The case against sacking List MPs

May 19th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

writes in the HoS:

Then we had the constitutional point. That no one, including the Prime Minister, could fire Gilmore forthwith was presented as a failing of our Parliamentary system. He was a list MP. He had done wrong. He should be fired.

I am not so sure those calling for the summary power to dismiss would appreciate the consequences.

I had two list MPs in my caucus forever trying to dispatch me. If I had been able to fire them, I would have. And I would still be there. But that’s hardly a satisfactory outcome for anyone.

I agree with Rodney that a party should not be able to sack a List MP. It would turn them even more into creatures of the party.

It would be a power too open to abuse by party leaders to get rid of MPs that challenge their authority.

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42 Responses to “The case against sacking List MPs”

  1. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Rodney has become a very worthy commentator. I find myself increasingly agreeing with him. He is the sort of politician we need at this point in time. I hope he finds his way back in the front door (preferably as Banksee walks out the back door).

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  2. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    Agree.

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  3. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    You have party rules and parlimentry rules – depending on the rules you break – should then decide who fires you – from either place you sit!

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  4. Ross12 (1,428 comments) says:

    Judith

    I agree with you up to the last bit. I think Rodney should join National and stand in an Auckland electorate other than Epsom.

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  5. calendar girl (1,236 comments) says:

    The solution is to get rid of all List MPs.

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  6. Snarkle (118 comments) says:

    It’s a pity list MPs don’t have a chance to stand for election if they choose (It would be a country-wide vote). The other parties could put up whomever they wanted as candidates. This would enable list MPs- who felt the party had left them rather than vice versa- to ask for an electoral mandate to stay in parliament. This would also enable MPs like Aaron Gilmore to be constantly bombarded with “why don’t you put yourself up for election” from all quarters, thereby driving them to stand or alternatively exposing themselves as the frauds they are.
    If a list MP felt his/her party had totally compromised its principles mid-term, the threat to resign and contest would be a very real one. It would help keep the bastards honest. It would also make every list MP relevant.

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  7. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    The problem is most people who might make a worthwhile contribution to political life don’t want to waste their time being an MP, even a List MP.

    The problem is the List. Imagine if PMs could invite some seriously capable people into government at their discretion. At the moment we have voting wallflowers.

    We might as well scrub the List and give extra votes to the party leader.

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  8. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    This another reason why List MP’s should be selected from a party’s highest-polling unsuccessful electoral candidates – that way they at least would have received some acceptable level of public support in the ballot box.

    Some List MP in parliament today received fewer than 400 votes at the election, but got rabked so high on their party list they still get into Parliament.

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  9. Bad__Cat (140 comments) says:

    I believe that a 75% vote of MP’s in a party should be able to vote out a list MP who no longer represents the Party.

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  10. Colville (2,268 comments) says:

    I am with bad_cat. If MP has done something that brings party or parliament into disrepute then boot them.

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  11. Nostalgia-NZ (5,211 comments) says:

    ‘Snarkle (71) Says:
    May 19th, 2013 at 11:36 am
    It’s a pity list MPs don’t have a chance to stand for election if they choose (It would be a country-wide vote). The other parties could put up whomever they wanted as candidates. This would enable list MPs- who felt the party had left them rather than vice versa- to ask for an electoral mandate to stay in parliament. This would also enable MPs like Aaron Gilmore to be constantly bombarded with “why don’t you put yourself up for election” from all quarters, thereby driving them to stand or alternatively exposing themselves as the frauds they are.
    If a list MP felt his/her party had totally compromised its principles mid-term, the threat to resign and contest would be a very real one. It would help keep the bastards honest. It would also make every list MP relevant.’

    Why not make the list up of highest attained personal candidate votes in lost electoral seats, it would be easier and would reflect the views to some extent of the electorate on individual candidates who they know. It would also give the MP the opportunity to show his or her worth in Parliament and the opportunity to go back as the winning candidate in the next election. They’d all be working for their places.

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  12. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    The party list is only brought in on the strength of the party vote, which is the desire of the electorate to see a party represented in parliament rather than any specific individual. If a list MP is no longer representing his or her party, then IMHO they have no business being in parliament.

    It’s a strange situation because parliament could save a lot of money just by allocating a numerical weighting to caucus (thus preserving proportionality in parliament), and not have any list MPs at all. But at the very least, rogue list MPs should go.

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  13. NK (1,244 comments) says:

    Rodney has become a very worthy commentator. I find myself increasingly agreeing with him. He is the sort of politician we need at this point in time.

    Which is why most of those (including me) administering the Act Party between 2008-2011 tried our hardest to keep him there, and had to keep fighting Roger & Heather for the entire time on the issue. Then they got rid of David Garrett (which allowed them a caucus vote in Hilary Calvert); they recruited Peter Tashkoff to undermine him, and finally they got Don to overthrow him.

    Gee, all of that worked out well didn’t it! We almost lost Epsom and are now at .5% in the polls. Well done to them.

    It’s a great shame what happened to Rodney. I’d have him back in a heartbeat.

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  14. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    It was Banks that finished ACT. Get rid of him, any way you like.

    I held my nose and voted ACT to get Don Brash into Parliament. Best prime minister we never had.

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  15. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    Of course, a List MP can’t be fired. But we knew that.

    The ‘calibre’ of List MP unfortunately depends on the people who prepare the party lists. If each selection panels went for people based on commercial acumen / capability etc, then we’d all be better off. Instead, we see lists based on 50% split male and female / the mandatory number of Gay / Lesbian / Transgender / Unionists / Flunkies / ‘long standing party servants’ / Protesters / Career troughers / etc…

    Welcome to the farce that is MMP.

    We deserve better.

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  16. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    The ‘calibre’ of List MP …

    If we knew the calibre could we fire them?

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  17. Michael (909 comments) says:

    List MPs are elected by the casting of Party Votes. That voters do not do due diligence on the likely and nearly list MPs is their fault. And it should not be up to Party Leaders to select who are MPs, otherwise there is no point in having a party list to vote for.

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  18. Nostalgia-NZ (5,211 comments) says:

    ‘Dennis Horne (1,114) Says:
    May 19th, 2013 at 1:17 pm
    The ‘calibre’ of List MP …

    If we knew the calibre could we fire them?’

    Finally a funny one Dennis.

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  19. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    @Nostalgia: “Finally a funny one Dennis.”

    Sometimes you miss them, Nosty. :) :) :)

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  20. rosina (10 comments) says:

    The lists could easily be made on election night. All candidates should stand in an electorate and front up to the voting public. 2 ticks as now. List is sorted by party and percentage vote( parcentage vote is already published).

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  21. George Patton (349 comments) says:

    I disagree with Rodney.

    If he did have the power to tell Heather Roy and Roger Douglas to fuck off it would have been for the better, and indeed, very very satisfying.

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  22. MT_Tinman (3,187 comments) says:

    Why have list MPs at all?

    Because of the “whip” system of parliament NZ uses the party leaders could simply vote their general-election percentage on all party issues, supply etc. with all non-party issues (conscience votes) going to regular binding referendums paid for by the savings that can be made by not supporting the large bunch of free-loaders.

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  23. orewa1 (410 comments) says:

    No – Rodney should never come back to parliament. His brand, like that of ACT, is toxic. He was caught rorting the system – taking his then girlfriend on a taxpayer-funded trip to a family wedding in Europe. To have him as a National candidate would be yet another reason for undecided centrist voters to avoid National.

    Frankly if it came to a choice, I’d rather have Aaron Gilmore.

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  24. Yvette (2,820 comments) says:

    A List MP should only be able to vote as indicated by the Party that allowed him/her into Parliament, as it is to represent that Party and nothing else that he/she exists.
    This should be whether they are in the Party, or have for some reason become independent.
    A conscience vote is different.
    The hassle is that all Members of Parliament are sworn in as Members – with no distinction between Electorate Members and List Members.

    As MT_Tinman indicates – Parliament could run a perfect MMP system by just taking the Party Vote as the result of normal business – that is, other than conscience votes.

    That is the same as giving Electorate Members a voting power that is their Party Vote divided by the number of Electorate Members the Party has.
    It would seem complex to start with, but most votes are straight by party anycase.
    List Members are not needed.
    See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuBgMRg5z9I

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  25. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    Dennis: Hard to miss from across the street…even if the lighting isnt good

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  26. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    @David Garrett. David, can I lay my cards on the table without rancour? My personal view is that where there is incontrovertible evidence there is a strong case for execution for certain crimes. I find judicial killing abhorrent, and more so the older I get, but we all die and I don’t think some people are worth keeping alive.

    But, David, rightly or wrongly, we don’t have capital punishment. So, the reality is he lives on as best he can. Making jokes at his expense is one thing, I do, knowing it can’t be very nice to be reminded all the time, but you seem to be very bitter–which frankly I don’t understand–while I am just nasty. We are all deeply flawed. (Had it been my daughter I would have blown his head off, had I been absolutely sure, which I am not.)

    I don’t know what people think they are doing getting a false passport for “fun”, which they don’t use to commit a crime. For me it’s a technical breach of regulations. If someone used my dead baby brother’s name I hope I would have the nouse not to take it personally – regarding it as a heinous crime. In my view it was a lot of fuss about nothing, but there you are. Man is a mad animal.

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  27. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    Dennis, I know you are well intentioned. I happen to think there is a massive difference between what I did 29 years ago and “that”; at least one other commenter here thinks he’s a lovely chap who made a few mistakes, and that I am the worse human being…obviously I don’t share that view.

    It’s David’s blog, and for his own reasons he allows it to keep commenting here…I try and stay within the rules set by the host; just now and again – especially when I spend time with my precious daughter – the anger spills out…mea culpa.

    Oh, and for the record, for reasons I have explained here before, I no longer advocate capital punishment, even for the worst. LWOP for 60 years is much worse.

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  28. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    But back to MMP and list MP’s…

    Just purely out of interest – knowing how thoroughly reliable self selected surveys are – who would vote for ACT if Rodders came back with me as his deputy? Here’s the scenario: we put to the electorate “Here we are, you know our failings, and inadequacies; here’s a couple more you may not have heard about, just so there are no surprises when the vermin sniff them out. You also know what we can do, individually and as a team. Whaddya reckon?”

    I hasten to add this is NOT on the cards; Rodney appears resolute in his decision not to try and make a comeback. Like Nick K, I strongly believe he would be a huge asset…if he would do it, so would I. That way at least, he wouldnt need to constantly worry about a blonde bimbo wielding a knife every night. The powers that be in ACT think that’s a complete joke – I’d be very interested in what “kiwiblog man” thinks – the centre-right version of the man on the clapham omnibus.

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  29. NK (1,244 comments) says:

    Politics is the art of the possible, David. You only need 3-4% plus a seat. So you only need to target 20% of the electorate, and get a 25% hit rate from that. 96% aren’t going to like it, but you aren’t looking for 96%. It’s an interesting scenario.

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  30. Northland Wahine (667 comments) says:

    Well my friend, goes without saying, I’d vote ACT in that scenario. Tho I’m sure many would think that is because I’m biased. Maybe… I don’t think so tho.

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  31. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    “……Oh, and for the record, for reasons I have explained here before, I no longer advocate capital punishment, even for the worst. LWOP for 60 years is much worse….”

    The idea is to stop the public from doing their first ‘kill’! What time do they really serve for a first kill? 10yrs? – well that ain’t ‘really’ preventing anyone from killing!

    As far as I can see, locking people up for 20+ years or LWOP for doing their second ‘kill’ does not deter the public from doing their first ‘kill’.

    If you don’t value life with a life – then you are selling life out cheaply – and that is why there is a huge differance in the amount of first time killers compared to second time killers – people are killing because they are not being deterred!

    And the 3s’s does not stop people from being violent from the outset, but only for ‘further’ acts of violence. Spontanous acts of violence itself has killed far more people than what planned killing ever has.

    The death penalty does uphold the Sanctity of Life as people would not take lives knowing theirs will be taken. Cheers.

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  32. Nostalgia-NZ (5,211 comments) says:

    Seeing that it’s time for musing: I wonder how many bi-polar, alcohol affected MPs, there are in Parliament these days. They’re probably as rare as jackals.

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  33. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    As I said Nick, barring a number of things changing, it’s not going to happen…but what ACT has now is two possible scenarios: 1) going into the election led by a man who is either senile, in that he can’t remember flying a black helicopter to the fat German’s house and there making a short speech and giving a toast, or is lying..; or 2) putting together a slate of half a dozen undoubtedly well qualified economically brilliant (wo)men who no-one outside the ACT heirarchy has ever heard of, and trying to sell them to the electorate…

    I would have thought Rodders and me would be a somewhat more plausible prospect than either of those, despite our faults, both known and unknown…

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  34. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    Harriet: since there is no-one else worth responding to…the death penalty is dead in the water (sorry) no matter what wet dreams those on the right might have about it. It would simply never pass into law, and if it did, we would have what lawyers call “perverse verdicts” of manslaughter left right and centre, with juries with no bottle refusing to bring in a guilty verdict that even might lead to a hanging….and if perchance we did get a few, can you imagine the hordes of bleeding hearts singing waiata outside the prison in the hours leading to the the drop? Its just not going to happen.

    So once you accept that, the question is “how can we deter those killers who are susceptible to deterrence?” And that of course is only a percentage of killers – I use that word to encompass those guilty of both murder and manslaughter. If you go back 60 years or more, the vast majority of killers – perhaps 90% – were either fruit loops, or they had some “domestic” connection with the victim; they were spouses, lovers, family members, or neighbours. That distribution has now changed – only a small majority are now in that category, and the “stranger in the wrong place at the wrong time” makes up perhaps 45% of homicides. It is those who deterrent sentencing must target.

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  35. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    @David Garrett. Not sure I made myself clear. Of course we can’t have people getting false passports; they could be used for committing crimes. If they are not used then it is simply a silly prank that exposes flaws in the system. A bit naughty. Smack.

    Homicide is a crime for which no punishment may be too severe. The outcome is always irretrievable: death is final. Capital punishment might be justifiable. (I accept it’s not going to happen, for the present at least.)

    Judith is sometimes quite perceptive, sometimes as blind as bat. We all become irrational at times, especially when emotional. Why would her weirder arguments bother you? You don’t even know who she is? Sorry if I sound patronising, I don’t mean to be.

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  36. NK (1,244 comments) says:

    David, we have MMP which is meant to produce exactly what you suggest. The Left is full of communists, crooks and liars and they are on a combined 44%.

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  37. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    Dennis: I think we both may have crossed wires…and no, I don’t feel patronised…

    Nick: Well, consider that scenario “in play” old son! Now I just have to convince a few people that matter that it’s not moonshine..

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  38. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    @DG,

    You seem to have discounted, or overlooked, the possibly of John Boscawen switching from Party President to Party Leader in election year…

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  39. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    bhudson: that may well be, but he’s not going back to parliament…

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  40. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    David Garrett: I’d vote for Rodney and you, but not under the ACT brand. How can I trust it not to get hi-jacked again?
    Ditch the arseholes.

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  41. Dave Mann (1,222 comments) says:

    Duh…. OBVIOUSLY it wouldn’t be an ideal situation if a leader could unilaterally ‘sack’ a list MP. But what WOULD work is that the leader (that’s what the word means…. leading) should be able to call a vote of either the caucus or the party membership (probably the caucus is the better option) on whether the member should be required to resign. If there are less than three members, then the vote should be put out to party members.

    These list MPs are only holding their jobs because the party put them there, and there should be an intelligent mechanism for getting rid of them if the are stupid/underperforming/criminal etc. In the event of an electorate MP needing a kick up the arse, this is a different matter, because they were actually ELECTED to be there…. so they probably have the moral right right to retain their seat until the following election.

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  42. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    Yes…the problem with your analysis Dave is two fold: under our system,. it is the party vote not the electorate vote which determines the overal make up of parliament, and therefore, the list member is no less “elected” than his electorate member colleague.

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