Harawira hits back at Key over absences

Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira
The shame over Parliament non-attendance rests on the Prime Minister's shoulders, Hone Harawira says.

The Mana Party Leader said Prime Minister John Key's criticism of his record of attendance at Parliament was "petty" and he was one of Parliament's hardest-working MPs.

Mr Key yesterday said the public paid a lot of money for MPs to attend Parliament and while there were always reasons why they might miss the House, "I think there's been a situation where some MPs, frankly, have taken the mickey and they've treated the place with not enough respect".

"Hone Harawira's an obvious one. You go and have a look at the number of days he was here in the 2011-2013 period ... not very many," Mr Key said.

Mr Harawira today said the Prime Minister had been absent from Parliament more days than he had last year.

"I think that the shame sits on his own shoulders, because having named me, he then refused to tell the media how many days he's out," he told Radio New Zealand.

"I don't feel ashamed about the things I've done.

"Every absence that I've had from Parliament has been formally approved, formally requested and were all for parliamentary purposes.

"I have no intention in changing the way in which I act to suit John Key.

"I can be in Parliament every single day of the week, but the reality is, I don't get to speak on every single bill and because I don't, what would people have me do; sit in Parliament and do nothing?"

Mr Harawira said his electorate expected him to be actively canvassing issues including asset sales, Treaty settlements, water rights, tobacco, state housing, pokies, alcohol and drugs.

He was yesterday asked about reports he was absent from Parliament for 68 days last year.

Mr Key's remarks were "just a continuation of his petty bickering about my going to South Africa," Mr Harawira said.

This year sees the introduction of a register of attendance at Parliament for MPs who now face penalties of at least $295 a day for each unexplained absence after three days.

Meanwhile, Mr Key's own chief whip Louise Upston refused to release records of National Party MPs absences from Parliament.

The only party to release their attendance records yesterday were the Greens.

A Labour Party spokesman said Labour didn't believe it was appropriate to release its MPs' attendance records because the leave was often applied for "for various personal reasons".

- Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald

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