Four more valedictories

July 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

First is Rajen Prasad:

 I have been entrusted with the roles like New Zealand’s Race Relations Conciliator, Human Rights Commissioner, adjudicator in immigration cases, and * Chief Families Commissioner. But nothing prepares you for your life as a politician. In the eyes of many, I became useless, self-interested, untrustworthy, and just a bloody politician overnight. Such is the contempt in which we are held, but that reputation is neither accurate nor deserved. I have the utmost respect for all my parliamentary colleagues across the House. I have never worked with a more hard-working group of individuals dedicated to providing 24/7 for the nation and for their constituents.

A nice reminder that most MPs are very hard working and dedicated people. Yes there are some bad eggs, but they are the minority.

I have been asked to speak directly to Mrs Macindoe of Hamilton, Tim’s mother, who wants to know why I am always mean towards her son when debating in the House. Tim has been unable to convince her otherwise. Mrs Macindoe, I am speaking to you. I count your son as a friend, and we have travelled together through China and Mongolia with our partners. Tim is a perfect gentleman and on every occasion outside this House we act as friends and we always inquire about each other’s health. It is the nature of life in this Chamber to debate vigorously when our values lead to different policy prescriptions, but we remain civil, we remain supportive, we remain friends, and I count you as one of them and, through you, everybody else. 

Nicely said.

I want to make a few comments about ethnic affairs and immigration. But first I want to acknowledge the current ethnic members of this Parliament: Raymond Huo, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Melissa Lee, and Jian Yang. Although we come from different sides of the House, we collectively understand ethnic issues and the demands of our communities. However, I wonder whether the nature of these demands is fully understood in the various courts of this Parliament. There are 500,000 members of ethnic communities in New Zealand, and this is our constituency. These communities have come to see ethnic MPs as their link to our formal systems. In addition, they have a not unreasonable expectation that we will be their advocates, their advisers, and their champions. We are required to be present at all their major events and functions, to speak at all of them, to act like their electorate MPs. So for ethnic MPs the country becomes our electorate and there is no end to the constituency matters that we have to deal with.

Sadly Labour may end up with no Asian MPs after the election. Hell they may end up with no List MPs at all!

I have seen a suggestion that all MPs should prepare an individual annual report on what work we have done as a way of informing our people. This is a sensible idea and could be useful in reaching over the media to inform people more widely. Instead, what is reported is how many press statements we put out, how many Official Information Act requests we lodge, or how many questions for written answer we ask. These have become the measuring stick, never mind the fact that most of them are never published, and that many are binned immediately after they have been received. 

Hmmn, I think he is referring my league tables. The trick is to get them published, and if you never put any out – well …

DARIEN FENTON (Labour): Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker, ngā mihi nui, kia koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. I want to first of all acknowledge my buddy Rajen Prasad, and tell him that I have still got the photos from our trip to Taiwan and that I am planning to divulge them before I leave. I also want to acknowledge you, Mr Assistant Speaker, because you will make your valedictory next week, and I am also looking forward to that, and it has been a pleasure working with you. I want to acknowledge all members of Parliament whom I have served with, and I do so without rancour or criticism, because much to my surprise, over nearly 9 years in Parliament, I have found that despite furious debate about political difference, most MPs come here with sincere intent. 

It’s a pity we only get reminded of this as valedictories.

I know that some people think I was born a devil beast trade unionist, but my apprenticeship to the labour movement in this Parliament was forged in many different experiences and some very tough jobs. I grew up in a family where war and politics cast a long shadow. My grandfather Frederick Frost fought and was injured in Somme* in the First World War*. . That man started his first job at the age of 12 as a pit boy in a Northumberland mine. So if I am a bit rough around the edges, I think you probably get it now. He was elected the Labour MP for New Plymouth in the wartime Labour Government led by Michael Joseph Savage* and then Peter Fraser*. . My father Verdun Frost was a navigator in World War II* and patrolled the Pacific. Like his father he was a declared socialist. My mother, the very staunch and Catholic Patricia Mary Te Rata Mahuta Kerr, came from an ancestry of Irish rebels. She was very stroppy. I was scared of her. Tau Henare descends from that line, so you kind of know what I mean. You cannot help your relatives. My parents instilled in their two sons and two daughters the hope of a better and fairer life for all in New Zealand. My generation profited from their sacrifice and hard work. Early Labour Governments meant that I, along with John Key, grew up in a State house and benefited from State-funded health and education. That gave me choices that younger people do not have today. I had the freedom and security to be different and to challenge. With my troublemaking heritage, it was inevitable that I would be drawn to the anti-war nuclear movements and the remote hippy generation of the 1970s. It led me on a journey that was both good and bad. I dropped out of education. I had a range of interesting and boring jobs. I travelled through dangerous countries, and I did some silly things. Some will have read the story of my drug addiction, when I was a younger person in the 1970s. Despite treatment and recovery years ago, I reluctantly agreed for my story to be published this year. It is still such a taboo topic, so hard to talk about. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I blame no one but myself for my mistakes, and I have made plenty. Drug-taking was a means of defiance against the establishment and seemed cool at the time. I know that the threat of law-breaking or addiction did not stop me, and the opprobrium of society made no difference. I want to say that smoking a joint did not lead me to other drugs; criminals selling drugs did. That is why I believe that the war on drugs has been a total failure. That is why I think it is time for this Parliament to treat drug abuse as a health problem, not a criminal offence—that means properly funded addiction treatment. I also believe it is time for politicians in this House to decriminalise personal marijuana use and take the crooks out of the business. 

A very interesting background, and I agree with her on drugs.

Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Minister of Māori Affairs):

I will just tell you straight that I go up and down the country talking to my people and I say to you—and I will say it again now—that Parliament is a Westminster system that is all about the vote. If you are able to secure the vote you are able to secure change and progress for you and your party. It is not just how loud you protest outside is or the issues you bring up; this is about sitting at the table. You have got to be at the table. That is why parties go to extraordinary lengths to try to do deals and be at the table and so on, and that is great—that is the system. But just know that that is the system. I really feel strongly that there should be programmes introduced in schools. This is what we did with * Te Reo Māori. It was slipping away—gone burger. Then, suddenly, we brought in * kōhanga reo and started teaching the little ones. Now they are reading the news in Māori. Now they are working for companies. Now they have got their own companies, kōrero Māori ana. And it works. So what about if we had some lessons in schools about our system of Government: what it is, what you do there, how you make laws and you get rewards and things for your people?

If you’re not at the table, then you’re just a series of press releases.

Well, you think you know your Prime Minister. I am going to just give you the real Prime Minister. You are a strong, forceful leader, albeit with a strange sense of humour.

Very strange :-)

I have got a lot of * mokopuna. They are all here—downstairs, I guess. I have got one great mokopuna. He is 1 now, and his name is Kanohi Tanga Utu Kanohi Tū Hanga. I want to speak to him now. E moko, in 30 years you can become the new co-leader of the Māori Party. You will have more than 20 Māori caucus members and be deciding which ones should be in the House of Representatives—in Parliament—and which ones should be in the “Upper Treaty Senate”, which, 30 years ago, began with our constitutional review. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a * superministry called * Whānau Ora. In my time, they had separate ministries for social development, education, employment, and so on. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with the chief executive officers of Māori statutory boards all around the country. In my time we had to have a * hīkoi, we had to have lots of hui, and we had to have a scrap in * Cabinet to get the first one up and running in Auckland. In 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a “Minister for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Negotiations”. That is right—that is the one who replaced the * Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations after all the settlements were completed. In my time, when we got the declarations signed they said it would not mean anything—by the way, that is what they said about the Treaty as well. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with all the * Whare Ōranga Ake units that have been created. Back in my time they were called prisons and did not provide any rehabilitation programmes. Oh yes, moko, keep up with your English language, because in 30 years’ time * Te Reo Māori will be the official language of New Zealand, spoken by all. And so, mokopuna, grow strong; you have much to do. * Tēnā tātou.

A vision for NZ for his grandchildren.

Hon TARIANA TURIA:

There is nowhere where I feel more at peace than in the still tranquillity of the * Whanganui River, * Te Awa Tupua, our life blood, our tribal heartbeat, the sacred umbilical cord that unites us from the mountain to the sea. Every year our iwi come together to connect as one through the journey that we call the Tira Hoe Waka. In many ways the last 18 years in this place have been like that same journey that we take: a journey of hope, hope for a better future for our * mokopuna. 

Like Sharples, a focus on the future.

And my beloved friend-in-arms Parekura—I miss him so much. Whenever I think of Parekura, I think of how important he has been to my family. My baby, my mokopuna* whom I have raised, Piata, who would have given anything to be Ngati Porou*, , used to come home from school and say to me “Māmā*, , can I just say that I am?”, because she wanted Parekura to be her real pāpā.

Oh, that is so nice.

 And Darren Hughes—that amazing young man Darren Hughes—who I thought would one day be the leader of the Labour Party and who in fact will end up being the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I miss him so much; he was a great young man, a beautiful young man.

If Darren was still an MP, I suspect he would be Deputy Leader by now.

 I want to take this opportunity to mihi to somebody in the House for whom I have huge respect and regard, and that is Hekia. Tēnā koe ki te Minita*. . I have absolutely loved your passionate belief that all of our children have a right to succeed in education. Second-best is not part of your vocabulary, and only excellence will do. You know that we are preparing the next leaders of this nation. I believe totally in what you are doing and I want to say that today in this House.

And the results for young Maori doing NCEA are improving significantly.

I cannot leave this House without recognising a real friend, Chris Finlayson. Chris is the greatest Treaty settlements Minister that we have ever had in this country.

If National gets a third term, we may see the last historical settlement completed!

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Labour loses their MVMP

May 2nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Rajen Prasad has announced:

Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Rajen Prasad says he has  decided not to seek re-nomination for another term in Parliament at the next election.

This will be a devastating blow to Labour. First they lose Shane Jones, and now Rajen Prasad.

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Labour again focusing on the big issues

April 22nd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Labour’s Immigration spokesman Rajen Prasad says he would be concerned if British television cook Nigella Lawson was given an exemption to come to New Zealand solely because of her celebrity status while other cases of people in more need were being rejected.

Labour now campaigning on keeping Nigella out of NZ. That will go down well.

Although she had no convictions, Ms Lawson was ineligible for a visa because the United States had refused entry, so a discretionary ‘special direction’ was required for her to enter New Zealand in May to film another advertisement for Whittakers chocolate.

Mr Prasad said as a general rule he did not believe people who abused drugs should be allowed in to New Zealand but there should be discretion to allow it in special circumstances.

Really? So he thinks Bill Clinton should have been declines a visa, because he smoked pot at Oxford? Also should the Beatles have been banned?

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Labour only against state servants not standing for Labour!

March 13th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

State servants are facing increasing political scrutiny as some push for a seat in Parliament while hanging on to their day jobs.

The Families Commission faced accusations of “politicisation” from Opposition MPs yesterday after one of its commissioners was spotted supposedly campaigning with Prime Minister John Key.

During a parliamentary select committee hearing yesterday, Labour MP Rajen Prasad, himself a former chief families commissioner, said current commissioner Parmjeet Parmar was pushing for a spot on the National Party list and was already campaigning.

He said he had seen her with Key wearing a blue party rosette at the Pasifika Festival in Auckland during the weekend.

Parmar is a Government appointee, not a state servant. And the irony of the accusation coming from Dr Prasad who became a Labour MP in the same year as he was Chief Families Commissioner!

She said another staff member was intending to run as candidate for Labour, which he had declared to the commission. They had already discussed with him how to separate his political activities from his work.

Labour’s view is that it is only wrong for people at the Families Commission to stand for Parliament, if it is not for Labour!

The staff member who is a Labour candidate is Rob McCann, who is the White Ribbon Campaign Manager at the Families Commission. He’s not just wearing the odd rosette – he’s personally attacking Government Ministers on his Facebook page:

  • “Good to see Labour tackling what has been such an intrusive and yet secretive government. Odd how Key is happy to spy on us, yet call in the police over a teapot tape.”
  • “Excellent day fundraising with the Waikanae Branch of the Labour Party. All proceeds going towards giving John Key a permanent holiday in Hawaii.”

But worse of all, he is promoting a graphic attacking the very Minister in charge of the Families Commission:

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I’m all for public servants being able to stand for Parliament. Tim Groser did so. But I’ve never before seen a public servant promoting graphics personally attacking the Minister in charge of the body that employs them. I suggest Mr McCann views the recent SSC video!

I note that several of his attacks on Government Ministers on his Facebook page are done during work hours, such as this one at 10.30 am last Thursday or this one on Tuesday at 11.12 am. So presumably he’s doing his attacks while at work.

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Quotes from Marriage committee stages

March 28th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Some good speeches last night during the committee stages. No amendments got accepted but I would make the point that I had no problem with one of the amendments – it was more than it is un-necessary.

I believe no marriage celebrant should be forced to officiate at a marriage that they don’t wish to. As a matter of law, I don’t think they can be forced under the current Act. Section 29 talks about authorising, but not obliging. This means that for example Catholic priests can refuse to marry a divorced person.

There is also the practical issue that Kiwis are pretty common sense on these things. Why would anyone want to force an unwilling celebrant into marrying them, on what should be their happiest day. You’d be nuts to. So while there are some important principles at stake here, let’s not think that this will ever have practical impact.

Now the Select Committee said that there is a concern that possibly some church ministers could face an issue under the Bill of Rights Act. Bearing in mind the fact no Catholic priest has ever faced action for not marrying a divorcee, I think the possibility was remote. However they said let’s be explicit instead of implicit and give celebrants who represent a religion a clear statement they can not be forced.

One of the amendments yesterday was to extend that explicit exemption to all celebrants, not just religious ones. I didn’t have a huge problem with this. In fact I am a bit nervous about singling out celebrants who represent a religion as more deserving. So that amendment passing wouldn’t have been a major issue for me. But likewise if no celebrant had an explicit exemption, I’d be okay with that also as I believe the current S29 which only authorises but not obliges is enough protection. And finally of course it is all highly unlikely to ever be tested as no one wants an unwilling celebrant at their wedding.

Anyway some extracts from MPs speeches. Moana Mackey:

 And can I just point out an issue of reality, which is that this is unlikely to be a problem. On one of the most important days of your life, I do not think that any couple is going to want to have someone presiding over their ceremony who does not want to be there and who is there only under the threat of legal action. That is why this has never been an issue since 1955. It has not been an issue since the Civil Union Act came in in 2004. I do not believe it is going to be an issue going on into the future.

And on the referendum issue:

Members mentioned Switzerland, where they do these issues by referenda all the time and as a result women did not get the vote until 1971—1971. I want to tell members the reasons that were given at the time were that men and women are fundamentally different. On the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs website they point out, saying … What the department said at the time—one of the reasons given as to why women should not be given the vote—was that “It wouldn’t promote equality because their natural modesty would stop them going out to vote when pregnant, and since rural women have more babies than those in town, this would give an unfair advantage to the latter.”

People can always find a reason to oppose change.

Rajen Prasad:

There is one final element that influenced me, and it was this. This bill takes nothing away from anybody. It actually takes nothing away. Those who argue that it does somehow reduce us as a society, in terms of our spirituality, certainly have a difficulty with me because there is nothing about my relationship, my family, my marriage that is negated or diminished in any way. I know that the institution of marriage has been developed for a long time, and no doubt will continue to develop. It is not set in a form that has always been the same. It has always developed. A bit like our society and our civilisation, this institution will also develop.

Paul Goldsmith:

I have certainly struggled with this bill and given it a great deal of thought because it lies in the territory between two of my core political philosophies. My conservative instincts on one hand lead me to respect traditions and the wisdom of centuries. Marriage has traditionally been conceived as being between a man and a woman, and in the British and Christian traditions for centuries it has been between one single man and one single woman. That has been the case only because it has made perfectly good sense. Institutions and ideas change over time, but the conservative in me makes me hesitate before changing something that has served society well for so long. I certainly understand and respect the strength of feeling of many New Zealanders who feel that we should keep things the way we are. Running parallel to that, however, my guiding political belief is my commitment to freedom for people to live their lives in different ways with respect. Life is interesting, society is dynamic, and culture is diverse when people are free and have the liberty to live in different ways. It was 25-odd years ago when we agreed that the State should not outlaw homosexual acts and very few people disagree with that now. So I can understand why some gay couples would like to have access to the institution of marriage. People often ask “Well, why do they want marriage when they can have civil unions already?”. The answer is, of course, that words are important, which is why people on both sides feel so strongly about it. On balance, I have decided that for me freedom or individual conscience trumps tradition, so I am supporting this bill.

A nice contribution from Goldie, on balancing his beliefs.

My background has been that I was raised in the Christian faith in the Baptist church. Many of my relatives and friends from that background are disappointed that I am voting for this bill, and I understand their disappointment, but I would remind them that the Baptist church was born out of the idea of non-conformity. The early Baptists gathered together because they disagreed with aspects of the established church and suffered terribly for their individual beliefs. That tolerance of religious non-conformity, which English-speaking peoples had arrived at, certainly by the nineteenth century, was fundamental in establishing many of the freedoms and the liberties that we enjoy today.

Paul is a writer of history so knows his stuff.

It is highly likely the third reading will be on Wednesday the 17th of April.

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Families Commissioners

April 17th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

Former Chief Families Commissioner turned Labour MP, Rajen Prasad, has hit out at the current Families Commission Chief for reportedly saying Labour’s plan to extend paid parental leave is unaffordable.

Dr Prasad told Newstalk ZB’s Larry Williams it’s wrong for the Chief Commissioner to make a decision that the government and Treasury should make.

“The Chief Commissioner by taking this view has just tainted his own reputation by taking a view that’s been taken by the government and in that way his independence is just compromised.”

I don’t know about you, but personally I think having the Chief Families Commissioner retire then pop up on the Labour Party list does far more to tarnish the reputation of the office, and compromise its independence.

Dr Prasad’s anger is because the Chief Commissioner made the rather obvious point that there is less money available than in the past. Treason to Labour.

A further story reports:

Rajen Prasad says Mr Davidson’s credibility has been damaged by his reported comments and he now has two choices – to retract his comments and say he got it wrong or to resign.

Disgraceful bullying of public servants.

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Nine seeking Te Atatu

October 9th, 2010 at 10:07 am by David Farrar

The fact nine people are seeking Labour’s nomination for Te Atatu, reflects its safeness for Labour. No as safe as Mana (National won the PV in 2008), but whoever gain the nomination probably has a long parliamentary career ahead of them.

So who are they:

Phil Twyford – his fourth attempt to gain a seat after being rebuffed or scared off in Mt Albert, Auckland Central and Waitakere. As Chris Carter is said to be backing Twyford this should help him with the local electorate votes. Will Head Office back him though, and will the often union dominated floor votes go his way? A fourth loss would be even  more humiliating.

Rajen Prasad – he had a top twelve list ranking from Labour in 2008 but has been near invisible in Parliament. My only sighting of him has been booing National MPs at Backbenchers. Given his age also, I would be surprised if he could beat Twyford. In fact I wouldn’t want to place much money on him having that high a list ranking next time either.

Nick Bakulich – A PI funeral director standing in the local body elections. Former public servant, and a church elder.

Jim Bradshaw – law student.

Dr Michael Kidd – barrister, stood for Waitakere Council in 2007. Appears to be past middle age, which may count against him. In safer seats you tend to look for someone who can do 15 years or so.

Hamish McCracken – I’ve lost counts of how many elections and nominations Hamish has lost. He does get union support though, and maybe people will feel sorry for him.

Anne Pala – a community advocate who also sought Waitakere nomination off memory. My spies say she was highly regarded in terms of political skills.

Greg Presland – could be a substantial candidate. Has been very involved behind the scenes with Labour, and when he is not commenting on blogs is a lawyer. A previous City Councillor and Labour appointed him to various boards.

Kate Sutton – Last time I checked Kate has the Woman Vice-President of Labour, and gained the job at a very young age. She has strong support from the younger activists and is pretty feisty  would run a hard campaign. I’m not sure, but don’t think she is from the West which could count against.

So who are the front runners – I would say it is a choice between Twyford, Presland and Sutton, but reserve the right to change my opinions as the contest moves on.

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And even more MPs

January 20th, 2009 at 9:04 pm by David Farrar

Today’s three:

Rahui Katene

Rahui Katene was blunt about her views of the Crown’s treatment of Maori and the Treaty settlements, saying claims of strong race relations was a “national myth”.

However, she said it remained her strong belief that the best way for Maori to achieve their goals was to work within the system to do so.

I would be worried if an MP advocated not working within the system.

Michael Woodhouse

Was chief executive of Mercy Hospital Dunedin for seven years. President of the Private Surgical Hospitals Association. Worked at Dunedin Hospital and as a senior manager for ACC. Passionate advocate of the use of the private sector to reduce waiting lists. Married with three daughters, the born and bred Otago man says he has “blue and gold blood running through my veins”. He is a premier grade rugby referee.

I dare say many on the waiting lists would also welcome a reduction.

Mr Woodhouse’s ancestors include Lawrence’s first butcher and James Woodhouse, who emigrated from England and discovered gold near Roxburgh: “No great wealth passed down, however, as he purchased the Bannockburn Hotel and fathered eight children.” In the days of transient clerics, family legend had it that his great great grandmother grabbed whichever man of the cloth was in town at the time of the birth of each child. “Thus, according to legend, descendants of James and Mary were christened Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican and so on. If true, my great grandfather was born when the Catholic priest was passing through.”

Heh, a cute story.

Rajen Prasad

Aged 62. A list-only candidate, ranked very high at 12. Labour’s spokesman for voluntary and community sector, and associate spokesman for ethnic affairs and social development (family and Child, Youth and Family). On social services select committee.

I feel quite sorry for him, as he may get to just serve a few years in opposition before retiring.

“The leaky home problem has been well publicised and many of us know of families whose mental health has suffered; some have taken their lives in desperation. I ask [members] to find out the extent of the problem in your areas and meet some of the desperate people who are victims. You will find their stories compelling. Many currently live in limbo and are out of pocket while lawyers, builders, and developers are benefiting enormously from their situation. I hope this can be resolved.”

He should talk to his former leader about this, as she famously said it (leaky homes) was all a beat up by the NZ Herald.

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