HoS on Progressives

The Herald on Sunday notes (after we blogged it):

The public pays $164,000 a year to Jim Anderton’s Progressive Party – which sits with Labour, speaks with Labour, votes with Labour, and now campaigns for Labour.


Dr Joe Atkinson, a politics lecturer at Auckland University, said the Progressive Party funding was “an anomaly of MMP” as Anderton operated as a Labour MP. Anderton, the sole Progressive MP, sits on the front bench of the debating chamber among Labour MPs, and is the Labour opposition’s spokesman on agriculture.

Associate Professor Andrew Geddis, a constitutional law expert at Otago University, called the Progressive Party as “a convenient fiction”.

That is a great term – a “convenient fiction”. Superb. Anderton is good at these – in 2002 he remained in the House as an Alliance MP even though he had left the party months earlier.

The Progressive Party is allocated $100,000 a year plus $64,320 for electorate funding. And, as an MP and party leader, Anderton receives a salary of $144,500 a year. Anderton was defiant: “What’s the big deal?” he asked.

What is the big deal says Jim? Well Whale responds by quoting Jim:

NZ Herald, May 27 1999, by Vernon Small

News of the extra funding for the list MP and Mana Wahine Party leader provoked outrage yesterday among Opposition MPs, who alleged it was a jackup.

“In my view this action suggests someone who has no chance of being elected as dog-catcher … has been granted over $77,000 on an annual basis for helping to keep the Government of the day in power,” said Alliance leader Jim Anderton, from whose party Mrs Kopu defected.

Mr Anderton said he would seek a review of the funding decision, which follows official parliamentary recognition of Mana Wahine and grants the one-MP party $77,186 for research and office expenses.

…..But Mr Anderton said the funding brought the political process further into disrepute, and he would investigate ways, including a judicial review, to overturn it.

My goodness – back then it was a big deal when it was another MP in a convenient fiction party. Arguably Kopu’s party was more legitimate as it actually contested the ensuing elections.

And further:

The Press, 27 May 1999, Edition 1, on Page 1

Alliance leader Jim Anderton said the payment of extra money to Mrs Kopu was an outrage. He will write to the Parliamentary Services Commission seeking an urgent review of its decision.

He said the action of giving Mrs Kopu the money, and the way the rules had been changed to allow it to happen, “comes as close to being fairly described as corruption” as anything he had seen in his 35-year political career.

So when Jim does it, it is no big deal. When Mrs Kopu did it, it was close to corruption.

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