Labour fundraising in private clubs

Labour tried to make a big deal about some National fundraising, but they seem to be doing the same sort of thing, and are looking like they have been caught with their hands in the biscuit jar.

Stuff in 2014: Does Cabinet Club buy influence?

Party funding is back under the spotlight after two ministers ran into trouble over their links with wealthy donors amid revelations National operates a ‘Cabinet Club’ offering access to top ministers in exchange for cash.

Last week National’s $1000-plus Cabinet Club dinners were in the gun, though there were counter-accusations, laced with claims of hypocrisy, that Labour offered chinwags with MPs for $1250 a pop.

The Greens have had a couple of stabs at greater transparency. The first, through Sue Kedgley’s Lobbyists Register Bill, has lapsed. Now the Greens are pressing for a ministerial disclosure regime. Co-leader Dr Russel Norman estimates John Key had raised more than $1 million from his “club” appearances.

“John Key claims the Cabinet Club is part of the normal political donations process. Cash for access to the inner circle of the Government is not normal,” Norman said. “It is democracy for sale.”

National MP Tau Henare says the Left is trying to curb National’s fundraising ability because it is jealous National can raise more. And National president Peter Goodfellow insists there is no quid pro quo for donations.

Newshub in April 2017: Labour launches exclusive ‘President’s Club’

The Labour Party has launched an exclusive secret society called The President’s Club for those who donate big bucks to the party.

It opened for business two weeks ago, with the primary role of luring in big cheques from wealthy Labour supporters.

It’s Labour’s version of National’s Cabinet Club, which sees exorbitantly-priced tickets sold for exclusive dinners attended by Cabinet ministers of the Crown.

Labour president Nigel Haworth says The President’s Club differs from Cabinet Club because Labour MPs aren’t involved, and aren’t used to lure in donations in exchange for access.

But Labour are charging big bucks, and using Ministers as an attraction. Stuff yesterday: Labour hosts business and lobbyists at $600-a-head dinners in exclusive private clubs

Finance Minister Grant Robertson gave a post-Budget speech at a $600-a-head Labour fundraiser at the exclusive Wellington Club, drawing comparisons to the previous National Government’s “Cabinet club” scandal.

According to several attendees, about 40 people, including party supporters, business figures and corporate lobbyists, attended the dinner hosted by Labour president Nigel Haworth on Wednesday, at which Robertson was the key

The Cabinet manual states: “holding ministerial office is regarded as a full-time occupation and is remunerated as such. Accordingly … accepting additional payment for doing anything that could be regarded as a ministerial function is not permissible”.

This means that if Robertson was attending in his ministerial capacity, rather than as an MP, Labour would be unable to use the event as a fundraiser.

Labour dance on the head of an MP pin…

…but get pinged for it.

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.

 

The Coleman resignation

It was relatively easy for Bill English and Steven Joyce to resign from Parliament, they were list MPs who were automatically replaced by the next on the National list.

But if an electorate MP resigns, and they don’t wait until just (a few months) before a general election like John key and David Cunliffe, it is more consequential, as a by-election is required.

Yesterday Jonathan Coleman announced his resignation from Parliament, just six months after the general election. He stood for and won the Northcote electorate, so a by-election will be necessary.

In some ways Coleman’s resignation wasn’t surprising. He has spent most of his time in Parliament in government and as a Minister. Some MPs with similar experience struggle to adapt to being relatively ineffective and powerless in Opposition.

Coleman had also just failed in a leadership bid, his second unsuccessful attempt (he also competed with English to replace Key in 2016).

So he’s packing his bags and leaving Parliament. Obviously this option is open to him, but I think is poor.

Like anyone standing for an electorate Coleman effectively committed to representing people for a three year term. To leave after half a year is bad, for no reason other than (he claims) he was offered a better job.

This is cynical pissing on democracy. And taxpayers have to fork out for the substantial cost of a by-election.

On the plus side Parliament will be better off without a poorly committed politician. Better that Coleman is replaced by someone who is committed to the job and to the responsibilities.

Eagle wants rewrite of adoption law

Ex Wellington councillor has been elected to take over Annette King’s Rongotai electorate. He wants a rewrite of adoption laws to make it easier for adoptees to find their birth parents.

He talked about this in his maiden speech in Parliament.

In 1973, the late Norman Kirk and the then Labour Government introduced the domestic purposes benefit. But your dad was born in 1972—a year earlier—which meant that when my birth mother found out she was pregnant with a child she could not afford to care for, to a man who couldn’t care for her, she had to let me go.

And, sadly, there was no State support or sympathy for solo parents back then. My birth mother had already been judged for her actions, but she wanted more for me than she could give: a safe home, a warm bed, good clothes, and a full tummy—I think I got that last one.

But it wasn’t possible at the time, so the difficult decision was made to give me up for adoption—a decision that changed our lives forever. It would be more than 20 years before I’d see my birth parents again. My birth mother told me of her sadness and how she missed me and worried about how I was doing. At shopping malls, she would look at each little Māori boy and wonder if it were me.

But over 45 years later, it’s still nice to know that she wanted me and would have kept me if she could. But it’s even more rewarding to know that because of Kirk and a Labour Government thousands of mums and their babies got the support they needed to stay together. And that’s even if your dad wasn’t one of them.

I don’t like to think that my birth mother gave me up. It sounds as if she gave up on me; when what she did was give me a loving family, a happy childhood, the best shot at life a boy could ask for, and a place where your dad truly belonged.

I understand this more than ever, son, because when we adopted you, your dad realised how hard the decision for our birth mothers must have been, because to decide to let go of a child is the most selfless act any person can do.

Eagle also discussed his aims on The Hui (video): From adoption to MP: How Paul Eagle plans to rewrite the law

Eagle’s Labour website profile:

The son of a Methodist Minister and hospital worker, Paul is committed to serving others, particularly the people of Wellington’s eastern and southern suburbs, where he grew up in the 1980s.

From his parents’ involvement in the Labour Party, Paul learned the importance of helping others and getting involved in political action.

In his previous role as Deputy Mayor of Wellington, Paul led the Council’s Housing portfolio – the single biggest issue for Wellingtonians.

An Island Bay resident, Paul was educated at Evans Bay Intermediate School, St. Patrick’s College Wellington and has postgraduate qualifications from the Elam School of Fine Arts. He is married to Miriam and has one child, Tama.

You’ll also see Paul proudly out supporting the Hurricanes, Phoenix and Pulse during his spare time.

 

On Chloe Swarbrick’s maiden speech

The youngest MP in Parliament is Green Chloe Swarbrick.It is very early days in her political career, she has a lot to learn and perhaps a lot to achieve.

Here is her maiden speech in Parliament.

Transcript: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1711/S00099/chloe-swarbrick-maiden-speech.htm

Some responses to this from Reddit, which includes references to Golriz Ghahraman.

ProVagrant:

The message I took was more like “I want to change politicians’ awareness of people” – or something along that vein. Have I misread?

I found the speech meandered quite a bit. Too many unconnected anecdotes. I have kids in intermediate school so I’m familiar with this style of writing being the designated proofreader 🙂

It will be interesting to see how she will influence parliament, and vice-versa.

The Zizekiest:

To be fair the speech itself was a little bit too over the place to have a clear, coherent, single message.

I think the take away is this:

  1. Politicians are too distanced from the reality of issues they deal with
  2. This needs to change
  3. The way to change this is for ordinary people to get more involved in politics
  4. To get more people involved in politics we need to change their perception of what politics is

So, in a way, the speech was saying “we need to change people’s awareness of what politics is, so that we can change politicians’ awareness of people.”

IDK, all I can say is I hope the Green party don’t pay for speech writers.

burgercake:

cool if you could point out the examples of progressive policy change where New Zealand has led or followed fast (universal suffrage, recognition of indigenous rights, legalisation of homosexuality, marriage equality being good examples) have progressed without some level of discomfort particularly from the swathes of people who turn out to oppose them I’ll be waiting, but I suspect I’ll be waiting for a while

scatteringlargesse:

What is awful is her statement that “we’ve been ahead of the policy curve – leading where all others eventually follow”.

Even apart from the sadly typical “holier than thou” Green attitude it’s just wrong. I don’t see everyone following their policy to outlaw and not even consider GM foods. I don’t see everyone following their policy to not regulate alternative medicine. I don’t see everyone following their policy to impose tourism levies. I don’t see everyone following their policies to impose capital gains tax.

xxihostile:

Watched her entire speech, it was incredibly moving and she is such an eloquent person. So glad that she is in parliament.

burnt_out_dude:

I must be one of the few people that isn’t really a fan of Chloe or Golriz. Both seem to be stereotypical social justice warriors that are out of touch with reality. Rather than focus on real problems in NZ Golriz seems obsessed with Manus Island – there are hundreds of millions of people around the world in much worse situations than them.

Also does she ever open her mouth without playing up the refugee angle. Apparently her parents were middle class Iranians – certainly not persecuted dissidents or refugees struggling to survive. When they fled to NZ the war with Iraq had already been over for several years.

Chloe used to make more sense with her focus on actual issues – now she is all over the place complaining about white male privilege etc. If white male privilege exists I’m still waiting to benefit from it. Next time I’m living out of my car I hope white male privilege helps me get a good night’s sleep.

Seriously why are there so many wackos on the left and right. I’d settle for some politicians that focused on real problems in NZ with some decent evidence based policies. (Sadly it seems like Gareth Morgan is not going to be that person).

AristocratesSR:

She’s not saying that all men are better off than all woman. It’s a topic of averages, and the simple fact is that on average women face more discrimination for their gender than men. The wage-gap, sexual assault – even look at our female leaders. How many times is Jacinda Ardern called a horse? Paula Bennett, a pig? Helen Clark a number of things all pertaining to a looks, which men rarely suffer from.

Primus81:

You got any links/source on the white male privliege thing? I’m curious because I haven’t seen those arguments been made.

I’ve found her complaining seen middle/old white men being over represented in parliament, which I don’t think anyone would disagree with somewhat

although myself I think part of that issue is because of the ‘age’ and the ‘male’ demographic, since younger people and females are under represented. With other ethnicities besides Maori having only grown significantly in the last 20 or 30 years and being made up alot by recent immigrants, you can’t expect them to all have representation as fast as they immigratel. it also has the issue if these ethnicities are only located in very few city electorates, and not widespread around the country it’s hard to sell to the public for voting, that they represent NZ.

chajman:

Last year Chloe Swarbrick was running for mayor in Auckland. She had a number of sound policies (that she developed in collaboration with various experts and ordinary Aucklanders), including a reform of the rating system and several other proposals that were capable of attracting people from across the wider political spectrum. She focused on uniting, rather than dividing people.

It is a bit disappointing to see that over the last year she has become much more of a partisan social justice warrior and a walking megaphone shouting empty or polarising slogans than someone interested in building bridges, stimulating calm debates and proposing reason-based solutions.

She used to propose real reforms. Today she runs much more murky crusades, fights (via empty slogans) against “white privilege”, “patriarchy” etc. Maybe her voters like this kind of stuff, but it’s pretty clear (at least to me) that her strength and attractiveness during the mayoral campaign was in policies that went beyond these polarising ideological battles.

justpeachy42:

i mean they’ve literally joined a political party for the purpose of trying to put in place workable solutions to solve real problems facing nzers – whether you agree with their politics or not, you cannot deny that the green party has not, in the past, passed and assisted to pass a large amount of legislation that has done exactly that. now they’re a part of that, so what exactly is your issue?

they’re legislators now, does it get any better than for actually being able to create systemic change for nzers? what would you rather they spent their time doing if you hate them being in parliament so much but still insist that they come up with workable solutions to change nzers lives?

also, maiden speeches are not policy speeches – they’re to introduce yourself to parliament and to nz. it’s common practice that you talk about yourself and your life, and what motivated you to get into politics so that people get a feel for who you are. nobody uses their maiden speech to set out their plan for their next members bill in detail.

There are a lot more comments than that, this is just a bunch of discussion prompters.

Swarbrick may be a new generation politician – a different generation even to Jacinda Ardern, but she has to learn how to work in Parliament, with with her constituency and with MPs from other parties.

Golriz Ghahraman’s refugee past

New MP Golriz Ghahraman is described on the Green website:

Middle Eastern feminism, Green activism and work in international justice have instilled a deep commitment to defending democracy for the most vulnerable.

Golriz is an Iranian-Kiwi refugee, lucky to escape war and persecution as a child.

At 35 she is also relatively young for an MP, immigrating here from Iran with her family as a 9 year old in 1990.

Golriz is promoted as “the first MP to have entered New Zealand as a refugee”, and this is covered in a profile at The Wireless.

She has become widely known as the first former refugee to run for New Zealand Parliament and, at only 35 years old, has made a name for herself as an Oxford graduate and human rights lawyer, working on high-profile cases such as this recent family carers case.

Ghahraman and her parents came to New Zealand as asylum seekers, as opposed to quota refugees. Where quota refugees often have their status as refugees determined before they reach their destination, asylum seekers must first travel to their destination and go through a legal process in order to be able to gain refugee status.

“Basically,” Ghahraman says, “the standard for refugee status is that you have to prove that you have a well-founded fear of persecution, based on one of the grounds in the Refugee Convention, [some of which are] nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, or political belief. So it’s actually quite limited and the standard is really high in terms of persecution, like, it can’t just be discrimination or something like that, it has to be that you’re facing torture or death or imprisonment.”

It was the “political belief” ground on which Ghahraman’s family sought refugee status. They had been opposed to the regime in a rather vocal way, which had ended up becoming dangerous for the family. Ghahraman tells a story about her mother, who had studied psychology, applying for jobs but refusing to sit the religious exam, and being vocal about it being an unethical requirement for work.

“All I remember growing up is people talking about how we needed to get out, and how our phones were tapped. The repression was really quite real… My parents were in the revolution trying to overturn the previous regime, and then they ended up with this far more oppressive regime.

So it’s kind of a tragic situation having this entire population or generation of people who are really engaged with democracy issues, and then suddenly the lid is really violently put on their movement.”

There have been and are tragic political and social situations all over the world. Accepting victims of them as refugees is something we should welcome and accept in New Zealand, where we are lucky to enjoy political and religious freedoms that billions of people don’t.

Golriz is a welcome (by me) addition to the diversity in New Zealand parliament. It won’t be easy, like any new MP she has a lot to learn. I hope she learns well and does well.

Yang didn’t disclose Chinese intelligence connections

National list MP Jian Yang didn’t disclose all of his Chinese work history in his application for New Zealand citizenship.

NZH: Jian Yang didn’t disclose Chinese intelligence connections in citizenship application

A newly reelected National Party MP said to have been investigated by New Zealand’s intelligence agencies didn’t disclose links to Chinese military intelligence when becoming a citizen, documents show.

Newly unredacted documents from Jian Yang’s 2004 citizenship application show Yang, who moved to New Zealand in 1999, did not list the 15 years he spent studying and working at the People’s Liberation Air Force Engineering Academy and the Luoyang Foreign Languages Institute from 1978. Both institutions are part of China’s military intelligence apparatus.

In his citizenship disclosures, Yang only lists his work and study history at the Australian National University and the University of Auckland.

The citizenship file had been released, following public clamour, the week prior to the election, but heavy redactions – said to protect Yang’s privacy – meant it was impossible to see what, if any, disclosures he had made about spy history in China.

The Herald complained to the Ombudsman about these redactions, forcing a rethink at the Department of Internal Affairs.

A spokesman for the Ombudsman’s office yesterday afternoon said: “DIA have reconsidered its decision to withhold Dr Yang’s answers to the study and work history questions on the citizenship application.”

In a press conference after news of his background broke, Yang said he had served as a civilian officer in the PLA and was required to not to name the institutions as a condition of being allowed to leave China.

He said he was not a spy, but conceded he was involved in training spies to assess intercepted communications.

Yang said he instead referred on applications to “partnership” civilian universities who had a relationship with the military institutions. “It is not that I am deliberately trying to cover-up. It’s because the system asked me to use the partner university,” he said.

At the time Yang denied making false declarations when becoming a citizen – a prerequisite to being able to enter parliament – but said he was reviewing his citizenship application to make sure it was correct.

The Herald say they have filed more OIA requests for information on Yang, but some may prove hard to get.

This week the SIS declined again to answer any questions about Yang, citing national security as a reason for withholding information.

“NZSIS does not comment on specific cases or individuals,” a spokesman for the spy agency said.

“I can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of information.”

The University of Auckland has refused to release information relating to his appointment in 1999 as a senior lecturer in political science, citing Yang’s privacy. This refusal is also the subject to a complaint to the Ombudsman.

Immigration NZ is still considering whether to release information relating to Yang’s residency applications, a precursor to his citizenship.

Is there any cause for concern about what Yang has done as a New Zealand citizen, or as an MP?

Or is it just possible concerns due to his past in China?

Should all immigrants who become citizens and then become MPs be scrutinised?

Perhaps Julie Anne Genter should be investigated just in case she’s working for the CIA.

William Sio could be check out in case he’s a Samoan secret agent.

Or if it’s only Chinese we are concerned about what about Raymond Huo? He’s probably fine but why not be sure?

Perhaps also of interest – why was  Jian Yang investigated, who prompted it, and why was his history revealed during an election campaign?

The Jian Yang story

I have serious concerns about the the ‘revelations’ about National MP and list candidate Jian Yang published 10 days before election day – advance voting has already begun opened.

Newsroom published this story. They also broke and drove the Todd Barclay story.

The timing is very questionable, especially with the Jian Yang story, as are implications made.

Why now? And why target one immigrant MP?

Attempts by media to influence elections seem to be growing in frequency and intent.

This isn’t isolated – yet another election targeting Brian Bruce documentary which also targeted China, was publicly funded by NZ on Air, was years in the making, and was broadcast just before the election.

Our democracy is at threat from media abusing their power for political purposes.

 

Clutha-Southland MP refused to cooperate

The ODT and NZ Herald have dug into the Police investigation into Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay, who last year became embroiled in a staff dispute in his electorate.

Their investigation reveals that Barclay refused to cooperate with police

National MP Todd Barclay refused to cooperate with detectives carrying out an investigation into allegations he had secretly recorded staff in his electorate office, according to documents released from the official police investigation.

Instead, Mr Barclay did not return phone messages left for him by the lead detective on the inquiry and had a lawyer contact police to say he would not be making a statement.

Mr Barclay had earlier told the Otago Daily Times: “If they do contact me on any matter, then I will co-operate fully.”

The police investigation was into whether Mr Barclay had breached a section of the Crimes Act around “use of interception devices”.

There were no charges laid following the 10-month long investigation with police eventually stating there was insufficient evidence.

The police investigation file was released through the Official Information Act and gives a detailed account of the breakdown in relations between staff working in the Clutha-Southland and Mr Barclay, who took over the seat from Prime Minister Bill English in 2014.

The investigation file includes a statement from Detective Inspector Antony Hill detailing attempts he had made to arrange an interview with Mr Barclay about the allegations.

He said he was brought in to manage the investigation in March last year and contacted Mr Barclay twice in July 2016 to request an interview about the claims which had been made.

The first attempt to contact Mr Barclay by telephone took place on July 12 2016 with Det Insp Hill’s call going to an answer message. He was sent a text saying Mr Barclay was out of the country until July 29 2016.

On July 29 2016, Det Insp Hill tried to reach Mr Barclay and again left a message. His statement reads: “I subsequently received a call from Mr Barclay’s solicitor advising he would not be making a statement in relation to this investigation.”

That in itself is a recommended way to respond to an investigation.

But Barclay misled the public.

While Mr Barclay had earlier said he would cooperate with police, he later said he had not spoken with detectives.

In November, he said: “I have not spoken to the police about any alleged complaint. Parliamentary Services is responsible for staffing issues so, at the end of the day, they are the employer and it’s not appropriate for them, or me, to be talking about employment matters.”

Asked directly if police had asked to speak with him, he said: “As I have made clear, I have not spoken to the police about any alleged complaint.”

That was a crooked answer, what is clear is that he was deliberately misleading.

What was known already is that Barclay had an ugly falling out with some of his electorate staff. Perhaps that was due to his (young) age and inexperience, and perhaps some arrogance as well.

He has got away with this mess and will hopefully have learnt from it.

The ODT report goes into a lot of detail in Barclay refused to cooperate with police.

 

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.