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'His use-by date may be coming up': Sepuloni snaps back at Prebble's claims MPP is unnecessary

Alakihihifo Vailala, Te Rito Journalism Cadet

Labour's Deputy Leader Carmel Sepuloni has hit back at claims by a former Labour cabinet minister that MPP is past its use-by-date.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Labour’s Deputy Leader reaffirms that the party will be supporting a bill that may restore NZ citizenship for a group of Samoans.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Labour Deputy Leader, Carmel Sepuloni says the party is “certainly supportive” of the bill reaching select committee.

Speaking on 531pi Pacific Mornings she says “we’re on this journey with the Green Party".

Green MP, Teanau Tuiono’s member’s bill was picked from the Biscuit Tin in August last year.

It aims at restoring citizenship for a group of people born in Western Samoa whose citizenship was removed by the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act passed in 1982.

The bill is due to have its first reading next week and it needs at least 63 for it to proceed to a select committee.

Sepuloni says it’s important that the bill reaches a select committee to hear from the public, Pacific communities and advisors on the legislation.

“We’re hopeful that government parties support it to first reading as well. Probably less hope in ACT and National. And so it’s important that we put some pressure on New Zealand First to get them behind this.”

The Prime Minister has confirmed that the National Party will not be supporting the bill despite its Pacific Sector advising them to do so.

With no Pacific MPs in government, Sepuloni says there is a lack of advocacy for Pacific communities which is being further jeopardised by the proposed cuts to the Ministry for Pacific People (MPP).

“It’s just disproportionate. All of the public sector have been asked to make cuts but 40 per cent of [MPP] staff is huge.

“I think the first thing to note is that for us, it reflects a lack of value for our Pacific Ministry and for our Pacific community more broadly.”

Despite concerns from Pacific communities for MPP cuts, former Labour Cabinet Minister, Richard Prebble states in his column in the NZ Herald that it’s an MP’s role to represent and advocate for their constituents rather than a ministry.

Prebble who is also the first Minister for Pacific Peoples says that advocacy ministries may have passed their use-by dates which Sepuloni disagrees with.

“Richard Prebble has been around a long time so his use-by date may be coming up faster than the Ministry for Pacific Peoples to be honest.”

She says Pacific people continue to be disproportionately represented in too many statistics and claims that the former Labour government built platforms which initiated positive change.

“It’s just so disappointing to see National, ACT and New Zealand First get in and start disestablishing those platforms because it takes us backwards as a community."

Sepuloni raises concerns that MPP may go back to purely being a policy agency.

“There’s been huge expectations based on all of our government agencies in recent years because of weather events, Covid and its impact on our Pacific community.

“If you just diminish the numbers with no plan moving forward, then how are we placed to deal with business as usual for our Pacific community but also anything unexpected that may arise?”

Hero Image: Deputy Labour Leader Carmel Sepuloni (left) and Labour Leader Chris Hipkins (right) Photo/Supplied

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