22 Oct 2019

An historical week in Parliament

From The House , 6:55 pm on 22 October 2019

Parliament this week includes a number of controversial or important pieces of legislation, as well as some others that are deeply procedural. But overall there is a history theme through the week.

This week’s highlights in House’s debating schedule:

A century of campaigning 

The week begins with an hour’s debate to commemorate a century since women in New Zealand were allowed to stand for Parliament. That was 25 years after they gained the right to vote. For fifteen years no women won a seat, until Elizabeth McCombs in 1933 won Lyttleton for Labour in a by-election after the death of the sitting MP (her husband who previously been the Labour deputy leader). 

Women MPs recreate a photo of all male MPs taken in 1905 in the Reading Room of the Parliamentary Library.

Women MPs recreate a photo of all male MPs taken in 1905 in the Reading Room of the Parliamentary Library. Photo: Supplied / Office of the Clerk

A chance to vent spleen 

Later on Tuesday (if the House is efficient) the Organ Donors and Related Matters Bill returns for a second reading. 

The Bill hopes to improve the availability of donor organs by adding the management of organ donation from deceased people to the remit of the NZ Blood Service. They do say that if you do a job too well it will only get bigger.

“But your honor, I never did it…”

The Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill may also return to the House on Tuesday. This Bill seeks to create an independent review body that has significant power to investigate potential miscarriages of justice, or of sentencing, or even whole categories of such. 

This expands and replaces a power that Governor General can currently exercise (at the suggestion of her ministers) but seldom does. After investigation the Commission would be able to refer cases to the appeal court. 

A final committee before the end?

The End of Life Choice Bill has now been ‘in committee’ for four House days over more than two months, but this Wednesday week is likely to be the final day of consideration by the Committee of the Whole House. After that the only remaining stage is the Third Reading (which has to begin on a fresh day). 

Thus far MPs have debated and voted on 114 different suggested amendments during the committee stage. There will be more where that came from on Wednesday.

Crucially, MPs will likely vote this week on whether or not to mandate that a referendum will be necessary before the Bill comes into force. Agreeing to the referendum will mean New Zealand First MPs would support the Bill through its third and final reading (making its passing much more likely).

David Seymour speaks at the End of Life Choice Second Reading

David Seymour speaks at the End of Life Choice Second Reading Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Formalising an important apology 

Thursday will see the Third Reading of the Parihaka Reconciliation Bill. Parihaka is a small rural community in South Taranaki which was the centre of non-violent protest against the large-scale land confiscations that took place in Taranaki in the mid-1860s.

In 2017 the Crown formally apologised to the people of Parihaka for the Crown troops sacking of the settlement in which men were jailed without trial in the South Island and women left behind were raped.

This bill includes the parts of the Crown’s formal apology that require legislation. 

And the important but less exciting things:

The week also includes three separate regulatory systems bills and two bills (debated together) about making legislation more accessible (especially subsidiary legislation like regulations).