National’s new whips

John Key has announced:

Prime Minister John Key has announced the election of ’s new following the National Party Caucus this morning.

Mr Key says the new senior whip will be MP for Taupo, Louise Upston.

Louise Upston has been promoted to senior whip from junior whip after Mr Key announced last week that Michael Woodhouse will be a Minister outside Cabinet.

The new junior whip will be MP for Hamilton West, Tim Macindoe.

MP for Botany, Jami-Lee Ross, has also been appointed to the newly-created position of third whip.

The Remuneration Authority determined in its annual review last year that political parties with more than 45 MPs will have funding for a third whip.

Being a whip is pretty demanding job. A whip has to be in the House almost all the time, as they are the ones who have to make sure leave is not granted to any delaying tactic from the opposition (such as I seek leave for a 10 hour debate on the price of milk). If you don’t object within a few seconds, then bang the House has so resolved. They also allocate speakers to bills, grant leave to MPs who want to attend engagements during House sitting hours, and generally manage caucus discipline.

The senior whip almost invariably goes on to become a Minister in due course. I can’t recall the last time a National Senior Whip did not become a Minister.

Labour MP Chris Hipkins blogged yesterday:

Just before Christmas the Remuneration Authority released their determination regarding MPs pay. Naturally, all of the media focus was on the fact that MPs were getting a pay rise just before Christmas and it was to be back-dated. Personally I agree with the idea that MPs pay and entitlements should be set on a 3 yearly basis and changes should only come into force following each election, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Pleased to see Chris supports pay and entitlements being set that way. I’d advocated that position for a long time, and hopefully the Select Committee will recommend it when they report back on the MPs Remuneration Bill.

Hidden away in the determination was another interesting little change. Political parties with more than 45 MPs are now entitled to a second junior whip position. So with Michael Woodhouse taking on a ministerial role, and Louise Upston almost certain to step in the Chief Whip’s shoes tomorrow, National will now have to elect two new junior whips. The smart money seems to be on Tim McIndoe and my Breakfast TV sparring partner Jamie Lee-Ross.

Smart money indeed.

I agree with the decision to increase the number of whips big parties can have. It’s a big job and under MMP it’s getting even bigger. But it’s interesting the National government decided to implement the change now, rather than wait until after the next election, when it wouldn’t look quite so much like they were changing the rules to suit their own interests.

Chris is being a bit mischievous here. The Remuneration Authority decided, not the Government, that a party with over 45 MPs needs a third whip and will fund it. we’re not talking a huge amount of money by the way – a whip get $14,100 more than a normal MP.

Of course a party could appoint as many whips as they want. They just won’t get paid extra, unless the Remuneration Authority agrees there is a need. In fact in the early 1990s National had a third whip because their caucus was so large.

This is like that the Greens don’t get two leaders’ salaries. I presume they split the extra pay between the two of them. So it is up to each party to work out what they need, but the Remuneration Authority decides the level at which you get extra funding for such roles.  So the current rules are:

  • 1 to 3 MPs: No whip
  • 4 to 24 MPs: One whip
  • 25 to 44 MPs: Two whips
  • 45+ MPs: Three whips

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