Hipkins and Hughes

Two more MP profiles in the Herald. First Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins:

What have you found most rewarding about the past year?

One of the career pluses for me has been questioning Hekia Parata [Education Minister] in Parliament over the Christchurch schooling stuff. I was able to translate a lot of concern amongst the schools being affected into questions and subsequent action in Parliament.

I think this show Chris’ background as a parliamentary staffer and straight into being an MP, that he cites question time as a highlight!

What MP outside your party impresses you?

I would say Chester Borrows [National, Wanganui] but I would have to say in brackets other than the fact that he closed our local Hutt courthouse. He is a thoroughly decent human being. I worked with him on the justice and electoral select committee when he was the chair of that and I found him to be very, very fair and able to do the job without letting the politics get in the way.

Very generous words by Chris.

Do you have a bill in the private members bill ballot?

I do. I have a bill that would require the government to produce their documentation and legislation in plain English. There is an international guide around plain language. Legislation has been passed in other jurisdictions, in the US for example, which means the general public should be able to pick up any document or piece of legislation and understand it without having to have someone decode it. It means you steer clear of bureaucratic language and jargon and acronyms and you basically write in such a way that anyone can understand.

Sounds good in principle, though I wonder if a law is needed. It does remind me of some years ago where there was some bill called the paperwork reduction bill, and the advertisement for submissions on it called for 20 copies of your submission to be mailed to the Clerk’s Office! Very ironic. Luckily now most submissions are electronic.

And Green List MP Gareth Hughes:

What have you found most rewarding about the past year?

Personally, it has been watching my kids grow up. Arlo is 5 now and Zoe’s 2. I guess politically it has been trying to put the issues of fracking and deep-sea oil drilling on the agenda. I think that well and truly is a bit of an issue nationally and we’ve seen the likes of Petrobras pull out which I think has come, in part, because of that public pressure we’ve seen.

I like the answer about the kids. Fracking is on the agenda, and thanks to Gareth we now better understand the huge economic and environmental benefits of fracking – as seen overseas. I’m not sure this is the result he wanted though!

Do you have a bill in the private members bill ballot?

Yes, I’ve got a number I have developed. I’ve got a Copyright Amendment Bill in there which would give Kiwis the ability to use parody and satire which is something we don’t have compared to many other countries. Under the Copyright Act there are a number of exemptions [for copyright] such as for literary criticism or for using for the news. Unfortunately parodying or satirising something isn’t a defence under the Copyright Act.

I’m supportive of this bill. It would bring us into line with other countries such as the US where parody and satire have a fair use provision.

What’s one of the best shows or concerts you’ve been to in recent years?

I’ve really enjoyed Public Service Announcements at Bats Theatre in Wellington. They’ve done three seasons where they just parody politics over the previous month or so. It’s rewritten. They have political characters and they have the mickey taken out of them. The last one was all about David Shearer getting advice from Russel Norman and reminiscing with the ghosts of Lange and Muldoon. I’ve had brief cameos in all of them.

That was a very funny play.

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