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Thursday 09 October 2008

Louisa Wall: My journey in Parliament begins

Posted in: Features
By Louisa Wall MP - 19th April 2008

Louisa Wall MP
Labour's new MP says the rainbow crew will continue to pursue elimination of legal barriers to equality, and defend the dignity of all LGBT New Zealanders.

E nga mana, e nga reo, raurangatira ma o te Whanau Rainbow o te motu, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Ko Tongariro me Taupiri nga maunga

Ko Taupo te moana

Ko Waikato te awa

Ko Te Wherowhero me Te Heuheu nga tupuna rangatira

Ko Ngati Tutemohuta me Ngati Hineuru nga hapu o Ngati Tuwharetoa

Ko Ngati Amaru me Ngati Tipa nga hapu o Waikato, Tainui Waka

Ko Louisa Hareruia Wall ahau.

It is a pleasure to contribute to as a member of the Labour Rainbow Caucus for the first time.

I first stood as a list candidate at the 1999 election and again in 2002, and in 2005 stood as Labour's candidate in the very blue seat of Port Waikato (now Hunua and I note fellow Rainbow Party member Jordon Carter is our candidate for this election) and was a list candidate as well. So it has been a long journey and I am very happy to have been sworn in on 4 March 2008. My time so far has been rather busy and I must say very exciting.

I am extremely proud to enter a Rainbow Caucus that has two Cabinet Ministers in Chris Carter and Maryan Street, a Senior Whip in Tim Barnett, and a Chair of a Select Committee and a Parliamentary Private Secretary in Charles Chauvel. We have a solid Party mandate across the operations of our Labour-led Government and I am humbled to join such a competent team of Labour Rainbow members.

I am a member of the Justice and Electoral Select Committee and the Health Select Committee and both have Bills before them that have inspired large public engagement via the submission process. Hearing submissions from people mobilised to participate in the parliamentary process has been an excellent way of learning the job; which at times has been rather confrontational. And I must admit the lifestyle change and in particular the long hours when the House sits (usually 7-8am to 11pm) I am still getting used to!

From 10-12 April the Labour Party Congress provided another focused opportunity for Rainbow Labour to organise itself for another election. The Sector day on Friday 10 April was the opportunity for the leadership of the sector, party members and the Rainbow parliamentary team to reflect evaluate and strategise.

The reflection and evaluation consisted of the celebration of the critical mass of Rainbow members within the Caucus (and remembrance of the contribution to the Caucus of the effervescent Georgina Beyer) and a note that when Tim Barnett retires (at the 11th Labour breakfast on the Sunday of congress, the virtues and work of Tim was well canvassed and acknowledged) at the conclusion of this session post-election, it is almost certain that Grant Robertson, Labour's Wellington Central candidate and current Chair of Rainbow Labour will become part of the Caucus.

Rainbow Labour has helped to achieve many things in this term of office and it is worth highlighting (as reported to the Sector by Rainbow Caucus convenor Charles Chauvel) the following:

    1. The review of blood donor eligibility;
    2. The report of the Law Commission recommending the abolition of the Partial Defence of Provocation (the “Gay Panic” Defence), urging its implementation;
    3. The report of the Human Rights Commission “To Be Who I Am” following the inquiry concerning the status of trans people, urging its implementation;
    4. Adoption and guardianship issues;
    5. The inclusion of GLBTI people by way of an explicit census question;
    6. Safety in our schools;
    7. The status of foreign-born trans-people seeking rectification of their gender on their birth certificates, urging that process be made easier;
    8. The operation of the Rainbow Desk within MSD, agreeing that we would seek some formal accountability for it via my new role as the Attorney-General's parliamentary secretary, along the lines of that previously held by Tim when he was a PPS;
    9. The rights of GLBTI people overseas, on a case-by-case basis, urging respect for those rights in the face of an egregious breach.

Members of the Labour Rainbow Caucus appreciate the opportunity to maintain a Labour Rainbow Member of Parliament presence in the community via this regular column and we are committed to it continuing. Thank you for this opportunity of engagement.

And finally, as noted by Charles in his report, I can confirm that Labour Rainbow Members of Parliament are looking forward, and indeed we intend to continue to pursue the elimination of legal barriers to equality for members of our communities, and to defend the dignity of GLBTI people. Further to this commitment we intend to campaign strongly for the Party Vote at the 2008 election.

Louisa Wall MP - 19th April 2008