The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The past couple of weeks in Parliament have shown the good, the bad and the ugly. No, I'm not referring to a spaghetti western but to the goings-on in and around the House.

The good was illustrated in select committee work, which often flies below the radar and sometimes has to be discussed behind closed doors. Such is the case for initiatives before the Commerce select committee, members of which have been given a great opportunity to shape policy around broadband deployment.

Parliament's standing orders prevent my giving any detail at this stage, but I can say that MPs from across the House have been given unusual freedom to decide on a piece of policy and we're working constructively together on that.

Such collegiality is more common than many people realise.

Then we saw the "bad" -- the Leader of the Opposition dismissing the relevance of most Kiwis who are often referred to as those in the "centre". It's bad enough to discount them and their views as irrelevant, but his outright rejection of the "centre" shows just how out of touch he and his party are with everyday New Zealanders.

I'd have thought the words of their most successful former leader in reminding politicians of the need to own the centre of politics would have commanded more attention and respect than that.

And then it was to the "ugly".

Treaty of Waitangi settlements are an important part of our moving on as a cohesive and well-functioning society. They do more than simply address past wrongs; they empower communities to have greater engagement in the success of New Zealand. They not only promote aspiration, they also provide a foundation for success and for lifting people above the worst of our social statistics and outcomes.

Parliament had the opportunity on Friday, September 29, to make progress on several settlements in Bills that had had unanimous support across the House for their first and second readings, as well as their select committee stages. They're measures that will provide some redress and particularly recognition for Maori who have waited decades for resolution.

That progress was scuppered by one party for a political stunt. And that stunt achieved nothing more than delaying resolution for the parties involved and costing them personally for flights, bus fares and their pre-booked accommodation.

Parliament is better than that. And it should act better than that.

Clearly, Winston Peters and NZ First neither agree nor care. We had a truly ugly side of politics on display -- and by only one group.