Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: The Northland by-election; or The so-called Tizard Effect

90 Responses

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  • Jeanette King,

    Thanks for this Graeme. It answers the question that I'd just been thinking about. As you say, it highlights interesting aspects about our MMP system. Mauriora!

    Ōtautahi • Since Oct 2010 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Kim_Wright,

    Just wondering if a voter was on the Maori role for the 2014 election are they able to enrol on the general role for the by-election?

    Wellington • Since May 2009 • 57 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis, in reply to Kim_Wright,

    Just wondering if a voter was on the Maori role for the 2014 election are they able to enrol on the general role for the by-election?

    No. They can't.

    Once a person is on the Maori/General roll, they may only change rolls during the "electoral option period" following each census. Next one isn't due until 2018.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Interesting.

    I suspect one conclusion, if you're the sort of person who thinks democracy is a waste of public money, is that we shouldn't have by-elections and should instead just allow the departing members party to nominate a new candidate, maintaining proportionality. I would not agree with that though, although I admit it has some logic.

    (In UK politics, where there are more MPs and five year terms, by-elections have more importance in that a government with a small majority will tend to have it eroded by subsequent by-elections which tend to go against the party in power. This happened to the 74-79 Labour government).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Heather W.,

    Thanks for the full explanation Graeme. And for providing links for enrollment.

    Several people I've talked to recently hadn't realised they needed to update details after moving or even adding a RAPID number - no, it's not done automatically.

    North Shore • Since Nov 2008 • 189 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    So if I understand correctly, you are saying Winston would have to resign his list seat before the by-election?.
    If he has to do this and doesn't gain the seat, could he then re-instate himself to a list position?.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Read the article again.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    A list MP winning a by-election hasn’t yet happened, and there are some differences of opinion over the exact process. I’m of the view that the resignation would have to happen before the writ for the by-election was officially returned, but I understand that the Chief Electoral Officer disagrees.

    Its this bit that confuses me. "would have to happen before the writ for the by-election was officially returned"
    Which I think means that he could resign, in order to install the next list MP, before the official return but after the polls have closed and by doing so he would not stand the risk of losing his place on the list if he were to lose, as it were?.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Which I think means that he could resign, in order to install the next list MP, before the official return but after the polls have closed and by doing so he would not stand the risk of losing his place on the list if he were to lose, as it were?.

    That's what I meant: after the voting, is fine, but if he resigns after the writ for the by-election is made official, he'd be resigning as the electorate MP, and then there'd have to be another by-election.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • sean mahoney,

    Highlights a couple of the unplanned consequences of the current system, People should either be list candidates or electorate candidates. At present many candidates ( including Andrew Little ) were rejected at the polls but still in Parliament. There may be a good reason they are rejected yet this gets wiped out.
    By-Elections have been pretty pointless and pedestrian under MMP. Will Northland be different ? Probably not but it might be more fun to watch.

    northland • Since Mar 2015 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    I can't see much point in getting worked up about 1 MP affecting proportionality based on the general election result, when 120 MPs could do that any time they wanted.

    (I'm not implying that party-hopping should be banned, it's a lesser evil than total party control removing members' independence, but still ... unlike a by-election winner, they can't claim the voters have changed their minds, and therefore Parliament).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1324 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    he’d be resigning as the electorate MP

    Could the MP not make it clear in their resignation letter what they are resigning as?

    Also, consider:

    S.55 (1) The seat of any member of Parliament shall become vacant...

    and

    S.134 (1) If the Speaker is satisfied that the seat of a member elected as a consequence of inclusion of the member’s name on a list submitted under section 127 has become vacant

    Is the list in S.55 the *only* grounds a seat can become vacant, or could the Speaker consider that the seat of a list member who has been elected as an electorate MP and hence cannot fulfil the role of a list MP is automatically vacated?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    he'd be resigning as the electorate MP, and then there'd have to be another by-election.

    Thank you Graeme.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to sean mahoney,

    many candidates ( including Andrew Little ) were rejected at the polls but still in Parliament. There may be a good reason they are rejected yet this gets wiped out

    They weren't rejected at the polls. If the voters (as a whole) wanted to reject Andrew Little, they could have given Labour a sufficiently low party vote that a candidate of his ranking didn't get in. They didn't.

    Andrew Little didn't get elected in New Plymouth because that constituency has moved to the right along with much of provincial NZ (and many potential Labour voters are on the Maori roll). If he'd elbowed the Labour candidate in Mangere aside (as would happen under FPP) he'd have a huge majority and would have been considered "worthy" by your logic.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    I can never understand the logic that says if you receive 11,698 votes (Hekia Parata) you shouldn't be in Parliament, but if you receive 0 votes (Steven Joyce), then you should.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1324 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to sean mahoney,

    many candidates ( including Andrew Little ) were rejected at the polls but still in Parliament.

    Thing is, there can only be one electorate MP. Jacinda and Nikki, for example, are both clearly very popular but only one of them could win. And look at Pull-ya Benefit and Carmel in 2011 where it was down to nine votes; that was far from a "rejection". Why should someone who was only barely less popular than the winner then be denied a seat in Parliament? Sure, there are electorate candidates who are very definitely "rejected" by the majority of voters, as evidenced by the results in deep-blue or deep-red electorates, but we do actually want elections to be a contest, not merely an enthroning.
    And what of the Greens, who stand candidates who they know have no show of winning in what is, largely, a two-party race for any given seat, but by standing a candidate they get to promote the party at electorate debates. Without that they'd be limited to only such public debate time as was accorded to party leaders, and as we saw last year that can be one-eighth of bugger-all.

    It's a common refrain, but it doesn't really stand up to much scrutiny. Not to mention that even National would struggle to field over 130 candidates should they be forced to run completely separate electorate and list candidates.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to sean mahoney,

    At present many candidates ( including Andrew Little ) were rejected at the polls but still in Parliament.

    No, that is not how voting is supposed to work. You vote FOR someone based on how well they will represent you in Parliament, not against someone you don't want.
    Andrew Little was not "rejected", he just didn't achieve a majority. He still received 11,788 Votes which was 31.56% . That is not rejection.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • sean mahoney, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    " worthy " of my logic...Oh I get it..my logic isn't as good as yours..i bow to your undoubted wisdom on all things ...so lets see where Little chooses to stand next time. I imagine the elbow might come out as the tv images of him losing the electorate seat wont be what he will want on election night. Voters don't get a choice over list rankings ( in some systems they do ) so the ability to get certain ones in and out on the list is highly problematic...but then again I have an unworthy logic !

    northland • Since Mar 2015 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • sean mahoney, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    No but it highlights a serious issue which is closed lists and electorates and people being on each throws up some oddities. Auckland central in the last(possibly 2 ) elections has had 3 candidates all of whom are MPs after the election, its actually a potential democratic deficit in that there could be more list MPs based in certain parts of the country than others and many List MPs do operate strong constituency and regional bases.

    northland • Since Mar 2015 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • sean mahoney, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    I don't think they need to stand 130 candidates or even that the greens need to stand any. I think the Greens in 2002 and 2005 only ran candidates to ensure there was momentum to get the vote out ..they don't try and "win"them so to speak..

    northland • Since Mar 2015 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to sean mahoney,

    Highlights a couple of the unplanned consequences of the current system,

    I disagree. Entirely planned consequences, which were a clear policy choice subsequently confirmed by the recent Electoral Commission review of MMP.

    Agree with the approach or not (and there are arguments both ways) this is not an accident.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to sean mahoney,

    Sean, I think your logic is being fairly challenged, on your own terms. You state:

    "People should either be list candidates or electorate candidates".

    Which means, candidates should avoid fighting for seats they may not win. The consequences of that can be easily foreseen, none of them good for democracy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1324 posts Report Reply

  • sean mahoney, in reply to simon g,

    ..which is fine , but I find the use of the words "worthy" of my logic (not my commas) sarcastic ....I am content with my logic (or I would change it...logically) and content that others don't agree with it..cant that be challenged openly ?

    northland • Since Mar 2015 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I think you need to parse my words again:

    ...would have been considered “worthy” by your logic

    As in; you believe that someone who wins an electorate seat (even where that seat, like Helensville or Mangere, would be won by the proverbial trained monkey with the appropriate coloured rosette) is more "worthy" of being elected an MP than someone who is elected on the list.

    Conjunctions; they're important.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • sean mahoney, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    ok but I don't think they are more "worthy" they are different (to me anyway). However assume that the voters of Northland were aware of Sabins "issues" or felt there was personal issues with him and had rejected him at the 2014 election but hed been high on the list, at that point they would have concerns..(im not suggesting Little has Sabins issues) the current list set up doesn't allow any discretion other than a totality approach and we have seen in many systems politicians aren't necessarily herd animals in terms of personal behaviour.

    northland • Since Mar 2015 • 14 posts Report Reply

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