Celebrating diversity in all forms

For the first time, Parliament’s composition is 50% female.

Most of us know that in 1893, a petition was presented to Parliament that resulted in women obtaining the vote.

The right to stand for Parliament took another 26 years and Elizabeth McCombs became the first woman elected in 1933.

There has been a substantial increase in the proportion of women MPs since the introduction of our mixed member proportional representation (MMP) electoral system.

A further reason for the increase is Labour’s commitment to having its caucus composition being at least 50% women.

It is no accident that this milestone has been reached because of Labour’s large caucus and commitment to women’s representation.

Diversity beyond gender is also critically important for our Parliament to represent our diverse community.

I’m proud to be part of a caucus with different ethnicities, religions, backgrounds, sexualities and more.

I was pleased to speak about our ethnic diversity at the wonderful Queenstown Diwali celebration a couple of weeks ago.

Minister of Tourism Stuart Nash recently visited Queenstown to discuss the strong summer season ahead, and the arrival of more than 10,000 working holiday visa holders to New Zealand.

More workers are expected, 35,000 working holiday visas being approved.

We had a useful meeting with Mayor Glyn Lewers and visited Ziptrek — but stayed on the platform!

We know it’s been a tough time for tourism, which is why the Government worked with the sector to provide support, including the $400 million Tourism Recovery Package, the $200 million Tourism Communities Plan, and the $54 million Innovation Programme for Tourism Recovery.

The Innovation Programme is to support improvements to the sustainability and resilience of tourism.

Sustainability is the focus of the Wao summit that this year covered both Wanaka and Queenstown.

I joined a tour looking at farming, bee keeping, native planting and food rescue.

At KiwiHarvest, we heard about the many families in need of support.

And Baskets ofBlessings explained its amazing process of cooking free frozen meals and distributing gift baskets to those having a tough time.

As interest rates go up, there is a lot of pressure on families.

That’s why the Prime Minister announced, at the Labour Party conference, an increase in government funding for early child care education.

These changes will kick in from April 1 next year.

A family with two parents, both working 40 hours a week on $26 an hour, with two children under 5, who would not have been eligible for child care assistance, now will be eligible for $252 a week.