Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Last call on the Electoral (Integrity) Bill: A plea for Labour, New Zealand First and Green MPs to consider some minor amendments

17 Responses

  • Dennis Frank,

    I agree, and support your call for those amendments to be incorporated. Near unanimity can be specified as either one or two dissenters only.

    I was disappointed that Gholris didn't advocate on behalf of electors, and instead used a pile of dubious and marginally relevant reasons for the Greens to support it. Being a GP member, I sent all our parliamentarians a paper outlining why Winston was right.

    I have to therefore ask what part of the social contract do they not understand? What part of the electoral contract do they not understand?

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    If you want to read a thought-provoking defence of the bill, Chris Trotter published one here.

    I think anything that provides constitutional precedent for regulating the largely unregulated powers of political parties in the MMP environment is probably a good thing, so the amendments suggested above seem reasonable, especially as the waka jumping law reinforces the role political parties already play in our constitutional setup.

    I can guarantee the next example of what Mr. Trotter is talking about will be when, post a Labour win the next UK general election, the sixteen to twenty or so Labour Blairites declare that they cannot, in “good conscience”, be part of Corbyn’s radical agenda, that the “interests of the nation” and “stability” demand they leave and form a “centre” party that will “moderate” Labour’s agenda.

    The fact that they are a bunch of lying asshats who don’t have the courage of their convictions to resign and hold by-elections but instead cynically rode their party brand back into parliament for another five years of fat salaries, perks and thwarting the will of the voters will be obscured by a farrago of self-righteous indignation whenever they are challenged and accompanied a load of value free analysis, outright twaddle and hypocritical pearl clutching about voter cynicism and political disengagement from their supporters in the MSM.

    The above scenario is grimly recognisable to any voter, which is why I suspect if you did a survey the waka jumping bill would be as broadly popular with the general voter as it is hated by the back sliders of the political elites and the political circles of the liberal bourgeois.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2202 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Perhaps specify "near unanimity" as "one or two dissenters" or "two-thirds", whichever is the maximum: consider the case of a party with fewer than 5 MPs.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1820 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to linger,

    Yeah, good one.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    It would require registered parties to have rules around the process they would use to seek to expel an MP from Parliament.

    Not just that, I would hope, but also clear rules for what constitutes a breach of proportionality to each party, so that MPs are not loosely ambushed by such accusations but step over the bounds knowingly.

    Crossing the floor on matters of confidence and supply is obviously a problem, but lots of other things need not be for any particular party, especially the first time.

    I wonder if it shouldn't also be able to be over-ruled by a super-majority of parliament, 2/3 or so, to allow the MP to remain as an independent, in case of a widely appreciated and principled stand against, say, Nazis.

    Since Nov 2006 • 600 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    A party of two would probably require special rules .... it sort of breaks everything

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2589 posts Report Reply

  • Strypey,

    List MPs votes belong not to them, but to the party they represent. It always seemed logical to me that if a list MP resigns, or is sacked by their party, the next person on the list should take their seat. Electorate MPs are a different kettle of fish. They are elected to represent the people of that electorate, not their party, and I'm disturbed to discover that the "waka jumping" bill covers them too. Finally the criticisms of the Greens for supporting it make sense, and I would like to see them support the bill only if it's amended to exclude electorate MPs.

    Ōtepoti • Since Aug 2012 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    Is there something that could reasonably be done to place stronger constitutional constraints on further manipulation of the Electoral Act? Or at least certain parts of it?

    In the 90s we had a big discussion and voted to switch to MMP. In 2011 we voted to keep it, on condition of a review towards making it better. That review received lots of feedback and made recommendations which, at the very least, should have been a starting point for discussion.

    Since then, Judith Collins threw out the review on superficial grounds, probably because it didn't suit whatever National's short term political goals were at the time. Now Labour, NZF and the Greens are combining in government to make a major change to the rules in a way that virtually all expert input seems to argue would make our electoral system function worse.. Meanwhile ACT (well, Seymour at least) has been waving around ideas for further butchering of the system, which might genuinely become part of a future coalition agreement similar to how NZF's paranoia has, and in ways that completely contradict the principles of the system we've now voted for twice.

    Every party that's presently in Parliament has played a role in messing with the public process of engagement that we've been using to set the rules we use to elect them. If it's so easy for MPs to do that when it suits them, why do we even bother with all this combination of public and expert engagement.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Strypey,

    List MPs votes belong not to them, but to the party they represent. It always seemed logical to me that if a list MP resigns, or is sacked by their party, the next person on the list should take their seat.

    I'd counter this by saying that Parties are made up of the people whom they collectively choose to represent them in Parliament. If one or more list MP's choose to leave the others, or if they're kicked out by the executive, why is it such a foregone conclusion that the party's executive is better at representing the party's voters than the list MPs who can't continue to work with it?

    Finally the criticisms of the Greens for supporting it make sense

    I sort of get why the Greens might have done this. Given its principles I'm saddened that it didn't, for example, support the Bill on a condition such as requiring that serious consideration of the MMP review's recommendations be revived.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    Graeme, one of the contributors to the Standard has compiled a comprehensive report on how the Bill has been processed through the select committee: https://thestandard.org.nz/daily-review-22-08-2018/#comment-1516730

    I hope you will examine it and comment here on any points you consider relevant. I commented onsite there from the perspective of someone surprised that MMP could deliver such an inappropriate process!

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to izogi,

    Parties are made up of the people whom they collectively choose to represent them in Parliament.
    ...
    why is it such a foregone conclusion that the party's executive is better at representing the party's voters than the list MPs who can't continue to work with it?

    Not quite. MMP works on the basis that list MPs are accountable to party *members*, not voters. The core assumption was that citizens would exert influence by joining political parties as well as by voting for them.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19543 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Sacha,

    Yes, but is the proposed waka-jumping bill going to be based on decisions made by all party members, or just its sitting MPs?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1820 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Well, this may be getting tested a lot earlier than anybody anticipated!

    Mark Mitchell on RNZ Checkpoint says that National should NOT use the "waka jumping" law to get rid of Jami-Lee Ross.

    It's a nightmare if he stays in Parliament (and not just for National actually - the gov't parties would be mortified if he becomes their new BFF!). But as of now, that's his plan. Subject to change, as Ross' stories tend to be.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1269 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Applying "waka jumping" to someone who has not jumped to a different waka, who was arguably pushed as much as jumping, and who still has some claim to representing an electorate … well, I don't think that particular law should exist at all, but this doesn't seem the most appropriate use of it.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1820 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    Mitchell, Collins & Ross are/were all clients of Lusk, according to various media reports. Two of the three are leading contenders to take over from Bridges. Seems an extremely sound basis for a conspiracy theory.

    The doctrine of plausible deniability suggests use of `were' in respect to relations with Lusk is the sensible way for Mitchell & Collins to go. Lusk may have already suggested as much to them.

    The old wolf in sheep's clothing strategy. Position yourself as centrist, get elected by the center-right combination of voters, then gradually drag National incrementally to the right, sufficiently slowly that centrist supporters don't panic.

    On this basis, makes sense to keep Ross in parliament to maximise damage to the current center-right leadership. Lusk plays the long game. Farrar is already suggesting on Kiwiblog that a deal could be done with Ross. One scenario is for him to join a support party eventually. Alternatively, after a change of leadership, he could be invited to rejoin. Resignation to pre-empt expulsion would then be seen by commentators as sensible, evidence of the long game being played.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Farrar is already suggesting on Kiwiblog that a deal could be done with Ross.

    It's been a year since Farrar last suggested a "deal". Let's check in with our alternative historians, reporting live from Planet DPF, in October 2018 :

    "The National-Green coalition collapsed today, following revelations about the behaviour of Cabinet Minister Jami-Lee Ross. A group of female Green MPs stood ashen-faced behind co-leader Marama Davidson as she announced that the party had finally had enough. "This isn't worth the proposed ban on plastic bags", she declared. "We are deeply shocked that National knew so much for so long, and covered it up. This is the last straw, after all the previous last straws".

    Opposition leader Jacinda Ardern called for an early election, and PM Bill English said "Why not? I was sick of it all anyway. I'm outta here. All yours, Simon".

    The ensuing Labour landslide in November 2018 was welcomed by everybody, including most of the National party".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1269 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to simon g,

    😎 good one, Simon. If they don't manage to get JLR into a coalition partner for National, or re-insert the stray sheep into the fold, and if TOP fails to get over the threshold again, and Winston retires, Nats will have to transform themselves into a progressive conservative party to ever have a hope of working in coalition with the Greens. Big if.

    This scenario could push Simon Lusk to hunt down & dispose of a few players in the game - or emigrate to non-greener pastures. Such as Oz, an extremely non-green place mostly, where nutball fruitcakes are highly-valued.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 254 posts Report Reply

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