Waka jumping and Russel Norman

Patrick Gower doesn’t like waka jumping. It looks like he organised a poll that backs him, he got the support of three party leaders, and he thinks that’s enough to change the law regarding list MPs. Even a TV journalist doesn’t have that much power, yet.

Following the possibility that Aaron Gilmore may have jumped from the National waka and stayed in parliament as an independent MP (like Brendon Horan) 3 News reported on the poll:

Public support end to ‘waka jumping’

Asked if there should be a rule change so rogue list MPs can be thrown out of Parliament:

  • 77 percent said yes;
  • 17 percent said no;
  • The rest said they didn’t know.

The public supported throwing about 20 MPs out of Parliament, but that referendum was ignored.

Some party leaders were asked their views on waka jumping. National:

“I think there is potentially the need for legislation to support that view,” says Mr Key.

And National’s rank-and-file are calling for a law change too, clearly worried Mr Gilmore was going to do a Horan, and stick around on $144,000 a year.

Labour:

And the Opposition agrees the likes of Mr Gilmore and Mr Horan should not be able to stay.

“It wouldn’t have helped good government, and actually overall it brings the Parliament into disrepute as well,” say Labour leader David Shearer.

NZ First:

“People are voting for the party, not for someone who thinks they can behave any way they like,” says New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

Patrick Gower:

So there’s the Prime Minister’s personal opinion, public opinion and a clear majority in Parliament.

Paddy is not a party but seems to think he has the power of one. It’s odd that he can play fast and loose with democratic process like this when he is so strident in his objections to electorate arrangements between parties.

There was one party leader who bucked the majority in support of protection against leaders abusing their power:

But the Greens don’t agree.

“Party leaders like me would basically get to say to individual MPs, ‘If you don’t do what I like then I’ll expel you from caucus and you’ll be kicked out of Parliament,'” says Greens co-leader Russel Norman. 

And the debate has continued in Twitter.

So @patrickgowernz, Key, Shearer and Peters all want party leaders to have the power to expel from Parl MPs they dont like. Some democracy

@Phil_Wheeler

Whoa. Hang on. What about list MPs who were brought in on the party vote?

@RusselNorman

I’d rather that we wasted a couple of years salary on Horan than give party leaders dictatorial powers

An interesting point – if the salary wasn’t “wasted” on Horan it would be spent on a replacement anyway, and a new part tern NZ First MP is hardly likely to be a huge asset to Parliament.

@patrickgowernz

It doesn’t have to be that simple. There could be a mechanism for natural justice?

@RusselNorman

Like what? Why not just require the parties to have democratic list ordering processes and leave it at that

@patrickgowernz

You could have a board quasi-judicial like that decides whether a list MP is in wrong or not. Voila

@GraemeEdgeler 23m

Some judge gets to tell the voters they got it wrong? The US Supreme Court tried that in Bush v Gore.

One thing many people hate about MMP is that the list means MPs feel more loyalty to the party than to voters. Why would we make that worse?

I think Norman is right. List MPs jumping from parties and remaining in Parliament are a problem, but a relatively minor one – they are invariably MPs with little real influence.

Giving party leaders the power to effectively sack any list MP would be far more dangerous and undemocratic.

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3 Comments

  1. I now have zero tolerance for malignant behaviour in parliament. Individuals are part of a team -e specially for the amount of money they earn. I am in support of a legislation change to stop waka jumping. If it doesn’t make it through the House then it will send a very bad message to voters – “I will do what I b****y well like thanks.”

    Reply
  1. Agreeing with Russel | Kiwiblog

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