Dec 7 2023

‘That’s as far as it will go’: Luxon on Act’s Treaty principles bill

Winston Peters, Christopher Luxon and David Seymour after signing a coalition agreement (Photo: Marty Melville/AFP via Getty Images)

The prime minister has appeared to suggest that Act’s Treaty principles bill will not be allowed to proceed beyond the select committee stage. Supporting such legislation to select committee is promised in the Act-National coalition agreement, which implies the bill won’t go any further, but Luxon has not said it so explicitly before.

Asked by Te Pāti Māori’s Tākuta Ferris why he was “leaving the door open” to a referendum on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Luxon said a Treaty principles bill (which Act has said would include a requirement for a public binding referendum as part of a commencement clause) would be supported to select committee, but “that’s as far as it will go”.

“We have not committed to a referendum,” he added.

Opposition calls for stronger ceasefire motion rejected

Chris Hipkins speaks at parliament (Photo: Joel MacManus)

The motion by deputy prime minister Winston Peters to call for “urgent steps towards establishing a ceasefire” in Gaza has passed in parliament, after the majority of amendments suggested by the opposition were rejected.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins said New Zealand should be calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire because it was the right thing to do.

“New Zealand should be sending a very clear message that the violence and the killing has to stop,” he said. “I think waiting until a ceasefire is already in existence before we call for one doesn’t show moral leadership.”

Greens’ foreign affairs spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman also said the motion being put forward by Peters didn’t go far enough, saying New Zealand should be demanding an immediate, unconditional and permanent ceasefire.

“We need aid to go into Gaza, we need the killing of civilians to stop,” she said.

“We will be seeking to insert the numbers of those killed, which at the moment for Palestinians has exceeded 16,000 people including 7,000 children. It’s at 1,200 for Israelis.”

The amendment was rejected alongside several others. The sole amendment accepted was put forward by Labour’s Phil Twyford, which added to the statement: “and that process must seek a just and lasting peace that recognises the existence and self-determination of Israelis and Palestinians. We call for the establishment of a free and independent Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution, with both nations having secure and recognised borders where all citizens have equal rights and freedoms”.

MPs debate ceasefire motion following pro-Israel protest at parliament

The Beehive and Parliament Buildings, Wellington. (Photo: Getty Images)

During the first question time of the new parliament, MPs have debated a motion proposed by deputy prime minister Winston Peters for all parties involved in the conflict in Gaza to “take urgent steps towards establishing a ceasefire”.

Members have spoken passionately about the conflict, with Labour MP Damien O’Connor saying Israel’s actions amounted to genocide. “The situation in Gaza is absolutely appalling,” said O’Connor. “No person with any ounce of moral courage courage can see this as anything but horrific.”

“[It is] nothing more than a genocide and I call upon Israel, a nation that has been set up and seek sympathy and support because of the Holocaust and the outrageous outcomes. I call on that nation to look at itself and to apply the same humanity to the people of Palestine.”

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said New Zealand should go further than calling for a ceasefire and expel the Israeli and US ambassadors, as well as impose economic sanctions against Israel. At the end of her speech she said “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, the phrase that caused controversy when used by Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick last month. Earlier during the debate, Act MP Simon Court had criticised Swarbrick’s use of the phrase, while raising concerns about antisemitism and “mob rule”.

Court had accepted a petition by a group led by Destiny Church’s Brian Tamaki who held a pro-Israel rally in the grounds of parliament earlier today. At the start of her speech, Ngarewa-Packer said some of the protesters had “swamped” her car on the way into parliament this morning, draping a flag across her windscreen and stopping her from leaving the car.

Watch: Gaza ceasefire motion debated, Luxon and Hipkins to face off in first question time

Chrises Hipkins and Luxon (Image: Archi Banal)

The first question time of the new parliament is under way. Deputy prime minister Winston Peters has called on parties involved in the Gaza conflict to take urgent steps towards establishing a ceasefire. Greens co-leader Marama Davidson is currently seeking amendments to the motion.