Friday, August 10, 2007

In the ballot XXI

Another batch of Member's Bills currently in the ballot. Previous batches are indexed here:

New Zealand Superannuation (Non-Qualified Spouse Entitlement) Amendment Bill (Pita Paraone): This bill amends the New Zealand Superannuation Act 2001 to bring the rebate paid by those receiving the non-qualified spouse rate of New Zealand Superannuation (s2 (b) here) into line with other benefits. Currently, pensioners with ineligible spouses are subjected to income test 3, meaning that their benefit is clawed back at 70 cents in the dollar for each dollar earned over $80 a week. The bill would change this to 30 cents in the dollar, the same rate as the widow's, invalid's, and domestic purposes benefits. Given that we have both a labour shortage and an aging workforce, such a change seems like a good idea.

Parental Leave Entitlement (Lump Sum Payments) Bill (Paula Bennett): This bill would amend the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 to allow those eligible for paid parental leave the option of receiving a lump sum rather than fortnightly payments. It would also amend eligibility criteria to include seasonal workers. This seems reasonable enough, but there's a nasty sting: the bill would also deny all paid parental leave to anyone who receives a benefit during the paid parental leave period. Which means firstly that people on the DPB who work part-time would have no access to paid parental leave, despite meeting all the eligibility criteria - and secondly, that the thousands of families who receive support under the Working For Families package (much of which is paid under the Social Security Act) would also be ineligible. So, while seemingly intended to help people, this bill is actually a Trojan horse and a very nasty piece of work.

Citizenship (For Descendants of Those in the Service of New Zealand) Amendment Bill (Judith Collins): The aim of his bill is to ensure that the descendents of NZ military personnel serving overseas are not disadvantaged in their citizenship. Currently, children of New Zealand service personnel born overseas are deemed to be New Zealand citizens under s6 (4) (b) (ii) of the Citizenship Act 1977. But according to Collins, their children cannot similarly attain NZ citizenship by reason of their birth. The bill proposes to amend the Citizenship Act to correct this, but to my eye it seems to be a nonexistent problem; overseas-born grandchildren of New Zealand service personnel are automatically citizens by descent thanks to s7 (1) (a), just as they would be had their grandparents stayed in New Zealand and their parents made the decision to settle elsewhere. There being no disadvantage to correct, the bill seems completely redundant.

As usual, I'll have more bills as I acquire them.