Labour's new Wellington Central MP has leapt to the defence of the city's public servants, challenging the Government to respect their work and to stop calling them "useless bureaucrats".
Grant Robertson also used his maiden speech to Parliament to champion the compulsory teaching of Maori in schools, protecting Wellington's town belt and tackling the city's overcrowded houses.
Too many homes were poorly insulated and posed a health problem, he said. "This makes them unhealthy and energy-inefficient. I believe we must as a country make a key priority the quality of our housing stock and indeed the provision of adequate social housing."
The former diplomat also called on the Government to care for Wellington public servants, especially their right to participate in the political process: "I look forward to the new Government upholding its campaign promises to support and respect public servants.
"Can I suggest a good place to start might be to stop referring to hard-working public servants as useless bureaucrats."
Mr Robertson said he had plans to introduce legislation to ensure Wellington's town belt remained in public ownership.
He also called for Maori to be a compulsory language for all pupils till the age of 14. "This is one small step we could take to build a more harmonious society."
National's new Sikh list MP, Kanwaljit Bakshi, was also among the eight MPs to make their parliamentary debuts yesterday. He expressed pride in being part of the growing ethnic diversity of New Zealand society.
He pointed to his colleagues, Ethnic Affairs Minister Pansy Wong and Korean MP Melissa Lee, as a reflection of this.
Other MPs to make their maiden speeches were Auckland Central's Nikki Kaye and New Plymouth's Jonathan Young, both of National, the Maori Party's Te Tai Tonga MP Rahui Katene, Green list MP Kevin Hague, Labour list MP Rajen Prasad, and Labour's Christchurch Central MP, Brendon Burns.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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