Peters defends his waka jumping bill

The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill (aka ‘waka jumping bill’ or ‘party hopping bill’) has been criticised as being anti-democratic and giving too much power to party leaders. See:

It is a Government bill as a result of a coalition agreement between Labour and NZ First, with the initial support at least of the Greens, who had previously strongly opposed this sort of legislation.

In response to criticisms Winston Peters has come out in defence of his bill. Stuff – Winston Peters: ‘Waka-jumping’ bill makes our democracy more responsive to MMP

When voters go to the ballot box every three years they are choosing between alternative political directions for the country as a whole, expressed through their party preferences.

Under the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system, the party vote determines the overall distribution of parliamentary seats and then parties seek to form a government that reflects those preferences to offer purposeful and stable leadership.

Next to the voters themselves, political parties are the linchpin of our democratic system. They are democracy’s gatekeepers by recruiting parliament’s representatives. Parties then supply Cabinet members, making it essentially party government. It is recognised that MPs are expected to follow the collective opinion of their party colleagues.

In New Zealand this has been the general custom, but is it really a linchpin of our democratic system? Democracies in other countries, such as the UK and the US, operate without strict adherence to following party dictates.

Party discipline is therefore acknowledged as a guarantee of the voter’s choice.

Who acknowledges that?

Peters (like anyone) cannot know what voters want when they vote for a particular party. Somewhat ironically I think that quite a few NZ First voters are choosing Peters as an individual because he promotes himself as a maverick, not as a strictly conventional politician.

What if a party doesn’t do what they promised during an election campaign? NZ First has already reneged on some of their promises, so voters have no guarantee of getting what they thought they were voting for.

What if, for example, a New Zealand First MP voted in Parliament for what they promised rather than what Peters had u-turned on for political convenience? The waka jumping bill would potentially give Peters the power to throw that MP out of the party and out of Parliament.

It is also necessary to ensure that the party delivers on its commitments commensurate with its party-vote share and its strategic location inside any governing arrangements.

What about commitments made to voters?

Peters appears to be putting precedence on enabling party leaders to wheel and deal as they please once they get power, regardless of what voters actually wanted.

Given these verities, why should the individual will of one disgruntled Member of Parliament subvert the general will of voters expressed on election day?

Verity: a true principle or belief, especially one of fundamental importance

Why should the will of one party leader be able to put aside the wishes of voters as soon as the election is over in order to negotiate a position of power for themselves in Government?

The people are sovereign so except in the rarest of circumstances New Zealand First believes it shouldn’t, which is why the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill forms an important part of the democratic improvements set out in the Coalition Agreement.

The people are sovereign? The people had no say in the coalition negotiations. How many of ‘the people’ support the waka jumping bill? Has Peters bothered to find out?

So electoral integrity and legal integrity are questionable claims from Peters.

The so-called ‘waka-jumping’ bill protects the uppermost value in a proportional electoral system, namely proportionality, and we believe that decision should always be the preserve of voters, not politicians.

Except the bill would give a party leader (a politician) more power, and the voters nothing.

The bill does not, as claimed, give too much power to party leaders to get their MPs to bend to their will. There are protections built in to the bill and any party leader who does not have good reason for initiating action against one of their members or who does not understand or follow party principles of natural justice will pay a steep political price for it, whether with their own colleagues or the voters.

Party principles of natural justice? In 2011 people voted for the NZ First list that included Brendon Horan, who became an MP. In 2012 Peters expelled Horan from the party, claiming “substantive material” that caused him to ‘lose confidence’ in Horan.

In 2014 the executor of the Horan’s mother’s estate said they had found no evidence to support claims about Horan.

A police investigation subsequently cleared Horan: “There has been a comprehensive investigation by the Western Bay of Plenty criminal investigation branch into these allegations over the last two years, including a review of the file by senior detectives. After consideration of all relevant information and the Solicitor General’s prosecution guidelines, police have determined that there is insufficient evidence to charge any person with a criminal offence.”

See Former NZ First MP Brendan Horan cleared by police after Winston Peters complaint

But Peters had claimed he had evidence and judged and politically executed Horan.

New Zealand First considers it patronising and an insult to suggest that in these circumstances voters can’t discriminate between the principled actions of an electorate MP standing up to a wayward party and its leader or a more mundane expression of flawed character.

What if the flawed character is a party leader?

The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill is one of several democratic reforms the coalition sees as making our democracy more responsive to MMP. The new seating arrangement inside Parliament is another example of our better reflecting the collaborative nature of the new coalition.

That reflects the power of the Cabinet. It reflects collaboration between parties in Government, responsive to their own power, and not responsive to the people.

New Zealand First believes that democracy works best when people claim it as their own, so no apology is offered for reinforcing the centrality of proportionality to help achieve that worthy goal.

Peters would have done far more for ‘reinforcing the centrality of proportionality’ if he had negotiated a bill that substantially reduced the threshold, which is the biggest impediment to proportionality by far.

Instead Peters has put forward a bill that claims more power as his own, and the people remain powerless to stop him doing as he pleases as soon as the election is over.

Previous Post
Leave a comment

41 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  January 12, 2018

    I still think MMP should function much better in NZ when Peters is gone. You might then end up with an NZ First Party more inclined to believe in & stick with their stated policies instead of a party whose policies seem to be changeable any time at the leader’s whim.

    That said I still believe party hoppers who leave a party to stand either as an independent or to join another should have to face the voters in a by ekection to truly guage whether they are serving as the preferred MP of the majority of voters. And that if an MP feels they have to leave a party, or are ejected from a party by whatever process is in their rules, tuff titty – they joined the wrong party, just like many people realise they picked the wrong job or the wrong employer. In which case they have to either just leave or put up with it until they find something better.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  January 12, 2018

      it will not change at all when Peters is gone.A new Peters will arrive on the scene.MMP encourages niche parties.The ‘big beasts’ are increasingly under threat as special interest groups form their own clusters.These are trends in the business world too as people congregate with their… own.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  January 12, 2018

        True about MMP favouring the formation (if not necessarily the long term survival) of special interest groups, although that’s also true of the larger parties too. Business, & especially Big Business, favours National. Labour’s “workers” support has been declining as more people establish themselves as independent small business operators & contractors, but workers, or employees, have traditionally been their largest special interest group.

        Are you suggesting there should be something different or better than MMP or are you just making an observation?

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  January 12, 2018

          Just an observation.Take the Greens for example.Common view is that the Greens are an environmental party.Accepting that premise,there is a huge number of voters who find that compelling.My analysis,mainly from reading TS,is that in fact GP support is an amalgam of distinct interest groups.Two in particular are quite vocal.The Queer faction and the feminist faction.The Queer faction according to Matthew Whitehead want special consideration,not equal treatment for their special ‘needs’,and if you don’t accept that,fuck off,the GP doesn’t want you.Now this type of ultimatum and the fact that there are niche interest groups making up the Greens will alienate more voters than it attracts in the long term imo.Eventually the Queers will have to split and form their own party,as will the staunch feminists.This is how I see it anyway.As for MMP,in favour,like a lower threshold than…5%.

          Reply
      • Gezza

         /  January 12, 2018

        Also, where do you stand on the ‘Party Hopping’ Bill, the topic? Are you for or against it?

        Reply
    • Corky

       /  January 12, 2018

      * by election*

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  January 12, 2018

        Cheers Corks. Always good to have typos pointed out. Last thing I want is to make a prat of myself mispelling or making grammatical errors, like some people. 👍🏼

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  January 12, 2018

          * misspelling (phew, caught that one in time thank goodness 😀 )

          Reply
        • Trevors_elbow

           /  January 12, 2018

          Too Late…..

          Reply
        • Corky

           /  January 12, 2018

          I don’t usually reply to you, but going by your above comment, I could get used to this grammar prat gig. Obviously you don’t like your own medicine, but fear not, this was a once off. I have better things to do then point out other peoples mistakes. That would make me a hypocrite…and a prat.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  January 12, 2018

            I have better things to do then point out other peoples mistakes.
            So do I Corks. 😀

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  January 12, 2018

              But there should be an apostrophe before the s in “peoples”.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 12, 2018

            (tries not to say it in response to Cork’s last sentence)

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  January 12, 2018

              Try Gezza’s last post, Kitty.

              But, be a sport, and respond about my last sentence anyway.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 12, 2018

              It is self-explanatory 😀

            • Gezza

               /  January 12, 2018

              @ Corky
              And your “then” should be a “than”, I reckon.
              Not that it matters.

            • Corky

               /  January 12, 2018

              ”It is self-explanatory”

              Not to me. Tell me. Have some fun What about that last sentence?😸

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  January 12, 2018

    Electorate MPs are elected personally and must not be at the whim of the party. It is absolutely wrong for the Bill to cover them. List MPs are a different category. The issue then is whether the party has abandoned its election promises to voters or the MP. That seems a reasonable question for a court to decide, not Winston.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  January 12, 2018

      You might vote for them personally, but you can’t tell how many others voted for them because they represented their party. The best way to resolve that dilemma is a by election.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  January 12, 2018

        No it isn’t. The best way to decide that is at the next general election.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  January 12, 2018

          Incorrect again Al, unfortunately. The best way to decide that is a by election. I have akready explained why. You haven’t. All you have said is that you voted for your MP personally & clearly simply extrapolated that out to mean everybody who voted for him did the same. This cannot simply be assumed to be the case. A by election would resolve whether the candidate is still the choice of those who voted for him at the preceding election.

          I win again.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 12, 2018

            List MPs must not be able to waka-jump. Imagine discovering that your party vote-and that of everyone else who voted for the Birthday Party had been handed to the Office Party and that the Office Party now had an extra MP while the Birthday Party had one fewer.. This would be totally unacceptable. If a List MP decides for any reason that they can’t go on as one, they must step down and let the next on their party list step up.

            Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  January 12, 2018

            So tedious having to explain the obvious, Sir Gerald. Why on earth have an unnecessary by-election when the issue will be resolved at the next general election anyway? And if enough MPs are jumping to disenfranchise the electorate before then, then the Government will fall and there will need to be another election anyway which all involved will have taken into account.

            All that threat of a forced by-election will achieve is suppression of public dissent and perpetuating a dysfunctional government.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  January 12, 2018

              Nonsense, Sir Alan. If the blighters jump ship halfway through the term there needs to be a reference back to the electorate to see whether the voters want to shit on the member or their party. By election. Best thing.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  January 12, 2018

              Nonsense yourself. There doesn’t need to be a by-election unless the Government majority is lost in which case there will be a general election anyway. Simple and obvious.

            • Gezza

               /  January 12, 2018

              It’s “simple” all right, Sir Alan. It’s tosh, I’m afraid.

              It doesn’t deal with the problem that some voters will likely have voted for a candidate just because they belonged to a party, not because they particularly wanted that specific candidate.

              Plenty of voters vote for the party’s candidate only because the represent “my party”. How do you think we so often end up with some of the blankest faces, and the Alamein Kopus and Aaron Gilmours, we’ve got?

              No. By election. Best thing. Give the good people of the shire the opportunity to decide – by voting again – whether the last chap or chappess they voted in, & who’s now abandoned the party ship, is as good as the next standard bearer the relevant party thrusts onto the hustings for their consideration.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  January 12, 2018

              Got some bad news for news for you Gezza; Alamein Kopu and Aaron Gilmore were both list MPs. Does that make me a “prat” also??

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  January 12, 2018

              More abject and irrelevant nonsense. When people vote for a party it is because they want to see it in Government. If an MP waka jumps and it doesn’t affect the Government they don’t care. There is no need for a by-election because they still have their Government enacting the policies they wanted. Simple and correct.

              If their Government falls, there will be a general election. As previously noted by me but ignored by yourself.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  January 12, 2018

              .. that was for Sir Gerald, of course, not you, phantom.

            • Gezza

               /  January 12, 2018

              @ phantom, were they? I do ‘t see that it really matters whether they’re list MP’s or Electorate MPs. If they jump out of the Party they were voted in as a member of they should have to put themselves up for re-election if they want to stay on in Parliament.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  January 12, 2018

              G, you were using them as examples of when voters vote for the party’s candidate only because the represent “my party”; whereas nobody voted for them because they were list members. It’s unimportant; I just felt like being a “politics prat.”

            • Gezza

               /  January 12, 2018

              No worries. 👍🏼 Been prats for Africa here today.

    • duperez

       /  January 12, 2018

      Electorate MPs are elected personally and must not be at the whim of the party but their vote in Parliament is at the whim of the party.

      Reply
  3. Patu

     /  January 12, 2018

    Mr Peters opined during his campaign, that the punitive level of excise tax on cigarettes was “Punishing the working man’s pleasures”. So, Mr Deputy PM, a packet of smokes now costs $3-$4 more than it did last year. And you can’t blame National anymore.
    The rules of this forum state that I shouldn’t post anything here, that I wouldn’t say to someone in person.
    Winston, you are a cunt. I look forward to saying it to your face, the next time you are in Tauranga. Several friends of mine, who smoke more than I do, share my opinion.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  January 12, 2018

      At the fkn price they are these days they’ll soon be sharing your blimmin cigarette too.

      Reply
      • Patu

         /  January 12, 2018

        I mean it G. I normally wouldn’t attend such a meeting, but I am going to make a point of doing so in future.And voicing my opinion, in exactly the manner expressed above 😛

        Reply
    • phantom snowflake

       /  January 12, 2018

      Ever considered growing your own? Apart from being a f**k of a lot cheaper it also comes minus heaps of chemical additives, so is probably much healthier

      Reply
      • Patu

         /  January 12, 2018

        I’ve grown my own before Phantom, & to dry & cure it properly involves more attention than I can give it, since I work 10 hours/day, 6 days a week.

        Reply
  4. Andrew Geddis: Who controls the past now, controls the future

    Today’s Dominion Post carries a couple of opinion pieces by Nick Smith and Winston Peters, respectively arguing against and for the reintroduction of an anti party-hopping law (as proposed by the current Labour-led Government, delivering on a part of their coalition agreement with NZ First). Given that Nick Smith’s arguments fairly closely track views that I’ve expressed previously, it’s not surprising that I agree with him over Peters.

    And given Peters’ tendency to shift facts to suit his preferred outcomes, it is also not that surprising that Peters’ op-ed contains some, shall we say “dubious”, claims about our political history.

    To which I say, preach Brother Peters! Rather than wasting time reintroducing an unnecessary and potentially harmful law against party-hopping, we should be talking about amending those parts of MMP that the public indicated they wanted to see improved.

    Except … when it comes to “the conditional promise with the public that the National Government would honour the commission’s review findings”, who exactly was it that rejected its conclusions? Well, NZ First told then-Justice Minister Judith Collins that it opposed the Commission’s recommendation to lower the party vote threshold to 4% … thus enabling her to claim that “[i]t’s not my role to run round getting everyone to agree in political terms” and so refuse to do anything more.

    So much for honouring “the conditional promise with the public” that the Electoral Commission’s findings would be implemented.

    Nick Smith: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/100357490/house-of-representatives-or-party-poodles

    Geddis previously: https://www.pundit.co.nz/content/well-you-picked-your-tree-now-bark-it-up

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s