Just a few days after the Hastings District Council voted to change its governance system, the Speaker of the NZ House of Representatives, Trevor Mallard, announced the despatch of three members of Parliament to champion democracy.
No, they aren’t headed for the Hawke’s Bay to remonstrate with the Mayor and councillors who voted to attenuate their democratic system by appointing four members of the Maori Joint Committee to the council’s four standing committees.
Rather, as the heading on the press statement tells us, they are headed for Doha, Qatar, to participate in a “global forum for democracy” from 5 to 10 April .
The statement says:
New Zealand MPs participate in global forum to advance democracy, human rights, and peace
Three Members of Parliament will represent New Zealand at the 140th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly, where democracy, human rights, and peace will be on the agenda.
Deputy Speaker Hon Anne Tolley MP is leading the delegation.
The others are David Carter MP and Marja Lubeck MP.
Marja Lubeck, whose Wikipedia entry says she is Labour list MP (32 on the list at the last election) who immigrated from the Netherlands to New Zealand in 1989.
She became an international flight attendant for Air New Zealand in 1996; she has served four terms as president of the Flight Attendant and Related Services Association; she was admitted to the bar as barrister and solicitor of the High Court in February 2017.
And yes, Wikipedia does mention her contribution to democracy:
Lubeck served as the lead advocate in negotiations for the major airlines servicing the New Zealand market and was part of the High Performance Engagement (HPE) Leadership Team at Air New Zealand where organised labour and management engage in a consensus-based workplace democracy programme.
Speaker Mallard declared in his press statement:
“I am pleased that our delegation is participating in the IPU Assembly. It is an important global forum for political dialogue and positive democratic change.
“New Zealand’s regular involvement means that our values and perspectives on the issues being debated in parliaments around the globe are represented, and that our MPs are able to connect with their international colleagues to learn and share innovations and solutions.”
So what will our MPs do in Doha?
New Zealand will take part in the central debate on the theme of ‘Parliaments as platforms to enhance education for peace, security, and the rule of law’.
The New Zealand delegation will also contribute to Standing Committees, which examine the role of parliaments in fair and free trade, investment in sustainable development goals, ensuring the right to health, and the non-admissibility of using mercenaries to undermine peace and human rights.
Tolley is the Second Vice-President of the IPU’s Bureau of Women Parliamentarians and will debate good practice on policy and measures to move toward gender equality in employment and unpaid work, as well as harassment, violence, and social protections. She will also represent the bureau on the IPU’s Executive Committee, which governs the functioning of the organisation, and on the Gender Partnership Group.
Carter is a member of the IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.
“The committee will meet during the week to consider violations of the human rights of Members of Parliament, and propose avenues of redress.”
The IPU was founded in 1889, and now has more than 170 member countries.
It provides our parliamentarians with valuable insight into how global issues are being considered by different legislatures.
According to the press statement, sharing these perspectives and parliamentary processes “contributes to the development of democracies globally and how we collectively consider issues of human rights, peace, and equality”.
Closer to home, the Hastings District Council and other local authorities are finding flaws with this democracy caper and increasingly prefer to promote a partnership with some members of their communities by appointing iwi representatives to their committees.
One thought on “Hurrah – three MPs are sent to bat for democracy (but they will be doing it in Doha)”
When in opposition New Zealand First and especially Ron Mark made some strong statements of their position but in government they stay silent and say nothing. Both of the major parties have poor records in upholding our democracy in this regard and have done their best to screw the scrum so that even the present law on voting for Maori wards can be so distorted as to be useless. As an example. The Waikato Regional council voted to establish Maori wards without any consultation with their ratepayers. They did this with a vote in October (a few years ago) knowing that the period in which it was necessary to get a percentage of the polulation to sign a petition for a referendum would fall mostly over the summer holiday period. On the record Cr Lois Livingston stated that if they were to give the ratepayers a vote “it was obvious how they would vote”. The point here was that the percentage of voters required to force a referendum was the same for both Regional and District councils but the larger population of a Regional council and it being spread over a larger area, made it much more difficult to achieve. Indeed the district councils within the regional area when gven the chance all voted down the Maori wards showing how likely it was that they would do the same given the chance in the Waikato Regional Council. Democracy is an endangered being.