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PARLIAMENTARY REPORT


exports to several markets and raised questions about our food safety both domestically and internationally”. The inquiry found that the


regulatory framework for dairy food safety was “fundamentally sound, consistent with internationally recognized principles, and is considered among the best food safety systems in the world.” Recall provisions were added to the Bill. Labour and the Greens, although supporting the legislation, attempted


unsuccessfully to get country-of- origin labelling into the legislation at the Committee of the whole House stage.


“Most of the countries


throughout the world have a standard, mandatory country-of- origin labelling regime, and it is


NEW ZEALAND


time that we implemented that for ourselves,” said Hon. Damien O’Connor, MP, (Labour). In his third reading speech the Minister said “although I do not have confidence in a comprehensive, mandatory country-of-origin labelling scheme, I think there is more work to do in this area, and I do want to acknowledge that we have about 70 per cent coverage in the area of voluntary country-of-origin labelling with regard to single-ingredient foods”. In response Mr Steffan Browning, MP, (Green Party) said of the 70 per cent coverage: “That is not good enough. Not only is it not good enough in terms of coverage but, because it is voluntary, there is no real system of auditing.”


Vulnerable Children Bill


The Vulnerable Children Bill passed its third reading on 19 June 2014 by a majority of 105 votes to 10. The most significant


measures of the Bill as introduced included making the chief


Ms Jan Logie, MP


THIRD READING: NEW ZEALAND


Te Urewera Bill


The Te Urewera Act, which passed its third reading on 24 July, revokes the national park status over Te Urewera National Park and declares it and adjacent areas – an area of around 209,000 hectares in the central North Island – to be a legal entity in its own right. It establishes a board of Tūhoe tribal and Crown representatives to govern Te Urewera.


The Act implements an agreement between the Crown and Tūhoe and forms part of the redress for historical breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. At the third reading Hon.


Christopher Finlayson, MP, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, said: “It takes political courage to do what we are doing today. This is indeed a momentous step, but


what we are doing should not be surprising, because what we are doing is honouring a promise that lay unfulfilled throughout the 20th century. This is the second chance the Crown has to get this right. This time it must do so.”


The Minister of Māori Affairs Hon. Dr Pita Sharples, MP, (Māori Party) described the Bill as “a profound alternative to the human presumption of sovereignty over the natural world.”


Mr Rino Tirikatene, MP,


(Labour) said: “…this Te Urewera Bill is a clear and innovative way to recognize Tūhoe’s link to Te Urewera for the whole of the country. Te Urewera will become its own entity in law as though it were a living and breathing thing and, of course, to the minds of Tūhoe that is exactly what it is.”


214 | The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three


of the state is returned home, and placing the burden of proof on abusive parents to show change before retaining guardianship of subsequent children. The Minister for Social Development, Hon. Paula Bennett, MP, (National) at the first reading in September 2013 described the measures in her


executives of five government agencies jointly accountable for a plan to protect vulnerable children, implementing standard safety checks for state sector or state-funded employees that work with children, introducing child harm prevention orders, adding obligations for abusive parents before a child in the care


Bill as “bold and, by their nature, controversial”. The Minister of Justice, Hon. Judith Collins, MP, (National) noted the necessity of strengthened legislation: “Because of abuse, one child under two is hospitalized every five days in this country.” Although speaking in support of the legislation at its first reading, Mr Andrew Little, MP, (Labour) expressed concern that child harm prevention orders would include people suspected but not convicted of child abuse: “Well-meaning but zealous social workers, government officials, and the chief executives of the departments who can apply for these orders can get things wrong.” The provisions for child harm


prevention orders were later removed because, as Ms Bennett explained at the second reading on 15 April: “The government is already putting a range of measures in place to protect vulnerable adults and children from people who present a high risk of harming them.” Opposing the Bill, Green Party Member Ms Jan Logie, MP, spoke about child poverty and said that the party wanted “to ensure all of our children have their basic needs met. We want to address the causes of vulnerability so that all of our children can thrive”.


Ms Asenati Lole-Taylor, MP


Although supporting the Bill, Asenati Lole-Taylor, MP, (NZ First) was critical that screening and vetting would apply only to paid workers: “A lot of the cases being identified and highlighted involved those who have offered to do voluntary tasks for children.”


In the third reading Ms Bennett acknowledged that the legislation, although a “critical step”, was only “a small part of the work that is already under way and that has to be done under the Children’s Action Plan.”


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