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NO Vote Wins Anti-Smacking Referendum

Posted on 21 Aug 2009

Kiwis have spoken. 87.6 percent of the 1,622,150 New Zealanders who participated in the Anti-Smacking Referendum have exercised their right to democracy and voted ‘NO’ (full provisional results). Now it is time for the politicians to listen.

ACT is the only Party that has opposed the anti-smacking legislation since it was introduced to parliament over two years ago and the only Party prepared to listen to Kiwis. We are calling on John Key and the National party to do the right thing. They cannot just ignore over 1.4 million New Zealanders.

Good parents should not be criminalised for using a light smack as part of good parental correction and the Prime Minister should immediately introduce John Boscawen's Crimes (Reasonable Parental Control and Correction) Amendment Bill. It could move quickly through the parliamentary process and parents would no longer have to endure government telling them how to raise their children.

Tonight New Zealanders have made their views clear again and it is time for politicians to listen, acknowledge the message that an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders are sending and, act on it.

ACT is listening and ready to act. The question remains - will the National Party?

Voluntary Student Membership Bill Will Set Students Free

Posted on 21 Aug 2009

There was jubilation today in the ACT parliamentary office when the Educaiton (Freedom of Association) Bill was drawn from the Private Members Bill Ballot. The bill is in the name of Sir Roger Douglas and will go on to the order paper for debate on the next members day. It is the same bill that was in the ballot in my name prior to the last election and which I've written about many times on this blog.

This is the first step in liberating students from the flawed and out-dated law that forces them to join their local student association. Workers don't have to join a union - only around 15% of workers choose to do so - and Student Associations are one of the few organisations in New Zealand that can compel membership.

Compelling students to join and pay its fees provides associations with a guaranteed stream of income. There are many cases of misappropriation of these funds and a lack of accountability to properly manage the pool of money this income generates.

Student associations purport to represent the views and desires of the wider student body – yet most are dominated by a small minority of student politicians who prefer to push their own agenda and promote their own views rather than those of the majority.

We allow students to choose which university or polytechnic they attend, and what papers to take - it’s time we gave them the freedom to choose whether or not to join their local student association rather than forcing them to pay a union fee if they want to study.

Now that the bill has been drawn from the ballot the debate can begin in earnest. It's time for students to stand up and be counted on this issue, and to persuade the National party to support this initiative. To date it is only ACT that has demonstrated the rights of students to freedom of association on the campuses.

Births, Deaths And Life Expectancy

Posted on 20 Aug 2009

Longevity is something many aspire to and the good news for those in this camp is that we continue to live longer. Statistics New Zealand can always be relied upon to provide interesting facts and figures. This week the country's Births and Death figures for the June 2009 quarter were released.

According to Stats NZ there were 62,960 live births in the year to 30 June 2009, down from 64,140 in the previous year – this drop was largely the result of fewer babies being born in in the Auckland region. The birth rate was an average 2.1 births per woman, and women aged 30-34 years had the highest fertility rate – 123 births per 1,000 women.

A total 28,960 deaths were also registered for the June 2009 year – 270 more than the 28,690 in the June 2008 year. In spite of this, the population continues to grow with births exceeding deaths by 34,000 in the June 2009 year.

We are living longer than our predeccessors and it is especially interesting to note how much longer over time. Average life expectancy in New Zealand today is 78 years for women and 82 years for men. This is up from 1950 – 67 and 71 for men and women respectively – and from 1900, when men could be expected to live an average 54 years and women 57 years.

It is possible however to live too long. Jean Calmont was a French woman who lived to the age of 122. She remembered meeting Vincent van Gogh as a child, rode a bike until she was 99 and gave up smoking at the age of 100 for the good of her health! She did in her later years lament the fact that she had outlived several of her children and all of her friends.

Special Education Review Terms Of Reference

Posted on 19 Aug 2009

In my capacity as Associate Minister of Education, I today released the Terms of Reference for the Government's Review of Special Education. This reflects the Government's expectations and aspirations for special education.

With these expectations and aspirations in mind we aim to ensure that Special Education policies and processes are fair and consistent, reach those most in need, make the best use of existing Government funding - such as the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Schemes (ORRS) funding - and make the best use of the expertise needed to support children with special education needs.

Our current Special Education policy was developed in the 1990s, and a lot has changed since then. The Government is now working to ensure that special needs students receive the support they need – but to do this, I first need to know what's working well and what needs improvement.

The Review will cover services provided by the Ministry of Education, and what happens in all schools to support children with special education needs. It will consist of two phases:

* Phase One - to commence immediately: access to, and allocation of, Special Education funding and services for children with Special Education needs and how to implement the additional $51 million funding allocated in Budget 2009..

* Phase Two - to commence in late 2009: issues relating to workforce; transitions; service development; integration and collaboration between agencies.

As part of the Review process, I intend to consult with the Education sector, parents and the disability community regarding the Review. ACT and National in Government are committed to widening choice in education for all students and their families, and dedicated to providing them with the opportunities and tools they need to and fulfil their potential.

Terms of Reference for the Special education Review, and FAQs, can be viewed on the Education page of the 'Policy' section of my website: http://www.roy.org.nz/education.

In The House

Posted on 18 Aug 2009

Legislation this week - August 18-20 2009

Government Bills:
Appropriation (2009/10 Estimates) Bill - Committee Stages
ACT to Support

Crimes (Provocation Repeal) Amendment Bill - First Reading
ACT to Support

Antarctica (Environmental Protection: Liability Annex) Amendment Bill - First Reading
ACT to Support

Carter Observatory Act Repeal Bill - First Reading
ACT to Support

Private and Local Bills:
Eden Park Trust Amendment Bill - Second Reading
ACT to Support

Members' Bills - Debated Wednesday:
Te Ra o Matariki Bill / Matariki Day Bill - First Reading
Rahui Katene - Maori Party
ACT to Oppose

Local Government (Protection of Auckland Assets) Amendment Bill - First Reading
Phil Twyford - Labour
ACT to Oppose

Social Security (Benefit Review and Appeal Reform) Amendment Bill - First Reading
Sue Bradford - Green Party
ACT to Oppose

International Non - Aggression and Lawful Use of Force Bill - First Reading
Kennedy Graham - Green Party
ACT to Oppose

Employment Relations (Statutory Minimum Redundancy Entitlements) Amendment Bill - First Reading
Darien Fenton - Labour
ACT to Oppose

A more detailed rundown of Parliament this week can be viewed by clicking on 'In The House' or at www.roy.org.nz/royters/legislation-week-18-august-%E2%80%93-20-august-2009

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