Where to start on Jami-Lee Ross versus Bridges and National?

There is a huge amount of material around after yesterday’s unprecedented developments, where Ross was dumped from the National caucus but resigned anyway and also resigned from Parliament.

This will trigger a by-election in Botany that Ross says he will contest as an independent, saying it will be a vote on the leadership of Bridges. I’m not sure what voters will think of using democratic processes to advance a personal and party feud.

Ross says he will go to the police today after making accusations of corruption (that he says he played a part in). He seems to be trying to portray himself as some sort of principled whistle blowing hero.

Bridges denies everything and he and other National MPs have attacked back against Ross.

It may take some time to unravel the facts of this unravelling of Ross and National.

As Newsroom says, Jami-Lee Ross leaves more questions than answers

Ross denies being the original leaker of Bridges’ travel expenses. The expenses were leaked to a Newshub journalist in August and the PwC report commissioned by Bridges showed no correspondence between Ross and the journalist. The report said the leaker had not been identified “with certainty”, but the evidence pointed to Ross.

Ross has admitted to being the leaker of the text from the person claiming to be the expense leaker (stay with us). The text calling for the leak inquiry to be called off was leaked to a different journalist, from a different organisation. Ross said he passed the details of the text to the RNZ journalist because he disagreed with Bridges’ decisions regarding the leak saga, including his decision to push forward with an investigation despite the leaker revealing they had mental health issues.

So Ross denies being the original leaker but supported that leaker by leaking texts from them.

Ross is also now facing allegations of harassing at least four women. He was confronted by Bridges, deputy leader Paula Bennett, and National chief of staff Jamie Gray about three weeks ago. They said there were complaints from four women, and they were aware of a “pattern of behaviour”. Bridges said the women did not want to take the matter further.

Last night Bennett told Newsroom it was wrong of Ross to claim she and Bridges had raised allegations of sexual ‘harassment’ with him. “We just put to him some form of inappropriate behaviour for a married man. We had a private conversation with him. It was sensitive, but it is him who has chosen to go public about it being around sexual harassment.”

This is very touchy ground for MPs who generally don’t go public on the private behaviour of other MPs. I’ve seen a range of accusations but will wait for substance and evidence.

Ross denies ever harassing a woman, saying he was raised by his mother and grandmother to respect women. He then strangely referenced the Brett Kavanaugh affair in the US, saying a man who was accused of harassment these days found it almost impossible to clear their name. Ross said these allegations led to him having a “mental breakdown” and caused him to take leave. He said he was better now.

Odd, Ross wasn’t publicly accused of harassment. He outed himself, claiming to be the victim of false accusations of harassment.

Ross said Bridges filed false returns for electoral donations. One of those was a $10,000 donation from an organisation called Cathedral Club, which Ross alleged was a front for Bridges’ friend. Bridges said there was a clerical error regarding two donations totalling $24,000, as they were listed as candidate donations, rather than party donations. The return was amended and resubmitted.

Ross also alleged Bridges had received $100,000 from Chinese businessman Yikun Zhang, which Bridges asked Ross to collect and split up so it could be filed anonymously. The outgoing National MP said he would be taking information regarding the alleged “corruption” to police on Wednesday.

But:

So that may distance Bridges from prosecution (National’s party secretary could be in the firing line), but if substantiated it is likely to leave Bridges in political difficulty, especially as a leader.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow said the party could find no proof of Ross’ allegations, which seemed “inconsistent with the donor information we have to date, including information previously supplied by Mr Ross”.

If Ross proves wrongdoing he may be culpable himself.

Bridges’ handling of the leak saga, and his popularity both in and out of the party, have been questioned during the past two months. The leader said the party was united and all 55 MPs had voted to expel Ross. He also said his leadership had not been discussed by caucus but the party was united. He repeatedly referred to Ross as a “lone-wolf MP”, who was “leaking”, “lying” and “lashing out”.

However, this will not be the end of the saga for Bridges, who may now be at the centre of an investigation into alleged electoral fraud. He’s in a stronger position than Ross at this stage but nothing’s a sure thing in politics.

I think it’s too soon to know how this will impact on Bridges’ leadership and on the National Party.

David Farrar is on RNZ right now saying ‘it is bad for both National and Bridges, they only questions are how bad and for how long”.

If the police launch an inquiry that is almost certain to drag things out for some time.

The Botany by-election will drag things out for a couple of months or so if they can fit it in before Christmas.

And Ross seems intent on revealing a lot of information including a recording and communications.

Curran’s inevitable resignation as a Minister

After a woeful effort in Parliament on Wednesday and a no-show on Thursday it looked inevitable that Clare Curran’s position as a minister was no longer tenable, and so it turned out.

The official story is that Curran offered her resignation as a minister to the Prime Minister on Thursday night , and that was accepted by Jacinda Ardern. Whether she needed nudging or pushing or whether it was entirely her decision is unknown.

Ardern’s statement: Clare Curran resigns as Minister

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has accepted Clare Curran’s resignation as a Minister.

“Clare Curran contacted me last night to confirm her wish to resign as a Minister and I accepted that resignation,” said Jacinda Ardern.

“Clare has come to the view the issues currently surrounding her are causing an unacceptable distraction for the Government and immense pressure on her personally.

“I agree with her assessment that resigning is the best course of action for the Government and for her.”

Kris Faafoi will become the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, remaining outside of Cabinet, and Peeni Henare will become the Associate Minister for ACC.

Statement from Clare Curran on her resignation as Minister

“I advised the Prime Minister last night I would resign as a Minister, which she accepted,” said Clare Curran.

“I have come to the conclusion the current heat being placed on me is unlikely to go away. This pressure has become intolerable. For the benefit of the Government, and my personal wellbeing, I believe that resignation is the best course of action.”

Curran gave a brief statement to media yesterday afternoon:

She read a statement:

Today I advised the Prime Minister that I have resigned from all my Ministerial portfolios.

I am, like the rest of you all, a human being, and I can no longer endure the relentless pressure that I’ve been under.

I’ve made some mistakes. They weren’t deliberate undermining of the political system, but my mistakes have been greatly amplified and the pressure on me has become intolerable.

We all bring to our jobs strengths and weaknesses. Our political system should never try to cast people in the same mould.

I was really proud to have served in the coalition government ministry. During my time as a minister I’ve worked hard on issues I’ve really believed in. How to bring more depth, maturity  and sustainability to our media system, particularly publicly funded media, to fundamentally make our democracy stronger.

How to give New Zealanders more confidence and trust in our political system, and the motivation to be active and to understand how they can have their voices heard.

And how to build a productive, inclusive digital society that leaves no one behind.

I’m deeply saddened I won’t be able to do that.

I thank my Prime Minister for the chance she gave me.

I thank all my colleagues and my party for the support, encouragement and solidarity they show every day.

On the question of Gmail use.  I use my Gmail account infrequently for work, and it would have been discoverable, and it hasn’t been used to conceal anything.

And I will continue as the MP for Dunedin South.

She left as soon as she finished, not taking any questions.

So she blames it on “the relentless pressure that I’ve been under”, but she is responsible for much of that pressure.

One apparent discrepancy in her statements:

Ardern’s statement: “Clare Curran contacted me last night to confirm her wish to resign as a Minister and I accepted that resignation”.

Curran’s written statement: “I advised the Prime Minister last night I would resign as a Minister, which she accepted”.

Curran’s spoken statement: “Today I advised the Prime Minister that I have resigned from all my Ministerial portfolios.”

That could be a mistake. It could also be that the spoken statement was written on Thursday (day not night?) and not edited for being given on Friday.

Time will tell whether Curran puts herself forward for Dunedin South in 2020, whether the Labour party selects her, and whether she gets re-elected. It is not a given that she would succeed. Her majorities:

  • 2008: 6,449 (Labour majority  4666)
  • 2011: 4,175 (National majority 1,837)
  • 2014: 3,858 (National majority 2,485)
  • 2017: 8,717 (Labour majority 5,019)

The National candidate from 2011, Jo Hayes, is now a National list MP.

The National candidate from 2014, Hamish Walker, switched to Clutha-Southland in 2017 and won Bill English’s old seat.

ODT:

Tracey Watkins (Stuff):

NZ Herald:

 

Kirton resigning from Labour

Andrew Kirton moved to New Zealand two years ago to run the Labour Party as general Secretary, helped them to an election win and to negotiate a governing deal.

He ran into difficulties in handling of the Labour camp where it was alleged sexual harassment occurred. With the results of an investigation into the camp thought by some to be imminent (of course that could be coincidental), Kirton is leaving Labour.

Newsroom: Labour Party chief resigns

The Labour Party’s general secretary Andrew Kirton announced his resignation this afternoon – after the high of an election win last year and the low of allegations of sexual assault and drunkenness at a Labour Youth Camp in February.

But when Newsroom broke news of the allegations from the summer camp near Waihi, Kirton’s handling of the matter was under intense scrutiny. Labour took what it called a “victim-led” approach to the complaints and no outside investigation was sought.

Newsroom revealed Kirton’s plans at lunchtime today and he announced this afternoon he was heading to a new role as government relations executive at Air New Zealand.

Some eyebrows could be raised over the timing of the announcement, coming at a time when political and media eyes are on Ardern’s new baby at Auckland Hospital.

On the investigation:

Police have been investigating and have indicated a charge may yet be laid against the person accused of the late-night assaults on young party supporters, one as young as 16.

Labour commissioned Wellington lawyer Maria Berryman in March to investigate how it handled the affair, its general culture and any other incidents of sexual harassment or abuse within the party. She had three months to report back and her findings were not to be made public but go to key party leaders.

Berryman only recently spoke to some of the five victims of the assaults at the camp.

So it could be a while before the investigation is completed. Kirton could be gone by then.

Twyford’s big little mistake

More trouble for Phil Twyford, self inflicted.

He was one of Labour’s most active and critical MPs in when in opposition. In Government he was given big and relatively many ministerial responsibilities.

He has struggled with the transition from Opposition, and with his new jobs, particularly the very demanding Housing portfolio in which Labour had been very critical, and made some big promises. As National had discovered as the number of houses kept falling behind a rising population, it can be a very slow behemoth to turn around, especially with our restrictive, time consuming and expensive RMA requirements.

Last week Twyford was reprimanded by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for referring to ‘kids at Treasury’ when he disagreed with a housing forecast. Ardern put on a show of telling him off but agreed with the thrust of his criticism. Twyford said “Some of these kids at Treasury are fresh out of university and they’re completely disconnected from reality”.

Interest.co.nz: Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf says he is “disappointed” with the Housing Minister’s comments that his officials are “kids… disconnected from reality”

Now another controversy has flared, with Twyford being  reported by a member of the public for making a cellphone call on plane after the doors had been closed.

This may seem like a trivial offence breaching what seems like a pointless airline rule.

But it is highly embarrassing for Twyford, because as Minister of Transport he had responsibility for Civil Aviation.

Twyford has admitted his mistake. He also ‘offered to resign’ in a statement:

I recognise that I made the call when I shouldn’t have.

This is inappropriate for anyone, but particularly inappropriate for me as Transport Minister. I apologise unreservedly.

I have apologised to the Prime Minister and offered my resignation as Transport Minister.

She has declined my offer but chosen to transfer my responsibility for the Civil Aviation Authority to Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter.

I have referred the matter to the Civil Aviation Authority who will follow whatever processes they deem appropriate,

So he didn’t actually resign, he left it to Ardern to make a show of declining it, and she also appropriately appropriately stripped him of Civil aviation responsibilities. Regardless of the offence reducing his workload seems like a good idea.

This is being compared to Gerry Brownlee’s breach of security at Christchurch airport in 2014 while he was Transport Minister. he was fined $2,000 for that.

It can be argued that Brownlee’s offence was worse, or potentially not as dangerous (if there is any danger from using phones on planes), but that’s largely irrelevant. This is four years later and Twyford is the current Minister and he has earned some flak.

This will probably blow over fairly quickly except for ongoing attempts to niggle away at the Government by opponents – unless Twyford keeps making mistakes and inappropriate comments. It’s time for him to measure up as a minister, or he could find more of his responsibilities slipping away.


Update: This irony is being reported on RNZ, from July 2014: PM too quick off mark – Labour

Labour transport spokesperson Phil Twyford said John Key had been too quick off the mark in deciding not to accept Mr Brownlee’s resignation and should have waited for the outcome of the CAA investigation.

“The Prime Minister did say that he was going to hold National Party ministers to a higher standard of accountability, so I would have hoped that the prime minister would have waited for the facts to be on the table about what regulations Mr Brownlee might have breached.”

Mr Twyford said it was important Mr Brownlee was held to account, and pointed to the prosecution of John Banks when he was Police Minister for using his cellphone during a flight.

“Well I think it’s very important, for the public, that politicians are seen not just to make the laws but to follow them, as well, and that’s a pretty fundamental principle of our democracy.”

 

 

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.

Bill English’s resignation

Bill English managed to keep secret the news of his resignation as National Party leader and from Parliament until just before he have a news conference announcing it this morning.

This isn’t really a surprise to me. English was reportedly considering resigning a couple of years ago but stepped up and stayed on when  John Key resigned. English went on to do a creditable job in the election campaign last year, and possibly also to his credit he didn’t concede enough to win Winston Peters’ support to form a Government.

The timing was initially a bit of a surprise, but it makes sense. If he stepped down too soon after the election the party would have not been in a good situation to consider a new leader – after losing power all National MPs would have benefited from considering their futures.

So English waited until everyone was settled into the first full year of the current term, and then made his announcement.

English has been one of the most influential politicians in new Zealand this century. He is widely applauded for managing the country through very difficult financial times, first taking over as Finance Minister as the Global Financial Crisis hit, and then managing our way through the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes.

Labour will be thankful to have taken over when the country’s books are in such good order.

And Jacinda Ardern seemed to genuinely applaud his achievements, as any good Prime Minsiter would:

Just heard the news that Bill English has decided to stand down. Bill has made a huge contribution through his time in office and to politics generally. I admire those who serve NZ in this place, and Bill did for a long time, and he did it well. My best wishes

So it’s a well earned political retirement for English, while National now has to deal with choosing a new leader, but that’s a different story.

UPDATE: Statement on Bill English

RT HON JACINDA ARDERN

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today paid tribute to outgoing National Party Leader Bill English.

“Bill has worked tirelessly as Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and Opposition Leader among his many public roles. Very few serve for so long at such a high level, but garner the respect of many.

“He has always stood for what he believes in. He is a man of clear convictions who has always had a genuine concern for the well-being of New Zealanders, and gave a huge portion of his working life to serving on their behalf.

“The impact of public service on a politician’s family cannot be understated. In the 27 years Bill served as an MP, with the support of his wife Mary, his children were born, and grew up.  They have made great sacrifices so he could do his job to the best of his ability.

“I wish Bill and his family all the best for the future,” says Jacinda Ardern.

Interview: Bill English on his resignation

Green problems continue

A battered Green party seems to have taken another hit with one of their top staff stepping down and another either stepping or being pushed sideways.

Whatever the reason, a month out from the election this has to be disruptive and an indication of ongoing repercussions in the party after a damaging few weeks.

NZH: Top Green Party staffer resigns just weeks out from election

The Green Party has been hit by more turmoil after its political director resigned with just weeks to go until the election.

The resignation of communications specialist Joss Debreceny follows the departure of the party’s chief of staff Deborah Morris-Travers, although she will keep working for the Greens on a special anti-poverty project.

Responding to Herald inquiries, Shaw said he had reluctantly accepted Debreceny’s resignation.

“Joss has given tireless, loyal support and made an important contribution to the Green cause, and I am deeply grateful for that.”

Shaw said Morris-Travers’ move out of the chief-of-staff role was to take up a “special projects” role, including providing policy advice on ending poverty in New Zealand.

“We are keen to utilise Deborah’s expertise on the rights of children, as well as tapping into her past experience as a member of Parliament,” Shaw said.

“Joss and Deborah are superb operators. As these changes are operational issues it would be inappropriate to make any further comment.”

One could wonder how involved these two staff members were in the Metiria mission on poverty, and the handling of the PR disaster.

One could also wonder whether they are deserting a sinking ship, or if they have been thrown overboard.

Should Ngaro have offered his resignation?

Going by Lloyd Burr’s claims in Alfred Ngaro’s threat to Willie Jackson was worse than just a brain fart Ngaro was slow to comprehend or acknowledge the mistake he made in a National Party regional conference speech.

Alfred Ngaro’s threat that non-government organisations shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds is extraordinary.

Not just because of his complete lack of judgement, or the fact he did it on stage in front of hundreds of National Party members, or because it shows cracks in the party’s extreme culture of discipline.

It’s extraordinary because he didn’t back down from his comments until he was forced to.

It was much more than just a brain fart or a case of misspeaking.

Prime Minister Bill English and National’s campaign manager Steven Joyce were quick to activate damage control, downplaying the comments as “naive from a new minister”.

But before they could both get their hands on him and before the storm of bad PR hit, Mr Ngaro was still unapologetic when Newshub asked him to explain.

“It was actually about saying ‘look let’s be mindful about the working relationship we have’,” he told Newshub at the conference.

“It’s the context of saying that on the one hand we’re working together, and on the other hand too, if people are criticising, we just need to be mindful of that type of relationship, yep,” said Mr Ngaro.

NGOs being “mindful” of criticising the Government sounds strikingly similar to threatening them to watch what they say.

“If we’re going to have a positive partnership of working together, then it’s around having that, it’s talking about wider context but also all the things we are doing and working collectively together,” said Mr Ngaro.

“My comments was (sic) just to be mindful of the fact that if we are going to be able to have these partnerships, we’ve just got to be political, what you call sensitive, in that context, yep.”

All this was very embarrassing for National, not just the initial comments but on how Ngaro handled it. His subsequent apology was very lame too.

I’m sure Ngaro regrets what he said but this sounds like a ‘I’m sorry I got found out’ and then a switch to campaign politics sort of non-apology. It is nowhere near good enough.

Audrey Young thinks that Ngaro comments warrant the offer of a resignation

The stupidity of Alfred Ngaro’s judgment at the weekend was so gross it warranted at least his offer of a resignation from the cabinet to Prime Minister Bill English.

None was forthcoming, English confirmed at his post cabinet press conference.

But it was clear from English’s response that he was not looking for a resignation from Ngaro.

That may be because it would have signalled a misjudgment on English’s part in having promoted him in December from the backbench into cabinet.

English did admit, however, that Ngaro had apologised to the cabinet, adding to a long list of groups to which he has apologised.

I haven’t seen a decent apology yet – and this lack of an adequate response is as bad as the initial comments which sounded like insidious political threats.

The biggest reason English has been so forgiving of Ngaro is that he does not believe the junior minister would have followed through on his threat – and there is no evidence of it.

Ngaro has not yet had the opportunity to walk the way he talked. As a new minister, and Associate Minister for Social Housing, his work and decisions are closely watched by Social Housing Minister Amy Adams.

He would not get away with it.

Ngaro’s comments smack of an inexperienced minister trying to sound as though he was an experienced political operator by talking tough.

He showed the complete opposite.

It’s ironic that an inexperienced minister has portrayed his party as arrogantly misusing power after nine years of government.

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.

Key to the Kingdom

Banned Standard author Te Reo Putake writes for Your NZ about how John Key’s shock resignation will revitalise Labour, the Greens and NZ First.


It’s been a great few days for the opposition. The Mt Roskill by election was a stunning win for Labour, the Greens have picked up a media friendly new candidate in Hayley Holt and Winston Peters has, well, I don’t know what Winston’s been up to, but I’m sure he thinks it was great.

And now John Key’s resigned to spend more time with his money. Good news for Barack Obama, golf’s no fun without a caddy.

John Key’s resignation opens the door for two, perhaps three new Prime Ministers in the next twelve months.

First, Bill English will take over, on Key’s recommendation. If the polls plummet, he’ll be shafted by Easter, to be replaced by whatever counts as budding talent in the National caucus.

Bennett? Bridges?

It won’t matter, really, because whenever the election is called, early or late, Andrew Little will win.

Hold on, I hear you saying, what about the polls?

The numbers have been heading Little’s way for months. No, really. His task is to maximise Labour’s vote, but more importantly, build the numbers for both his party and the Greens. Most recent polls have had those two party’s combined vote just short or just above the point at which a coalition with NZ First could form a viable Government.

That’s how MMP works folks. If only Roy Morgan could work that out.

National can’t afford to lose even a couple of percentage points next election. If they drop even slightly, Winston is their only hope of staying in power.

It’s important to remember that National have scraped through three elections on the strength of their leader and the supine support of their mini me’s in Epsom and Ohariu.

ACT will be back, but Dunne’s done.

The maori party will not be back next election either. They’ll be swamped by Labour this time round. And a good job too. Bye bye, brown tories.

Without Key, National will almost certainly have to do a deal with NZ First to retain power.

Now, I don’t kid myself that Winston Peters can be relied on to do the right thing and back a Labour led Government.

Indeed, the resignation of Key takes away one of my favourite arguments, which was that Peters wanted to be the one who brought Key down. He hasn’t forgiven the Nats for forcing him out of Parliament in 2008 and I always fancied that if NZ First had the balance of power post election, he’d make Key dance a jig to his tune for a few weeks, then go with Labour anyway.

littlepeters

I’m still convinced that Peters sees more scope to get his ideas over the line as part of a Little led Government. Have you ever looked at NZ Firsts policies? The vast majority could have been remits at a Labour party conference. Ok, rejected remits, but, hey, you get the idea.

The fly in the ointment for that arrangement is the Greens. Winston doesn’t trust them. He once told me that they’d sell NZ out for a snail. I laughed at the time, but if he does opt for the Nats post election, that’ll be the reason.

And what of the Greens? What do they get out of Key’s quitting?

Well, probably not much. This doesn’t have the same potential impact on their vote as it does for Labour.

However, there may be some Blue Greens who will shift their party vote their way. It’s noticeable in the inner city electorates that there is strong tactical voting by conservatives who have an environmental conscience. Maybe that’ll get them an extra MP or two.

And, of course, they’ll be part of the next Government, in some form or other.

Ultimately, it will be Labour that is the big winner here.

Kiwis have traditionally let governments run for two or three terms, then let the other fullas have a go. That’ll be the outcome next year.

Andrew Little may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he is a genuine guy, hard working and honest. He’s distressingly straight laced and painfully awkward in front of the cameras.

You know why?

He’s no show pony. He just wants to do the work.

I think voters will grudgingly accept he’s the right person to take the country forward for a term or two.

And with Key’s bitter legacy of growing inequality, poverty, underfunding of health, education and cops, and the apparent end of the Kiwi dream of owning our own home Little will have plenty of good issues to campaign on and plenty of problems to fix when he’s in the hot seat.

Barring some other seismic political shock, Andrew Little will find himself Prime Minister this time next year.

And I reckon you’ll be surprised at how good a job he does of it.