The Herald editorial:
Every supporter of the New Zealand First Party ought to be embarrassed by the “waka jumping” bill. No respectable political party in a democracy needs a law to keep its elected legislators loyal to it.
This is a bill to benefit just one person – Winston. His poodles are voting to give him the power to expel MPs he falls out with.
Labour and the Greens are real political parties. That is, they are organisations of like-minded people who can channel their values and views into a coherent political programme to put to a public vote. They choose their candidates for Parliament through internal votes that produce competent and usually reliable MPs.
New Zealand First is different, as it has effectively declared with this bill. It cannot rely on its MPs to remain loyal to the party that put them in Parliament and needs a law that will allow its caucus to expel a member from Parliament who will not go along with something the party intends to do.
I blogged in January on how Peters has fallen out with half the 38 MPs who have been NZ First MPs. Now considering he basically hand picks them all, that suggests he is either an awful judge of character or he is unable to work with others.
Though the party recently celebrated 25 years of existence it remains a one-man band.
It has not developed a body of principles and people larger than allegiance to its founder. It remains difficult to imagine the party existing without Winston Peters.
A party such as this is not good for democracy or stability of government. Allegiance to a person rather than a party is shallow, as we have seen in NZ First over the years. Peters has fallen out with a number of his MPs and his need for this legislation suggests his latest caucus is no more reliable.
A few days ago we learned they have all been obliged to sign an agreement to pay the party $300,000 if they resign from its caucus or are expelled and do not leave Parliament within three days. It is an abject disgrace that Peters can require that of those he brings into Parliament with him but it is their business, it is less of a public concern.
Legislation to impose the same sort of rule on all MPs, minus the fine, is of most serious public concern. It offends our deepest political principles. We elect people to Parliament, not stooges.
Stooges is exactly what Winston wants.