Can’t imagine why anybody would want to go looking for Labour’s Steve Chadwick this weekend.
But if someone does go looking, they won’t find her at home in Rotorua. She will be in Beijing, attending – wait for it – a Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction conference.
Chadwick issued a statement to tell us she has been invited for her former roles as Minister of Women’s Affairs and Chair of the New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development.
“The purpose of this conference will be to address and review progress and existing challenges in mainstreaming gender issues in disaster risk reduction. At present there is an unequal balance in how disasters affect men and women” said Ms Chadwick.
Good grief. If two days exposure to thoughts on gender issues in disaster risk reduction is the price to be paid, you can not regard this as a junket. It’s obviously a stiff punishment, but for what?
Probably for using the word “wellness”.
Actually, talking about “wellness” should be a capital offence, but two days in Beijing banging on about genders and disasters with like-minded drones comes close to next best (or worst) on the severity scale.
Not only has Chadwick used the word – she used it to interrupt Tony Ryall, our splendid Minister of Helath, while he was in full cry addressing the House on 7 April.
The House was in Committee on the Appropriation (2007/08 Financial Review) Bill and Ryall was drawing attention to some fiscal howz-your-father.
In the run-up to the general election, he pointed out, the Labour Government stripped out $150 million from future health funding – $50 million was lopped from the health budget for next year and $100 million out of the indicative funding path for the following year.
Then he said:
This Government is committed to increasing the availability of elective surgery through our plan to build dedicated elective surgery centres across the country. The premise of this plan is based on international and national research that shows that if we can split acute or urgent surgery from elective surgery, then we will get much better elective surgery performance.
That’s when Chadwick chimed in:
Tell us about health and wellness, not just hospitals. The member knows nothing about the value of primary health.
The chairman of committees egregiously failed to have her thrown out of the chamber for the use of that word. But Ryall promptly reminded the House she was “the failed and defrocked member from Rotorua…”
And now she has been sent to this conference for her sins, which sounds much worse than being sent to Coventry.
The New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development – by the way – was set up to provide a forum for New Zealand parliamentarians “to engage and act on international population and development issues.”
It’s a cross-party group, with 45 members.
Alf would never join an outfit that includes the likes of Brendan Burns and Keith Lock.
Nor does he imagine any red-blooded MP would want to join. Hence he is astonished to find his mate Shane Ardern on their membership list.