The Coalition Government must be deeply worried about maintaining internal discipline within their own Caucuses given they are attempting to ride rough shod over our democratic processes by preventing individual MPs from standing up for the voters that elect them, National’s Justice Spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“Last week the Coalition introduced what is colloquially known as ‘Waka Jumping’ legislation. It might be more accurately called the ‘Winston Peters Self Preservation Bill’ as it was clearly his bottom line for entry into the Coalition.
“The Bill would effectively prevent individual Members of Parliament from speaking out on points of principle and policy, and ensuring the voices of their communities are heard. Worse still, it would enable party leaders to advise the Speaker that a Caucus member isn’t acting as the leader would want and then move to force that member out of Parliament.
“This makes individual MPs more answerable to their party leader than to the voters that elected them. Allowing party leaders to overrule the wishes of voters is fundamentally wrong,” Ms Adams says.
MMP gives far more power to parties than First Past the Post did and this Bill gives them even more power.
“This is about ensuring the factions within New Zealand First, Labour and the Greens are kept from raising objections to the direction of the Government or threatening the leadership of their respective parties.
“The reason the Coalition Government wants to push this piece of legislation through as one of their first bills is to ensure unhappy MPs don’t jump ship. From going soft on crime and immigration to removing benefit sanctions to pushing up taxes on New Zealand families, New Zealand First are having to swallow a whole lot of dead rats which their voters just do not support.
“Overriding democracy to entrench your own political position is an abuse of power of the worst kind.”
Supporting this legislation is a big rat the Green Party will have to swallow.
This affront to democracy ought to stick in the craw of liberal members of the Labour caucus too.
The first waka jumping legislation had a sunset clause. If this doesn’t it is sure to be repealed when Peters is no longer in parliament which begs the question, who in his caucus is he wary of, who can’t he trust?
A leader confident of his caucus wouldn’t need this legislation.
That he does shows Peters isn’t nearly as sure of the loyalty of his MPs as he needs to be and the Bill to strengthen his hand shows he’s weaker than he purports to be.