A Massey University professor is suffering from foot in mouth:
National and ACT have become “vanishingly irrelevant” in Parliament following the Greens’ acceptance of the cooperation agreement offered by Labour, a politics professor believes.
The deal has locked in a political arrangement that will see Labour and the Greens “monster the Parliament” for the next three years, according to Massey University’s Richard Shaw, with a combined 74 of 120 seats held by the parties. . .
“The National Party, ACT, and the Māori Party – assuming that the specials mean they keep Waiariki – are vanishingly irrelevant to what occurs in the Parliament,” Shaw told Newshub on Saturday.
He says the agreement – which the Greens will sign in a ceremony on Sunday – marks the largest political alliance in New Zealand’s parliamentary history.
It is the first time under MMP one party has gained more than 50% of the vote. But the political alliance isn’t very much bigger than the 2008 National-led government with 58 National MPs plus five each from Act and the Maori Party and one from United Future.
“It’s really hard to overstate how much the legislative agenda and the executive agenda will be driven by Labour with some support from the Greens, it’s a really remarkable state of affairs,” Shaw says.
Oh dear, it’s really hard to overstate what a very ill-informed remark that is. How can a professor of politics not understand how parliament works?
Unless it’s a minority government, the government has a majority as a result of which it passes the legislation it wants to. This one doesn’t have to negotiate with partners, but the major parties in previous governments could use their confidence and supply agreement to get their allies to support their Bills.
“And if you’re a National or ACT MP, you would be sitting there thinking, ‘Shit, what am I going to do for the next three years? I’m going to be surrounded by Opposition members in all of the select committees’ – it’s just dominated by Labour’s policy.” . .
Yes it’s dominated by Labour policy and Act and National will be surrounded by government MPs. But good Opposition MPs won’t be wondering what they’ll be doing for the next three years. They’ll do what they’re paid to do – work very hard to to get better legislation, not by opposing for opposition’s sake, but by working with and against other members of select committees as appropriate, and on some, albeit rare, occasions they might even support government legislation.
If they hold a seat, they’ll also be very active in their electorate supporting and advocating for their constituents, and a good list MP will also be doing electorate work.
They will be drawing up Members’ Bills in the hope they’ll be drawn out of the ballot too.
National MPs will be working very hard to be loyal members of a united caucus that doesn’t leak and will be contributing to policy development that is consistent with the party’s principles and philosophy unless they want to contribute to an even worse result for the party in three years time.
If they have spare time, they might also, in an act of public service, help to extract the foot from the mouth of the professor of politics, and educate him on how the political system works and the essential democratic role a hard-working opposition plays in that no matter how outnumbered its members might be.