Labour’s Maori MPs opt off list

Just last week Labour’s Maori MPs seemed at odds with leader Andrew Little over their wishes about their placement on this year’s party list. See Little versus Maori MPs on list placement.

During an interview on Morning Report responding to that deal, Mr Little said his Māori MPs were definitely not seeking the protection of a high list ranking.

“They are fearful of a high list place because they don’t want to give the impression that they are kind of being held up by belts and braces.”

When asked if they were advocating for a low list place, Mr Little said yes.

But:

The MP for Hauraki-Waikato, Nanaia Mahuta, and Kelvin Davis, MP for Te Tai Tokerau – who will be going up against the Mana leader, Hone Harawira, at the election – would not say whether they had sought a low list spot, saying that was a matter for the party.

The MP for Tai Hauauru, Adrian Rurawhe, said while he would always prefer to be an electorate MP, he had not requested a low list ranking.

The MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, Peeni Henare, also said he had made no requests about list placements.

These MPs seem to have suddenly decided to jump on board with their leader, in fact they have now said they don’t want to be on the list at all.

Andrew Little yesterday: Māori MPs backed to win seats

The Labour Party is backing a request from its Māori seat MPs to stand as electorate MPs only, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.

“We’re confident our outstanding Māori electorate MPs will win their seats.

“We take nothing for granted and our MPs will be working hard to win the trust of voters. But we’re very confident they’ll make the case this coming election given the strength of our plans and Labour’s record of delivering for Māori in government.”

Under Labour Party rules a waiver can be granted for MPs wanting to be exempted from the party list in special circumstances.

“This is a statement of Labour’s intent,” says Labour Party President Nigel Haworth.

So “special circumstances” seems to mean simply if Labour considers it a good campaign tactic.

“We back our Māori electorate MPs 100 per cent to win their seats which is why the Party agreed to the waiver. They’re an excellent group of MPs who have Labour values and Maori aspirations in the forefront of all their work.”

Māori Vice-President Tane Phillips said the decision to grant the waiver underlined how important it was for Labour to secure all the Māori seats.

“We have a strong Māori team who have worked hard to promote what matters to Māori. They are looking for a mandate so we can really start making a difference for Māori in government.”

Andrew Little says the decision was a direct challenge by the Māori MPs to the Māori Party.

“The Māori Party has failed Māori during the nine years they have been shackled to National.

“They have neglected their people for too long, thinking that the crumbs that fall off the Cabinet table are all that matters. What matters to Labour is making a positive difference for Māori.

“If Māori want to see progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education, then they should back their Labour candidate.

“We have a plan to turn the position of Māori around and we’ll be running a campaign to show how Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice around the Cabinet table.”

That was followed soon after by Kelvin Davis in Labour’s Māori MPs show strength

All of Labour’s Māori electorate members of Parliament have opted out of being on the list, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis.

“We approached the party and asked to stay off the list as a show of strength, unity and confidence in our ability to build on the success that we enjoyed at the last election.

“Labour winning six of the seven Māori electorate seats was Māori showing us we’re the preferred political party to address Māori issues. The numbers were in our favour and we’re looking to improve.

“Our election strategy is about showing how the Māori Party has failed Māori during nine years of being tethered to National’s waka.

“We back ourselves to help Māori make progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education.

“Labour has five Māori MPs in the Shadow Cabinet and we’re all up to prove why we should have the party vote.

“We’re determined to show we’re an integral part of the Labour movement. We’re committed to working together to show how Māori will be much better served with a strong Labour Māori voice in Cabinet,” says Kelvin Davis.

This could be a smart and gutsy move, but it could just as easily backfire.

It is a clear attempt to try and have the Maori Party dumped from Parliament. Labour is claiming to be the sole party necessary to represent Maori interests. I don’t know where the growing Green Maori caucus fits in there.

Maori voters have proven to be good at tactical voting, far more so  than most general electorates. They have shifted support to NZ First in the 1990s, then back to Labour, then went with the Maori Party when they split, and has been shifting back to Labour.

Stuff: Labour’s Maori MPs opt to go ‘electorate only’ and not seek list places

The move is designed to increase Maori representation in the Labour caucus and could boost the chances of more Maori getting in on the list, such as broadcaster Willie Jackson and Northland candidate Willow-Jean Prime, if they get winnable list spots.

The only thing that will boost the chances of non-electorate Maori MPs is if they are placed on the list in relation to non-Maori who are unlikely to win electorates.

Only three Labour list MPs made it into Parliament after the last election, with Little only just making the cut.

Little and other current MPs like David Parker and Trevor Mallard will be list only and may not be keen on having Willie Jackson placed above them.

The PM’s response:

“Prime Minister Bill English described it as “negative political move” because it was designed to eliminate the Maori Party from Parliament.”
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11822366

Ironically given Labour’s claims of promoting Maori interests National have chosen to give the Maori Party a place in government even though they didn’t need them.

The best way of maximising Maori representation in Parliament would actually be to vote for Labour MPs in the Maori electorates, and party vote for the Maori Party to increase the number of their MPs.

It will be fascinating to see how Maori vote in the September election.

And it will be interesting if the outcome means that Labour would require the support of the Maori party to form the next government.

Two stand aside for Huo

It has been suggested this would happen for some time but now the way has publicy been cleared for Raymond Huo to return to Parliament should Jacinda Ardern win this week’s Mt Albert by-election.

Huo lost his seat in Parliament  in 2014 because he was three short of the list cut-off.

Andrew Little just made the final cut at 11 on the list (electorate MPs are ranked lower but get in automatically).

There were two other ex-list MPs who were placed higher than Huo at 21 who missed the cut, Maryan Street (15) and (Moana Mackey (17).

It was a bit embarrassing for Labour to have no Asian MPs, particularly when they launched their infamous Chinese surname attack.

After the Mt Albert by-election was confirmed Mackey said she wasn’t interested in returning to Parliament.

Gisborne Herald: Moana Mackey rules out return to the Beehive

FORMER Gisborne-based Labour list MP Moana Mackey has countered conjecture she is contemplating a return to politics.

Ms Mackey said she wanted to pre-empt speculation she was planning a return to parliament following the decision of current list MP Jacinda Ardern to seek the party’s candidacy in the Mt Albert by-election.

Ms Mackey said she had always kept Labour leader Andrew Little informed and previously told him she had no desire to return to Parliament if a list place came up on the Labour list.

“I have to say I really appreciated him getting in touch with me earlier this week, in light of David Shearer’s decision, and I confirmed that was still my position.

That was in December. Interesting that Little contacted her as soon as the by-election was confirmed.

Street has taken a lot longer but has now also indicated she won’t return. From Street on Facebook:

I am happy to confirm that I will not be taking up a place in Parliament as a List MP after the Mt Albert by-election. This will pave the way for the return of Raymond Huo to Parliament, something I fully support.

I have thought long and hard about this choice and have decided that I can be just as effective on issues dear to me outside Parliament as inside – perhaps even more so.

Besides which, I have discovered weekends.

The campaign for a law change to allow End of Life Choice has gained a powerful momentum with the petition in my name to Parliament’s Health Select Committee, where submissions are still being heard. I am heartened that it has become an issue with wide support throughout the community and across the entire political spectrum. I look forward to advancing that campaign further.

My very best wishes go to Jacinda Ardern and Raymond Huo.

So the way is now clear for Huo. I haven’t seen any indication of his intentions but presume he is interested in returning.

Labour MP calculator

Here is a Labour MP calculator:

You can use this calculator to simulate the makeup of the NZ Labour caucus post election 2017 depending on various outcomes.

You can tick electorates you think Labour will win (it has most candidates up to date) and enter the percentage of party vote you think they will get. It will then tell you how many list MPS they will get, which is not many at the last election level of 25.13% (4-5).

With Andrew Little and Annette King (if she stands and remains deputy leader) guaranteed top list positions, and with a majority of men of 2-3 likely to hold electorates the top of the list will need to stacked with women to achieve Labour’s aim of gender parity.

This makes it awkward with senior MPs David Parker and Trevor Mallard probably keen on high list places.

With the likely electorate results Labour would need to get about 22% of the vote to ensure Little gets in on the list, and about 23% for King to get in.

 

 

Should MPs serve their whole terms?

I think that normally someone who stands for Parliament as an electorate MP or via a party list should be expected to serve the whole three year term. There must be a responsibility to do what they put themselves forward to do.

If an electorate MP resigns there is considerable cost involved in by-elections. There must also be quite a bit of disruption to workloads expected of both electorate and list MPs.

David McGee, ex Clerk of the House and Ombudsman, suggests Impose a bond on MPs to stop them quitting

In the early years of parliamentary government members often resigned their seats.

But, with the development of political parties, resignations became less common and had virtually disappeared for a century until the adoption of MMP in 1996.

Since then resignations have come back into fashion, especially among list members who are replaced by the next unsuccessful candidate on the party list (or even lower down the list if the party “persuades” the next candidate not to take up the vacant seat).

So far this term there have been quite a few resignations:

  • Mike Sabin (Northland electorate) – this wasn’t by choice
  • Russel Norman (Green list)
  • Kevin Hague (Green list)
  • Phil Goff (Mt Roskill electorate) – chose another political job
  • David Shearer (Mt Albert electorate) – chose to go back to the UN

A number of other electorate MPs have indicated they will stand down when they can avoid a by-election. This includes David Cunliffe and John Key. If they do this before the end of the term that leaves their electorates without an MP until after the election.

New Zealand has a three-year term for Parliament. This is short by international standards.

It is not unreasonable to expect that persons who are elected to Parliament will serve out the full term of this relatively short period. That is, after all, the basis on which they offered themselves for election in the first place.

I agree.

Yet, increasingly, membership of Parliament for a maximum of three years is seen as being at the convenience of each member perhaps more accurately at that of the member’s party, rather than as an obligation undertaken when elected.

Thus there has been a noticeable tendency for list members who are intending to step down at the next election to resign in the final year of the term (either voluntarily or at the party’s prompting) so as to make way for a candidate who is expected to have an ongoing interest in a parliamentary career.

It’s not so disruptive or expensive when list MPs resign mid-term, but it is still a failure to fulfil their commitment as an elected representative.

In this way, for many members, the already short parliamentary term becomes an even shorter one. For every member a parliamentary career is converted into something that one has the ability to leave costlessly in political terms at any time, rather than being a commitment to public service for the life of a parliament.

In my view this is deleterious to the institution of Parliament and to the sense of obligation that members should feel to it.

That is also my view.

Members in the final year of a Parliament can and should be expected to contribute to it’s work for the full term that they have signed up to regardless of their intentions to stand or not at the next election.

Another issue is MPs who seem to disappear after they announce they will stand down at the next election. For example what have Maurice Williamson and Clayton Cosgrove been doing this term?

Perhaps they have been beavering away tirelessly, Williamson at least has an electorate to look after.

A list MP like Cosgrove must also have a responsibility to serve the party that enabled him to have a seat and a generous income.

Consequently, there should be stronger disincentives both to members and to parties to prevent the early jumping of ship that has become endemic.

This is contentious.

In the case of list members, the remedy is quite simple: any vacancy occasioned by resignation should not be filled.

List members, whatever they may pretend to the contrary, are not elected to represent individual constituencies of a geographical or other nature.

Our electoral system allows the voter to make no such distinctions when casting a party vote.

So there can be no question of a denial of representation in leaving such seats vacant.

Not filling such a vacancy would largely eliminate list resignations as they are almost always promoted by the parties themselves.

They would cease to occur if this meant that a party’s votes in Parliament would be permanently reduced.

It would certainly be a deterrence, but is it fair? Would it be fair if someone had a genuine need to resign (compared to a better job offer)?

Not filling such a vacancy would largely eliminate list resignations as they are almost always promoted by the parties themselves.

They would cease to occur if this meant that a party’s votes in Parliament would be permanently reduced.

It would almost certainly be effective.

Electorate members, on the other hand, do represent constituents and it is unacceptable not to full such vacancies.

The present law allowing vacancies arising within six months of a general election to be left unfilled is inherently undemocratic and should not be extended.

Leaving an electorate without an MP for 6 months (out of 3 years) is an issue in itself.

Consequently, as a condition of being declared elected, electorate members should be required to enter into a bond to serve through the full term of the parliament.

The amount of the bond would not cover the full cost of a by-election (indeed, that would not be its intention) but it should be sufficiently high to provide a financial disincentive to resignation for the member and for the party backing the member.

Allowing for exceptional circumstances:

In the case of both list and electorate members, resignation without these consequences would be permitted on health grounds proved to the satisfaction of the Speaker or the Electoral Commission.

fair enough.

Membership of Parliament ought not to be a mere convenience for political parties, nor should it be a status that can be discarded lightly. It is time that this undesirable development was addressed.

But how can it be addressed? It would require commitments from parties that like the convenience of dropping and replacing MPs. Parties and increasingly MPs are selfish, and are unlikely to change something that suits them – at the expense of voters and taxpayers.

MPs are representatives of the people, and when they put themselves forward for election they should commit themselves to a full term. It should be in their oath.

Labour, polls and gender balanced list

Vernon Small points a tricky problem for the Labour Party.  They have pledged to have a gender balanced caucus by 2017, but with their struggles to make an impression – as shown by polls, this could be a tricky and imprecise balancing act.

Stuff: Poor polls sensitive issue as Labour MPs brace for gender-balanced list

Small suggests that Andrew Little was ill-advised having a moan about this week’s Colmar Brunton poll that had Labour on 26%, about the same level of support they got last election.

Small comes up with an explanation for Labour poll angst – unless they show substantially higher and sustained poll numbers their list is going to be tricky to put together.

It also came at a bad time for the party as it contemplates that most fraught of MMP political processes; the shape of its party list and who will be high, low and shafted.

It all comes down to the party vote, of course, but with a twist for Labour.

It has pledged to gender balance its caucus by 2017.

When the policy was signed off in 2013, then-president Moira Coatsworth said the target would be achieved by calculating the gender mix at various different levels of support and taking into account the likely electorates Labour would win.

But a party vote of 26 per cent, in line with the TVNZ poll, delivers a very different scenario – and a political death sentence for many a male aspirant – than the 35 per cent-plus yardstick the party is assuming.

Labour currently holds 27 electorates, with 17 held by men and 10 held by women.

Phil Goff looks likely to drop Mt Roskill but Labour have a male heir lined up there.

Christchurch Central may be winnable but they have a male candidate confirmed here. Otaki has selected a male candidate.

Can they afford to have any other male candidates in potentially winnable electorates?

To balance their caucus Labour will have to stack the top of their list with female candidates.

But that has it’s own difficulties. Little himself will have to top the list and will get in via the list unless he takes over a safe electorate – there is no way he will risk standing in New Plymouth again, having lost twice there.

If David Parker wants to remain in Parliament he will want a high list position. Trevor Mallard has already announced he won’t stand in his electorate so will want to ensure he gets in on the list so he can line up for the Speaker’s chair.

Currently Labour has five list MPs. Not much room for females there.

To seriously seek gender balance Labour will have to try and stack their list with females to achieve it at various levels of support, they can’t pick a number and base their decisions on that.

25%, 30%, 35% are all looking possible, so they should be trying to achieve approximate balance at each of those levels.

There are some suggestions that Labour’s vote could collapse, but if they drop to 20% gender balance will be a minor detail amongst the anguish that would cause.

No wonder Little is very sensitive about what the polls are telling him – prepare for a range of results.

Little – list or Rongotai?

According the the Herald Annette King will stand again in 2017 but may move onto the list only. That will leave her safe Labour electorate open for someone else to step into it.

Andrew Little lives in the electorate and it has been suggested before that he might inherit it. He has lost twice when standing in New Plymouth.

Annette King hints at Labour future

Labour veteran Annette King has confirmed she will stand again in 2017 but possibly only on the list, a step which would open up her Rongotai electorate for leader Andrew Little.

Mr Little lives in the Rongotai electorate in Wellington – a safe Labour seat in which Ms King has been the local MP since 1993.

Asked if Mr Little had asked her to allow him to stand in the seat, Ms King said “that is hypothetical”.

“We talk to each other all the time, but I’ll make my announcement on what I’m going to do in the future.”

She said she would announce her decision “when I’m ready.”

Remember that King had said she would be deputy leader for a year and then stand aside, but after the year was up decided to stay as 2IC to Little.

Mr Little has stood unsuccessfully in New Plymouth for the past two elections but has ruled out doing so again. He was yet to decide whether to stand in an electorate.

“I’m quite enjoying being a list MP having the flexibility to get around the country doing the job I do.”

He said candidate selection for the 2017 campaign had not yet started “so that’s a wee way down the track”.

There is supposedly some political mana in being an electorate MP but I don’t know if the public cares about it.

There’s a good argument for major party leaders to be list only as they have plenty to do without attending to electorate duties as well.

Last term Bill English retired from his Clutha Southland electorate and went list only, a goo idea for someone as busy as a finance minister. Steven Joyce is another senior MP who is list only.

It would be embarrassing for the Labour leader to lose in an electorate, so switching to a safer seat could be attractive for Little.

New Plymouth was won by 105 votes in 2008 by National from Labour’s Harry Duynhoven, after Duynhoven won by 5,434 in 2005 and by 11,533 in 2002.

  • 2005: Labour 37.64%, Duynhoven 53.20%
  • 2008: Labour 31.42%, Duynhoven 47.88%
  • 2011: Labour 25.82%, Little 40.41%
  • 2014: Labour 21.10%, Little 31.56%

Not surprising that Little doesn’t want to stand in New Plymouth again. He only just made it back into Parliament last election, he was the last on Labour’s list to make it.

At least as leader he would be number 1 on the Labour list – if he remains leader.

King has won easily against National’s Chris Finlayson and Green’s Russel Norman for the last three elections, by a consistent margin of about 9,000 each time, but the Labour vote has been much lower.

 

  • 2008: Labour 42.69%, King 52.45%
  • 2011: Labour 34.18%, King 50.52%
  • 2014: Labour 30.35%, King 49.43%

King gets much higher personal support than Labour gets.

2014 party results:

  • National 32.55%
  • Labour 30.35%
  • Green 26.27%

 

Now Norman has resigned the Green vote may or may not hold up, but Little may struggle to get the same electorate vote that King maintained. King is one of Labour’s most respected MPs.

Politics on Facebook

If you want to follow New Zealand politics on Facebook – political party, and media information – a very useful list has been set up:

This should be a useful compilation of what’s happening for journalists and anyone interested in following politics in New Zealand.

It has been set up by Geoffrey Miller who has been compiling “all the MPs’ pages I can find, parties, interest groups etc. Anyone involved in NZ politics really who is worth following.”

It’s a work in progress but already works well and looks to be very useful.

There’s no doubt that Facebook has become a major forum for discussion on the Internet in general, and this applies to politics as with many other things.

I’ve seen political parties in New Zealand favouring their Facebook pages over their official websites for getting information out and for generating discussion. Twitter is just a pointer to what’s on Facebook.

Facebook has it’s strengths but a problem with it is that information is very scattered and easy to miss.

So the NZ Politics list on Facebook is an excellent aid to finding local politics if that’s what you’re interested in.

UPDATE: I have added a link to NZ Politics on Facebook on the right hand end of ther Your NZ menu to make it easy to find.

If Russel Norman resigned from Parliament

This is a hypothetical because Russel Norman has only resigned as Green co-leader.

But if Norman resigned from Parliament the next off the party list would be Marama Davidson. If she replaced Norman that would upset their gender balance.

Unless Davidson chose to stand aside that may simply end up with more female MPs forn the rest of the term, 8 female to 6 male. I can’t find anything in their candiate selection rules or theirn constitution that stipulates anything different.

The closest related rule is in Candidate Selection Processes document:

5.5 General Provision regarding Withdrawal

5.5.1 If a person withdraws from the list at any stage, each candidate ranked below that person shall move up one ranking place.

So that would break their normal male/female alternating sequence if someone wirthdrew from the list prior to the election.

A further hypothetical – if there were an equal number of male and female MPs, but due to a male candidate withdrawal the next two on the list were female, and two male MPs resigned, that would result in, on current numbers, five male MPs to nine female MPs.

That would be only 37% male MPs and 63% female, outside their list selection  rule of 60% maximum of any gender::

5.2 Application of Balance Criteria

5.2.1 The balance criteria for the list ranking process are as follows:

(i) Maori – a minimum of 10% of candidates shall be of Maori descent;

(ii) Gender – a maximum of 60% of candidates shall be male; a maximum of 60% of candidates shall be female;

(iii) Region – a minimum of 40% of candidates shall be from the North Island; a minimum of 20% of candidates shall be from the South Island;

(iv) Age – a minimum of 10% of candidates shall be under 35;

But rules can’t be expected to cover every unexpected circumstance.