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PM addresses UNRWA funding amid Hamas allegations

Author
Thomas Coughlan,
Publish Date
Tue, 30 Jan 2024, 7:18AM

PM addresses UNRWA funding amid Hamas allegations

Author
Thomas Coughlan,
Publish Date
Tue, 30 Jan 2024, 7:18AM

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said New Zealand’s funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency wouldn’t be signed off until Foreign Minister Winston Peters was satisfied it was appropriate to continue contributing to the aid operation after alleged links between 12 of its staffers and Hamas.

Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs Todd McLay told Newshub the Government would await the results of a UN inquiry before deciding whether to cut funding.

Parliament returns today, after a long summer hiatus, and the resumption of normal transmission is no ordinary sitting day - today is “Super Tuesday”.

It is not the Super Tuesday, the name given to the day during the American presidential primary election when a flurry of states hold primary elections or caucuses, potentially stitching up a particular party’s nomination and, by extension, propelling a single person to within a whisker of being the most powerful person in the world.

In New Zealand, Super Tuesday is the name given by people who work in Parliament to a Tuesday during Parliamentary sitting when the Monday has been a national public holiday, or Wellington or Auckland anniversary day.

When this happens, Cabinet is delayed until Tuesday, smooshing it up against that day’s already packed schedule. Party caucuses meet in the morning, Question Time begins at 2pm. Usually there is also a post-Cabinet press conference, but this Tuesday is so super that this has been cancelled.

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Each of those events present opportunities for MPs to be stopped by media, meaning some MPs will be in the limelight from the time of the first major party caucus meeting at 9am, until Christopher Luxon wraps up his Cabinet meeting to head back into the debating chamber.

Ahead of Question Time, there will be a Ministerial Statement followed by a debate on the Government’s decision to deploy six troops to the Red Sea to aid the United States in its strikes against Houthi rebels.

The Government announced the deployment last week. Neither Labour nor the Greens support it. Members from those parties will have the opportunity to ask the Government questions about the deployment.

Race relations will likely be at the top of the agenda, in the wake of the Hui-ā-Motu and Rātana celebrations, when the Government was given a strong word about its agenda for Māori.

New Zealand First’s Shane Jones told RNZ he welcomed the chance to debate things like the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

“The Waitangi Tribunal has come up with lots of principles. The principle of partnership must not and cannot defeat democracy, which is why I want the Waitangi Tribunal substantially redirected and its writ changed. They cannot and must not have the authority to write a new constitution for New Zealand,” Jones said.

“We don’t agree that the Treaty of Waitangi represents a partnership between the Crown and iwi to the extent that it overwhelms and gets rid of democracy.”

It is likely a considerable portion of questions in Question Time will probe the Government’s Māori agenda. Recent remarks from Act leader David Seymour about his desire to flatten the tax system may also come under scrutiny.

This Super Tuesday will be even more “super” than usual. With the 54th Parliament only just getting into gear, this Tuesday will see no fewer than six new MPs give their maiden speeches.

They begin at 4.15 pm with National’s Rima Nakhle and go until the dinner break, with Cameron Brewer, Dana Kirkpatrick, Carl Bates, Carlos Cheung and Miles Anderson all giving their maiden speeches.

For Labour, one of the biggest events of the week will be the valedictory speech of veteran Labour MP Kelvin Davis, which will be delivered on Wednesday at 5.45pm.

Davis held the deputy leadership of the party under the leadership of Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins. He has been an MP since 2008, although spent a stint outside of Parliament after losing his seat in the 2011 election.

Parliament will only sit for one week before breaking for Waitangi Day, when a large contingent of MPs head north for commemorations.

Thomas Coughlan is Deputy Political Editor and covers politics from Parliament. He has worked for the Herald since 2021 and has worked in the press gallery since 2018.

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