Thursday, July 30, 2009

National votes for slavery

This evening, Maryan Street's Customs and Excise (Prohibition of Imports Made by Slave Labour) Amendment Bill went before the House for its first reading. It was defeated 63-58, with National and ACT voting against.

I am absolutely appalled by this. Slavery is one of the worst human rights abuses on the planet. Despite being defined as a crime against humanity in international law and banned in practically every country in the world, between 12 and 27 million people are still slaves. Their exploitation is a US$100 billion a year industry. This bill would have helped, in a small way, to do something about that - and by providing a positive example, might have encouraged other countries to take action as well. It would have been in the best tradition of New Zealand human rights policy: acting, and by doing so, setting an example for others to follow.

But National and ACT didn't support it. Oh, they made it quite clear that they disapprove of slavery. But they were unwilling to actually do anything about it.

Edmund Burke once said that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. National has helped evil triumph tonight. Their votes supported the continuing existence of slavery as a blight upon the human conscience. And that is absolutely unforgivable.