Many employers came up against Labour’s employment laws which made it difficult to sack someone even for gross misbehaviour. Now they know what it feels like.
Kicking him out of caucus was easy. Getting him out of parliament and the party is proving to be more problematic.
However, Chris Carter’s extended sick leave is likely to result in a change of rules.
Speaker Lockwood Smith is concerned that Carter could stay away from parliament for the rest of the term and lose only $10 a week from his salary.
Dr Smith says the law needs changing.
“The sanction available to the Speaker so the member doesn’t stay on indefinite leave is so weak,” he says. . .
. . . So Mr Carter’s case has proved one thing – it’s easy for a suspended MP to walk away from Parliament and to stay on full pay.
The law allowing him to do this is 30 years old, it’s out of date and Dr Smith says not only does it need changing – he’s determined to do it.
No-one employed in the private sector could get away with extended leave on almost full pay. Dr Smith is right the rules need to change to ensure that MPs won’t be able to either.
UPDATE: Keeping Stock posts on the Dominion Post’s editorial which starts:
Spot the difference. Once the Government’s new industrial relations legislation takes effect a member of the public will, if requested, have to supply her employer with a medical certificate for even one day’s absence from work. Labour MP Chris Carter becomes stressed and party president Andrew Little unilaterally declares he will be taking two months’ sick leave.
Mr Carter may well be unwell. He has certainly appeared stressed since his lavish spending on overseas travel while a minister in the last government was made public. However, his party’s concern for his psychological wellbeing would ring truer if his colleagues had not queued up to publicly question his sanity and if the clamour had preceded, rather than succeeded, his attempt to destabilise Phil Goff’s leadership by sending an anonymous letter to journalists advising of disharmony in Labour’s ranks.
Sick leave gives Mr Carter and Labour space for cool-headed consideration, but it is a solution available only because of the strange netherworld MPs inhabit.
They don’t have job security, they have to reapply for their positions every three years. But it’s ridiculous that there is nothing to prevent them marking time at our expense on almost full pay.