Gareth Hughes will host discussion on Armenian genocide – but where does he sit on waka jumping?

An email this morning reminded us of the work of Gareth Hughes, whose biography on the Green Party website includes a reference to his being the longest-serving Green MP and a bloke who “helps keep the team running as Musterer (Whip)“.

It goes on to say:

“His pace has not slowed since entering Parliament in 2010, the youngest MP at the time.

“His main focuses are cleaner energy, cheaper, smarter energy, protecting the environment and embracing technology and innovation.”

The website notes that …

 “Gareth has spent his entire adult life working for good green change. Since graduating from Victoria University with a degree in Religious Studies, History and Politics, he has been at the centre of campaigns around many of the most pressing issues for New Zealand and the planet.”

The matter highlighted in his media advisory today does not necessarily rank among the most pressing issues for either New Zealand or the planet,  although this obviously is a matter of opinion.

It advised us that Hughes will host two events at Parliament to encourage greater discussion and awareness of the Armenian Genocide ahead of his intention to move a Parliamentary motion later this year to recognise this catastrophe.

The email reminds us:

The Armenian Genocide, where up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed, occurred 101 years ago. Despite an ANZAC link with New Zealand, it remains unrecognised here.

The first of the two events is a film screening tonight of “Intent to Destroy”, organised in association with the Armenian National Committee of New Zealand. It “confronts the fraught task of shedding light on the Armenian Genocide“. Guest speakers include  Professor Taner Akçam, Professor of History and Professor of Armenian Genocide Studies at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University, Massachusetts.

Tomorrow’s event is an MPs lunch and discussion with Professor Akçam and James Robins, journalist and writer for The Listener and New Zealand Herald, whose forthcoming book, When We Dead Awaken: Anzac and the Armenian Genocide, explores connections between New Zealand, Australia, and the extermination of the Armenian people.

But Hughes has been busy on domestic fronts, too, in recent times.

On July 20 he was quoted in a Newshub report that 24 greyhounds had been killed after being injured on racing tracks in the six months from January.

Gareth Hughes, Green Party’s Animal Welfare Spokesperson, said it’s not acceptable.

“I think this is tragic and shocking news. No dog should be dying for people’s entertainment or a reason to gamble.”

Hughes was mentioned in a SAFE press statement on July 26 which announced a live pig would be attending a rally on Parliament steps that day, representing the 16,000 mother pigs being confined in farrowing crates.

She will be joined by veterinarian Rosalind Holland, Green MP Gareth Hughes and other caring New Zealanders, all pushing Labour to uphold its election promise and ban farrowing crates.

Last week Hughes was mentioned in a Radio New Zealand report on changes to the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill.

Foods like bacon – most of which is marketed as a New Zealand product, but actually made from imported pork – won’t be included.

New Zealand Pork’s industry spokesperson, Ian Carter, complained that New Zealand was trailing behind its major trading partners.

“Sixty per cent of pig meat consumed in New Zealand is imported now,” he said. “On top of that, most of your processed products. We believe it could be something like 85 percent of your bacon and ham is imported meat.”

“And of that, 95 percent of it is produced in countries that wouldn’t meet New Zealand’s standards of farming. It wouldn’t be legally allowed to be farmed in that method under New Zealand’s animal welfare laws.

Hughes, the bill’s sponsor, expressed disappointment at the changes which water down the bill:

“It’s a bit odd for me as a vegetarian to be advocating for the New Zealand pork industry, but I think they have a really fair case,” he said.

“As we’ve slowly ratcheted up our animal welfare standards in the pork industry, their sales have declined and we’re seeing a massive increase in imports of really low quality animal welfare pork. That’s a double whammy for them.”

Hughes said consumers are overwhelmingly in favour of mandatory labelling.

“People want to buy New Zealand products because they’re the best products. But if they don’t have that information, how are they meant to make that choice?”

Meanwhile legislation with important constitutional implications is being nudged through Parliament  with Green Party support.

The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill (known as the Waka Jumping Bill) is on the Order Paper to be considered at the committee stage tomorrow.

David Farrar has commented at Kiwiblog on the strongly expressed objections of former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons (objections shared by many other Greens and by a raft of constitutional experts). He wrote:

I was there for Fitzsimon’s submission. It was excellent. I just hope the Greens listen because if this passes into law, it will be very hard to get rid off.

Among the comments below Farrar’s post, James Shaw, Marama Davidson, Julie Anne Genter, Eugenie Sage, Jan Logie, Gareth Hughes, Golriz Ghahraman and Chloe Swarbrick are advised:

 New Zealand is watching you. Will you do the RIGHT thing, and at the very least abstain from voting for this Bill? Or will any remaining principles the Greens have go out the window for political convenience, or some shady back-room deal?

This is now a true test of the Green Party. Let’s make sure they know that they are on notice, both from members of their own party who oppose the Bill, and others who do not want to see Winston Peters given unbridled power.

Let’s see if Hughes can become as enthused about mustering belated Green Party opposition to the passage of this Bill as he is enthused about interesting Kiwis in the outrage suffered by Armenians more than a hundred years ago.

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