Human rights policy

Jeanette and Keith have launched the Greens’ human rights policy with speeches at a multi-ethnic event in Auckland this afternoon. Some of the specific policy points:

  • Provide assistance for all new migrants to learn English.
  • Provide all new immigrants with a copy of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and Te Tiriti o Waitangi in their preferred language.
  • Establish a stand-alone Ministry of Ethnic Affairs, in line with the establishment of a Minister of Ethnic Affairs.
  • Increase our refugee quota from 750 per year to 1000 per year, providing adequate resources.
  • Remove the ability for Government Ministers to overturn decisions by judicial bodies, for example, decisions relating to the Security Risk Certificate procedure.
  • Ensure that government itself is bound by any human rights legislation, including the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.
  • Finalise a timetable to reach the United Nations’ overseas aid target of 0.7% of Gross National Income by 2015.

The speeches Jeanette and Keith delivered are worth reading. Said Keith:

The Greens want our country to be seen as a good international citizen, helping development, and upholding all the United Nations human rights conventions – including those preventing discrimination against women, children, workers, and the draft on indigenous rights. The Greens are against all forms of discrimination, be it on the basis of nationality, ethnic origin, religion, political belief, gender, gender identification, sexuality, marital status, family and reproductive status, age, disability or socio-economic background. We want the extension of our anti-discrimination laws to achieve this.

In the human rights field, we can’t rest on our laurels. Right now some politicians are cultivating hostility towards those new migrants who don’t happen to be white. They are being portrayed as a threat to the New Zealand way of life. The Greens take the opposite view. We welcome diversity and celebrate the way each ethnic group adds to and enriches New Zealand culture. The Greens stand for a tolerant, diverse society, where everyone gets a fair go.

Said Jeanette:

Winston [Peters] and I seem to look at the same reality but see quite different things. When Winston Peters walks down Queen Street and sees Asian faces, he wonders whether he is still in New Zealand. When I walk down Queen Street and see Asian faces, I see the essence of New Zealand: the coming together of many peoples, under a shared vision of a fair, compassionate, sustainable society.

When Winston Peters realises that we are taking in refugees from the world’s wartorn places, he cries blue murder, and shouts ‘bludger!’ A Cambodian taxi driver recently told me his story of how, alone among his family, he barely escaped mass murder in his native country – a story that had me in tears as I reached my Parliamentary office. I was overwhelmed at how fortunate this country is, and relieved and thankful and yes, a little proud, that he had found safety and a job in New Zealand.

As always, feedback on the human rights policy is very welcome 🙂

8 Comments Posted

  1. Firstly, it’s ‘fundamentals’. For something you believe to be so important, you should know how to spell it.

    Secondly, no, I do not believe human rights are fundamental. You yourself have illustrated perfectly why they are not. The Greens have put forward their human rights policy. You say that it’s rubbish. You disagree over human rights. Yet they are meant to be ‘fundamental’, they’re meant to be ‘universal’. But to call them that suggests they can’t be disagreed over. I disagree with many of the UN’s Human Rights in their Declaration. Think they’re rubbish. You probably would too if you knew what they were.

    Moreover, you cannot justify your argument by linking to Wikipedia. My point is that the perception of human rights is false – not that no one disagrees with me.

    Thirdly, I critiqued the policy based on their view of human rights, which I think are wrong. I disagree with the idea of rights in general… but pretending I agreed with it,then this what I thought of their policy. That was where I said that what you were saying was wrong – which I maintain. And that’s what justifies them lumping together those things.

    Sadly, you shan’t reply.

  2. Dear carnifexsenatoris

    I’m confused. Do you agree human rights are “fundementals” or not? You say they are not in the first paragraph, and then for the point of policy changes to correct places where we are not doing so.

    Wikipedia has a good discussion of what Human Rights are, the first para of which says:

    Human rights refers to the concept of human beings as having universal rights, or status, regardless of legal jurisdiction, and likewise other localizing factors, such as ethnicity and nationality.

    OK, so they use “universal”, I use “fundamental”, but the underlying intent is pretty similar.

    Thus, it is fair to say that the right to education is a Human Right, and many formal Human Rights decalrations have just such a clause. But if education isnt available universally for all, thats an education problem, not a Human Rights problem.

    The right to have refugee status is again common in many Human Rights decalrations, but to talk about quotas at all is incompatible with the (Human) right to have refugee status.

    And as for overseas aid – that isnt even on the radar. Human Rights is (in short) how a state (mis)treats its citizens, not how it gives it’s (or more accurately, our) money away.

    Dear Frog

    This is not a Human Rights policy. To lump immigration, asylum, education and the rule of law into one list and then call them a “Human Rights policy” is denigrating to the very concepts of Human Rights.

    Better get off my soapbox now, which I will not be remounting in this thread.

  3. Apologies

    I should have put the first points last and the last first and there is much in my post that is not clearly related to the topic at hand.

    I would post new, but I see no tool for doing this.


  4. Lets be clear about something.

    The treaty which unites us as New Zealanders clearly also divides us into Maori and everyone else. That isn’t something we can ignore.

    The fact that there are issues that Winston Peters can exploit is not incidental, it is fundamental, and to the extent that Greens appear to come down only in favor of Maori rights, we will find our message ignored by the white population.

    Greens are not able to duck this issue, though the bobbing and weaving would do justice to any boxer in the ring. Greens have to come up with an immigration policy. Much as they have to come up with a defense policy. Given that we have a policy paper on “industrial hemp” but none on either of the two aforementioned topics, this would seem to indicate a certain “lack of seriousness” to the wider Pakeha community.

    When the Greens take up social issues like this, they are doing so in the service of completeness. Like it or not, these things are SECONDARY to concern about the environment. If we do not recognize the potential of our party to marginalize itself because of these secondary positions, we will fail in our primary goals.

    Finally and with respect to immigration, it is important for us to recognize that as possibly the ONLY nation on the planet that is not populated in excess of its carrying capacity, we are going to become a destination for all manner of people. We’d BETTER make our immigration policies clear and we’d BETTER make sure we don’t bite off more than we can chew. That isn’t about Peters and it isn’t about Race. It is “Lifeboat Ethics” and it is more important to us than we realize. If we do not suit policy to the national interest but instead open our arms and embrace the avalanche of people who can and will wish to come here, we are going to be buried.

    More to the immediate point… we are going to be ignored and marginalized as a party.


  5. Human rights aren’t “fundamentals”. If they are, then does that mean I can’t disagree with some of them, since they are fundamental to all of us? And which ones of them are fundamental? The ones espoused by the UN, or the quite different ones by Peter Cresswell? Get over such pathetic rhetoric. Calling them “fundamentals” is to rely on faith to explain the unexplainable. Truly pathetic.

    BTW Frog, when you translate the Treaty of Waitangi for these migrants, which version do they get? And if both, do youy not think that translating the document that was so frought with translation errors might just be tempting fate a bit too much? And when you say ministers can’t overturn judicial decisions, then does this make the Waitangi Tribunal binding? Why do you trust judges more than the democratically elected leaders?

    Moreover, why is the Bill of Rights Act so important? It’s pretty rubbish really – missing out several things that I consider important. What made a 1990 Act so amazing that it should bind governments?

    (Furthermore, as a side point, I would argue that it does currently bind governments. Provisions state that governments do not always have to act in accordance with the Act, but that if they are not acting in accordance with the Act, then this should be reported in the house – unless introduced by Supplemetary Order Paper and urgency. This, of course, does indeed bind the government.)

    Now to defend your policy briefly. Dbuckley, you say that they effect ‘subsets’ of the population. The underlying ‘fundamentals’ (which you like to call them) address everyone – and it is the policy initiatives which serve to correct areas where we are not doing so. For example, the english education for immigrants. You could say that there is a right that you should be able to communicate effectively. This is the ‘fundamental’. Then, since we school everyone else, this is the one area we need to address. The ideology decides policy improvements.

  6. I believe that an attitude of compassion toward refugees is essential. I like what I read of Keith’s and Jeanette’s speeches.

  7. Its a nice “to do” list, but it doesnt address what I think the world thinks of as “human rights” (except perhaps in the odd onlique way), with the exception of the penultimate point. Most of the points listed affect only a subset of the population, whereas human rights are fundemantals.

  8. I wouldn’t support Keith’s policy pronouncements, but those are beautiful comments from Jeanette. If she’d just used the word ‘free’ to describe New Zealand I’d be in complete agreement. 🙂

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