In 'da House | Issue 16
Parliament is in recess for two weeks. This is when MPs “connect with their constituents”, “engage with the public”, “get out and about” and other cheesy euphemisms for kissing babies, cutting ribbons, and holding poorly-attended events.
I live in the Hutt South electorate, and I try to keep as “active” and “engaged” as possible in my local area. I can often be found in Go Bang Espresso on Jackson Street in Petone, for example. People also see me doing my shopping in my green mini at Pak n Save, plus there are fun things to do like visit local businesses and organisations, speaking engagements, and best of all, school concerts. Kids rule.
Still, one good thing about being a list MP is that I don’t ONLY have to hang out in the Hutt during recess weeks. (That last sentence should not in any way be interpreted as me dissing the Hutt. I would never do that.)
But because I have a “national constituency”, I also get to travel during recess weeks and connect with people all over the country. Right now, I’m in Napier, holding a film screening of the documentary Inside Child Poverty.
This is something I’ve been doing all over the country. It’s a great format. The documentary, by Bryan Bruce, is a powerful, but pleasantly concise 45 minute expose of just how bad we’ve let things get for our kids. It puts a challenge to politicians to work together to do something about it. It’s clear, succinct, very well made, and Bryan has very kindly agreed to let me screen it around the country. I introduce it, we watch it, have a cup of tea, and a bit of a discussion. Usually the audience have solved all our problems by the end of the night.
The screenings are not party-political events. I talk a bit about green party policy, but not much. Rather, people talk to me about the local dynamics of the child poverty issue in their cities or towns. The issues, while similar nationwide, have local nuances, and the solutions (when we finally get politicians to agree to them), will have to be similarly nuanced. For me as the Green Party spokesperson on children, it’s a great opportunity to improve my understanding of local issues, so that I’m better informed when speaking in Parliament or contributing to policy development.
It’s also a great way to see the country. I’m in Napier today, Hamilton tomorrow, and Dunedin on Friday. Last Friday that is. In spectacularly poor timing (and poor planning on my part; I should have written this last week), this column will come out two days after I’ve been in Dunedin screening this film. I hope you made it.