Denise Roche: My year – with some numbers

Helen Kelly

It feels like 2016 was exceptionally busy – and this was confirmed when I checked my diary. Looking at just my Ethnic Communities portfolio, between February and December this year I visited or attended celebrations with 25 different organisations and groups. In the House I did 33 five minute speeches on 16 different bills including two Treaty settlement bills and I asked oral questions of Ministers six times on topics ranging from implementing a charge on single use plastic bags to justice for the families of those killed in the Pike River mine tragedy.

Over the last year I’ve had two bills in the ballot, these being a bill to increase the refugee quota to 1500 and another to introduce a 15 cent charge on single use plastic bags. I also had another one – to get rid of zero hour contracts – but this was basically adopted with the government introducing the Employment Standards Act in the first part of the year.

I had two overseas trips in 2016. I was privileged to accompany the Speaker on a cross-party trip to Mexico, Chile and Argentina at the end of April/beginning of May. During the two week trip we had 42 different engagements and meetings in the three countries. (I took three days off at the end of the trip to visit the Argentinian family that had hosted my daughter when she did an exchange the previous year.)

The other trip was an 8 day holiday in Rarotonga in September with my daughter and partner and my partner’s mum. John’s dad passed away earlier in the year and the break was designed so that all of us had time to relax and bond. The other death that affected me greatly this year was the passing of Helen Kelly in October. The union movement lost a great leader when she passed – I was honoured to speak (and sing) for the Greens during the acknowledgment of her life in a motion passed in the House.

This coming year, 2017 is set to be busy too with the election looming. I’m actually pretty excited about it and am looking forward to campaigning hard and changing the government. Bring it on!

My highlight of 2016
The government bowing to pressure and increasing the refugee quota from 850 to 1000. On a personal level other highlights were the family holiday in Rarotonga (what a gorgeous place!), my son graduating and my daughter finishing high school.

My lowlight of 2016
The death of Helen Kelly. One of the greatest advocates for ordinary working people died from cancer at the age of 53.

My holiday spot
My place (will send a photo).

My summer reading
I discovered a Jo Nesbo novel that I haven’t read yet so I bought it for my partner for Christmas so I can read it next. I love reading thrillers set in cold countries in the summer break!

My Christmas wish for 2017
Well of course there’s world peace – and considering what’s happening in Syria that’s a real wish – and also some decent action on climate change as well as the eradication of poverty in NZ and an end to the patriarchy too while we’re about it.

Once we’ve got all that – and if I have any wishes left in the tank – I’d love to get a charge on those blimmin single use plastic bags so we can reduce pollution in the marine environment.