MMP gives parties too much power and makes them impotent

March 27, 2011

MMP gives parties a lot of power in some ways but leaves them impotent in others.

They rank the lists which determines the order candidates get into parliament giving them a lot of  control over candidates.

Once a minor party has a seat it has power far beyond its support base even, as both Jim Anderton and Peter Dunne prove, it is no longer effectively a party.

However, the system which gives parties a lot of power also leaves them powerless.

Labour doesn’t want Judith Tizard, Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher or Dave Hereora back in parliament but under the rules, they are the first five in line to get the seat vacated by Darren Hughes. Only if each in turn does not accept the offer can it be offered to Louisa Wall.

If any of those five returns to parliament we’ll be paying them 11 months salary and allowances which comes to a total of $162,020 to do what?

She or he will go to parliament, sit in the house and have select committee duties until parliament rises for the election in early October. S/he might be asked to be a buddy MP in an electorate but how hard s/he applies her/himself to the task will be entirely up to her/him.

Knowing s/he is only there as a stop-gap gives her/him nothing to lose as Judith Tizard has already made clear:

Goff’s other problem is Hughes’ vacant party list spot – it’s due to go to Judith Tizard.

He views her as a figure from the past and doesn’t want her back.

“It’s for seven months, for some that might be regarded as disruptive,” he says.

But Tizard is undecided – she’s got unfinished business.

“I’d love to make a valedictory speech,” she says.

And if she does – she really will be disruptive.

“The question is whether Phil Goff is the person to lead New Zealand and he’s got to capture New Zealand’s imagination and for New Zealand to see him as an alternative,” she says.

Labour is already unstable. Allowing a former MP to return when she makes it quite clear she isn’t loyal to the leader will only make that worse but the rules of MMP allow that to happen and there’s nothing the party can do about it.


Labouring the list

March 26, 2011

Party lists are of great importance to the people on them.

That’s understandable for anyone not standing in an electorate, or standing with little or no chance of winning. But even those with safe seats often want a high place for ego’s sake if nothing else.

Those ranking the list labour over them trying to present a line-up which will appeal to voters without disrupting caucus and upsetting non-MP candidates which can be mutually exclusive goals.

But does anyone else, even political tragics, really pay much attention to them?

The lists are made public once they’ve been sorted but unless there is someone who is well known I’d be very surprised if many voters know, or care, about who is on them and in which order.

The only time after an election a list matters is if a list MP jumps or is pushed from parliament when the next person on the list is invited to take his or her place.

Sometimes,  a party has second thoughts about the ranking as Keeping Stock reminds us the Green Party did  when co-leader Russel Norman leapfrogged Catherine Delahunty and Mike Ward to get into parliament before the last election.

When the Labour list was ranked in 2008 the importance of not upsetting sitting MPs must have had at least some bearing but that is now causing them problems.  The next person on the list is former MP Judith Tizard who must be offered the place vacated by Darren Hughes. If she turns it down it’s offered to Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher and Dave Hereora, all former MPs who, Labour president Andrew Little told Mary Wilson on Checkpoint, will not be on this year’s list.

The next one on the list is Louisa Wall another former MP but one who is standing again.

It is possible that the next five people on Labour’s list won’t want to disrupt their lives to return to parliament for a few months. But, has anyone asked them if they’d like to return for longer? The Labour list has yet to be ranked so if one of the five made the sacrifice they could be offered a place which has the potential to keep them in parliament for the next term.

But from what Little said last night, that isn’t a consideration. Instead it looks like five people will be expected to not take the place which they are entitled to by the law giving a whole new meaning to the term labouring (or should that be Labouring?) the list.

UPDATE: Kiwiblog notes that the five could-be MPs would be turning down 11 months salary if they decline the chance to return to parliament.


Katene will win Te Tai Tonga?

October 30, 2008

The ODT is predicting that the Maori Party will win Te Tai Tonga:

Once the fiefdom of the Tirikatene family, this enormous electorate covering all the South Island, and a small part of Wellington, has been held solidly by Labour’s Mahora (sic) Okeroa since 2002.

At 40 on Labour’s list, he must have a reasonable hope of remaining in the house, but he is under a severe electorate challenge from Rahui Katene of the Maori Party (he  (sic) is 7th on its list).

If Mr (sic) Katene can win a majority, it may ensure the Maori Party wins all seven Maori electorates, thus giving the party its hoped-for powerful position in the House, especially if the election is reasonably close.

It is being widely predicted that Mr (sic) Katene will win the seat, with the party vote going to Labour.

Update: This is a cut and paste but as Buggerlugs points out below Rahui is a woman.

Update 2: A Maori TV poll  gave Mahara Okeroa a 10 point lead over Rahui Katene but nearly a quarter of the 500 people polled are undecided.


Maori Party strong in south

October 28, 2008

The ODT  thinks Labour’s Mahara Okeroa is vulnerable to the challenge from Rahui Katene who’s seeking the Te Tai Tonga seat for the Maori Party.

Community leaders spoken to in Otago said the Maori Party brand was “very strong” and that Mr Okeroa might as well have “dropped off the edge of the planet” as he had not been seen to be active in Otago for at least two years.

The electorate covers the whole of the South Island, Stewart Island and part of Stewart Island so is impossible to cover well in person. That makes media even more important but while I don’t know if he features in Maori media he’s rarely mentioned in other media I read, watch or listen to.


Benson-Pope’s office exterior stripped of party colours

September 1, 2008

The advertising material on the outside of David Benson-Pope’s electorate office was removed last week.

Until then the exterior carried signage in Labour Party colours with a large red banner and party logos promoting the services of Benson Pope and his colleagues David Parker, Mahara Okeroa and Winnie Laben.

The exterior is now bare and my informant says the office is still operating but looks “semi empty”.

What does this mean when:

* An electorate office is paid for by parliamentary services and can’t carry party political advertising material so it should not have anything to do with preparation for the election.

* An electorate MP is an MP until election day and MPs and employees have time after the election to clear up and clear out should the MP not be re-elected.

* It should be far too close to the election to use parliamentary services funding to refresh signage for MPs.

* The Labour Party hasn’t enough money to fund a website so it wouldn’t spend its own money changing signage when what was there was spreading the message already.

So is this confirmation that Benson-Pope’s coy response to the ODT  about his future means that he will stand as an independent?

Because an MP who was going to resign from his party and stand as an independent would neither want nor be able to have his former party’s colours, logo and other material on his office.


8 new names on Labour list, but where?

August 31, 2008

TV3, The Herald and Stuff all carry news that the Labour list had eight new faces who were promoted over some sitting MPs.

However, none have the whole list nor do they say where the newcomers are placed on it. The Labour website is paid for by parliamentary services so won’t mention candidates either.

On the running average of polls Labour is likely to have no more MPs after the election and may have fewer so Helen Clark will have the task of keeping disaffected MPs in line to add to her troubles.

The new people on the list are:

Rajen Prasad, former Race Relations Conciliator and Chief Families Commissioner;  Jacinda Ardern, a senior policy adviser to British Home Secretary Sir Ronnie Flanagan; Raymond Huo a lawyer and writer;  Phil Twyford, former global head of policy for Oxfam;  Council of Trade Unions secretary Carol Beaumont;  Maori education advocate Kelvin Davis; Carmel Sepuloni,  an equity manager at Auckland University; and Stuart Nash, who stood in Epsom last election and if memory serves me right conetested and lost the selection for Napier.

I wonder if the CTU will have the same problems with their secretary standing for Labour as the EPMU does with Shawn Tan standing for Act?

Update: I see on Keeping Stock that I should have checked Scoop which has the full list.

Exactly who gets in on the list depends on the party vote and which canidates further back on the list win seats because each seat won puts those in front of them on the list back a slot.

On current polling anyone past the mid 30s will be unlikely to get in unless they win a seat which could include some MPs.

Damien O’Connor at 37 followed by  Judith Tizard, Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher, Dave Hereora to  Louisa Wall at 43 will be unlikely to still be in parliament unless they win seats. Lesley Soper doesn’t have a show at 77 and unless she requested to be in a totally unelectable position it’s an insult to put a sitting MP so low.


Rahui Katene to stand for Maori Party in Te Tai Tonga

July 18, 2008

Lawyer Rahui Katene is the new Maori Party candidate for Te Tai Tonga.

In February Ms Katene missed out to chosen candidate Monte Ohia but selections opened again after his death last month.

Te Tai Tonga electorate council co-chairman Raymond Hina said Ms Rahui would be “an excellent representative” for the largest electorate in the country.

Te Tai Tonga covers the South Island, Rakiura (Stewart Island), the Chatham Islands, Wellington and parts of the Hutt Valley.

If serving the big general electorates like Waitaki which covers an area of 34,888 square kilomteres, West Coast-Tasman with 38, 042 square kilomteres or Clutha Southland with 38,247 square kilometres, is demanding, how can anyone hope to cover Te Tai Tonga with an area of 161,443 square kilometres?

The Maori Party was confident that they’d take the seat from the incumbent, Mahara Okeroa. That task is a bit more difficult with the later start following the need to do another selection but Okeroa does not have a high profile.

 I am not sure how well he is known by his constituents, and he may feature regularly in Maori media. But he doesn’t have much of a profile in general media. I read The Press and ODT every day and I have not noticed him advocating on issues which concern local iwi, for example Meridian’s plans for the Waitaki River.

He may use other means to communicate with his constituents, but advocating for them means representing their concerns to the wider public too.


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