Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson): Freedom of speech, tolerance of dissent, and respect for democracy are core Kiwi values that are worth fighting for. National opposed this bill at first reading, at select committee, and we will do so at every stage of the Parliamentary process. The right of voters—and voters alone—to dismiss MPs was established 330 years ago with the Bill of Rights. The powers in this bill, for a party leader to dismiss an MP, have no place in a liberal democracy like New Zealand.
That is the fundamental change. No longer is it up to the voters. A party leader with caucus support can expel an elected MP (including electorate MPs) from Parliament under this law.
Late last year, Mr Shaw stated that the advantage of the supply and confidence agreement was this, and I quote him, “Green MPs will not vote for anything they do not agree with.” That is exactly what is happening here. This betrayal of core values could not be more serious. A founding Green co-leader said of the same bill, in 2001, that it was the most Draconian, obnoxious, anti-democratic—
Hon James Shaw: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Dr Smith has now brought the memory of Rod Donald into this debate and into question time a number of times. I think this is the fourth time that I’m aware of—
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: Would you get to the point? Is there a point of order here?
Hon James Shaw: Yes, there is. I’m offended and I would like him to withdraw and apologise. It is called waving a dead man’s hand—
James Shaw doesn’t like his hypocrisy being highlighted. Shaw said Green MPs will not vote for anything they don’t agree with, yet this is now exactly what they are doing. Did he lie, or was he just naive?
And Nick Smith did not even mention Rod Donald by name. He is quoting what Donald said on an earlier bill. It may offend the Greens to be reminded of their hypocrisy, but tough.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: A quote for Mr Shaw’s benefit from the parliamentary Hansard “the most Draconian, obnoxious, anti-democratic, insulting piece of legislation ever inflicted in this Parliament”, yet it is now to become the law with the votes of people like Mr Shaw. We also heard evidence from officials at select committee that this bill breaches the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Only six months ago, I heard the member in this House quoting the importance of those treaties and human rights, yet today is the vote on a bill that tramples on those very rights.
The Green position now on human rights is they’re in favour of them, unless WInston tells them not to be. Pathetic poodles.
The lack of integrity from New Zealand First on this bill is no better. When a National MP left for New Zealand First Mr Peters totally backed him, saying it was his right and he was not elected to swear an oath of blind allegiance to any political party. Mr Peters’ principles are as shallow as a bird bath. If an MP leaves a party for New Zealand First, that is their constitutional right. But if an MP leaves New Zealand First for another, he calls it a constitutional outrage.
The only reason we have this bill is Peters is incapable of managing a caucus. Of his 55 or so former MPs, he has fallen out with 28 of them (at least). The problem isn’t them, it’s him.
GOLRIZ GHAHRAMAN: And we do have concerns about party caucuses being able to remove MPs from Parliament. So, yes, this was a difficult decision, but it has come about because we’ve decided that this new Government must succeed and we must support it in good faith to succeed.
This suggests that Winston convinced the Greens he would collapse the Government if they didn’t vote for the bill. They blinked and now he can do this over and over again.
CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South): This bill is a constitutional affront. It’s not just me who says that. It’s not just my good colleague the Hon Dr Nick Smith who says that. Academics from around New Zealand say that, human rights experts from around New Zealand say that, and the Green Party leaders from yesteryear say that. The only party in Parliament that has consistently voted against constitutional affronts like this bill is the National Party of New Zealand. …
What else did we hear from Miss Ghahraman? Well, we heard a lot about child poverty, and, I think, neoliberalism—the bȇte noire of the left was mentioned about 45 times. We heard a lot about oil and gas. We heard a lot about housing and poverty. I’ll tell you what we didn’t hear much of. Not much about the bill. Not much about the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill. Golriz Ghahraman is a human rights expert. She is fond of telling us she’s worked around the world on human rights matters and she’s got a constitutional law degree and all sorts of things. Heaven knows we’ve heard a lot about that in the last nine months. She could not mount a single proper argument in favour of this legislation other than to say, “We’ve done a deal and we’ve sold our soul! We are unprincipled and we going to vote for this legislation!”
With all her work defending genocidal leaders, surely she could at least have managed to defend this bill!