Waka jumping ban

An inclusion in the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement:

Introduce and pass a ‘Waka Jumping’ Bill.

Given the problems NZ First has had in the past over MPs jumping from the party and remaining as independent MPs in Parliament there is obvious self-interest, but I support this. An MP who got into Parliament via a party vote for the party list should either remain representing that party, or leave Parliament.

Even electorate MPs have usually succeeded due to their party, so there’s a good case for stopping them jumping from their party and remaining in Parliament. The best thing for them to do if they feel compelled to leave the party that got them there is to resign, and stand in a by-election under their new circumstances.

Again I can’t find this in the NZ First policies and I don’t recall them campaigning on it, but it has long been a problem that Winston peters wanted to clamp down on.

Newshub in 2013: 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.

It was a public issue when Peters kicked Brendan Horan out of the party in 2012:

Newshub: Key: New ‘waka-jumping’ law possible

Parliament may consider fresh “waka-jumping” legislation to stop list MPs leaving their political party but staying on in Parliament without a mandate.

The issue of party-hopping is back in the spotlight after first-term MP Brendan Horan announced he’ll stay on as an independent MP after being given the boot from NZ First amid a family dispute over his late mother’s estate.

“Parliament might sort of hold hands and look at this issue and decide once more to try and put something permanently in place,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast.

The issue, he says, is that “it’s really difficult to write the rules” so they are fair to all sides.

Regardless, Mr Key says there’s still an onus on NZ First leader Winston Peters to prove his case for kicking Mr Horan out, which feels “very odd” to Mr Key.

“Mr Peters did it under Parliamentary privilege so he couldn’t be sued – that’s not always the actions of somebody who’s absolutely sure that their position is right.”

Last year, despite Peters leading a kangaroo court and making unsubstantiated accusations to support kicking Horan out of the party:  Ex-MP Brendan Horan cleared by police after allegations he took money from late mother’s account – but that’s a different issue.

Waka jumping is a problem with our democratic system and could do with being dealt with, but the legislation will have to be careful it’s fair to both sides of any party dispute.

It’s interesting to see the historic list of waka jumpers here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waka-jumping

Due to the frequency of waka-jumping, New Zealand enacted legislation (the Electoral Integrity Act of 2001, expired at the 2005 election) which required any MP who had entered parliament via a party list to resign from Parliament if they left that party’s parliamentary caucus.