Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

Read Post

Legal Beagle: Shirking their responsibilities?

28 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last

  • Rich of Observationz,

    It should be up to the voters. If they feel an MP isn't working appropriately, then they have the option of not voting for them or their party.

    All that's needed is a disclosure regime of attendance and outside commitments.

    AFAIK Westminster has no attendance requirement. Many MPs are working barristers, for instance, and Sinn Fein have always refused to take their seats at Westminster - any attempt to expel them for this would have simply resulted in their repeated re-election.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    The casual reader of this post might infer three things: that MPs arrive at Parliament bringing no life experience with them (which is of course nonsensical); that in 2012 MPs generally do not get involved in work or other experiences while in Parliament; and that while in Wellington they are out of touch with their electorates.

    MPs have been engaging outside Parliament for many years. Some things are short-term, less than a day. The Road Transport Association regularly teams up MPs with big-rig drivers for a day, so the MPs can appreciate issues of concern. I've seen MPs getting around their home towns in a wheelchair for a morning, so they can understand accessibility needs.

    The Business and Parliament Trust every year places MPs in Business Study programmes - click a link for some recent examples.

    And today, MPs are constantly in touch with their constituents. 30 years ago, communication was limited to mail and telegram. Now, with email, internet, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc etc, it seems that the challenge for any MP is to get time to themself. I'm surprised at the strange hours of the night that some MPs are posting / tweeting.

    Certainly it is important they stay in touch. As new MPs learn every three years, Lambton Quay is not typical of New Zealand.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    It is not that dissimilar to actors taking on a real life role to gain understanding of a trade or skill in my humble opinion, it brings depth to the performance.
    Of course we would have to draw the line if, for instance, a Minister of Broadcasting were to have a job at Sky Tv, that would seem to be a conflict of interest and we couldn’t have that, could we.
    On a slightly off topic note. The MMP Review banner that appears on this very site has an image of a nut and a spanner, the spanner is “undoing” the nut, thus giving me the impression that the intent is to dismantle MMP. This may by unintentional and could have been avoided by a little mechanical experience.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    parliamentary parties would benefit greatly from MPs who were more directly involved in “the real world”,

    or "all walks of life" ya know a-l-l of them. Its all a world, and reality lets not GT

    And today, MPs are constantly in touch with their constituents. 30 years ago, communication was limited to mail and telegram. Now, with email, internet, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc etc, it seems that the challenge for any MP is to get time to themself. I’m surprised at the strange hours of the night that some MPs are posting / tweeting.

    That, I hope, is a good trend.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report Reply

  • Wilbur Townsend,

    I've often thought that, if we ever do get an upper house, it should be part-time, House of Lords-style. A more diversely-skilled upper house would complement the professional-politician style of our House of Representatives.

    Wellington, Aotearoa • Since Jan 2011 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Wilbur Townsend,

    An upper house is an abomination for the ANZ parliamentary system- we select candidates from just which group?
    I totally agree with Graeme -most MPs have some kind of workforce (=ordinary work experience) but this has grown much less over the years. Time -I think- to suss out those who have really worked from the professional career-path bureacrats (who bring shit-all experience to the debating table (as we are seeing with Hekia Parata. What a tosser!)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    today, MPs are constantly in touch with their constituents. 30 years ago, communication was limited to mail and telegram.

    Hahahaha. Oh, how I laugh. I remember being at Kaiteriteri beach when I was about 7 or 8 and seeing Bill Rowling spend most of the day chatting to constituents. For all that in theory he was there to spend time with his family they all understood that his "real job" was to be out and about in public so people could talk to him. The "be available" part of the job hasn't changed.

    Just while we're on the subject of "knowing what you're talking about", I do wonder how many commentators have ever been an elected representative at any level of government? That also counts for something when you're making suggestions to people on how to do their jobs.

    Which is not to say I think our current crop of politicians is meritorious. Unless you compare them to Australia's, in which case thank bob for wassisname at the front of the Labour party, compared to Tony Abbott he's a saint. I mean, at least our lot don't take the Australian National Sport (sledging) as the be-all and end-all of their jobs.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Moz,

    do wonder how many commentators have ever been an elected representative at any level of governmen

    Yes. At very local level. And, because it was very local level, I got a really good introduction as to how the job should be done.
    Be available.
    Have your politics and aims well known .
    Make very bloody sure you arnt beholden to any interest group except those you have publicised, pre-election.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Walter Nash and Norman Kirk were two Prime Ministers who regularly took public transport (without security guards) and meeting constituents that way was a normal part of the day. I think many MPs are less accessible now than 30 or 40 years ago as they have drivers, security guards and staff to keep them from interacting with the public apart from stage managed occasions. Going back several decades, Janet Fraser, wife of Peter Fraser, appointed herself gate keeper to her husband otherwise his door would have been open 24 hours a day.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3227 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I once sat and chatted with the late David Lange at Waikaraka Park Speedway.
    I had only been in the country a week and didn't know him from a bar of soap.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    I think many MPs are less accessible now than 30 or 40 years ago as they have drivers, security guards and staff to keep them from interacting with the public apart from stage managed occasions.

    Some senior ministers, maybe, but ordinary MPs, especially those in Opposition, have none of those "perks".

    A commonly-expressed view on transportblog.co.nz is that Brownlee should spend a couple of days riding Auckland's public transport at peak hours, to get an idea of how busy it is, after first having made his way from the airport to the CBD by public transport (no Air Bus allowed) and finally making his way back to the airport by public transport. Such interactions with their supposed areas of expertise would serve ministers well.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Brownlee should spend a couple of days riding Auckland’s public transport at peak hours,

    Spare a thought for those that have to.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Islander,

    An upper house is an abomination for the ANZ parliamentary system- we select candidates from just which group?

    We could elect them at a General Election (similar to the US Senate System) vote. So you could have an Upper House made up of less politicians covering a broader area. And you could have your standard electorate vote, party vote plus a Senate (or whatever you wanna call it) vote. This Senate could be elected proportionally in which case you'd vote for a party rather than an individual. Or it could be done by voting for individuals, in which case my preferred electoral system would be STV (Single Transferable Vote).

    Not necessarily saying I agree with an Upper House. Just suggesting that we could have a democratic Upper House (as Australia does).

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    The modern media environment all but rules out meaningful secondary employment for MPs beyond the most gimmicky or apple pie. Accusations of rorts, double dipping and undue influence with sinister undertones of corruption would fly thick and fast at any politician who had a serious job outside the house.

    It seems to me the real discussion here is whether or not we think it is desirable to have a professional political class that may bring a range of technocratic skills to parliament but which ultimately has a greater loyalty to the oligarchy of the political party that secures their career than to the wider voting public. It seems to me events in Europe and the United States are showing us in spades the dangers of handing democracy over to professional politicians and technocrats, and that the rise of extremist parties across Europe is as much to do with having seemingly impossible to get rid of tweedle-dum tweeddle-dee mainstream political establishments as the actual economic crisis.

    I remember being at Kaiteriteri beach when I was about 7 or 8 and seeing Bill Rowling spend most of the day chatting to constituents.

    One of the reasons voters generally regard list MPs as inferior to electorate MPs is the feeling that list MPs owe their loyalty to a shadowy party oligarchy who create the party lists. The top two dozen or so list MPs in both Labour and National are safe in the knowledge that they basically have a job for life with around 50% (or more) of New Zealand voters voting along tribal lines. Electorate MPs are thought to have at least some loyalty to and connection with their electorate voters outside the rarefied world of the Thorndon bubble.

    the idea that we have created a class of ideologically flexible, technocratic professional politicians is largely unwelcome and unwanted by the wider public, and I would contend that it is an unforseen and undesirable outcome of MMP, caused by placing the selection of party lists in the hands of a cartel of elite cadre political parties with tiny memberships compared to their heydays back in the 1960s and 1970s. indeed, the power MMP confers on political party courtiers to select candidates creates a perverse incentive to NOT have properly functioning, democratic political parties since to do so would threaten the control these unrepresentative courtiers, careerists and political opportunists currently exercise over our candidate selection processes.

    It seems to me the solution is not to agonise about whether or not the bunch of self serving bastards in our political elites should have wider experience of life, but rather to insist that list candidates are selected by regulated, democratic means from within the ranks of mass membership parties. My view is that to be able to register to compete as a party on the party list you should have a paid-up membership that is at least 1% of all enrolled voters, or around 30,000 members. I think that mass membership of political parties (possibly along with term limits) would largely ensure the sort of problems discussed here would simply fix themselves.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    insist that list candidates are selected by regulated, democratic means from within the ranks of mass membership parties

    You mean do it roughly like the Greens do. Their entire party list is constructed by the membership, but with some weightings inserted to ensure that the co-leadership has a gender split.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Spare a thought for those that have to.

    I know the pain, don't worry. Which is why I'm firmly in favour of requiring the Minister to know precisely what it is that he's denying when he refuses money to make Auckland's public transport better.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    from the airport to the CBD by public transport (no Air Bus allowed)

    Why would the Air Bus not be allowed?

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Islander,

    An upper house is an abomination for the ANZ parliamentary system- we select candidates from just which group?

    Bunch of ways of doing it, though all of them would need to have terms of six or nine years - two or three parliamentary cycles, depending how many seats were renewed each cycle. Direct election using STV. Election based on party vote. Appointment voted up or down by the parties (one party, one vote) in Parliament, and with each party being allowed to nominate one or two candidates to avoid any party having excessive power over the composition.

    One way I have thought of having it done is to have half (or a third) elected by the public using whatever method is decided, with the remaining seats filled using Parliamentary appointment until the next election cycle (or two, depending), at which time the appointments would expire and the appropriate remaining seats would become elected. That would take care of how to populate staggered electoral cycles in a single hit without putting it in the hands of the majority party in Parliament. A 12-seat (which I think is really much too small) upper house could be filled in thirds or halves over three (or two) electoral cycles based on six- or nine-year terms.

    If you want an abomination, how about a party with only 35% support from votes cast pushing ahead with a policy that has less than 30% support from all voters and nobody being in a position to stop it happening? I would call that a much greater abomination than any suggestion of having another house that might be able to curb the fastest legislature in the west.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Martin Lindberg,

    Why would the Air Bus not be allowed?

    It’s not contracted to Auckland Transport. If we’re making him take public transport it needs to actually be public transport.

    ETA: Basically, make him feel the full pain of Auckland's public transport "system", complete with zig-zag routes, un-integrated transfers, and non-existent rapid transport networks in the south-west.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    You mean do it roughly like the Greens do.

    Last time I suggested something like this there was a great whine from the Greens on here, who regarded being asked to come up with a mass membership party as something akin to a plot aimed specifically at them - an attitude I thought betrayed both their bourgeoise complexion and a deep held fear that they cannot persuade the electorate to adopt their views if mass participation is the norm.

    But yes, something like that but with the addition of the requirement for a mass membership.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    requirement for a mass membership.

    Given that only two of our parties would qualify, you're basically saying that only National and Labour should be allowed to offer MPs for list seats. IOW, we effectively would get SM by stealth but with the added insult that the likes of the Greens would only get to compete by standing MPs for electorates they would have little chance of winning. Fuck that for a game of cards.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Spare a thought for those that have to.

    Just to offer some balance: AKL public transport is getting better and it does actually work in a lot of areas. I catch the bus pretty much every day and I can't see how my particular needs could be better met. Still, that's just me and there is definitely a need for improvement. I just hear a lot of colleagues who like to complain about public transport, but they haven't actually tried to use it. Easier just to complain and take the car.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Given that only two of our parties would qualify, you're basically saying that only National and Labour should be allowed to offer MPs for list seats.

    At 30,000 members I would strongly doubt Labour and National would currently qualify either! But the idea that you would suddenly say "righto chaps, from tomorrow you need 30,000 paid up members or else" is a bit silly, I imagine you'd have three-six years to comply. I suppose you could argue it might be SM by stealth, but I have always been of the view that in New Zealand we focus excessively on the mechanism of our democratic clock instead of making sure it keeps good time; In other words, a healthy democracy can exist under any number of systems so long as they are free and fair.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    you mean do it roughly like the Greens do

    People have the option of voting Green. If they choose to vote for another party, they're endorsing whatever means that party uses to select list candidates (and indeed the resulting list).

    (Having said that I just submitted in the MMP referendum in favour of open lists, not that I think many would bother ranking 60 candidates they've never heard of, but just in order to remove the argument that lists aren't democratic).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    a mass membership party

    I'm not sure that means what you think it does.

    their bourgeoise complexion

    and I'd welcome that translated into common English.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.