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Speaker: So NZ First gets another list MP? Or does it?

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    Winston Peters is considering not replacing himself with another list MP. Says he believes in smaller parliaments

    And people seriously wonder why politicians, fairly or not, get tagged as arrogant, out of touch and epically up themselves? Perhaps I'm a bear of little brain, but I do tend to hold the view that our House of Representatives is not a basket of trinkets to be dished out as politicians see fit. Guess it remains to be seen whether I'm right on that one...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • sean mahoney,

    I asked the electoral commission about this a few weeks ago. The response from them I have pasted below ...

    The Electoral Act 1993 provides the legal framework for parliamentary elections. A person is eligible to contest a parliamentary election provided he or she is:

    · Enrolled as a voter

    · A NZ citizen, and

    · Not disqualified from enrolling (see section 47 of the Electoral Act).

    The fact that a person is a list MP does not disqualify the person from contesting a by-election. At a general election a person can contest an electorate seat and be on the party list.

    Section 55 of the Electoral Act specifies the circumstances where an MP’s seat may become vacant. There is no requirement for a list MP to resign his or her seat should the MP decide to contest a by-election. If a list MP is the winning candidate at a by-election he or she may then resign his or her seat in accordance with section 55(1)(f) by giving written notice to the Speaker. Where a list vacancy arises the seat is filled with the next person on the party’s list.

    northland • Since Mar 2015 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    noting that the Official Count and the return of the writ are nearly two weeks ago.

    Surely you mean "noting that the Official Count and the return of the writ are nearly two weeks away"? meaning NZ First has two weeks in which to make their decision.
    It also gives Winston leverage against Key, ie "talk to me or I will bring in another MP to make your position less tenable."

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    Surely you mean “noting that the Official Count and the return of the writ are nearly two weeks away” ,

    Oops, you are quite right Steve – mea culpa. Will get it fixed.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I think there's precedents from the 19th century UK parliament of candidates being returned for multiple constituencies - they tended, I think, to require a choice of which one to represent before being seated. (Unsure if any were ever elected while already members, which would be the direct analogy.)

    Certainly India allows candidates to contest from multiple constituencies - Modi stood in Vadodara and in Varanasi, for instance - and then requires them to resign from one within a fortnight of the results. I'm not sure if that's a codification of prior practice or an explicit change.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    Graeme Edgeler (asked on Twitter)

    @philiplyth is it your view that the statement "Members' seats become vacant only as provided in Electoral Act 1993" is debatable?

    I note that is the heading to s23 of the Parliamentary Privilege Act 2014 the whole of which is:

    23 Members' seats become vacant only as provided in Electoral Act 1993
    (1)The House has no power to make a member's seat become vacant by expelling the member (whether to discipline or punish the member, to protect the House by removing an unfit member, or for any reason or purpose) from membership of the House.
    (2)Subsection (1) overrides any law to the contrary.

    To answer the direct question, yes, I can see various MPs, past and present, being only too willing to debate the meaning depending on the circumstances. So it is certainly debatable.

    I haven't yet gone back and read all the public domain documents and Hansard relating to that Act. S23 would be subject to interpretation. I doubt it would be justiciable in practical terms. Arguably for example, the meaning of "a member's seat" could be the subject of much argument before Privileges: if and when Peters is sworn in as the MP for Northland (assuming for a moment that is required), then is the list seat still his?

    I do not purport to be an expert and I expect this questions will be addressed by Members in the coming weeks and a solution found.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to sean mahoney,

    Thanks Sean - I accept that Electoral Commission are in good faith telling people that. However, they are not the arbiters of whether a vacancy is created or not.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    Thanks Sean – I accept that Electoral Commission are in good faith telling people that. However, they are not the arbiters of whether a vacancy is created or not.

    I see that as the Electoral Commission addressing the non-controversial position of what happens if Winston Peters does resign. I didn’t think we disagreed over that.

    Are you seriously suggesting that it is possible that, if Winston was to pen a resignation letter to the Speaker in the week after Easter, the Speaker might either decline to accept it, or refer the question of whether he should accept it to the Privileges Committee?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    There is one MP placed to write to the Speaker: ACT’s David Seymour. Would he be of a mind to put pen to paper?

    If Steven Joyce tells him to.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Are you seriously suggesting that it is possible that, if Winston was to pen a resignation letter to the Speaker in the week after Easter, the Speaker might either decline to accept it, or refer the question of whether he should accept it to the Privileges Committee?

    Given Carter's abysmal track record in the role, he would ask the National party what they want him to do.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Sacha,

    Given Carter’s abysmal track record in the role, he would ask the National party what they want him to do.

    Everyone grabs their ankles at the mere thought of John Key. Everyone except that godawful throwback Winston Peters, and now that horrid Andrew Little:
    "Initially I thought it would be much easier. I misread Labour. I thought Andrew Little, because he was new in the job, would be keen to prove he was an effective campaigner so he wouldn't pull up stumps and leave the role of Opposition to Winston Peters."

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I addressed the specific situation you posed,and I think that would be a matter of 'straightforward mechanics.'

    However I'm saying that there may be many complicated scenarios that could arise, and it may well be that Privileges becomes involved.

    In the last 24 hours we've seen Peters frame the debate in terms of whether he will decide to bring in a new MP or not. He's been very good at putting himself centre of the frame going back to (at least) the Antoinette Beck saga.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Interestingly, British MPs can't resign - there is an archaic procedure by which they apply for an "office of profit under the crown" which disqualifies them from sitting in parliament, creating a vacancy.

    I'd just suggest thi:. If Peters did not resign as a list MP (he just said that he definitely will, BTW) then he would take his seat as MP for Northland on election. As such, he would be no longer be able to vote or do anything else in parliament as a list MP, as such dual capacity is not allowed. Doesn't that mean he just vacated the seat in the same way as if he made himself ineligible?

    (Probably not, given the Parliamentary Privileges Act, but it's a thought).

    (But would he get to draw a double salary?)

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

  • BenWilson,

    Whatever else shakes out of this debate I have to say I find the argument that there’s no difference if he takes the seat or doesn’t quite spurious. You can find divisions in which it doesn’t make a difference, but there are possibly ones where it will, in the case of individual abstentions. In a parliament of 120 a lot can happen in 2.5 years*. It would seem foolish and wasteful to throw away some of NZF’s power. Even if you believe parliament should be smaller, you don’t achieve that by reducing your own party size. And we’re talking about 1 seat, less than one percent of the total. That’s not a meaningful reduction in terms of whatever the whole push to get less MPs was about. But it could mean a lot more votes going against the will of the NZF electorate.

    *For instance, it's hardly unheard of for MPs to keel over dead, or become entirely alienated from their party over legal charges (as happened to Peters last term).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    However I’m saying that there may be many complicated scenarios that could arise, and it may well be that Privileges becomes involved.

    This is National we are talking about, of course they will try and complicate matters to hold on to their privileged position...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Sam M,

    The thing I don't really get is that the list seats are supposed to balance a party's number in Parliament so as to reflect the proportion of list votes they got - taking into account the number of electorate seats they got.

    If we want Parliament to reflect the will of the voters (from all of NZ as determined in a general election), shouldn't we want National to get a new list MP now that Winny has Northland?

    If things are close in the future, there could be a lot more dirt-digging in an attempt to force out Electorate MPs...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Sam M,

    It was designed that way. The basis, I think, is that the proportionality at the time of election is no longer relevant for the next three years and voters in a by-election are entitled to have their choice reflected in parliament.

    If by-election results were compensated for on the list, then one might as well not have by-elections - the party holding the seat could simply nominate a new candidate in a similar fashion to what happens when a list MP departs parliament.

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

  • Sam M,

    I guess under the old FPP, by-elections could result in different Parliaments.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Perhaps I’m a bear of little brain, but I do tend to hold the view that our House of Representatives is not a basket of trinkets to be dished out as politicians see fit

    The total number of MPs was put to the people for their consideration, and the result was 84.5% for a reduction to 99. So yes Peters could be said to be following the peoples will in reducing the numbers of Mps.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    If "the people" felt that strongly about saving 0.005% of public spending, ensuring that a government would struggle to appoint sufficient competent and experienced ministers to do their job of ensuring public policy agendas are those of the elected government rather than the permanent public service and reducing the diversity of parliament, then they could have voted for one of the parties (NZF, 100 MP party, Bill & Ben) who favoured reducing the number of Mps.

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

  • linger, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    So you're saying they should have voted for NZF instead of ... who won in Northland?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    No, I'm saying that if people want 100 MPs (or to be able to beat their children and so on), they should vote in a parliamentary majority at an election that favours that policy.

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

  • linger, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    That argument only works if all parties (and all voter decisions) are single-issue.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    No, the point is that public policy isn't single issue.

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

  • FletcherB,

    The House is sitting until Thu 1 April,

    I’m pretty sure they’ll take a break before then ? Maybe for an election or something ! :)

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

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