i've had an extremely busy couple of days at the diversity forum. i took my older child to the youth forum on sunday, which she really enjoyed. sunday night, i went to a panel discussion at the town hall which was great. monday was a full day with so many interesting events on, it was really hard to choose. in the morning, i attended the police forum, and in the afternoon i was at the religious diversity forum.
then rushed off to radio nz for the panel with jim mora, and ended up opposite stephen franks. if you didn't manage to hear it yesterday, you can still listen from the radio nz website here and here. we had what i thought was a good discussion on MMP.
the funny bit was where stephen was trying to argue that people shouldn't vote based on policy but based on the people (personality cult anyone!). his rationale was that parties never delivered on the policies they campaigned on anyway. this is just so much nonsense. labour has been extremely busy delivering policy over the last 9 years, whether it's the primary health strategy (including cheaper doctors visits), the cap on tertiary fees and interest-free student loans, industry training and modern apprenticeships, paid parental leave, kiwibank, kiwisaver, kiwirail, etc etc etc.
stephen was simply trying to divert attention away from the fact that national has failed to provide detailed policy documents. and some policy is being announced by their spokespeople (as it should), only to be contradicted the next day by the leadership. there seem to be some serious problems inside the national party, and neither the behaviour of key nor english has been up to the standard that would develop cohesion and loyalty within the team. they'd do well if they only stuck to one very simple rule: don't embarras members of your own top team in public.
rodney hide's behaviour in the house today was appallingly bad. it looked like a very calculated intention to get himself thrown out of the house. the speaker gave him absolutely every opportunity, and at least 7 attempts to get his line of questioning right. but he was adamant that he wanted to get thrown out just so he could complain about being shut up.
he's an experienced MP, he knows the rules very well. he knew damn well he was breaking them. if he doesn't want to play by the rules, he should simply stay out of the house. for a party that has always had an extremely tough line on "law and order" (i prefer to call it justice), he seems to regard the rules of the house with complete contempt. i think he should get the harshest punishment he would have doled out to others who break the law.
for those interested in the US-india civil nuclear agreement, which i sort of wrote about at the very end of this post, a press release has been put out here. but i can't make any sense of it at all. it sounds like nz is going to allow india to have some kind of exemption so that the agreement can go ahead. i'd love to hear from anyone with more expertise in foreign affairs than moi to explain what exactly is happening here and what the implications are.
and on a more positive note, it was lovely to attend the cermony for diversity awards last night. i can't find a full list of the organisations who were given awards, but i'll keep looking over the next few days. waitakere library has a press release about their award here. other recipients were tagata pasifika, asia down under, waikato museum, and 8 others. wish i had a better memory! but it was really nice to see positive achievements recognised and celebrated. just a pity that none of the major media appear to have picked this up.
finally, it was great to catch up with so many familiar and friendly faces, as well as meeting new ones. julie middleton, ex herald journalist with a very positive focus on ethnic issues, is back in the country and it was lovely to see her. another person it was nice to see again was tom calma, aboriginal and torres strait island social justice commissioner and australian social justice and race relations commissioner. i had the opportunity to meet him a couple of years ago, and he struck me as a very wise man. he was chosen as the person who received the apology to the stolen generations, and responded to it.
and several people told me they read my blog, which was great! given that i'm so technologically incompetent i don't know how to work out how many hits i'm getting, the personal feedback makes me feel that the time i put into this is worthwhile.