June 26, 2003

free entertainment in wellington

Well, prostitution becomes legal on Monday. Presumably it will be the first thing on the Governor General's desk on Monday morning. Nothing like the royal assent to improve the rights of prostitutes.

Largely due to a friend of mine suggesting it, I went down to Parliament to watch the debate and voting. Not exactly an inspiring experience, but strangely comforting.

The debate was extremely civil. I actually think that Georgina's speech tipped the balance simply because it shook MPs out of inertia. She made it abundantly clear that not voting for a law change wasn't just a passive activity, it was actually an activity with life and death consequences. It was an excellent speach to hear in full, and I was moved that our House of Representatives could contain it and allow it to be heard.

The speech also raised the stakes for the other MPs. To their credit, they (whether for or against) were really respectful of each other. There was almost no comment on each other's speeches, and there was no denegration of either the prostitutes, their clients, nor the other politicians or lobbyists.

And Lockwood Smith (I was on the side where I could only see the Nat MPs) was a facinating study. He came in for the last speech and voted yes. Then returned to his seat for a minute or two and wandered off to do something else. All with this strange smile on his face like he was doing something with peculiarly satisfying personal reasons. I definitely got the impression he was playing some strange game with someone who wasn't in the audience.

Neither the Prime Minister nor Bill English were there - which I thought was odd for such an interesting issue. Perhaps the Nats are working exceptionally hard on the recent Maori land decisions.

Donna Awatere Huata didn't really need the surgery for loosing weight, she looked like she was about to get uncomfortably pointy. All the Greens were in attendance, and Nandor was wearing a Jesus loves hookers t-shirt.

I'm used to our politicians being reasonably accessible (I once bumped into Jenny Shipley PM doing the family Christmas shopping at Thorndon New World), but I love how there are some examples of MPs who are not from the dominant demographic. I think it made the debate much, much more meaningful as a process of creating law to have someone who had actually been a prostitute speaking in the debate. There is something important about those experiences not being filtered through the educated people who generally lobby and express these issues. That said, I was pleased to see Jan Jordan there. She's responsible for a large amount of research that genuinely brings the reality of these areas of our society into a sphere where it can be digested by the organs of power (I'm tired, sorry about that sentence, but there is nothing I can do about it now).

It was also really warm, and the seats were comfortable. I now plan to get very old, and very odd, and save on heating bills by attending Parliament more than the MPs.


Posted by carla at June 26, 2003 10:46 PM
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