Pākehā kia ngāwari mai te rongo ā tēnā, ā tēnā ki ngā kōrero e putu ana i te reo Māori. Nō reira, ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa.

[Much appreciation to you guys listening in to this one of the addresses. The House is fortunate to have you aboard, with your capability of interpreting instantly into English what is being spoken in the Chamber in te reo Māori, thus making it easy for each and every one listening in to understand what is being said in Māori. ]

I acknowledge Copperfields, of course, Bellamy’s, the information technology team, the buildings staff, the finances team, the messengers, the telephonists, and the Parliamentary Service staff. And, of course, I want to acknowledge our own Māori Party team.

The one thing—for new members of the House—that I remember when starting here was, firstly, the friendliness and the cooperation of all those who are involved in Parliament to give you a hand, right down to telling you the direction back to your office if you get lost. So I acknowledge all of them for their work, and I know that all of us are well served by not only their good nature and their manners but also their courtesy.

I just want to take a brief time to acknowledge all of those associated with our Māori Party team. It is hard work in the small parties and they give it all they have, over and above the call of duty. I want to acknowledge them: Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou e ngā tuāhine, e ngā tuākana.

[Your efforts sisters, cousins, elder brothers, and cousins are greatly appreciated.]

In closing, I say that our people refer to this place as te ana o te raiona, of which a transliteration might be the lion’s den. Putting aside the obvious association of some of the roaring and the things that go on in this Chamber, it is a pretty accurate description in some ways. But what we know of the people in this place is that they proudly stake out their territory, they defend it with passion, and they work together supporting us as MPs to be the very best MPs that we can be during our time here.

We would like to thank everyone who forms a part of this Whare. We wish all of them well and hope that they will have a whānau-focused Christmas, a time to relax with loved ones, and to revitalise themselves—myself included. We hope that they have a very happy New Year, are safe and look after each other, and look forward to next year with some vim and vigour. We hope that mā te wāhi ngaro koutou e manaaki, e tiaki ā ngā rā kei mua i te aroaro, kia hoki pai mai, kia hoki ora mai ki roto i ngā pakitara o te Whare nei; ki konei tukituki ai ūpoko ki te ūpoko, rae ki te rae, koinei te āhuatanga o ngā kōrero ō ngā mātua, o ngā tūpuna. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora tātou, meri Kirihimete me ngā mihi o te Tau Hōu.

[the place unseen will protect and look after you in the days ahead of you so that you return in good shape and nick, inside the walls of this House to go head to head, forehead to forehead, with each other as issues are debated in a manner very much like the way the elders and ancestors did in their time. So greetings to you and to us collectively. Merry Christmas, and compliments of the New Year.]

HONE HARAWIRA (Leader—Mana) : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it possible for me to do a short kōrero and then maybe ask Chris Auchinvole to speak last and do a bit of a karakia to close the House for the day and for the rest of the year? Just to have a karakia, that is all. I would be happy to give some of my time for him to give us a closing karakia for the House. I have not asked him, of course.

Mr SPEAKER: The member cannot ask other members. The member has some time to speak and unless there has been some arrangement made of which the Speaker is advised, then the member must commence his speech in this adjournment debate.

HONE HARAWIRA (Leader—Mana) : Hoi nō, me mihi atu ki a tātou katoa, e te Kaiw’akawā o tō tātou nei Whare i te rā nei. Nō reira, tēnā koe, kua hoki nei ki tō tūru hai kaitohutohu i a mātou roto i tēnei o ngā Whare. Nō reira, me mihi atu ki a koe. E tautoko anōki au i ngā mihi a taku whanaunga a Te Ururoa ki te hunga kua w’etūrangitia, ngā mate kua ngaro atu ki tēnā atu o te ārai. E tika ana kia mihi atu ki a rātou katoa, te iti me te rahi hākoa ko wai, hākoa nō hea kua ngaro atu, nō reira, e ngā mate haere koutou, haere koutou, ngaro atu e. I te mea ko rātou kua ngaro atu, wētahi ngā tino pou o te Ao Māori, tā tāua nei whaea, a Auntie Sanu, tērā anō hoki a Kataraina Mataira me taku matua nōhoki a Dim Edwards rātou katoa, te tini me te mano kua ngaro atu. E tangi ana hau mō hau anō, mō mātou rā o te ao kikokiko nei, me te mea kua ngaro atu wērā o ngā pou o tō tātou ao. Nō reira, rātou ki a rātou, tātou anō ki a tātou e hui tahi nei. Tēnā koutou huri rauna, kia ora tātou.

[So acknowledgments to us all today, Mr Speaker of this House of ours, and to you as well for returning to your Chair and being an adviser to us in this of the Parliament Buildings. I commend you. I endorse the tributes by my relative Te Ururoa to those immortalised, the deaths lost beyond that veil. Custom demands that we accord a tribute to them all, the few, the many, regardless who they are and where they are from. So to you, the deaths, depart, travel on until you are lost from view. Because they are lost from us, some of the great pillars of Māoridom are gone, our mother figure Auntie Sanu, Kataraina Mataira as well, and my uncle Dim Edwards, all of them, the few, the many, all are lost. I of this physical world lament them personally. It seems like those pillars are lost from us. Leave them there to rest among themselves while we meet here together amongst ourselves. Collectively, then, throughout the House, greetings to you and to all of us.]

Christmas time—and I am looking forward to getting away and, hopefully, not seeing too many of you fellows over the Christmas break. If you come up north, when you go through Awanui, two kilometres past Awanui is a big Māori flag on the right-hand side of the road.

Hon Tau Henare: Just keep going!

HONE HARAWIRA: Keep going; just do not stop.

Whatever you do, enjoy yourselves. Be good to children—your children and any other children. Enjoy your whānau. Enjoy this beautiful land that we have. Those of you who get the opportunity to spend time at home with your family, please do so and come back refreshed and ready for what I pick is going to be quite a battle over the next 3 years. But we will leave that for the new year. We will leave that for after Waitangi Day, and those who do not get arrested at Waitangi, we will see you back in here on the 7th. Hoi nō.

To the Labour leadership, kia kaha koutou ki te whawhai kai mua i a koutou.

[you as a collective, be strong in the battle ahead of you.]

Nanaia, I am looking forward to you and sister Hekia sparking up over the next months. It should be quite enjoyable.

To all those of us, regardless of what parties we are with—the big parties, the small parties, whoever we are—to all of the staff in this place who look after us. We are a pampered lot. We are truly a pampered lot, and that gives us the ability to do our job without any concerns whatsoever about whether or not we are going to get to our office and it is not going to be clean or tidy, or whether or not we are going to miss out on our kai. There is just everything provided for us. There is the security and everybody in this place—they must hire them because of their ability to smile, because they are always nice. I have yet to come across any of the staff in Parliamentary Service who treats me badly, apart from the Speaker, of course.

Hon Members: Oh!

HONE HARAWIRA: Ha, ha! Hoi nō, me mihi atu ki a tātou e nohonoho nei, e ’hakareri ana kia hoki atu ki te wā kāinga. Nō reira, koutou, tātou tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, huri atu, huri noa.

[I really need to acknowledge those of us seated about before me and making ready to head home. So greetings to each of you throughout the House collectively, then greetings to you and to all of us.]

I hope you do get the chance, Chris. I really enjoy listening to your karakia. Tēnā koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.

Hon JOHN BANKS (ACT—Epsom) : I want to pay tribute to all the small parties in the House. There are certain advantages in being part of a small party. You can have very meaningful caucuses. You can do a lot of self-reflection and navel-gazing without being accused of either, and you can have quite a good time discussing matters of great interest with yourself, bringing them to the Parliament here, and standing and making big speeches. I am looking forward to that, as I am to this occasion. I want to thank you for setting aside, with special Standing Orders, an hour for me to say thanks to this House—just joking. I get worried when members on the other side of the House are not just looking at their watches but shaking them when I have spoken for only 30 seconds. That starts to worry me.

I want to pay tribute to the small parties because it is very, very difficult in this parliamentary democracy to be part of a small party and make it back to this Parliament. The hurdles are high and the hoops are very, very tight. So congratulations to all of the small parties on getting back to the Parliament.

I am very proud and privileged to be a member of the ACT Party. I believe in the values of the ACT Party: choice, freedom, and responsibility. I am absolutely and passionately signed up to the policies of the ACT Party: less Government, lower taxes, more opportunities, a world-class education, paying our way with the rest of the world, and economic sovereignty for our future. I am absolutely committed to the mantra of the ACT Party—that everyone counts, everyone in this country makes a difference, and we are all in this together.

I am glad that John Key has been re-elected as Prime Minister of this country. John Key’s contribution to this nation, in a relatively—by our measure, Mr Speaker—short existence and life in this House, shows that he has adapted remarkably well, has picked up the challenges of high office particularly well, and has done a good job.

I want to tell the Prime Minister—who I am sure is listening on his crystal set, nine floors above this place—that the ACT Party brings the reinforcing steel to the National caucus policy-making machine over the next 3 years. In other words, we are going to give National a nudge in the directions that we think we should around those matters that I narrated just briefly.

We are very pleased in the ACT caucus that we have been able to negotiate such an outstanding supply and confidence agreement with National. We are excited about having some constraint about Government expenditure that in recent years has got ourselves out of control and runs the risk of compromising our economic sovereignty. We are very excited about the opportunity for changes to the Resource Management Act. I was in Parliament when we moved that legislation through its third reading speech in 5 minutes flat one night, unanimously.

I have never seen a piece of legislation, which has been so acrimoniously debated over such a long period of time, moved through this Parliament in 5 minutes flat with total support from all corners of the Parliament. But it means that sometimes you can get legislation wrong—sometimes the people are right; more often they are right than they are wrong—and that legislation needs to be addressed and changes need to happen. We need to get off the back of private enterprise, we need to get out of the pockets of small businesses, and we need to give the mums and dads who employ fewer than 10 people in this country—there are 200,000 of them—every opportunity to make a profit, employ people, and make this country great.

The ACT Party believes that all greatness for this country will come from the people; not from Parliament, not from politicians, not from the bureaucracy but from the spirit of private enterprise. While I am here addressing you, can I say—and I always wanted to say this in the last 12 years—thank God for the farmers. Thank God for the men and women who farm the land and grow the tradable sector of the New Zealand economy and help pay our way in a very competitive world. Without farmers this country would be indeed greatly lost.

I say to the ACT Party board and the president of the ACT Party, Chris Simmons, a class act, thank you very much and have a happy Christmas. I say to all of my team in Epsom thank you for giving me such great support in Epsom to allow me to come back here and make the day of every member of Parliament who is prepared to stay and listen to this closing debate.

I thank all of my staff in my office, and I particularly thank your office, Mr Speaker, for the graciousness they showed me in the interregnum. Your senior private secretary, Beryl, Trish Wanden, and others have made me welcome from day one and helped me get through the gap. I thank all the staff here. I am amazed at how many people are still left in this place, but there is one thing about this place—the staff that serve the interests of the members of this place are absolutely first class. They deserve a rest, and I wish them a very, very merry Christmas.

Every single member of Parliament is extraordinarily well served by the Parliamentary Service and Ministerial Services around this place. This is the 50th Parliament of this country, so it is incumbent upon us, as soon as we have had our break, and as soon as we are back in this place rolling up our sleeves, that we do things right and we do the right thing. As I said in my Address in Reply speech, there is too much “left-thinking” and too much “right-thinking” around this place. There needs to be more capture of the common ground and common-sense policies so the little people can become great people and so this country, in some financial difficulty, can become great again in the world.

Finally, can I say what a privilege it is for me to give support to a National-led coalition Government at this time in the history of this country. What an honour and what a privilege it is for me to be able to do that. We will not agree on everything, but we will agree on most stuff. What we do agree on is that the interests of this country are absolutely paramount and the people will make the difference. We live in a nation of truly wonderful international citizens, and that has never been represented more so than in disasters like the Christchurch earthquake, and it has never been represented better than it was at Eden Park when we won the Rugby World Cup.

We have a lot to celebrate in this nation—it is a great country. We are in difficult times, but the spirit of New Zealand and our forebears will carry us through. This is a time of celebration for everything good about the country. It is a time to sit back and say: “Are we not blessed that we are born, and live, and have chosen New Zealand as our home.” What a great place to be at this time in history, and what a great future we have as long as we, this Parliament, the 50th Parliament, take decisions that are in the best interests of the people and the country going forward.

Mr Speaker, congratulations again to you. Very best wishes for a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year for New Zealand.

Mr SPEAKER: My colleagues, we come to the end of this so brief a sitting. I do not recollect a sitting of the House quite as brief as this one. I am very conscious that I stand between you and what could perhaps be called refreshments being offered by the press gallery, and therefore I do not want to keep you too long. It is a privilege to be back as your Speaker, and in listening to debate this afternoon I could not help but be struck with a feeling of déjà vu to hear the Hon John Banks again refer to someone listening on the crystal set. For a number of years in this House I heard the Hon John Banks use that line, over the decade of the late 1980s and 1990s. It was wonderful to hear the voice back in this House again, and, of course, to hear the Rt Hon Winston Peters back in this House again using some of the old lines to do with, I think, the plots of the media that were all lined up and all so evil. I am sure we will hear much more about that!

Believe me, it shows one’s age when the voices go back so far. I think Grant Robertson, in his adjournment comments, referred to the days when perhaps he spoke to me through a loud hailer, but I have to say, though, Mr Robertson, you were always very gracious one-to-one. But, of course, Grant was not the only former student leader whose voice I now listen to in this House. Andrew Little was also a president of the New Zealand University Students’ Association whose voice I listened to as Minister of Education in times gone by. But let me just share this one with you before I bring the sitting to a close. There are some voices that I hear in the House these days that you probably will not be aware that I had heard in the past, because in those days those people were in short pants. Believe it or not, the Hon Jonathan Coleman was a contestant on the TV show It’s Academic, which I used to front way back before ever entering this place in the early 1980s. What was fascinating was that Jonathan Coleman represented Auckland Grammar School and on the other side, of course, was Charles Chauvel representing King’s College, competing against each other on It’s Academic. Do not ask me which year it was, but if the videos could ever be found again of the shows, I am sure they would be entertaining.

My colleagues, thank you all for the spirit in which you have entered into the start of this sitting. I can see an eagerness to resume on 7 February next year. Thank you also for the kind comments that you have all extended to the staff of Parliament at all levels, from the Clerk’s Office and Parliamentary Service right through to Bellamy’s and the cleaners. You have all been very gracious and very kind in the thankyous you have extended to the people who make our lives in this place possible. I just want to endorse everything you have said. We are so privileged to be served by such a great team in this place. I wish you all a thoroughly enjoyable Christmas. Have a relaxing break, and I look forward to seeing you all back here on 7 February next year.

  • Motion agreed to.