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Defence Review 09 Momentum Starting To Build

Posted on 07 Jul 2009

With only little over a week since it was launched, the public consultation phase of Defence Review 2009 has been received well and has already drawn a positive response.

The Defence Review 2009 public consultation document - which Defence Minister wayne Mapp and I launched at Te Papa on June 26 - has proved to be an effective tool in gathering the views of the public on the direction of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) into the future.

Copies of the document and the Review 09 brochure, both containing a submission form, have now been distributed to 491 schools throughout the country - as well as to all public libraries in New Zealand.

Copies are also available from local RSAs, Waiouru’s National Army Museum Te Mata Toa, and the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch. Submissions can also be made at the Ministry of Defence website www.defence.govt.nz.

The NZDF is an integral part of New Zealand society and belongs to all New Zealanders. Defence Review 2009 is an opportunity for all Kiwis to play a part in determining the path that the NZDF will take out to 2035.

Submissions on Review 09 close at 5pm, Monday August 24. I'm encouraging all New Zealanders young and old to take up this opportunity and make a submission to ensure that their views and input are recorded for consideration.

Download a copy of the Defence Review 2009 public consultation document here:
http://www.roy.org.nz/Files/DefenceDocument.pdf

An Australian Take On The Anti-Smacking Referendum

Posted on 06 Jul 2009

As well as New Zealanders up and down the country, our friends across the ditch are paying attention to our anti-smacking referendum – with Australia's ABC Breakfast radio phoning me for comment this morning.

The question New Zealanders are being asked to consider is: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?" The referendum is a postal ballot, with voting opening on July 31 and closing on August 21. ACT is in support of the referendum and will advocate that the controversial anti-smacking law be repealed if this is the view of most New Zealanders.

Prior to 2007, when the anti-smacking law was enacted, New Zealand already had explicit laws about violent behaviour and imposed punishments on those who choose to inflict violence on others. The problem was that abusers were flouting the law resulting with abhorent cases of abuse and murder of children. It was widely promoted that this would be solved by banning the smacking of children through the Anti-smacking Bill – never mind that those who flout existing law are unlikely to suddenly change their behaviour because of new legislation.

What has happened since the law was passed was inevitable and entirely unpredictable: good parents who would never dream of abusing their children are now breaking the law by smacking as part of good parenting, while violent abusers continue to beat children to a pulp – with 13 children having been killed in the 25 months since the law was passed.

Yet there appears no end in sight: debate on this issue has relied on emotion rather than reason, focussing on rules rather than results. National Party MPs didn’t support their colleague Chester Borrows' amendments when the bill went through parliament – which would have made it clear that a light smack for then purpose of correction would be within the law.

The entire debate is a slap in the face for democratic process: Parliament voted 113 to eight in support of the Anti-Smacking Bill, ignoring polls showing the public was opposed to the Bill by a ratio of four to one. Over 300,000 people signed a petition to hold this referendum and the Prime Minister has indicated that the law will not be repealed regardless of the referendum's results.

Parliament is ignoring the people and the world is watching.

Read the 'Australian' newspaper's article on this issue:
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25730591-25918,00.html

Listen to Hon Heather Roy interview with ABC Radio National Breakfast's Mike Wood.
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/breakfast/stories/2009/2617442.htm

Model United Nations 2009

Posted on 04 Jul 2009

While my son and his friends were playing a network computer game at home which they described as an on-line United Nations I joined the UN Youth Association opening ceremony of their 10th Annual Conference at Rutherford House in Wellington, which closely resembled the real UN.

The United Nations Youth Association of New Zealand is an organisation for youth – run by youth – that brings together students from around the country as delegates representing the nation states. It is dedicated to upholding the spirit of the United Nations through raising the awareness, involvement, and empowerment of young people in local, national and international spheres.

Over the next three days the delegates will each represent a country (allocated by ballot) and putting aside their personal beliefs and views debate a range of issues on behalf of their "adopted" country. My speech to the Honourable Delegates - who act as diplomats for their countries for the duration of the conference - can be found in the Speeches section of this website.

Visit to Allenvale School

Posted on 04 Jul 2009

While in Christchurch yesterday I visited Allenvale Special School where I was warmly welcomed with a waiata from the students and a presentation of artwork by two of the students. Allenvale is a co-educational Special School which caters for students aged 5-21. I was taken on a tour of the school by the Principal Graeme Daniel, Board Chairperson Peter Coker and members of the Board, all of whom were very proud of the school, its students and their achievements.

On the last day of term I was treated to two final school assemblies. During the first assembly, the students were finishing the term on a very positive note by practising giving positive comments to one another. By the kind remarks made, it was easy to see all the students thought a lot of each other. Next, I got to do a bit of singing and dancing with the younger students who were clearly enjoying themselves. I also had the opportunity to speak to the senior students, who by the sounds of it play a large role within the school, helping with the recycling, in the office and by reading to younger students. As one teacher commented “we couldn’t do it without them”. This initial 'work experience' is followed by opportunities to gain skills in the local community. These senior students had recently visited Wellington and obvious highlights were parliament, Te Papa and the Cable Car. They wanted me to pass on their best wishes to Prime Minister John Key.

It was a pleasure to visit such a lively environment and one where the students are much appreciated and valued. I am looking forward to visiting Allenvale School again in the near future to launch their new initiative which will provide an effective transition service for senior students to eight schools in Christchurch and as I've been invited to attend the Senior School Ball that night I'll have to hunt out my best dress!

The Question of Cannabis

Posted on 01 Jul 2009

There has been much media interest in Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei's Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill, which was considered in Parliament today. Voting on the First Reading of the Bill was a conscience issue - in that MPs voted as they saw fit rather than along party lines. The bill was voted down and will not go to select committee for further scrutiny.

Although it was nowhere near perfect I supported the Bill as I thought it was time to debate the issue of whether or not cannabis should be made legal for use in some medical conditions - time for a proper examination of the science.

Under the provisions of the bill those eligible would have become registered users of cannabis and they or their agent would have been permitted to cultivate and possess a small amount of cannabis. Some saw this as a precursor to full legalisation or decriminalisation of cannabis.

There is clear scientific evidence to show that some medical conditions, such as glaucoma, where the condition improved - why should someone go blind unnecessarily when there is a treatment that works? Other conditions - such as the nausea caused by chemotherapy - are brought under control with the use of cannabis.

There were some conditions listed in the schedule that I didn't agree with inclusion in the bill. Depression and schizophrenia were both listed but there are no mental illnesses that are improved by the use of cannabis, and many that are made worse.
Decisions should be based on science. If it can be shown that there is advantage in using cannabis to treat a medical condition, then we should be exploring those options.

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