I’ve been leaked a copy of what may be National’s most popular policy – extending the new 90 day probation period (which starts today) to Parliament.
The policy, which will require a change to the Electoral Act, will allow voters to sack an MP if they feel the MP is not working out. There will be two ways this could happen.
If 10% of an electorate MP’s constituents sign a sacking petition within 90 days of an electorate MP’s election, then their seat falls vacant. It is thought unlikely to be used often, due to the cost of a by-election. This will discourage opposition parties from using the provision recklessly, but allows the voters to take action if an MP is clearly just not working out.
The provisions around List MPs are harsher. A petition to sack an MP from their list spot can be lodged at any time. However it must be signed by at least 500 members of the party that MP represents in Parliament. This will provide an incentive for List MPs to better represent their party’s interests.
The policy has been approved by Cabinet, but not yet gone to Caucus, where there may be some resistance. However the case will be put to MPs that this just puts them on a level playing field with parliamentary staff who are on a effective permament probation period. Staff who work in a parliamentary or MPs office can be dismissed without cause at any time, under a provision in their employment contract called “irreconcilable differences” which is a fancy term for “am sick of you”.