Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Politics of Absence

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  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    She didn't have the choice to vote for someone else from Labour

    Our implementation of MMP relies on people joining political parties and influencing their internal list ranking processes. Party membership numbers have plunged over the last few decades for various reasons. The system has not been changed.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16478 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    But you’re misunderstanding me. What about providing this service of being a free advocate (if they feel like it) gives them the right to be in the clique of the most powerful people in this country? What’s the connection?

    They’re representatives, elected in a representative democracy. They represent us in more than one way.

    Yes, with MMP, you don’t have to vote for the candidate any more. But you do have to vote for one of the candidates and the winner will be in parliament, and they will have enormous influence, way, way out of proportion to the social good they provide locally.

    You don’t have to vote for an electorate candidate – your party vote will help determine the overall representation of your favoured party. But it would seem odd not to use a vote to which you have a right. Especially if, say, you like one party but would like to see a different party’s local candidate elected too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18707 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    genderizing goose sauce...?
    If there is criticism or questions on John Key having an hour on Radio Live, what position does that put David Shearer's show, on Planet FM, in? - I guess it is community radio rather than the crass commerciality of Radio Live, but to be fair shouldn't that be questioned too...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4668 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Being a cynical bastard allows me to see a fair bit of cynicism in some of our elected representatives, but I'll tell you what - I am very impressed with Metiria Turei and would happily consider voting Green as a result.

    I've generally been a considered Labour voter (and am amused at the prospect of parties wooing the mythical Waitakere Man as that would be me by label-definition if not by way of what is implied in the term) but I can't see them having a snowball's chance so I am considering voting for Sue Bradford, despite her association with Hone, because it cocks a snook at the repugnant Paula Bennett and the Greens as a party-vote.

    I'll tick the ABN* box anytime.

    * Anyone But National

    Te Ika A Maui - Waitakere… • Since Oct 2008 • 563 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    There are local issues best dealt with at a national level, and national-level policies and legislation affects different geographical areas differently. Therefore I don't think it's feudal or any kind of anachronistic to have people elected to parliament to represent specific geographical communities. Indeed, I think electorate MPs are necessary.

    And in The World As It Will Be When I Am Hegemon, electorate MPs won't be Mr Wilson's Prebble-style bogeymen, nor will they suddenly vanish into the rarefied air at the top of the Beehive as soon as they're elected. They will advocate for the interests of the particular geographical community they were elected to represent. Because although some people don't feel any particular bond to a local community that can be defined, even if somewhat imprecisely, by lines on a map, many others do.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2011 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But it would seem odd not to use a vote to which you have a right.

    Abstention can be a perfectly valid choice if you have no confidence in any of the candidates. But that's a whole other issue.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2011 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Sacha,

    Our implementation of MMP relies on people joining political parties and influencing their internal list ranking processes. Party membership numbers have plunged over the last few decades for various reasons. The system has not been changed.

    Was this explicitly thought at the time of it's development, customisation in NZ?

    It now appears to me that the List is the primary mechanism by which parties broaden their traditional base (or ought too any way).

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2200 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Sacha,

    There are parties which have transparent list ranking processes and active memberships, and parties that don’t. It’s interesting that the only new party that hasn’t imploded is in the former category.

    If people choose to vote for parties that have undemocratic selection mechanisms, then it's up to them – nobody forces them to. It’s like student elections – not voting communicates a willingness to go with whatever those that do vote want.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4419 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Williams,

    It was considered by the Royal Commission, but I don't remember the details. The subsequent Americanisation of our political landscape and ongoing influence of lobbyists and donors might cast a different light today.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16478 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Because although some people don't feel any particular bond to a local community that can be defined, even if somewhat imprecisely, by lines on a map, many others do.

    It's one of many dimensions of human bonding. I think it gets undue weight in deciding who represents us at a national level.

    ETA: That's a reply to Chris, btw, not Russell.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8314 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Sacha,

    Thanks. That alone suggests it was considered a key element and you're right, active party membership is low (active members, lower again I'd guess).

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2200 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    If there is criticism or questions on John Key having an hour on Radio Live, what position does that put David Shearer's show, on Planet FM, in?

    Potentially an election programme, depending on its content and timing. And in the context of an election, implicit content - such as Key's branding exercise - can become important, even in the absence of explict calls for support.

    That said, the Electoral Act says its an election advertisement if it "may reasonably be regarded" as encouraging support. The Broadcasting Act says its an election programme if it encourages support. That seems to be a tighter test, so politicians may in fact be free to advertise themselves on TV or radio, provided they never explicitly ask for votes (and this would not even have to be declared as an election expense). It'll be up to the BSA, and possibly the courts, to decide.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1630 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to BenWilson,

    If the issue is one of weighting, fine, but I have to ask how do you cut that weighting down to an appropriate size while keeping the electorates to a reasonably coherent geographical area?

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2011 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    Potentially an election programme, depending on its content and timing. And in the context of an election, implicit content – such as Key’s branding exercise – can become important, even in the absence of explict calls for support.

    Having heard (and once been on) Shearer's show, I can report that it's a very worthy programme. I don't think Shearer could be a radio demagogue if he tried.

    I'd be surprised if there was a problem without it outside the term of an election campaign. It's worth recalling that John Banks took over a regular Radio Pacific Sunday talkback show from Rob Muldoon and continued to host it as a minister. It was that show that MP John Carter called with his infamous "Hone" impression in 1995.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18707 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    If the issue is one of weighting, fine, but I have to ask how do you cut that weighting down to an appropriate size while keeping the electorates to a reasonably coherent geographical area?

    We could do away with electorates altogether. And all MPs could be available to all comers. The big parties would probably put their offices conveniently spread out. The small parties could spread them out, but probably not have anywhere near so many. Then, if I wanted to talk to an MP, I could take my pick.

    These people form our parliament, making decisions at a national level. They can make decisions at a local level too, there's nothing to stop that, but I still can't see a reason to build it into the system, other than to make it less representative. In fact, I think that's exactly why it's there, it was FPPs last throw, to insist on a high threshold and electorates as the workaround. It gave National and Labour the power to make or break the small parties. I've disliked this side of it since I first heard of MMP but was prepared to wear it because it's at least a lot better than FPP.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8314 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    the Electoral Act says its an election advertisement if it "may reasonably be regarded" as encouraging support. The Broadcasting Act says its an election programme if it encourages support. That seems to be a tighter test, so politicians may in fact be free to advertise themselves on TV or radio, provided they never explicitly ask for votes

    Someone on Dimpost or Te Standard wondered how billboards without explicit 'vote' elements would be treated. Imagine if half the Greens' ones had no wording, just the picture.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16478 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sacha,

    And is Key's face - or voice - a branding element for National?

    snap, rhinocrates

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16478 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to BenWilson,

    Fair enough, but I do see value in having people elected to represent specific geographical communities at the national level rather than local communities having to rely on the generosity and benevolence of the parties to send representatives their way. I also think the electorates would be better served if the parties - or at least those parties that operate at the national level - stayed out of them.

    How one could achieve all that while maintaining the fairest, most democratic system possible I do not know.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2011 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I guess it just seems weird to me that never once in my life have I spoken to anyone who is poor, elderly or disabled who has actually got anything useful from approaching the local MP.

    My parents are a long way from poor now, but in Helen Clark's first term they were with three kids and struggling and went to see her a couple of times over issues and found her very helpful.

    Yes, there is always the chance that one of these 60 people serving the entire country might be able to help you in some random way. I just don’t see how that should give them half of the executive power.

    I think we need to remember that most of those electorate MPs would get into parliament either by winning their electorate or via the list. Most of them have more electoral legitimacy than a list only MP, not less.

    but is it really important to the local community groups that they got to press the flesh with someone who will then go back and vote in Parliament for 90 day fire-at-will law?

    I've had many years experience with a community group based in Dunedin North. Pete Hodgson was often helpful to us to elevate things and get them up into the Labour heirarchy, or to raise the profile of our work. I wouldn't have said he was great at it, but having a supportive local MP was useful.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6162 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to BenWilson,

    We could do away with electorates altogether. And all MPs could be available to all comers. The big parties would probably put their offices conveniently spread out. The small parties could spread them out, but probably not have anywhere near so many. Then, if I wanted to talk to an MP, I could take my pick.

    There's no reason to consider this, there's no specific problem with the current arrangements and it'd undermine all the existing relationships and expertise built up over years within particular communities.

    I certainly take your point about not having the same stake in all electorates when you live in one but spend lots of time in others but I fear this "solution" is unecessary as regional issues are matters for regional bodies.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2200 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Fair enough, but I do see value in having people elected to represent specific geographical communities at the national level rather than local communities having to rely on the generosity and benevolence of the parties to send representatives their way.

    If having a local representative was actually something people would vote for because they wanted to, rather than because that's built in, then it wouldn't require generosity or benevolence. The parties would do it to get votes.

    However, I have a funny feeling that it wouldn't be anywhere near such an important issue that the party has someone in my neighborhood. We can't know, because we've rated that at the most important issue our system deals with, accounting for half of our elected representatives. This is built in. It's so axiomatic to us that we find it hard to question.

    I'm pretty sure there's an awful lot of people who would be satisfied that their kind of person was represented by the party of their choice, by a bunch of people who don't live anywhere near them, but share their views, or appeal to them in some other way. I'd say this is by far the most common way that people vote.

    Seriously, when someone is considering a candidate, rank the following qualities (listed in no particular order) they look at in order of influence.
    - Race
    - Sex
    - Class
    - Qualifications/achievements
    - Party they are in
    - Professed views on your pet subject
    - History/character
    - Attractiveness/charisma
    - Age
    - Postcode
    -Urban/rural

    Did you rank postcode as #1? Why not? Apparently it's deathly important, so much so that you get a whole separate vote column, in which a selection of candidates from your postcode are allotted to you. Then you can decide amongst them using the other criteria and any others you like. Postcode was already selected for you and ruled out 59/60ths of the people you could have voted for.

    I fear this "solution" is unecessary as regional issues are matters for regional bodies.

    There's no need for fear, it's never going to happen. The electorate MPs are a sufficiently large voting bloc (50%) that it could never come up for consideration, even long after all the people who wistfully remember just how representative and accountable FPP was are dead.

    And yes, regional issues are adequately handled by regional bodies, so it's not like the electorate MPs can actually drop an important ball.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8314 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to BenWilson,

    Did you rank postcode as #1? Why not? Apparently it's deathly important, so much so that you get a whole separate vote column, in which a selection of candidates from your postcode are allotted to you.

    Ben, do you not accept that the majority of public services are experienced within a particular geographic area which is likely to be smaller than an electorate? I mean hospitals, schools and so on... that being the case, postcode is very relevant.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2200 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I'd be surprised if there was a problem without it outside the term of an election campaign.

    There shouldn't be. But I think its potentially an issue around elections. Honest MPs should step back from such roles during the regulated period.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1630 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Paul Williams,

    Ben, do you not accept that the majority of public services are experienced within a particular geographic area which is likely to be smaller than an electorate?

    No, I don't accept that. Certainly not in a city electorate they aren't. There's no hospital in my electorate. There's a number of schools near here, some in, some out, and I could send my kids further away if I had a reason. All of my facilities rely on massive infrastructure mostly outside of the electorate. Most of my shopping is done outside it. Most of my friends live outside it. All of my family do.

    Furthermore, I'm atypical, a home-worker. Most working people commute to work, outside of their electorate, spending around 40 hours of their productive lives every week using infrastructure outside of their electorate, and possibly a further 5-10 on commuter infrastructure that spans the distance.

    I'm curious, where did you rank the postcode? For me, it's just above race/sex/class, which are all at the bottom of the list. Urban/rural is just above it. I care more about whether they're city or country folk than exactly which bit of city or country.

    ETA: Anyways, folks, it's just a thought. Neva gonna happen. Wrong thread for it, should be on Graham's. It's a sidetrack and I'm tapped out.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8314 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to BenWilson,

    Certainly not in a city electorate they aren't. There's no hospital in my electorate. There's a number of schools near here, some in, some out, and I could send my kids further away if I had a reason. All of my facilities rely on massive infrastructure mostly outside of the electorate

    I take the point that Akl is different from other places in NZ 'cuase of the density of population. Incidentally, do NZ schools still have a geographic zone or did National get rid of that?

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2200 posts Report Reply

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