Falling out of the waka

There is not a lot of support for Winston Peters’ Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill (fondly known as the waka-jumping bill) anywhere that I can see. If you think it is anti-democratic, then it is fair to say that you would be right. The bill is designed to prevent MPs from ditching their party during the parliamentary term. This is from the NBR: Quote:

The legislation is aimed at maintaining the proportionality of Parliament if an MP falls out with his or her party. End quote.

Winston has a long memory, it would seem. Quote:

The legislation has been widely condemned for proposing to give parties the power to eject dissident MPs from Parliament, yet the government marches blindly on.

This legislation is a sop to New Zealand First and risks, according to its critics, undermining democratic principles. End quote.

Absolutely. It is interesting that the party that consider themselves to have the moral high ground in parliament, the Greens, are supporting it, although apparently there is some dissension among the ranks of the party. To me, all it shows is that they will do absolutely anything for power, including sacrificing their so-called principles. Quote:

It is a hangover from the collapse of the NZ First party in 1998 when about half of its MPs refused to follow their leader, Winston Peters out of government and instead propped up National as it limped painfully to the end of its nine years in power. End quote.

The government of the time were a shambles, due, at least in part, to Winston Peters, but they hung on for the full nine years. It would seem that Winston has neither forgiven or forgotten the events of almost 20 years ago, and is determined that this will not happen again. Quote:

As well, Mr Peters should should reflect on the fact that this coalition is distinctly different from the one he was part of after the 1996 election.

No party should need the comfort blanket of being able to eject dissident MPs. Only voters should have the power to elect and dump MPs and they have shown plenty of times in the past that they do an effective job. End quote.

Of course, this is only partly true under MMP, and this is one of the worst things about it. Voters don’t necessarily vote for an individual – they vote for a party. The party then decide who will come into government. It is true that all parties signal their most likely MPs with their party lists, but the only way voters can keep an unsavoury individual out of government is to not give that party their party vote. Quote:

The waka jumping legislation is an example of political compromise trumping principle. Mr Peters would do himself and the government no harm if he said he had listened to the arguments raised and decided himself the legislation should be dropped.

He could then turn it into an example of both principle and compromise overriding politics. End quote.

We all know Winston is unlikely to do that. A bitter old man with a long memory and who bears grudges is unlikely to do anything where principle trumps self-interest. Since when has a little thing such as democracy stopped him from doing what he wanted? Certainly not now.

Amy Adams has said that this bill, if passed, would hurt New Zealand’s international standing, putting us alongside countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda and the Philippines. In other countries, similar laws have been thrown out, having been deemed unconstitutional.

The Congo, for heaven’s sake.

It is interesting that, in recent years, we only seem to get pieces of legislation that are deemed to be undemocratic under left-leaning governments. The last was the Electoral Finance Act, which was overturned by John Key’s government. It is likely that the next National government will overturn Winston’s little gem when they are in power. I guess, when you are on the long road to communism, getting rid of democracy is the vital first step.

 


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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