What dirty deal bought Greens?

August 2, 2018

Bryce Edwards has a leaked document showing the Green Party lied about having to support the wake jumping legislation:

. . . The Greens have never been willing to front up over how they were going to deal with this contentious bill. First, when the coalition was formed, we were told by co-leader James Shaw that his party wouldn’t vote for any policies that they disagreed with. The Greens later changed this to say that they would support the waka-jumping bill through the first stages of the legislation, but wouldn’t guarantee that they would vote for it in the end.

Then last week the party finally revealed that they would indeed vote for the legislation, even though they still opposed it. They justified this capitulation with the notion that their hands were tied by the coalition agreement that they signed up to with the Labour Party – especially the part in which they promised to deal in “good faith” with Labour to fulfil coalition agreements with New Zealand First.

It turns out that the Greens have always known that there is nothing in the coalition agreement they signed with Labour that obliges them to vote for the waka-jumping bill. A leaked Green Party caucus document from January, titled “Advice to caucus – Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill”, reports on official advice informing the Greens that there is nothing in their coalition agreement that binds them to provide support.

This is what the document says about the “good faith” provision in their agreement with Labour: “Advice from the Cabinet Office is that firstly this is a political statement around how we’re endeavouring to work with the Government. It commits us to work through areas of concern in good faith, but does not bind us to support everything set out in the Labour/New Zealand First coalition agreement”.

Why pretend it did?

The fact that the Greens have tried to tell the public the opposite therefore raises some big questions about why they’ve mislead the public on this, and what the real reasons are for their U-turn on the bill.

There are two main possible explanations: weakness or opportunism. In the “weakness” explanation, the Greens have acted like doormats – the leader of New Zealand First has simply demanded that the Greens vote for the bill, or there will be some sort of very negative consequence (perhaps even threatening to walk away from the coalition Government). In this scenario, the Greens have meekly rolled over and given away their principles easily.

Under the “opportunist” explanation, the Greens have demanded some sort of price for voting against their principles. Perhaps it was the oil and gas exploration ban. Perhaps there is an upcoming policy announcement about mining on conservation land, or a deal on the Kermadecs sanctuary. What other horse-trading deals are being done between the three parties in government?

The problem is we will likely never know. We now have an opaque Government in which the official coalition agreements aren’t the full story, and instead we’re being governed by backroom deals that the public isn’t allowed to know about. It seems therefore that the waka-jumping deal epitomises the continued decay of principled and transparent politics, and how even so-called principled politicians such as the Greens are willing to buy into it all. . .

Principled? If they ever were they certainly aren’t now.

Not when the MPs’ line has been they are supporting the Bill because they have too and just last week co-leader Manama Davidson said: “We are doing this because the confidence and supply agreement holds us to it.

MMP requires an occasional diet of dead rats, it doesn’t require lies.

We might never know which of Edwards’ two explanations for them swallowing this large and very dirty rodent is the right one.

Both wrong their supporters and the rest of us who have to suffer them in government.

If the MPs have rolled over because they’re scared of the consequences of sticking to their principles what else might they acquiesce to?

If they did a deal, what is the price of their principles and what dirty deal bought their support?

Whatever the answer to that question is, the fact that someone leaked the document suggests someone in the Green camp is very, very unhappy and isn’t afraid to hurt the party because of it.


Principles pay price of power

July 27, 2018

The Green Party has paid for power with the loss of its principles in supporting the waka jumping legislation.

. . .Labour promised to support the waka jumping legislation in its coalition agreement with NZ First, but the legislation is not covered in its agreement with the Green Party.

However, a clause in the agreement seemingly holds the Greens to supporting any legislation not specifically flagged in the coalition talks, meaning the Greens MPs feel they have to vote for the waka jumping bill. . .

Have they voted for every piece of government legislation so far and will they continue to do so?

Didn’t they vote against the CPTTP? If they could stick to their principles then, when they were in the wrong, why not now when they’d be in the right?

It’s understood that the Green negotiators were asked to produce a list of potential NZ First legislation they could not agree with during coalition talks, and did not think to include Waka Jumping as it had been so long since the law had been an issue.

That was at best naive.

Former Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, who was part of the negotiating team, said earlier this year the agreement did not in fact force the Greens into supporting the bill.

Then why are they doing it?

Green MP Eugenie Sage said “we don’t like it” but it was “very important” to one of the coalition parties.

“It is a dead rat they we have to swallow,” Sage said.

The Greens have long opposed such legislation. . .

Proponents argue that it maintains the proportionality of Parliament while opponents say it stifles democracy.

If maintaining proportionality was so important, National would have got another list MP when Peters won the seat of Northland. Instead of which NZ First got another MP.

National MP Nick Smith said the Greens had “sold their soul” and were “trashing their core values.”

“We’ve never before had a party saying it opposed a bill – leat alone a bill that makes changes to our electoral law and constitution where they are oppose to it but are going to vote it anyway.

“This is the Green Party selling its soul for power,” Smith said.

“They are the last party I would expect to do this.”

He goes further in a media release:

Government changes to New Zealand MMP electoral law enabling a party leader to dismiss an MP would break the constitutional law Allied Powers put in place following the end of the Second World War, National’s Electoral Law spokesperson Dr Nick Smith says.

“The Government cannot justify this draconian law change on the basis of MMP. Germany has had MMP for over 70 years and has no such provisions. In fact, the Human Rights Commission has drawn to Parliament’s attention that it would be ironic and wrong for New Zealand to have insisted on specific democratic protections in Germany, but to be breaching those protections at home,” Dr Smith says.

It is not just Germany that has constitutional protections for MPs’ free speech. The European Court has over-ridden similar laws like those being proposed for New Zealand as undemocratic. The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea struck down similar laws there in 2010.

New Zealand is putting itself in the company of totalitarian states like Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Sierra Leone with these electoral law changes.

That isn’t company any country, government or party that stands up for democratic rights would want to be in.

In these countries, Members of Parliament have been dismissed for challenging corruption in their own Government, for participating in a press conference without their leaders consent and for voting in Parliament differently to how their leaders instructed them. The Government is opening up the risk of this happening in New Zealand.

“New Zealanders should be deeply concerned that changes are being made to our electoral law that would be illegal and unconstitutional in most parts of the world. At a time when autocratic rulers are on the rise, New Zealand should be strengthening and not weakening our protections for democracy and free speech.

“This draconian bill that the Government accepts will have a ‘chilling effect on the expression of dissenting views by MPs’ must be abandoned.”

The select committee received submission after submission from legal experts, academics and a broad cross-section of people concerned for this assault on democracy.

And all because New Zealand First’s leader Winston Peters is so insecure and distrustful of his caucus.

Labour swallowed the dead rat in coalition negotiations. Green Party MPs are facing up to swallowing it now so the legislation will go through.

Their members won’t be happy but they are the ones who wouldn’t have countenanced the party going with National.

Had they agreed to a blue-green government they would have got several conservation gains, including the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

Instead of which they’re watching their MPs dine on a large dead rat and wondering what other principles they might sacrifice as the price of power.


Who’s Winston wary of?

December 19, 2017

The waka jumping Bill is an affront to democracy:

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.

 


Waka jumper law shows lack of faith in own

October 25, 2017

NZ First’s waka jumping bill shows a distinct lack of faith in the loyalty of their own:

An unexpected crackdown on ‘waka jumping’ suggests the new Government is bracing for instability, says ACT Leader David Seymour

“The incoming Government has quietly announced a bill to ban waka jumping in Parliament. This was never forecasted to voters, and for good reason. It suggests the new Government expects instability and defections. Today’s ceremonious unity will not last.

“Winston Peters is particularly paranoid because it’s his last parliamentary term. He’s been burnt by waka jumpers in the past, but this term could be his party’s most divisive yet. Why wouldn’t his caucus jump ship if they believe New Zealand First is doomed in 2020 anyway?

Why would you waste parliament’s time and resources if you trusted your team’s loyalty?

And how can we trust a government which doesn’t trust itself?


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