Green flip-flop on waka jumping riles NZ First

There may be a bit of payback with the Green party support of a National MP bill repealing the waka jumping bill that they supported in 2018 due to ‘honouring the coalition agreement’.

NZ First aren’t happy, saying the Greens can’t be trusted, but there’s a large dollop of pot calling kettle black there.

NZ First and Labour made a commitment in their coalition agreement:

Introduce and pass a ‘Waka Jumping’ Bill.

From the Labour-Green agreement:

Both parties to this agreement recognise that Labour will be working with other parties both in terms of coalitions and confidence and supply arrangements.

Labour agrees that it will not enter into any other relationship agreement which is inconsistent with this agreement and the Green Party and Labour agree that they will each act in good faith to allow all such agreements to be complied with.

Because of this Greens voted for the bill in 2018 despite opposing it. But they are now supporting a repeal of the members’ bill currently before Parliament – ELECTORAL (INTEGRITY REPEAL) AMENDMENT BILL

Rt Hon DAVID CARTER (National):

I haven’t canvassed other political parties, and I acknowledge that Labour advanced the legislation I’m attempting to repeal early in 2018, but I’m certainly hoping all members will give careful consideration to this bill, because this bill attempts to actually put integrity back into our electoral system. It’s about improving the integrity of our system.

To become a member of Parliament isn’t easy, and having got here, whether you come as an Independent—which is a very fraught way—or you come as a member of Parliament, you come with a conscience. You come with a responsibility to form an opinion on issues and to speak with your conscience, if you’re a list MP, or, if you’re an electorate MP, to speak with a conscience that represents the people that elected you to this House. Though this bill is about allowing MPs to exercise that conscience, it’s about not coming to this Parliament to simply be—as some members of Parliament have described in the past—cannon fodder, or a puppet to a political party.

Now, we all know the history of this legislation that I’m attempting to change today. It was the price of the current Government—the Labour – New Zealand First – Green Government—doing a deal with New Zealand First, and I know why he needs that sort of control. History tells us.

I want to just, in conclusion, in my last couple of minutes, note for the House the number of times dissension has actually been significant and relevant to the New Zealand parliamentary process. I can think myself, long before I was here, of Marilyn Waring, in 1984. She threatened to cross the floor, and caused the well-known snap election that caused the end of the Muldoon era. Jim Anderton, a loyal member of the Labour Party, until he argued that the Labour Party had left him and his principles, so he set up The Alliance party. Dame Tariana Turia, one of the most respected members of Parliament I’ve had the privilege of working with, didn’t agree with the Labour Party. She said so, walked out, and started her own party—the Māori Party—which made a significant contribution to New Zealand’s democracy.

And Mr Peters himself, a member of the National caucus, disagreed with National, walked out, formed his own party, and no one can argue that it hasn’t been a significant contributor to New Zealand politics over that time.

So there will be robust debate around this bill. I certainly hope the Green Party will be careful with its contribution and will deliberate carefully, because I note as I read their contributions last time that they were never comfortable with being forced into the position of supporting this legislation.

Greg O’Connor and Peeni Henare both spoke, saying the Labour would oppose the bill.

Then Tracey Martin from NZ First spoke:

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (NZ First): Kia ora, Madam Speaker. I rise on behalf of New Zealand First to oppose the bill. What we are seeing, and the New Zealand public needs to understand, is this is a personal vendetta by two members who feel that they have been personally slighted some 20-odd years ago. That is what this is about. And the member’s bill ballot has finally provided them with an opportunity to take a dig.

The New Zealand First Party does not believe that this is how this House should be used, for personal vendettas. The purpose of the original bill—

Hon Members: Ha, ha!

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: And what you hear, ladies and gentlemen, is the sense of entitlement that wafts away from Mr Carter and Mr Smith. They believe that they are elected and once they are elected, even if they choose to deny the platform upon which they were elected, that you must suffer them.

And I say to the Green Party: there is a time and a place to stand up and keep one’s word. There is a time and a place to acknowledge commitments made and stick with them, and I’ll be interested to see later tonight whether the Green Party has the integrity to vote their word, as opposed to deciding in the final days of a Parliament that they don’t need a relationship any more, going forward, that they don’t need to keep an agreement or a word given, and we will see what the Green Party does with regard to their integrity. We do not support the bill.

Chloe Swarbrick spoke for the Greens:

Everybody has stood up tonight and given pretty high and mighty speeches. There’s been a lot of talk about principle, but the fact of the matter is, is not all too many people have actually acknowledged the machinations behind the scenes here tonight, and that is politics. The Parliament of Aotearoa New Zealand is, as I think most in this House would be aware, one of the most whipped in the world. What that means is that even though we have heard some speeches from members of the Opposition about the importance of things like freedom of speech, you’ve still had a speech from one of your departing members today who spoke to the fact that they had to vote against what they felt was their conscience in coming forward with a caucus position.

There’s also the case, as was noted by members on this side of the House, the fact of the matter that we have a very tribalist system. I think all of us have seen just how ugly that can get. That adversarial system has produced some of the worst behaviour in this place. But on top of that it has resulted in some very archaic first past the post thinking, particularly in what the major parties see and characterise as safe seats. I think that’s a great example, actually, of the flaws of our present adversarial system.

There’s been a lot of talk about the Greens from speeches of both the Opposition and governing parties tonight. I think that it’s really important that we are deeply clear…

And that the Opposition doesn’t heckle me right now, because the Greens will honour our 20 year position on voting on this legislation tonight in much the same way that we honoured the coalition agreements and voting for the legislation that originally put it into place…

So, maybe politics would be a whole lot better if politicians stop talking about themselves as we are tonight. If politicians want a code of conduct, as we’re talking about, and how we treat each other, particularly within our parties, then perhaps we could best start by all signing up to the recommendations of the Francis review. The Greens commend this bill to the House.

A party vote was called for on the question,That the Electoral (Integrity Repeal) Amendment Bill be read a first time.

Ayes 64

New Zealand National 54; Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand 8; ACT New Zealand 1; Ross.

Noes 55

New Zealand Labour 46; New Zealand First 9.

Bill read a first time.

Outside of Parliament it was leaders James Shaw and Winston Peters clashing.

Just over two years ago Parliament passed the controversial waka-jumping legislation after the Green Party voted in favour of something they’d spent decades opposing.

RNZ: James Shaw and Winston Peters go head to head over waka-jumping

The Electoral Integrity Amendment Bill was born out of the Labour-New Zealand First coalition deal.

It requires MPs who quit, or are expelled from a political party, to leave Parliament then and there.

The Greens hate the bill and think it is anti-democratic and draconian but co-leader James Shaw begrudgingly gave his party’s support to it in 2018.

In a complete reversal, the Greens last night threw their support behind a bill to repeal it, enraging New Zealand First.

There may be some utu in this as well as the greens going back to their principles – NZ First have not honoured their coalition agreement in opposing Green policies.

New Zealand First has a track record of pulling support for Labour-Green policies at the eleventh hour.

There’s been the capital gains tax, cameras on fishing boats, and more recently light rail from Auckland city to the airport.

Peters said comparisons can’t be drawn between light rail and waka-jumping.

“We did the work on light rail, the costings and the analysis did not back it up.”

He said the Greens’ were breaking their end of the deal.

“They’re signed up to the coalition agreement on this matter for three years and that term does not end until the 19th of September.”

Peters said the Greens can’t be trusted and voters should remember that on election day.

Polls suggest voters trust NZ First (and Peters in particular) less than the Greens.

Shaw rejected that criticism.

“I think it’s a bit rich for Winston to suggest that we’re not trustworthy when in fact they’re the ones who have been entirely slippery with the interpretation of our confidence and supply agreement.”

Shaw said his party is fed up with New Zealand First not sticking to the spirit of an agreement.

“I would say that in recent times we have learned that it’s the letter of the agreement, rather than the spirit of the agreement, that’s what counts when it comes to New Zealand First.

“So when it comes to the repeal of the party-hopping bill I would say that we have observed exactly the letter of our agreement.”

So is he just playing the same political games as Peters?

“Well I learn from the master,” Shaw fired back.

Both parties are fighting for their political lives. Greens are polling just over the threshold, NZ First well under. Having spats like this may raise their profiles but it probably won’t raise their chances of surviving the election.

Leave a comment

2 Comments

  1. John J Harrison

     /  30th July 2020

    Great to see the very public spat between the Greens and NZ First rapidly escalating.
    After all it was Peters who had his MP’s sign a pledge to not jump to a more stable party, if they did they had to pay NZ First $350,000.
    Outrageous!

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  30th July 2020

      And who was the party going to use it…they drew back at the last minute ..National.
      Remind me again who was the other party some years back that used the legislation to remove an Mp despite voting against it …ACT
      The more usual result is rogue MPs go independent rather than go to a so called ‘stable party’….you mean National which is a 3 ring circus featuring chimpanzees

      Reply

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