Term limits for List MPs?

January 17th, 2012 at 4:58 pm by David Farrar

In my blog at Stuff, I moot whether we should have for , as a way to respond to the issue of people not liking defeated electorate candidates coming in on the list.

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28 Responses to “Term limits for List MPs?”

  1. MarkF (89 comments) says:

    I like the fact that we are exploring the dislike of unelected MPs “dictating our lives”.

    However I hark back to a much earlier post and propose this as an alternative. Maybe not the panacea but how about this;

    They should not be list members as proposed by the parties but taken in order of the most votes of the unelected electorate candidates. Therefore the people would in effect determine the Lists and no one can stand as a List only MP. This would IMHO get rid of most of the stigma of unelected “scum list” MPs getting in off the party list. It would mean that in the case of, let’s say ACT then Dr Don would have to stand in the electorate that if he didn’t win would at least give him a decent number of votes. Andrew Little would have to make a good fist of his chances by engaging with New Plymouth etc. I am sure this would apply to candidates of all parties.

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  2. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    Best moot you’ve had recently, great idea

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  3. gazzmaniac (2,266 comments) says:

    DPF that wouldn’t stop the current problem since most of the Labour list MPs have been electorate MPs so would still be eligible since they wouldn’t have had any time as list MPs. It would also be detrimental to quality list MPs like Hekia Parata and Georgina Te HeuHeu, both of whom have added a lot to the parliament as list MPs but never won electorates (I doubt that Te HeuHeu would have won a maori seat, and she would never have won Taupo against Mark Burton).

    I think a better option is that if you’re an incumbent electorate MP you can’t go on a party’s list. Then there is no way you can be booted out by your electorate but can come in the back door for another term. It would still allow for the likes of Nathan Guy who lost Otaki to Darren Hughes in 2005 to come into parliament (for the first time) as a list MP, contest (and win) Otaki (in ’08 and ’11) partly thanks to his higher profile, but now that he is the incumbent electorate MP he wouldn’t get a list spot. Unfortunately I can think of at least one good MP (Damien O’Connor) who would have lost out under this arrangement (he lost West Coast Tasman in 2008) but given his high profile on the coast he probably would have beaten Auchinvole in 2011 regardless of whether he was a list MP or not. It is worth noting that O’Connor was out of parliament until Michael Cullen resigned as an MP.

    The other option of course is mandatory electoral primaries to rank the list.

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  4. peterwn (2,933 comments) says:

    Frankly, I would rather have this MMP problem than the unseemly candidate selection meetings before MMP days. For example there could be a senior Minister and a backbencher in adjacent electorates. There is a boundary change and two safe electorates become one, with (say) the new electorate having much of the backbencher’s old electorate area. PM then really puts the acid on the backbencher to stand aside (I cannot really give you London but you can have Ottawa). The PM and senior ministers should have reasonable tenure.

    A carton at that time depicted a game of musical chairs for the final selection with both contenders glaring at each other.

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  5. Pete George (21,804 comments) says:

    …taken in order of the most votes of the unelected electorate candidates. Therefore the people would in effect determine the Lists and no one can stand as a List only MP.

    This still wouldn’t make the people the deciders, it would be determined by what sort of electorate the MPs were in ie a contestable electorate or a safe electorate, and also the quality of the MP who wins the electorates – two weak candidates contesting an electorate with a close result would give the weak loser a better chance than better candidates elsewhere.

    It’s hard to see how to you could vote for a list outcome via an electorate vote.

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  6. EverlastingFire (290 comments) says:

    Sounds like a good idea. Certainly be amusing among the Greens.

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  7. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    “it would mean that respected list MPs such as Attorney-General wouldn’t stand in safe seats held by another party, such as Rongotai where he does stand. He would stand list only.”

    I don’t see your point. If he is standing in a safe seat held by another party, he knows his only chance of success is to stand on the list. Where’s the problem?

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  8. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    Adding to my last comment, the A-G might instead stand in a safe National seat. I am not sure you’ve explained why a candidate should be able to have their cake and eat it.

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  9. eszett (2,264 comments) says:

    as a way to respond to the issue ofpeople not liking defeated electorate candidates coming in on the list.

    What people? Where? When? Can you point to some specific case, studies, etc.
    Or is this just a made up talking point?

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  10. Pete George (21,804 comments) says:

    The problem is it would make a farce out of many electorate contests. Any candidate who stood a good chance of getting in on the list wouldn’t risk standing in an electorate, which would gut many electorate contests.

    Take Ohariu – Shanks wouldn’t have stood in the eledctorate, neither would Hughes, and Chauvel would have had to carefully consider his ego versus safety on the list.

    Take Greens, they wouldn’t stand in any electorate.

    Many electorate campaigns would be ignored by media and voters.

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  11. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    I disagree, Pete. The way you describe it, parties would throw everybody on the list. But that’s not going to work because only so many MPs can come from the list. Some aspiring MPs would have to stand in an electorate seat.

    “Take Greens, they wouldn’t stand in any electorate.”

    I disagree. The could stand a lot of candidates in electorates and they could all campaign for the party vote.

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  12. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    “Take Ohariu – Shanks wouldn’t have stood in the electorate”

    If she was told she’d be #75 on the list, I’m damn sure she’d have jumped at the chance to stand in Ohariu. :)

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  13. Dick (80 comments) says:

    gazzmaniac (1,092) Says:
    January 17th, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    It would also be detrimental to quality list MPs like Hekia Parata and Georgina Te HeuHeu, both of whom have added a lot to the parliament as list MPs but never won electorates.

    I’m sorry, did you make a typo? Did you mean they’ve achieved fuck all besides sitting in the backbenches turning up to vote yet never having actually done anything of significance in all their time in Parliament.

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  14. Gulag1917 (425 comments) says:

    Another idea, reduce the number of list MPs

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  15. mikenmild (8,778 comments) says:

    A change to term limits for list MPs would only increase the perception of them as second-class representatives. In any case, I’m not sure this perception is particularly widely held.

    The most obvious drawback would be for parties with list MPs only. Imagine a group of capable MPs got consistently between 5 and 10% of the nationwide vote then suddenly got booted out because they can’t command majority support in specified geographical areas.

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  16. orewa1 (425 comments) says:

    Term limit? Great idea! How about 48 hours?

    Seriously – reduce the number, and make the public, not party bosses, responsible for their selection.

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  17. peterwn (2,933 comments) says:

    Dick – You seem to think a backbencher just sits on the bench. There are Select Committees and other activities to which backbenchers contribute. If Hekia merely sat on the back benches she would not be a Minister now, let alone one holding key portfolios. A back bencher has to earn a ministerial position by utilising political skills and by hard work especially in Select Committees.

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  18. Sonny Blount (1,829 comments) says:

    Make the term limits for an electorate and its immediate neighbours. Once 3 terms of 4 years are up, they have to stand elsewhere.

    This means that truly worthy candidates could foreseeably stay in parliament for as long as they do now, but not via the mechanism of pork barrel politics.

    And ranking the lists by electorate votes is going to be the simplest and most effective way of ranking list MPs and having them accountable to voters ahead of party leaders.

    Any change to list needs to begin with lowering the number in proportion to the electorate MPs as the most ever needed to achieve proportionality has been less than 30. The 60/60 split has been just another device which suits parliamentarians and so none of them will ever talk ill of it.

    The no list ranking if an electorate MP idea is absurd and will reduce the quality and resources put against safe candidates.

    Party list primaries will be totally meaningless and have a turnout of around 5% who will find the well publicised party preferred order the easiest way of completing the nonsensical task of ranking 60 people. At least it will be amusing to see how 80 or so candidates attempt to communicate with voters across the entire country, will Labour put out TV ads where each candidate gets 2 seconds each or will we be receiving 80 page mailouts?

    And Petes assertion that the quality of opposition will distort the value of electorate vote ranked lists is rather astonishing in a political environment. I would like to hear of any electoral system that does not compare one with another. The NZ electorate did not award National/Key and Labour/Goff with 50% and 25% of the vote respectively based on their own merits, it was in comparison with each other.

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  19. DJP6-25 (1,229 comments) says:

    Yes, and hell yes! Term limits for all of them. Two for the PM. Six for an MP. If they can’t do anything in 18 years, another 18 won’t change the picture. Ditto for Judges. Say 12 years. It stops the emergence of a professional political class.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  20. Chris2 (704 comments) says:

    I believe List MP’s should be selected by the public, not the party.

    The most democratic way would be if a Party List was only made up (after the election) in the order of the highest polling unsuccessful electoral candidate being ranked at the top of the party List, and so on down.

    In this way, every List MP could at least claim to have some personal mandate to be in Parliament, even if they did not win an Electorate seat.

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  21. Nigel (503 comments) says:

    I like term limits, but why just list, 4 terms ( 4 year term ) for everyone, maybe allowing like Russia a time-out ( 2 terms ).

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  22. Dick (80 comments) says:

    peterwn (1,512) Says:
    January 17th, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Dick – You seem to think a backbencher just sits on the bench. There are Select Committees and other activities to which backbenchers contribute. If Hekia merely sat on the back benches she would not be a Minister now, let alone one holding key portfolios. A back bencher has to earn a ministerial position by utilising political skills and by hard work especially in Select Committees.

    And what are her achievements besides being a ‘bureaucrat’ for the government? Compare the changes she has made to benefit NZ to someone like Rodney Hide. People like Hekia just turn up to Parliament to receive their pay – being an MP is like a dayjob for them – they lack vision, they lack a desire to achieve something big (Simon Power also falls into this category – hardworking but no substance).

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  23. Mark (1,301 comments) says:

    it is an idea with merit however should it apply also to constituency seats or should voters be free to elect who they like in an electorate.

    The Greens would be penalised by such a move, National and Labour could feel the pinch, ACT can’t garner enough votes for it to be an issue and the Maori Party and Mana only win constituency seats

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  24. Mobile Michael (364 comments) says:

    I don’t understand this anti-list MP that runs strongly in NZ. They are MPs elected by the at large electorate, they have the same rights in Parliament as other MPs. The problem of unpopular people being List MPs lies with voters not considering the effectsof their votes. At the recent election I cast my party vote on the basis of the candidate who was on the cusp of being a list MP as I thought they would make an important contribution to Parliament. I also voted for the local candidate that I thought would make the best contribution to Parliament.

    The other problem you get with this plan is no hopers like Graham Kelly, Eric Roy, Clem Simich, Judith Tizard, etc. hold onto safe seats and refuse to budge.

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  25. Sonny Blount (1,829 comments) says:

    Mobile Michael,

    You have just contradicted yourself, you say what is the problem with list MPs, and then complain about MPs in safe seats. By definition an MP is in a safe seat because they enjoy strong electoral support.

    You actually make the case for electorate vote rankings by saying you considered the MP/s on the cusp of making the list, ie you were able to consider 1 or 2 MPs but not 60+.

    Electorate vote rankings make safe seats less so, as they make attractive seats for 3rd parties from the same side of the aisle to campaign in.

    The effect of the party ranked list can be seen in the makeup of the current Labour MPs. Despite their worst result in 80 odd years, none of the top 30 ranked party sycophants had to fight for their parliamentary lives in their electorates. This has led to a stale party caucus with little experience and habit of winning or contesting hard fought seats.

    It is only a matter of time before the media and electorate wake up to the waste of time our current weakly fought electoral races are, they provide some entertainment on election night but usually only 1 or 2 out of 60 has any consequence.

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  26. Monty (944 comments) says:

    Someone just tell me how to get rid of Darien Fenton, (and also Winston Peters)

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  27. Weihana (4,475 comments) says:

    I don’t favour this idea. I don’t favour any idea which would effectively grant unequal status to different types of MPs. As someone just said it would be interesting to watch what happens with the Greens. This rule would undermine those MPs reducing the effectiveness of the party and it would require them to turn over new members even if the Green party supporters really liked the current crop of MPs. It would require the Green party to swap effective, experienced and popular members for ones which were inexperienced and potentially less effective and less popular thus undermining the representation of their voters.

    I would prefer to have something like American primaries where voters can register with a party and can actively participate in determining the party hierarchy.

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  28. s.russell (1,486 comments) says:

    Political parties are perfectly capable of demoting (and thereby kicking out) non-performing list MPs. If they want to. Sometimes they do. Term limits are arbitrary and would get rid of good MPs as well as bad.
    The value to NZ of a good MP who can be a good minister is greater than the cost of a few ordinary MPs going along for the ride because their party can’t be bothered kicking them out.

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