Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is out of the capital today, assessing damage to Wairoa from recent rainfall in a region still suffering from the after-effects of Cyclone Gabrielle.
It’s a departure from his duties this week as new MPs were sworn in, maiden speeches were made and the House had its first Question Time.
Heavy rain hit the Wairoa and Tairāwhiti area late last month with some parts recording more than 300mm over two days.
The ensuing flooding isolated rural communities and closed more than 20 roads, according to the Wairoa District Council.
Earlier in November, extensive rainfall led to homes being evacuated, schools closing and roads being blocked.
Luxon would be touring damaged areas in Wairoa this morning ahead of meeting with council representatives.
He was expected to travel south through the region where he would hold further meetings and speak to the media.
Luxon’s trip followed entertaining and at times fiery displays in the House as New Zealand First’s return to the debating chamber led to its leader Winston Peters locking horns with Te Pāti Māori and the Green Party.
In his first Question Time as Prime Minister yesterday, Christopher Luxon said his new Government had not committed to a referendum on the Treaty principles bill.
Asked about the Treaty principles legislation, Luxon appeared to suggest National would not allow the Act Party’s Treaty Principles legislation to proceed beyond select committee.
Christopher Luxon during his first Question Time as PM. Photo / Mark Mitchell
He said a bill would be supported to select committee, as said in the coalition agreement, but “that’s as far as it will go”.
Luxon appeared to be speaking about Act’s Treaty principles bill. He may also have been speaking about a NZ First Treaty principles bill, although National has promised to pass this through all stages.
Meanwhile, Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer yelled across the House to NZ First MP Shane Jones to join the party, after he attacked her co-leader Rawiri Waitit’s headgear, worn on Wednesday, describing it as looking like a “muttonbird”.
“Come and join us if you’re so obsessed with us,” Ngarewa-Packer said.
At the outset of Question Time, Labour opted for a pop quiz tactic with the new National Government - with some success.
Opposition leader Chris Hipkins nearly had his first question gazumped by a surprise debate on the new Government calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, which Hipkins thought would happen later.
Hipkins raised this in the House, expressing his concern that the Government had decided to move a debate on the ceasefire today, trumping his question on the same subject.
He fought back, however, asking Luxon whether he could tell the difference between things like a ceasefire and a humanitarian pause. Luxon, apparently not knowing the difference, did not address the question.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters bailed Luxon out, coming to the rescue with a supplementary question, whether the Government had put its name to a recent United Nations statement on Gaza. Luxon answered in the affirmative.
Adam Pearse is a political reporter in the NZ Herald Press Gallery team, based at Parliament. He has worked for NZME since 2018, covering sport and health for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei before moving to the NZ Herald in Auckland, covering Covid-19 and crime.
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