The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill is going through it’s final stages, and will likely pass this week.
The point of this blog post is pretty simple: it is to ask Labour MPs, New Zealand First MPs and Green MPs to consider supporting three particular amendments proposed by National.
These are not amendments that radically change the bill. They just give a bit of extra safeguards against the power being handed to party leaders and their caucuses.
First up is Chris Penk’s proposed amendment in supplementary order paper 69. It would require registered parties to have rules around the process they would use to seek to expel an MP from Parliament.
How can you vote against that? Surely the Greens will not vote against a requirement for the rules around a party expelling an MP to be known in advance.
NZ First will of course be against it, because Peters flouts his own party’s rules. He unilaterally announced the suspension of Brendan Horan, without a single clause of the NZF rules being followed.
So Peters will not want anything as pesky as rules to stop him expelling his own MPs. But have the Greens sold all of their souls to Winston, or just some of them?
In a similar line is Tim Macindoe’s proposed amendment in supplementary order paper 71. This would require that those rules would have to be provided to the Electoral Commission and available for public inspection.
Again how can anyone object to that? Transparency over what rules a party has in place if they decide to try and expel an MP from Parliament.
I also ask Government MPs to consider supporting Simeon Brown’s amendment in supplementary order paper 64. This proposes that the caucus vote to declare than an MP has distorted Parliament should occur by secret ballot.
This is quite vital to prevent a leader threatening MPs who don’t vote his or her way with also being expelled. Again are the Greens going to vote against secret ballots for expelling an MP?
Justice Minister Andrew Little has accused bill opponents of failing to engage with various safeguards he says are in the bill that would prevent it being abused – in particular the requirement that two-thirds of the caucus must support the leader.
I think this is an unfair criticism – I engaged with them in both my written submission and oral submission, and the Academic experts Little criticised as having failed to do so engaged with them in their presentation to the Justice Committee – but now is his chance to meet his own challenge: making the caucus vote a secret ballot would add substantial weight to his argument that the were safeguards in the bill that would prevent a leader being able to silence opposition within their caucus.
Is Andrew Little the Minister of Justice for New Zealand or the Minister for Winston?
Edgeler also proposes increasing the super-majority needed in a caucus from two-thirds. He points out that 18 National MPs could oppose a colleague being expelled, and that MP would still be expelled. Surely an 80% super-majority would be a better safe-guard (rounded down for caucuses of less than five). So the requirement for different size caucuses would be:
- 2 – not possible
- 3 – two MPs
- 4 – three MPs
- 5 – four MPs
- 6 – five MPs
- 7 – six MPs
- 8 – seven MPs
- 9 – eight MPs
- 10 – eight MPs
- 11 – nine MPs
- 12 – ten MPs
- 13 – eleven MPs
- 14 – twelve MPs
- 15 – twelve MPs
So let’s see how Labour and Green MPs vote on these amendments. If they vote against, it shows they are so scared of Winston they will do anything he demands. If they vote for them, then at least they can say they have put some minor safeguards in place.