By Harete Hipango
MP for Whanganui

Parliament in years past has typically sat in three-week blocks when MPs are required to be at Parliament from Tuesdays to Thursdays, 2pm to 10pm.

We must be on the precinct (Parliamentary grounds), unless approved special leave, to have the numbers to vote on any legislation.

The preceding hours are buzzing with meetings, meetings and meetings — either on or off precinct — and the hours after, most often to past midnight, is preparatory work/reading for the next batch of meetings.

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However, this year, unusually – like many other practices that have evolved under the new Government — the sitting blocks are now four weeks which means longer stints in Wellington and less time back in our electorate.

With the majority of elected MPs in the National Party (the bulk of Government MPs are on the list), this is quite taxing and takes a toll on time in the electorates.

It's an exercise transporting between Parliament and our electorate, staying connected – and it is now fuelled by the controversy of the Government re-routing $5 billion regional roading funds and re-cycling it back to Auckland transport.

This excise exercise has taken quote a tax and toll on our regions roads. Fuelling more tax, while taxing more fuel. Greener pastures not to be had in the regions, re-zoned up to Auckland.

The Green Party has re-cycled its leadership making it marama (clear) that new co-leader Marama Davidson's pathway is to veer more left and further away from its greener pastures. We shall see what is left over in their camp leading up to the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, Labour has laboured promises of 100,000 houses — not one yet built.
And our regional development minister has less bluster in his bellow after the explosive body blow to our Taranaki kin banning oil and gas exploration. This policy lacks economic and environmental sense.

Senseless (and cents-less) climate change sentiment is worthless as production will shift elsewhere in the world, resulting in more coal burnt, higher carbon emissions, the demise of no less than at least 8000 Kiwi jobs (4000 direct and 4000-plus indirect), the loss of a $2.5 billion to the economy — plus $500 million in royalties (which the government could well do with to supplement promised benefits increases, housing increases and multiple inquiries, working groups and commissions).

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Nine years in Opposition would seem ample time to have thought well and prepare plans to responsibly initiate and activate.

There was a distinct absence to rush-in concern as I sat in the House listening to the Government's diminishment, denial and jest at the seriousness of a responsible position on fears of Russian espionage, down-playing and minimising security precautions.

National and international security is never to be taken lightly or in jest – appalled as I was witness to by some members of the Government. Never a dull moment in the House.

And there have been further lessons to un-educate us all – abolishing national standards learning measures, closures of Charter schools, termination of "teacher" titles incurring a penalty $2000 fine. Certifiably something over-registering any necessitated professional status with the Education Council's non-support of the bill as it does nothing to enhance the real status of teachers.

Even the Government's own Attorney General, David Parker, suggested the bill was in breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights.

A long four weeks it has been and felt particularly so by a Labour, NZ First, Greens coalition government that is starting to stall and crack. Less of the toothy, pearly sparkly smile these days the public was much enamoured/enamelled by.

In my next parliamentary panui, I shall draw on reflections of Anzac Day 2018.