Abortion reform underway, New Zealand First seeks referendum
Abortion law is set for change under legislation introduced to Parliament this week.
In the proposed changes, abortion will be decriminalised and women will be allowed abortions up to 20 weeks without doctors’ approval.
The Abortion Legislation Bill will be subject to a conscience vote by MPs, with New Zealand First seeking a binding referendum on the issue.
The legislation, which had its first reading on Thursday, will also:
- for a woman who is more than 20 weeks pregnant, require the heath practitioner to reasonably believe the abortion is appropriate with regard to the pregnant woman’s physical and mental health, and well-being.
- ensure that health practitioners advise women of the availability of counselling services if they are considering an abortion or have had an abortion
- ensure that a woman can self-refer to an abortion service provider
- enable a regulation-making power to set up safe areas around specific abortion facilities, on a case-by-case basis
- ensure that practitioners who object to providing services on the grounds of conscience must inform the pregnant women about their objection, and that the woman can obtain the services elsewhere
A special select committee is to be set up to hear public submissions.
Since its inception New Zealand First has supported referenda for important, divisive, conscience issues facing our country. None more so than abortion. We must give the decision-making power on key social issues such as this to the very people who will be affected by the outcome.
New law tackles synthetic drug dealers and users
The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill, which tackles the escalating issue of synthetic drug use, passed into law on Wednesday.
The wide-ranging legislation shifts two key synthetics - 5F-ADB and AMB-FUBINACA - into the Class A drug category and creates a temporary category, C1, allowing new drugs to be easily brought in under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
“Over the past decade, synthetic drugs have haunted this country because of flawed legislation brought in under the last National government, costing hundreds of lives,” says Darroch Ball, New Zealand First Spokesperson for Law and Order.
The new law gives police greater powers of search and seizure in order to interrupt supply, and the courts serious sentencing options - up to life imprisonment. New Zealand First negotiated an amendment to the Bill to give police greater clarity as to whether or not to prosecute offenders, ensuring the police can continue to prevent harm and keep communities safe. It will be backed by funding of $16.6 million to boost community addiction treatment services.
“Instead of virtue-signalling by proposing minor tinkering to the law like the National Party, we’re taking strong action to disrupt supply and support those in the throes of addiction,” Mr Ball said.
Investment in Telford a win for primary industries
New Zealand First has welcomed the Coalition Government’s $4.7 million investment in Clutha-Southland’s Telford farm campus.
The funding boost will enable Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) to operate the campus in 2020 and 2021.
Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, which purchased the Telford campus in July 2017, was placed in interim liquidation and suspended staff pay indefinitely in January. The Government then provided $1.8 million to SIT to deliver primary industries training programmes both at Telford and through distance learning.
The latest funding boost will enable Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) to operate the campus in 2020 and 2021.
“New Zealand First has been a vocal supporter of Telford, and the need for it to continue providing vocational services to meet the demand in New Zealand,” said New Zealand First Primary Industries Spokesperson Mark Patterson.
“This investment exemplifies the importance of Telford succeeding as the jewel in the crown for agricultural training in New Zealand and provides much needed certainty for staff and students.”
Wages up, unemployment down
There was great news for the Government this week with the latest statistics showing that unemployment has hit an 11-year low of 3.9 percent, and that annual wage growth reached a decade-high of 4.4 per cent.
The unemployment rate for Māori is now at its lowest in more than 10 years, at 7.7 per cent, and the rate for young people not earning or learning (NEETs) is continuing to trend downwards.
When the Government announced its intention to raise the minimum wage to $17.70 an hour in April, employers predicted it would result in job losses in the retail, hospitality and food service sectors. The reality is that the sector added 10,000 jobs in the first quarter after the hike went into effect. This compares favourably with past April-June quarter figures, which consistently saw between 4000 and 16,000 people leaving the sector.
“Our plan focusses on making sure all New Zealanders share in our economic success, while transitioning the economy to more productive and sustainable growth that will lift the living standards of everyone,” said Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.
New Zealand First is proud of its role in a Government which is making a real positive difference in the lives of New Zealanders. Careful management of the economy is being reflected in both jobs and wage growth, and is allowing for investment in crucial infrastructure, regional development, and work programmes such as Mana in Mahi and He Poutama Rangatahi.
Regions to benefit from new cancer treatment services
Cancer patients in the regions are set to benefit from the Government’s announcement this week that it will fund the replacement of half of all the country’s radiation treatment machines.
As part of the Government’s plan of action on cancer, it will purchase 12 Linear Accelerators (LINAC) machines over the next three years, some of which will replace ageing models and some of which will be provided to hospitals which cannot currently offer a radiation treatment service. Patients from Northland, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki are set to benefit.
“This announcement is a clear demonstration of our commitment to delivering a consistently high level of cancer care nationwide,” said Health Minister David Clark.
The Coalition Government is committed to rebuilding our health system after years of neglect under National, providing New Zealanders with the health services they deserve, regardless of where they live.
This is just the first step in the Government’s planned comprehensive cancer response. The Interim Cancer Action Plan will be released later this month.
Referendums Framework Bill passes First Reading
The Referendums Framework Bill passed its first reading on Tuesday, paving the way for the recreational cannabis use referendum to be held during 2020 General Election.
The Bill, which sets up the mechanics of any referendum, has now been referred to Parliament’s Justice select committee where the public get to have their say.
“We have deliberately created a generic Bill because there is discussion of a possible referendum being held in 2020 on the End of Life Choice Bill,” said Justice Minister Andrew Little.
Whether or not there will be a referendum on euthanasia will be determined as part of the Bill's progress through the House. New Zealand First is also seeking a referendum on the abortion reform proposed in the Abortion Legislation Bill which had its first reading in Parliament on Thursday.