How Jami-Lee Ross stands in Parliament now

On Tuesday Jami-Lee Ross stated that he intended resigning from the National Party and from Parliament (he said ‘on Friday’). He has since reneged on that commitment. What is his current position in Parliament?

Sitting date: 16 Oct 2018

SPEAKER’S RULINGS

Jami-Lee Ross

SPEAKER: Under Standing Order 35(1)(c), I have been advised by the senior Opposition whip that the National Party’s parliamentary membership has changed and that Jami-Lee Ross is no longer a member of the National Party for parliamentary purposes. Accordingly, under Standing Order 34(5), Jami-Lee Ross is, from 16 October 2018, regarded as an Independent member for parliamentary purposes.

Another seating plan: https://www.parliament.nz/media/5252/house-seating-plan-as-at-17-october-2018.pdf

While that is at the far back of the Opposition side Ross may sit uneasily beside and behind his ex-colleagues. He must be just about the least trusted MP ever.

Officially he still seems to be on two select committees. He lost most of his responsibilities when he went on leave at the start of the month.

Ross has been removed the National Party ‘team’ website page.

Presumably he is still theoretically operating as an electorate MP, but he may be isolated there too.

I don’t know how Ross will be able to function in Parliament or as an electorate MP.

Added:

Newsroom:  National mulls party-hopping action as Ross clings on

National says it is considering its options – including whether to use the controversial “party-hopping” law – following rogue MP Jami-Lee Ross’s decision to cling on to his seat in Parliament.

Earlier in the week, Ross had said he would resign from Parliament on Friday and contest a by-election in his Botany seat as an independent.

However, in an interview with Newstalk ZB and subsequent remarks on Twitter, he said National had “changed the rules”, alleging the party’s involvement in a Newsroom investigation into his conduct towards women, and said he would stay on as an MP and “continue speaking out about the internal operations of the National Party”.

Ross’s decision has now raised the spectre of whether National and its leader Simon Bridges will use the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act, legislation it has opposed bitterly, to force their MP out before he does further damage.

Electoral law expert Graeme Edgeler said under the legislation it was up to Bridges and the National caucus, not Speaker Trevor Mallard, to determine whether Ross had distorted and would continue to distort the proportionality of Parliament.

If the caucus voted by at least a two-thirds majority in support of using the party-hopping legislation, after Ross was given the required 21 working days’ notice to respond to his potential expulsion, Bridges could then deliver a letter to Mallard which would trigger Ross’s removal from Parliament and a by-election in his Botany seat.

There will no doubt be more said about what Ross may be allowed to do.

 

MP for Rongotai in odd incidents

Paul Eagle ditched his role as Wellington’s deputy mayor to take on the safe seat of Rongotai after Annette King decided to retire from Parliament.

He popped up in the political news yesterday when he questioned RNZ boss Richard Griffin in a selection committee meeting yesterday.

Labour members of the committee got in on the action too. Paul Eagle questioned Griffin as to why he had informed Lee of Hirschfeld’s resignation before a press release was circulated around RNZ staff and the public.

Eagle asked when Griffin first contacted Lee. Seeing Eagle’s questions were going to lead to a suggestion of impropriety, Griffin’s response was terse.

He said that he first contacted Lee “three minutes prior to the time we put out a press release, as a matter of courtesy, which may be foreign to some of those in politics”.

He then checked himself.

“I’m sorry that’s unnecessary,” he said.

Eagle then asked if the phone call to Lee was courtesy or “collusion”.

“That’s a ridiculous question with due respect,” said Griffin. “It’s a matter of obvious courtesy, the suggestion that it is somehow…” Griffin paused, apparently frustrated, “let’s not go any further, it gets out of control”.

– from Newsroom Fiery hearing fails to put RNZ bungle to bed

Then today he featured in an exchange on Reddit – Paul Eagle MP is a peice of shit.

He is the most entitled, rude and disrespectful man I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with. It says a lot about a person’s character how they treat those with less power than them and Mr Eagle thinks it’s acceptable to swear at and berate those he does not deem to be of his level. I am shocked someone in the public eye would treat someone as abhorrently as he treats someone who’s just trying to help him. I hope those in electorate meet him and get the opportunity to see what kind of man he is. TL;DR if you work in the service industry watch out for Paul Eagle.

Rant concluded.

Another:

Before he was an MP my old boss, an Island Bay resident, made a submission in some Island Bay cycleway project that was negative about the council’s handling of it. Eagle personally rang him up one evening to have a big angry rant at him about it. Classy dude.

And another:

I’ve witnessed him tearing into an elderly lady at a housing meeting, after she’d asked a very reasonable question. He was incredibly rude and patronising to her.

This was picked by Henry Cooke at Stuff and Labour MP Paul Eagle apologises for profane ‘misunderstanding’

Labour MP Paul Eagle has apologised for an incident that saw a Wellingtonian call him an “entitled douchebag.”

Eagle says the whole thing was a misunderstanding, and that he was swearing at people blocking his way into his office – not someone on the phone.

When reached by Stuff, Eagle said the event was a misunderstanding, but offered his apologies.

Eagle said he was talking to a panel-beater on Friday afternoon about getting his car fixed and having a polite but robust discussion about whether or not a separate piece of damage could be fixed at the same time.

Whilst on the phone he was trying to get into his electorate office in Newtown, Wellington, and found his way blocked by some “guys give me lip outside.”

“We’ve got a diverse community in Newtown and sometimes this happens. People are not shy to give you their honest feedback about things,” Eagle said.

“I was swearing at them, they were swearing at me.”

Once Eagle was in the office he said he realised he had been hung up on and was confused. Later his insurance company rung to suggest he try a different panel beater.

“It makes total sense, because now I understand why when I went back to the call it was dead. Within minutes the insurance company rang me,” Eagle said.

“I’d like to formally apologise for any misunderstanding. And I certainly don’t want her feeling any ill will.”

Eagle said he was keen to go back to the panel beater and apologise in person.

A weird explanation – surely that’s too weird to have been made up.

 

National MP claims threat from NZ First

Mark Mitchell claims that NZ First has threatened him to keep away from an electorate project, and NZ First have sent a new MP to request this and that they (NZ First) not be questioned in Parliament.

This is just one side of a story, but if it is close to accurate it is seriously concerning – akin to the Australian cricket cheating scandal, where team leaders got a team newcomer to go dirty.

Mark Mitchell (MP for Rodney):  Minister using taxpayer cash for political gain

Labour’s coalition partner NZ First has threatened to withhold regional development funding for an important economic development project in Rodney unless local National MP Mark Mitchell ends his advocacy for it and stops criticising NZ First ministers.

In an extraordinary request over the weekend, NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft – who said she was under instruction from a Minister – also requested that National pledge to not ask Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones questions about the project, should it go ahead.

“Ms Marcroft said she had been sent to tell me that the Mahurangi River Restoration Project would be considered for funding from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, but for that to happen I would have to end my involvement with it as a local MP.

“Ms Marcroft told me this was because the Government was unhappy with me revealing the illegitimate use of Defence Force aircraft by Defence Minister Ron Mark.

“She also said if I ended my involvement and the money was granted, that they did not want National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith asking Shane Jones questions about it in Parliament.

“Finally, she implied my work as an Opposition MP would be a factor in funding any projects in my electorate I was involved in.

“I immediately told Ms Marcroft this behaviour was unacceptable, and that she had been put in a very compromised position by her colleague. She refused to name them so I said she had two hours to have the Minister call me before I took the matter further.

“She sent a text message an hour later asking me to forget the conversation.

“But this is rotten politics. It goes to the core of our democratic processes and the National Party will not let such behaviour stand.

“This billion dollar Provincial Growth Fund is taxpayer money and should be used to benefit New Zealanders, not buy an easy ride for the Government nor to try and convince local MPs to stop supporting local projects, because they have annoyed the Government.

“The Prime Minister needs to find out which of her Ministers is attempting to use public money for political gain and she needs to quickly explain what she intends to do about it.”

The buck may stop at the Prime Minister’s desk, but initially at least it is mainly up to NZ First to front up and explain.

If Mitchell’s claims are accurate this is more than dirty politics, it is an abuse of power and of the Regional Development Fund.

Marcroft is a first term NZ First list MP, ranked 9th. If she was instructed to do this by NZ First leadership it has put her in an awful position, a bit like the newbie Australian cricketer asked to cheat by his team’s leadership.

 

Simon Bridges – electoral success

New National party leader Simon Bridges has proven himself in the Tauranga electorate if you look back at results since MMP:

  • 1996 – Winston Peters 8,028 vote majority over National’s Katherine O’Regan
  • 1999 – Winston Peters 63 vote majority over National’s Katherine O’Regan
  • 2002 – Winston Peters 10,362  vote majority over Labour’s Margaret Wilson
  • 2005 – National’s Bob Clarkson 730  vote majority over Winston Peters
  • 2008 – Simon Bridges 11,742 vote majority over Winston Peters (NZ First crashed out of Parliament)
  • 2011 – Simon Bridges 17,264  vote majority over Labour’s Deborah Mahuta-Coyle
  • 2014 – Simon Bridges 14,842 vote majority over Labour’s Rachel Jones
  • 2017 – Simon Bridges 11,252 vote majority over Labour’s Jan Tineti

Bridges’ majority jumped and then dropped over the last two elections but is still healthy – and has always been better than Peters’ largest majority.

Having thumped Peters in 2008 may give him a bit of a psychological boost in a battle Bridges will have to take to the old campaigner when he is acting Prime Minister in a couple of months.

 

Have the Greens given up on Metiria?

Since resigning as co-leader and withdrawing from the Green list Metiria Turei has been out of the political spotlight.

She gets a glimmer of attention from Newshub in Decision 17: One week to go:

Green Party MPs Marama Davidson and Metiria Turei are also in Otara at a rally against poverty.

It will be one of Ms Turei’s first public appearances since her resignation in August, after public scrutiny over her admission of benefit fraud.

“She represented a politician finally talking about the truth about their realities in their everyday lives,” said Ms Davidson.

“There’s no way that I could have this poverty rally without her strength and her bravery represented.”

But in a Green Party Campaign Update Newsletter yesterday Turei was ignored.

Lots of people have been asking about strategic voting. How do we ensure a left government with a great green heart? It’s simple.

If you vote Green and want a Labour-led government then voting Green will not split your vote. Every Green vote adds to every Labour vote.

The number of party votes the Greens get is the deciding factor between Labour forming a coalition with NZ First (let’s not let that happen!) or the Greens.

Party vote Green for a strong, Labour-led government with a compassionate green heart. 💚

You should cast your electorate vote for the candidate you most want to represent your electorate. If that’s Nelson, we hope it’s Matt Lawrey! He’s been doing great work there and we think he is in with a shot to unseat long-standing National MP Nick Smith.

Lawrey is the sole MP who is being promoted for an electorate vote.

Turei’s only chance of getting back into Parliament is to win the Te Tai Tonga electorate, but the Greens aren’t mentioning let alone promoting that.

Has Turei given up on trying? Or have the Greens given up on her?

TOP turn to Ohariu

With The Opportunities looking a long way off making the 5% threshold they are turning to the Ohariu electorate as another way of making it into Parliament.

Newshub: Gareth Morgan and TOP want a dirty deal in Ōhāriu

Is it dirty media attacking valid political strategies as ‘dirty’?

Newshub understands The Opportunities Party (TOP) will be asking voters in the electorate to ditch the two main parties’ candidates in favour of their candidate, Jessica Hammond-Doube, in order for Ōhāriu to get a three-for-one deal.

On current polling Labour’s Greg O’Connor and National’s Brett Hudson both make it into Parliament as list MPs, so TOP will be asking them to vote for Ms Hammond-Doube in order to get maximum representation for the electorate in Parliament.

If TOP was to gain an electorate seat, and managed to get 2 percent of the vote as current polling suggests, Dr Morgan and deputy leader Geoff Simmons would be brought into Parliament as list MPs.

It is a strategic move to dethrone NZ First leader Winston Peters as king-maker, and it’s understood TOP will even go as far as asking National and Labour to stand their candidates aside in Ōhāriu to make the move more likely to pay off.

Candidates are committed, the ballot papers must already be printed as advance voting starts tomorrow.

National or Labour could seek party votes only and tell supporters to support the TOP candidate, but I don’t see National changing their approach again starting to contest the electorate after Peter Dunne announced he wasn’t standing.

And I doubt Labour will give TOP any help either.

If TOP put up a strong big for Ohariu that will impact on support for the other candidates, probably more for Labour’s O’Connor than National’s Hudson.

It’s understood a letter will be sent to the voters of Ōhāriu on Monday outlining TOP’s plan, which will sell the idea as the best way to stop Mr Peters choosing the next government.

Ohariu voters are well versed in tactical split voting. It will be interesting to see if they are attracted by TOP’s bid.

TOP’s Ohariu candidate Jessica Hammond Doube is ranked way down at 24 on their party list.

Jessica Hammond Doube

All  candidates in Ohariu:

CLOSE, Lisa Susan New Zealand First Party
HAMMOND DOUBE, Jessica The Opportunities Party (TOP)
HUDSON, Brett National Party
MOORE, Andie ACT New Zealand
NADAKUITAVUKI, Bale United Future
O’CONNOR, Greg Labour Party
WOODLEY, Tane Green Party

 

Q+A: poll on Whangarei

Q+A look at the Whangarei electorate contest including a poll result between National MP Shane Reti and NZ First’s Shane Jones (see yesterday’s post Shane v Shane Anor (Whangarei).

Colmar Brunton poll for Whangarei:

  • Shane Reti (National) 42%
  • Shane Jones (NZ First) 24%
  • Tony Savage (Labour) 22%
  • Ash Holwell (Greens) 10%
  • Chris Leitch (Democrats for Social Credit)1.7%
  • Robin Grieve (ACT) 0.1%

So a big gap for Jones to close.

Party vote:

  • National 41% (2014 in Whangarei: 50.08%)
  • Labour 37% (17.79%)
  • NZ First 16% (13.36%)
  • Greens 3.6%  (9.77%)
  • Maori 1.3% (0.53%)
  • ACT 1.0% (0.55%)
  • The Opportunities Party 0.4%
  • Other 0.3%

Polled 504 people, margin of error +/- 4.4

That is a worrying result for National in a safe seat, and a very good result for Labour.

Jones has lifted NZ First a bit – and his presence in Whangarei may distort the party support a bit.

Greens have crashed – and with reports of both National and Labour internal polls having Greens around 3-4% they look to have a major problem.

 

 

Clear signal from National on support parties

It’s good to see the era of farcical nods, winks, cups of tea and media mania are over. Today National clearly signalled which parties and electorates they would help to try and maximise the chances of returning the current Government much as it is.

National signals election intentions

Prime Minister Bill English today signalled National’s intention to work with support partners – United Future and ACT – in this year’s General Election.

“Under MMP, voters determine the make-up of the Government by voting a combination of parties into Parliament, which means every election is close.

“After the election, parties must then work together to form and maintain a stable Government and voters want to know what party combinations are possible.”

In February, Mr English made it clear that if National is re-elected his preference is to continue working with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future.

“While we don’t always agree, our four parties have maintained a stable and successful Government since late 2008 and we would like to see that continue for the benefit of New Zealanders,” Mr English says.

“New Zealand’s political stability over the last several years has given this country a consistent economic advantage over many other countries we compare ourselves with.

“We are encouraging National supporters to give their electorate vote to ACT candidate, David Seymour, in Epsom, and United Future candidate, Peter Dunne, in Ohariu – and their party vote to National.

“To be clear, we want to increase our party votes in those electorates and that’s what our National Party candidates will be working hard to do.

“Our MPs are working hard throughout New Zealand to increase our party vote, so we can earn the right to stay in Government, keep the economy growing and provide opportunities for all New Zealanders.”

Media seemed a bit taken aback by this forthright approach, perhaps because it has removed one of their traditional election games.

Some quibbled over whether there was less preference for the Maori Party or not, and predictably Patrick Gower glowered about ‘dirty deals’, but the reality under MMP is that most parties now get involved in boosting their own chances by helping others.

  • Labour and Greens helped Winston Peters in the Northland by-election.
  • Greens helped Labour in the Mt Roskill by-election.
  • Greens and Labour worked together in the Mt Albert by-election.
  • Greens are not standing a candidate in Ohariu to try to help Labour candidate Greg O’Connor against Peter Dunne, who is in turn being assisted by National.

So it makes sense to be up front and early on signalling intentions, before the media have a chance to make an issue about it, and so voters have a clear choice.

Greens contesting Nelson electorate

The Green Party has had a policy of not contesting electorates. They have stood in electorates but used the contests to campaign for party votes, which of course are the critical vote under MMP.

But they have signalled a switch from that strategy with an announcement they will actively contest the Nelson electorate.

Green Party to run strong campaign to unseat Nick Smith in Nelson

The Green Party is today announcing that its Nelson candidate, second term local councillor Matt Lawrey, will run to win the electorate and unseat Nick Smith in September’s election.

Mr Lawrey and the Green Party will run a strong two-tick campaign in Nelson, and will offer a positive, solutions-based alternative to Dr Smith and National. It is the Green Party’s first run at winning an electorate seat since Jeanette Fitzsimons won Coromandel in 1999.

This is held by National Minister Nick Smith.  The electorate result from 2014:

  • Nick Smith (National) 20,000
  • Maryan Street (Labour) 12.395
  • Colin Robertson (Greens)  3,449
  • John Green (Conservatives) 1,125

Rachel Boyack will stand for Labour this year. She is 47 on the Labour list so looks out of contention unless she  wins the electorate.

Lawrey is 24 on the Green list so also looks unlikely to succeed this year.

So it looks a long shot even if Labour did what they could to help the Greens. This possibility was raised last December:  Labour denies giving Green light for Nelson

The Labour Party has denied suggestions it is standing aside in Nelson, despite media reports that it is engaging in strategic deals with the Greens ahead of next year’s general election.

Media reports yesterday suggested that Labour was talking about standing aside in Nelson to give a Greens candidate a clear run.

However, Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton said despite an agreement between Labour and the Greens to work together to change the Government there was no such plan for Nelson.

“We have a very strong party in Nelson and that won’t change. I’ve been impressed by how our members have remained committed to winning government next year,” he said.

If Labour stick to that then the Green bid looks to be symbolic rather than realistic.

The Greens were bequeathed a large donation that stipulated it had to be used in the Nelson and West Coast electorates, which is likely to have been a factor in the decision. See Greens say big donation a mystery:

The party declared a donation of $283,835 last week from the estate of Elizabeth Riddoch.

Riddoch, from Nelson, was not a party member and did not appear to have any formal connection to the Greens.

Will Greens actively contest other electorates? They must be tempted given Labour’s obvious weakness going into the campaign period.

 

What can English do now?

In the wake of the Todd Barclay mess a lot of suggestions have been made about what Bill English should do.

Andrew Little said on RNZ: ” Barclay is causing chaos, and that it’s totally unacceptable that Bill English hasn’t insisted he cooperate with the police”, but it would be totally inappropriate for English to insist that Barclay do something he isn’t legally required to do.

There have also been calls (not by Little as far as I’m aware) for English to dump Barclay from standing again in Clutha-Southland .

This may not be easy or advisable as @MatthewHootonNZ explains.

  1. Those asking to announce he is cutting loose need to read r115-116 of constitution.
  2. You can find it here: https://www.elections.org.nz/sites/default/files/National_party_rules_0.pdf
  3. Then ask yourself what happens if just said “nah”.
  4. Then ask how long it would take for the necessary decisions under rules 115 and 116 to be made.
  5. Take into account that each of those decisions are subject to judicial review.
  6. Then ask whether it really would be a good example of leadership for to make the bold demand for his resignation sought.

Here are rules 115 and 116:

Withdrawal of Endorsement

115. If it appears to the Electorate Executive that formal withdrawal of Party
endorsement of a selected constituency candidate is in the interests of the
Party, and the candidate is unwilling to withdraw his/her candidature, the
following procedure shall apply:

(a) Approval shall be sought by the Electorate Executive through the
Regional Chair from the Board for the Board to undertake a meeting
to consider withdrawal of endorsement;

(b) If such approval is given by the Board, then at least two days prior
notice of the Board meeting at which the withdrawal of the Party’s
endorsement of the candidate is to be discussed, and the fact that
such withdrawal is to be discussed, shall be given to the Board
Members and to the candidate; and the chairperson of the electorate
and the Regional Chairperson who shall be entitled to attend the
Board meeting.

(c) The candidate shall be invited to attend the said meeting and prior
to any motion being put to the meeting to withdraw the Party’s
endorsement of him or her, he or she must be informed of the reasons
for dissatisfaction with his or her candidacy and given an
opportunity to state his or her case; and

(d) A resolution of the Board withdrawing the Party’s endorsement shall
be effective immediately if passed by a majority of those present and
voting.

116. If it appears to the Board that formal withdrawal of Party endorsement of
a selected constituency candidate is in the best interests of the Party as the
actions of the candidate are prejudicial to the interests of the Party and the
candidate is unwilling to withdraw his/her candidature, and the Electorate
Executive has determined not to initiate withdrawal in terms of Rule 115(a),
then the following procedure shall be apply:

(a) The Board shall convene a Board meeting with the Chairperson of the
Electorate concerned and the Regional Chair of the Region concerned
to consider withdrawal of the endorsement;

(b) If a meeting is convened, then at least two days prior notice of the
meeting as which the withdrawal of the Party’s endorsement of the
candidate is to be discussed and the fact that such withdrawal is to
be discussed shall be given to the Electorate concerned and to the
candidate;

(c) The candidate shall be invited to attend the said meeting and prior
to any motion being put to the meeting to withdraw the Party’s
endorsement of him or her, he or she must be informed of the reasons
for dissatisfaction with his or her candidacy and given an opportunity
to state his or her case; and

(d) A Resolution of the Board withdrawing the Party’s endorsement shall
be effective immediately if passed by a majority of those present and
voting.

There are good reasons why it is deliberately difficult for a Prime Minister to dump MPs. Candidates are chosen by electorates, not by the party leader.