Editorial: Australian immigration policies are needlessly inhumane

The Press: Editorial

Brook Mitchell

An Australian man protests against his country’s immigration policy in Sydney in June 2016. New reports show that many are being kept too long in detention centres.

Australia’s immigration policies have become notorious for New Zealanders. We have heard many stories of those who have become victims of a brutal and inflexible system.

Australian law was amended in 2014 to allow for the deportation of those who fail a “character test”. Foreign-born nationals who spent more than 12 months in prison automatically fail. More controversially still, it can affect those who are merely deemed to have associated with criminal activity, such as war veteran Ko Haapu, who was sent back to New Zealand in 2016.

There was the sad case of Junior Togatuki who died in solitary confinement in a Sydney prison in 2015 as he waited to be deported. Togatuki had lived in Australia since he was 4 and had written to Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton before his death: “All my family live here in Australia. This is our home. Not New Zealand.”

Only weeks after Togatuki died in prison, former Prime Minister John Key said that he would raise the issue of deportations with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull but would not get Turnbull in “an armlock” over it. If there is an opposite of talking tough, this was it.

But would any pressure or persuasion have changed Turnbull and Dutton’s minds? The Australian government’s unyielding position since 2014 is that it makes no apologies for enacting policies that “further protect the Australian community” from refugees and asylum seekers as well as former criminals and others. When criticisms of Australia’s tough immigration policies have been made on this side of the Tasman, one response has been that the country is free to decide its own laws. Too bad if we in New Zealand happen to disapprove.

Which is true, up to a point. But reports released this week by Australia’s Commonwealth Ombudsman Colin Neave have shown once again that immigration policies do not just create the potential for abuse but that human rights abuses have almost become an inevitable feature of the process.

New Zealanders are the most likely to be affected by the policy of deporting citizens of other countries who have committed crimes resulting in more than 12 months’ imprisonment. More than half of those who had their visas cancelled in Australia between 2014 and 2016 were from New Zealand – 697 people out of a total of 1219.

The policy has been dramatically expanded. There were just 76 deportations in 2013-14, according to Neave’s findings. In the last financial year, the number jumped to 983.

The reports also showed that delays in the system have meant that New Zealanders and others have spent needlessly long periods of time in Australian detention centres. Neave called for new standard timeframes to avoid unnecessary imprisonment.

His reports also revealed that the federal government had not cancelled visas far enough ahead of the release of prisoners, which undermined a policy of “giving primary consideration to the best interests of those who have young children and/or experience prolonged family separation”.

In short, a policy that was already controversial and inhumane has been made even tougher on children and families as well as those who have been detained.

Just 17 percent of NZX-listed company directors are women

1:18 pm on 10 January 2017


The dean of Canterbury University’s law school says a relentless bias is to blame for the under-representation of women on boards.

Prof. Ursula Cheer, dean of the school of law at the University of Canterbury

Canterbury University law school dean Ursula Cheer says two-thirds of students studying law are women. Photo: supplied

Information filed by NZX-listed companies show, on average last year, 17 percent of directors were women.

The ratio is the same as 2015.

For the final quarter of 2016, the percentage fell to 13 percent.

Although the information derives from only 125 listed companies, Professor Ursula Cheer said the real percentage could be lower. Many would want to hide the lack of balance, she said.

Ms Cheer is the first female dean of Canterbury University’s law school and the only one in New Zealand’s six law schools.

She said the problem was complex.

“I think it’s a combination of women not being appointed – and that’s just a relentless bias that’s both acknowledged and isn’t – but it’s also a case of some women still not putting themselves forward and that can come down to confidence.”

business equality gender boards directors male female

On average last year, 17 percent of company directors were women. Photo: 123RF

Ms Cheer favoured quotas as they made having women on boards normal.

The chief executive of Governance New Zealand and Women on Boards, Linda Noble, agreed quotas worked overseas.

“It’s almost like a dirty word here when you talk about quotas because I don’t think any woman wants to be on a board just because she is a woman,” she said.

“But it does make a real difference.”

Ms Cheer said students studying law were two-thirds women to one-third men.

“That could have a big impact on the profession… which doesn’t appear to be prepared or doing much about this,” she said.

“If you look at the structure of a lot of law firms you see mostly men at the top and then mostly female associates.”

A Women in Law Society was recently established at Canterbury University. At its inception it had more than 100 members, including Ms Cheer.

Worker exploitation rampant across NZ, report shows

Six organisations are calling on the Government to do more to prevent human trafficking following a new study that reveals widespread worker exploitation in New Zealand.

The research was commissioned by six non-governmental organisations (NGO) after human rights abuses were exposed on foreign charter boats.

The report, “Worker exploitation in New Zealand: a troubling landscape”, showed modern-day slavery was happening across many industries including hospitality, construction and dairy.

Researcher Dr Christina Stringer said as well as being a serious human rights issue, the exploitation of migrant workers put New Zealand’s reputation at risk.

Stringer interviewed 105 people over two years. Some of the most common exploitation included excessive work hours without breaks (up to 18 hour shifts and 80 to 90 hour weeks), no pay or severe underpayment, and degrading treatment such as being denied bathroom breaks and verbal or physical abuse.

This year Korean fishing boat Oyang 77, which operated in New Zealand waters, had eight charges of illegally dumping ...


This year Korean fishing boat Oyang 77, which operated in New Zealand waters, had eight charges of illegally dumping fish laid against it. There were also reports of crews being beaten and forced to work for minimal pay.

In the horticulture industry, for example, workers were commonly paid less than the minimum wage, with some being paid as little as $5 an hour.

In hospitality, one worker reported getting paid for four to five hours of work despite working 90-hour weeks.

A farm worker said they had to kill more than 300 bobby calves with a hammer and others reported poor working conditions, lack of pay and poor treatment of animals.

Dr Christina Stringer's study reveals tales of low pay, verbal and physical abuse and excessive work hours without breaks.


Dr Christina Stringer’s study reveals tales of low pay, verbal and physical abuse and excessive work hours without breaks.

Those interviewed in the construction industry reported entering into debt bondages to pay recruitment fees of about $10,000 each. When they arrived in New Zealand, their work experience documents and passports were held by an immigration advisor until they had paid their fees off.

Stringer said many temporary migrants put up with exploitation so they can get permanent residency, or because they were forced or lied to by their employer.

“These workers’ contribution to our economy must be valued and the vulnerable among them must be properly protected,” she said.

The NGOs, which include Stand Against Slavery and Child Alert (or ECPAT NZ), are calling for the Government to set up a human trafficking office and fund more research into vulnerable groups.

The group is also calling on a private sector investment, a mandatory country induction for migrant workers to explain their rights and where to get help and a red flag system to identify trafficking and labour exploitation.

Stand Against Slavery chief executive Peter Mihaere said the report showed slavery was right in our backyards and action was needed immediately.

“Let us be very clear, this research is just the beginning. We need to work together, carry out more in-depth research and put in place solutions needed for New Zealand to be exploitation and slavery free.”


Rise Above: Protect your right to a stable climate and healthy environment!

People around the world are rising above the challenges of the climate crisis and reaching for a better future for us all. The movement is diverse and strong – from disaster survivors, frontline communities, Indigenous Peoples, farmers, youth, grandmothers, and more.  These people are pushing back because fossil fuel companies and governments are failing to protect and respect human rights.

Climate change threatens human rights. We are already experiencing the impacts, including sea-level rise, temperature increase, extreme weather events, and changes in precipitation. These in turn result in human rights impacts, such as loss of land, harm to clean water, reduction of food, dislocation, outbreak of disease, and even loss of life. People cannot and will not accept these threats and are taking action NOW to protect themselves and their families, communities, and future generations.


MPs’ lack of interest in treaty bills ‘heartbreaking’

9:04 pm on 6 December 2016


A Māori MP has criticised fellow parliamentarians for what she says is a heartbreaking lack of interest in the process of addressing historical injustices.

Marama Fox said MPs needed to attend treaty settlement bill readings to learn of the historic treaty breaches.

Iwi and hapū packed the public gallery to hear the bills being read, but where were the MPs? Photo: Screenshot

Last week three iwi groups travelled from Taranaki to Parliament to hear their treaty settlement bills being read, but found very few politicians in the house.

The groups, Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki, have waited more than 150 years for Treaty of Waitangi breaches against them to be addressed.

In Parliament, a full public gallery listened quietly as Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson told their story.

“Before 1860, Ngāruahine were thriving, they were economically successful and they retained ownership of their lands and their resources – by 1865, every acre of the Ngāruahine rohe had been indiscriminately confiscated by the Crown.”

Mr Finlayson went on to describe the events of the Parihaka invasion as some of the gravest moments in the country’s history, in an account that reduced Labour’s Nanaia Mahuta to tears.

Maori Party co-leaders Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell.

Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell Photo:Supplied

“The raupatu (land confiscation) was indiscriminate, unjust and unconscionable. The Crown deeply regrets the serious damage its actions have caused to Ngāruahine and its people.”

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox described what happened to those arrested at Parihaka in 1881.

“Your people were convicted, tortured, ferried away, enslaved, killed.”

And her co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell, spoke about how he felt visiting the area.

“I was taken aback, I suppose, by almost a depression, and I never got to grips with it until I understood that when you have your land taken from you, you’re bound to be depressed.”

RNZ asked each political party how many MPs attended the settlement readings last week:

  • Māori Party – two MPs
  • Labour Party – a minimum of five to six
  • NZ First – three MPs
  • Green Party – no more than three at any one time
  • National – did not supply numbers

Ms Fox said, at the very least, MPs should turn up and learn about the historical treaty breaches.

“They’ve been waiting 150 years for this, to come to this point, to address the injustice. And when they come and sit in front of the government, and the government is absent, it’s heartbreaking.”

Many MPs were attending select committee meetings while the treaty settlements were being heard in the house, but Ms Fox said the committees did not have to sit during the readings – it was a choice.

“When we go under urgency, all the other select committees stop, and then we get the treaty bills and we go into urgency and all the other select committees carry on – because they don’t value it, don’t deem it important to be there, they think ‘this is a Māori thing, we’ll leave it to them’.”

Tomorrow, another three iwi will arrive at Parliament to have their bills read.

Labour MP Peeni Henare said he would be there, and was challenging other MPs to come in numbers.

New Zealand can be a voice for human rights, in the region and on the world stage


Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research with Amnesty International, holds a copy of a report she co-authored titled ...


Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research with Amnesty International, holds a copy of a report she co-authored titled ‘Island of Despair – Australia’s “Processing” of Refugees on Nauru’ in Sydney, Australia, October 17, 2016 that concludes many of the 410 asylum seekers held on the tiny Pacific Island are being driven to attempt suicide to escape the prison-like conditions they face in indefinite detention on behalf of Australia.

OPINION: These are hard times for human rights. Wherever one looks, humanity’s most cherished freedoms are under assault.

Across the Western world, intolerant politicians are riding to power on a wave of their own hateful rhetoric. In recent weeks, three African countries and Russia pulled out of the International Criminal Court, to preserve their relationships with war criminals and to evade justice for their own crimes.

In parts of Asia, authoritarian-minded leaders are peddling a false trade-off between security and human rights. Yet the people who live within these countries are reduced to an afterthought.

In Malaysia, national security laws are being used to choke dissent. And in the Philippines, in the name of ridding the streets of drugs, people are being unlawfully killed in them by the thousands.

A photo from Amnesty International claiming to show children playing near a fence at the Australian-run detention centre ...

Amnesty International

A photo from Amnesty International claiming to show children playing near a fence at the Australian-run detention centre on the Pacific island nation of Nauru.

 The conflict zones of Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan continue to see large scale civilian casualties with little prospect of the perpetrators being brought to justice. And from Europe to Pakistan to Australia, the desperate people who have fled these conflicts are being hounded by the authorities, or abandoned to a cruel fate in camps and detention centres.

But these times also offer an opportunity to countries willing to seize it. Against this bleak backdrop, governments with strong human rights records can step forward to lead. Countries should not be distinguished by the size of their militaries or economies, but how they engage in the service of humanity.

New Zealand is well-placed to make a difference. In the past, it has shown it can take a stand for human rights. Kiwis shattered the glass ceiling some time ago, with two women prime ministers to date – a key step towards gender equality. At the height of South African apartheid, they also took a stand for racial equality.

Even before it became a signatory to the Refugee Convention, New Zealand welcomed hundreds of refugees who fled World War II. Since then it has continued to resettle people who escape persecution in different parts of the world, providing the opportunity for them to rebuild their lives, while creating a stronger and more diverse country in the process.

New Zealand should honour that tradition, and urge its closest allies to fulfil their own international obligations. In recent months, across the Tasman, Australia has earned global notoriety for dispatching refugees and asylum seekers to the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus, to be “processed”.

Processing is Australia’s euphemism for a system that does the opposite of what refugees need, minimising protection and maximising harm.

Immigration minister Michael Woodhouse welcomes Afghan refugees to New Zealand in 2013.

John Selkirk

Immigration minister Michael Woodhouse welcomes Afghan refugees to New Zealand in 2013.

Recently I travelled to Nauru to carry out a human rights investigation for Amnesty International on the island. In a career that has taken me to war-zones across the world, nothing prepared me for what I saw there.

Almost everyone I spoke to vividly described how they have suffered great mental anguish, and how it has driven many to self-harm and thoughts of suicide. On Nauru, harm is intentionally being inflicted on people, with the aim of intimidating and coercing them, so that their plight can serve as a deterrent to stop others from attempting the same desperate journeys.

It is a policy of punishing the victims, and under international law it amounts to torture. It’s not a claim I make lightly, nor is Amnesty International alone in characterising these human rights violations as extremely serious. Last week, Francois Crepeau, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, said conditions on Nauru are “cruel, inhuman and degrading.”

Yet the Australian government remains unmoved, issuing reflexive denials in the face of indisputable facts. Echoing its criticism of Amnesty International’s report on Nauru, it said it “rejected” the Special Rapporteur’s findings.

New Zealand can chart a different course by responsibly resettling refugees, and urging Australia to face up to the reality of its actions and do the same. By showing leadership, New Zealand can claim its place as a voice for human rights in the region, and on the world stage.

Dr Anna Neistat is  lawyer who leads  Amnesty International’s research worldwide. She has conducted more than 60 investigations in conflict areas around the world, including Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Kenya, Yemen, Chechnya, Sri Lanka and Haiti. Most recently she spent time on Nauru conducting research into Australia’s offshore detention facility there, which she spoke about in Christchurch on Friday morning.

 – Stuff

Last updated 05:00, December 2 2016

Time has come for a written constitution

Sir Geoffrey Palmer (left) and Andrew Butler.PHOTO: GRANT MAIDEN PHOTOGRAPHY

Sir Geoffrey Palmer (left) and Andrew Butler.
A constitution for our times: let’s have it now, argues Andrew Butler before the Dunedin launch of his co-authored book with Sir Geoffrey Palmer on the issue. 

Public power. Who has it? What do they use it for? What limits must be respected? Who can enforce those limits?

Those are the sorts of questions that lie at the heart of any country’s constitution.

But in New Zealand it is not easy for people to find the answers to these basic questions. That’s because New Zealand is one of only three countries without a proper written constitution.

In our recent book A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand, Sir Geoffrey Palmer and I say it is time for New Zealanders to adopt a written constitution fit for our times. Through our website, Facebook page and Twitter handle, we are seeking your views on whether New Zealand should have a written constitution, and if so, whether some aspects of how public power is exercised in this country need to change.

To understand the principal rules of how public power is exercised in New Zealand, you have to wade your way through a jumble of statutes – some from New Zealand, but quite a few very old ones from England; and a plethora of obscure conventions, letters patent and manuals. The relationship between all these sources of law is obscure and unclear.

We share this untidy approach to constitutional law with the UK. Brexit has shown how fragile an unwritten constitution can be. No-one knows who has the power to get the UK out of the EU. The courts have had to step in and answer these basic questions. Those newspapers that didn’t like the recent decision saying only Parliament can approve exit labelled the judges as “Enemies of the people” and “Traitors”. What a farrago. No wonder a publication like The Economist, that has long opposed a written UK constitution, accepts the time has come.

In our proposed constitution, we aim to continue the best of our constitutional traditions, while proposing some innovations we believe will make our system even stronger.

We propose that, unlike at present, Parliament cannot pass laws that are inconsistent with the Bill of Rights or other important constitutional principles, by a bare majority of 50% plus 1 of MPs. But nor do we favour an American-style Bill of Rights where the last word is left for the courts. Instead, we favour something more middle of the road. Under our proposed constitution, the last word would lie with Parliament. It could override the Bill of Rights where either 75% of MPs are in support, or a simple majority of the people at referendum provide approval.

That is consistent with New Zealand tradition. The Electoral Act 1993 provides that core features of our electoral system can only be changed by referendum or 75% support of Parliament. We are simply seeking to roll out the same level of protection for other core features of our constitution.

We propose that the Bill of Rights be expanded to include rights like privacy, property and a clean environment.

We propose that New Zealand finally becomes a republic. We understand the warmth for the Queen. But as an institution, the British monarchy does not reflect modern New Zealand.

Too much law is passed in a rush, increasing the likelihood of mistakes, perfunctory public consultation or short-term knee-jerk laws in time for the next election. We propose a four-year term of Parliament, so the Government and MPs have time to make careful policy proposals and legislation.

So why is this a good time for change?

First, the flag debate showed New Zealanders were open to discussing who we are and where we want to be.

Second, the 2013 Report of the Constitution Advisory Panel recorded significant support for setting out New Zealand’s constitutional rules in an easily accessible written document. Our draft constitution does this in 40 pages.

Third, developments such as Brexit, the US presidential elections and rising extremism in Continental Europe show there is public disquiet with the way in which power is being exercised. Will New Zealand be immune? Unlikely. Now is a good time for a refresh to see what additional checks and balances our system needs so as to maintain public confidence.

Fourth, when the idea of a written, supreme law constitution for New Zealand was last seriously mooted in 1960, one reason against was that New Zealanders were British; a written constitution was seen as un-British. Immigration trends during the past 20 years mean if it was ever true that Kiwis were British, we are no longer. New New Zealanders have grown up in different places where they do not have the Westminster tradition. Making it easy to access the rules of the game is important if we want these new Kiwis to be able to participate fully in public life.

What do you think? Let us know on our website www.constitutionaotearoa.org.nz  or come along to the Dunedin launch of our book and Q&A at Otago Museum tomorrow at 7.30pm organised by the University Bookshop and chaired by University of Otago law professor Andrew Geddis. Entry $5 at the door.

Andrew Butler is a Wellington litigator and co-author of A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Editorial: The first “three-strikes” case shows what a poor law this is

ACT leader David Seymour says the three-strikes law is working well.


ACT leader David Seymour says the three-strikes law is working well.

OPINION: A man who groped a prison guard’s bottom has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

This absurd situation has come about because of a harsh and misguided piece of legislation – the “three-strikes” law passed in 2010.

The law says that anyone who commits three crimes from a long list of 40 must be sentenced to the maximum possible penalty for the final offence.

Raven Casey Campbell is the first person to reach a third strike. His offence was plainly an indecent assault – and one that caused distress and humiliation to his victim. Yet equally plainly, it was far less serious than many crimes that bear the same name, and entirely undeserving of a seven-year jail term.

Even the law’s most gleefully punitive supporters agree. As consolation, they point out that the sentencing judge has allowed Campbell the possibility of parole after two years and four months.

It is only partial consolation, however: if not for the three-strikes law, Justice Kit Toogood said Campbell would probably have received 12 months in prison, something closer to a reasonable sentence.

Even to restrict the punishment as he did, the judge had to use what the law’s backers had hoped would be a rare exception to the rule – and declare that it would be “manifestly unjust” to imprison Campbell for the full seven years with no parole.

ACT MP David Seymour cheerfully argues that this “safety valve” shows the law is working. Actually, it shows that the law is a mess.

The Campbell case, after all, follows earlier judgments that it would also be “manifestly unjust” to send two murderers to prison for their entire lives, with no chance of parole, on their second strike. (The longest non-parole period ever ordered in New Zealand, by comparison, is 30 years).

Again, one of those men was only facing that likelihood because of a relatively low-level indecent assault as his first strike.

In upholding those decisions, the Court of Appeal decided that findings of manifest injustice did not, as it turns out, need to be “rare or exceptional”. In other words, there might be rather a lot of them.

So when will a sentence be handed down that actually matches the law’s draconian presumptions? And what sort of law needs constant resort to a “safety valve” to prevent gross injustice?

A poor one. The “three strikes” law invites harsh sentences because it includes so many offences, some of which, like those against discharging firearms, are comparatively minor, and most of which cover crimes that can vary widely in their seriousness.

The law’s drafters understood and ignored this. Their original bill applied the three strikes on the basis of the actual sentences imposed by judges, not the offences – a fairer approach. But that was ditched, with the result that unjust punishments keep emerging, and that New Zealand’s prisons are expected to hold an extra 700 offenders by 2060.

Against this, the law’s supporters argue that its escalating warnings deter criminals. In fact, this is hotly disputed. The Court of Appeal calls the evidence for such deterrence “equivocal at best”.

A final warning certainly did not deter Campbell from his offensive, brief and highly consequential act.

 – The Dominion Post

Government agrees on ‘landmark’ recommendations to address gender pay gap in workforce



A case led by Aged care worker Kristine Bartlett and E Tu Union, has resulted in a landmark court decision, and ...


A case led by Aged care worker Kristine Bartlett and E Tu Union, has resulted in a landmark court decision, and Government agreement to set up an easier process for all claims of gender pay inequality.

Women will be able to file complaints over pay equality with their employers, rather than the courts, following a Government decision to back the recommendations of an expert panel.

It has been described as a “landmark” win by unions, which have applauded the decision.

The announcement was made by senior ministers, who confirmed the Government had agreed to principles that would provide guidance to both employers and employees in how to assess and resolve claims.

It also laid out a process for bargaining, to address pay equity in the workforce.

The Government set up a working group more than a year ago, to address the pay gap between men and women.

It’s work ran parallel to negotiations with unions over pay rates for caregivers.

It delivered its recommendations to Cabinet earlier this year, and the Government has agreed to all 21 recommendations.

That included one to compare roles between males and females, as part of the assessment to discover whether gender-based pay discrimination was at play.

The Government had also decided to supplement that recommendation to clarify how to chose an appropriate job for comparison, when making a pay claim, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse said.

“This was an area the Joint Working Group was not able to agree on.

“However the Government believes this needs to be addressed to ensure the process is clear and effectively addresses pay equity claims for all parties.”

Minister for State Services Paula Bennett said she wanted to thank unions and employer representative on the working group for their work.

Women’s Affairs Minister Louise Upston said gender should not affect what people are paid.

“Occupations should not be lower paid just because women make up most of the employees.”

There would now be a “pathway for resolving issues, as happens with other employment matters”, which included bargaining, mediation and ultimately the Employment Relations Authority.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the Government had finally caught up, after “dragging the chain” for eight years.

“I don’t think there’s any room here to be quibbling about this, we’ve just got to get on, get some good legislation in place and get the processes moving so that women can be paid not on the basis of their gender, but of the work they do.”

Little said the Government’s supplement to a recommendation over establishing comparative modes of work has the potential to be problematic.

“Because you can anticipate there will be businesses who roles and occupations are dominated by women.

“Part of me says ‘lets see how it looks’. The reality is we’ve got a long way to go before women in New Zealand get an extra dollar in their pocket.”

Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff was a lead negotiator in the development of the Principles.

“I am pleased that the Government is committed to being on the right side of history in making real progress to paying working women what they are worth,” he said.

“This decision is a result of a brave women, Kristine Bartlett and her union E tū, deciding to take on her employer in order to address historic low and pay and gender based discrimination in her industry.”

Last year Bartlett fronted a case against TerraNova, on pay rates in the aged care sector.

A landmark Court of Appeal decision found women in predominantly female workforces could make a claim for pay equity under the Equal Pay Act.

The Government set up the working group in response to that decision, and went into negotiations separately with unions over the wages and salaries of about 50,000 workers in aged and disability residential care, and home and community services.

Those negotiations were ongoing.

Wagstaff clarified where the working group disagreed on selecting a comparator to assess equal pay claims.

“Our view is that the fairest outcome is for the best and most relevant comparator to be selected in each circumstance. The Government has a different opinion and wants to implement a hierarchy of comparators.

“We do not support this as a starting point. We think that this will waste time and create unnecessary paper work.”

A comparator was a non-female-dominated job that can be used as a way to value work.

BusinessNZ was also part of the working group.

Chief Executive Kirk Hope said the Government’s agreement was a major breakthrough.

“The principles require the reasons for any undervaluation of work to be taken into account, and require comparisons between industries or groups to be made based on the skills, responsibilities, conditions and effort involved, with the sensible provision that comparisons should be made within similar businesses or industries in the first instance.”

The Public Service Association said New Zealand could “once again claim to be a leader in gender equality”.

National Secretary Erin Polaczuk said it was a “huge step forward” for workers of any gender in New Zealand.

“There are many jobs in New Zealand that have historically been done by women, like support work or administration and clerical – and their work is undervalued.

“Today’s decision by the government sets about righting that wrong, and we’re delighted.”

But she said the Government’s view on finding an appropriate comparator was more complex.

“When putting together an equal pay claim, employees have to find a job they can compare their work to, in order to put a proper value on the work they do.

“Cabinet’s proposing a ‘start close then move out’ mechanism, where employees must try to find a comparison in their own business, then their industry and then their sector.”

The PSA would now raise equal pay claims for thousands of low-paid women – after previously advocating for social workers and admin/clerical workers, Polaczuk said.

With only three sitting weeks left at Parliament, the Government would introduce a bill next year to amend both the Equal Pay Act and the Employment Relations Act.

Philippines President shouldn’t have been allowed in NZ – Human Rights Foundation

Newstalk ZB staff
Tuesday, 22 November 2016, 7:54PM

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte stopped over on his way back from meeting with Apec leaders in Peru. Photo / AP

UPDATED 9.26PM The Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation says New Zealand has standards for granting visas, and he wouldn’t have thought the president of the Philippines would meet them.

President Rodrigo Duterte is in Auckland to refuel his plane on his way back from the APEC meeting in Peru. He met with New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully tonight for an hour.

Foundation spokesman Peter Hosking told Larry Williams he’s not assured Mr McCully would have tackled President Duterte on his human rights record, and he suspects it wasn’t confronted at APEC either.

“It certainly wasn’t on any agenda that I know of. Perhaps there were some leaders who had a private word with him, but I’m not particularly confident about that either.”

LISTEN ABOVE: Human Rights Foundation spokesman Peter Hosking spoke with Larry Williams

After tonight’s meeting, Murray McCully described President Duterte as “a tough guy but he was warm, courteous and actually quite charming”.

“He’s a very engaging character and it’s not difficult to discuss sensitive issues with him. He is very happy to engage on those issues.”

McCully would not confirm whether they talked about the extra-judicial killings Duterte has encouraged although he said it was wide ranging discussion and included the South China Seas.

“We talked about everything,” McCully said. “I don’t want to talk publicly about what was a private discussion but we discussed the full range of issues.

“He doesn’t beat around the bush. He has got quite firm views and he expresses them, and very colourfully.”

McCully said his meeting was a courtesy call because president was in the country on his return from Apec and it was “the appropriate thing to do to have someone from the Government call on him and welcome him and make sure that he is being looked after here.”