Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Referendum Fact Check #5: How Hard Is It? (updated)

46 Responses

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  • Jeanette King,

    I'd like to keep MMP (with some minor tweaks re thresholds, etc) so my strategy is to vote for keeping MMP and with the second part I'm thinking of voting for FPP on the basis that if we do end up with another referendum with MMP vs the top polling choice I figure it'd be easier to get people to vote against FPP because it's so demonstrably unfair. Any thoughts?

    Edgeware • Since Oct 2010 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    MPs have not really crossed the floor against their party in a very long time in New Zealand.

    Although (I think) they've occasionally had disputes with their parties to the extent that they've left them, or been kicked out, and afterwards started voting more independently. Not to suggest that this is a great argument for independence of FPP and voting within parties. It's probably the opposite. (ie. A "don't you dare cross the floor or we'll cut you off!" sort of thing.)

    Did this even happen under FPP? The earliest ones I remember were in the early MMP years.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 439 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Jeanette King,

    Your strategy may have some chance of backfiring given that:
    (i) apparently the majority of the electorate support National; and
    (ii) FPP is more than fair to major parties, such as National.
    Plus the government should be given as little room as possible to stack the deck in the second referendum (e.g. by offering an FPP with fewer MPs).
    Hence it would probably be preferable to choose a system very similar to MMP on the second question (e.g. STV, as Graeme suggests).

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 931 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to izogi,

    Did this even happen under FPP?

    Not clear what you mean by “this”.
    crossing the floor? Yes – e.g. Marilyn Waring under Muldoon.
    (As National had only a 1-seat majority, this was enough of a threat to provoke Muldoon into calling the 1984 snap election.)
    going independent/ forming new parties? Not as far as I remember.

    (though ... when did Winston leave National?)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 931 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to linger,

    going independent/ forming new parties? Not as far as I remember.

    (though ... when did Winston leave National?)

    Anderton left Labour and formed New Labour well before MMP.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4378 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Right!

    From Wikipedia’s page on Anderton:

    When Anderton disobeyed party instructions to vote in favour of selling the Bank of New Zealand (which Labour had explicitly promised not to do), he was suspended from caucus. In April 1989, believing that Labour was beyond change, Anderton resigned from the party. […]
    On 1 May, Anderton announced the creation of the NewLabour Party[…]. In the 1990 general election Anderton retained his Sydenham seat […]. He was the first MP in New Zealand political history to leave an established party, found another and be re-elected to Parliament representing that new party

    Meanwhile, Peters went the independent route, again before MMP:

    He served as Minister of Maori Affairs in the Bolger National Party Government before being sacked in 1991 and losing party endorsement for his Tauranga seat. He returned to Parliament as an independent, then formed his own party, New Zealand First.

    (Wikipedia: that's how easy it is to fact-check...)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 931 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Jesus, I have heard that Jordan Williams and he's the most glib snake oil salesman I have ever heard. He is the sort of guy who would have you counting all your fingers after shaking hands with him.

    The Shirtcliffe funded anti-MMP campaign was intellectually dishonest and relied on the most base sort of negative attack advertisments to try and stop MMP being introduced. Why would anyone assume that nasty old geriatric leopard has changed any of his spots at all?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1824 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to izogi,

    Did this even happen under FPP? The earliest ones I remember were in the early MMP years.

    There were occasional votes where MPs cross the floor, under both MMP (Donna Awatere-Huata on Maori seats, Taito Phillip Field on Civil Unions), and FPP (Marilyn Waring on nuke ships(?)), but these have been rare in New Zealand for a long time. I suggest that it is in party because our Parliament is so small. MPs voting against their party/the Government is relatively common in the UK, but if we wanted that sort of independence in New Zealand (which is what the anti-MMP crowd says is good about FPP/SM) then we'd need a lot more MPs (so that the executive and patronage couldn't extend far enough to overwhelm an independent caucus).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3012 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Jeanette King,

    I’d like to keep MMP (with some minor tweaks re thresholds, etc) so my strategy is to vote for keeping MMP and with the second part I’m thinking of voting for FPP on the basis that if we do end up with another referendum with MMP vs the top polling choice I figure it’d be easier to get people to vote against FPP because it’s so demonstrably unfair. Any thoughts?

    If you like MMP because of things like representation, or coalitions etc. then think you should cast your second vote for STV (unless you really hate the idea of voting with numbers), which is the closest alternative you have in the current options. If you like MMP because it gives you two votes, with local MPs and lists, vote for SM.

    Sometimes tactical voting can be a good idea. I do not consider this is such an instance: just vote honestly in both questions.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3012 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to linger,

    Not clear what you mean by “this”.crossing the floor? Yes – e.g. Marilyn Waring under Muldoon.(As National had only a 1-seat majority, this was enough of a threat to provoke Muldoon into calling the 1984 snap election.)going independent/ forming new parties? Not as far as I remember.

    To be fair I think that this was an excuse - at the time Muldoon already knew that his stewardship of the economy had been a disaster and the overseas borrowing he was doing to keep it all swept under the carpet was no sustainable - Waring provided the the excuse he needed to have a snap election before the shit hit the fan (it did anyway)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2200 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Yes, the UK parties (including the Liberals. in fact, especially the Liberals) are very broad coalitions. We in NZ also don't have the dividing issues that UK politics has around the EU.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4501 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    They're not trying to get that one right, eh. It's as much of a lie as you can reasonably tell about every option but the one they want. Like every other privately funded add in existence.

    I mean, STV's complicated for innumerate literate people with strong opinions I guess. 99 MPs is not what we're voting on but we could have 99 MPs with MMP if we got rid of the south island electorate limit. STV could have one electorate with 99 MPs in it if they wanted, which makes it just like MMP where you get to vote on everyone's lists, otherwise it will tend to screw geographically diverse small parties.

    It even forgets to mention that FPP, PV, and SM are all massively undemocratic, as is STV with smaller electorates. Even with all 7 seat electorates it'd be highly unlikely to be proportional. Very easily gerrymandered to get the rounding to go in favour of one major party or another (National would want Invercargil-Southland to get 4 MPs for 3:1, Labour would give them 5 for 3:2, neither of which represents the actual 2:1 ratio in the area, depending on how you count).

    Since Nov 2006 • 488 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    if we wanted that sort of independence in New Zealand (which is what the anti-MMP crowd says is good about FPP/SM) then we’d need a lot more MPs (so that the executive and patronage couldn't extend far enough to overwhelm an independent caucus).

    I can't quite see your logic here, surely the anti MMP crowd want executive control and to neuter the independence of independents and small parties?

    Voting along party lines on major matters of policy is one thing but there are many amendments to bills that should be voted along the lines of a conscience vote rather than a whipped vote. Otherwise the debating process is pointless, it may as well be back-room deals.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    I can’t quite see your logic here, surely the anti MMP crowd want executive control and to neuter the independence of independents and small parties?

    People who oppose MMP do so for a number of different reasons.

    Some, like Ruth Richardson, oppose it because it means governments cannot be decisive and enact policy they campaigned on: like opening the economy, or introducing the welfare state, which Labour's fourth and first governments did respectively without a majority mandate in an election.

    Others oppose MMP because it includes list MPs and has what they view as a too low a level of personal political accountability from MPs.

    And some have both complaints, while others have the former complaint, but pretend to have the latter.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3012 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Yes, I can see what you meant now.
    I suppose I am a little off topic, I was thinking in the broader term of the way Parliament functions rather that how we elect them. However, the fact that FPP can be seen as entrenching power with the larger parties and MMP, or any proportional system, allows for inclusion of minorities does not address the fact that a party, or coalition of parties, that has the numbers can ram through unpopular legislation by executive decision rather than consensus. A system that allows individual MPs to vote for their constituents or conscience may slow down the passage of a bill but would make its outcome more democratic, surely?. The current system allows opposition by filibuster which only has the effect of slowing down the passage of a bill, not developing it.
    I have to admit that I find the committee stages of bills to be a bit of a mystery but then anything that goes on behind closed doors always will be.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The current system allows opposition by filibuster which only has the effect of slowing down the passage of a bill, not developing it.

    Not really. Any government legislation can't be filibustered just by moving into urgency. And private bills filibustering is limited, as Labour's attempts to stop VSM found out.

    Filibustering in the USA can actually stop legislation and requires a supermajority to break. In NZ it really just requires the government whip to say "fuck it".

    Since Nov 2006 • 6227 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    the way Parliament functions rather that how we elect them

    It hasn't been adjusted enough to match MMP, let alone some of the other decision-making traditions this nation's cultures know.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    Not really. Any government legislation can’t be filibustered just by moving into urgency. And private bills filibustering is limited, as Labour’s attempts to stop VSM found out.

    The same thing happened with the Clark Govt's repeal of the Employment Contracts Act in its 1st term - the filibustering was a symbolic gesture rather than an actual gridlock tactic.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to DeepRed,

    the filibustering was a symbolic gesture rather than an actual gridlock tactic.

    Exactly, it is one step up from "We don't like this bill". There's little else you can do if the Government benches have the numbers and the vote is compulsory, ie. whipped.
    I have long thought that the Whip is an insult to democracy. What is the use of a constituency MP if they are not allowed to vote on the wishes of his electorate and have to play "follow the leader"?.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Sacha,

    It hasn’t been adjusted enough to match MMP, let alone some of the other decision-making traditions this nation’s cultures know.

    It has been adjusted a lot. Proportional representation on Select Committees; the role of the Business Committee; speaking slots; party votes are a particularly big one, but in a number of other areas as well.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3012 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    My post has now been updated, noting the Vote For Change has amended its decision tree advertisement, no longer implying that if you vote to keep mmp that you can’t also vote for your favoured alternative, and also providing information about their claims about the number of MPs needed under each system.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3012 posts Report Reply

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