Soper on the waka-jumping bill

Barry Soper discusses the government’s anti-democratic waka-jumping bill: Quote:

If you needed proof of the power that Winston Peters wields in this Government, then this bill’s it.

It’s essentially his baby but it’s being sponsored by the Justice Minister Andrew Little.

You can understand Peters objection to MPs coming into Parliament and then quitting the party that put them there. He’s been burnt more than the other political leaders on this one.

Remember when New Zealand First was sitting pretty after the first MMP election in 1996 with 17 MPs?

The so called tight five in the party, lead by Tau Henare, became loose heads, or some would say drop kicks, when they sided with the then Prime Minister Jenny Shipley against their leader, forming the Mauri Pacific Party and keeping her in Government.

But they suffered the fate of most who fall out with the party that put them there, they were kicked out by voters at the next election.

And that’s the point, the system tends to look after itself when it comes to troublemakers but it seems that’s not enough for Peters.

He wants the right to sack them and bring in the next one of the party list.

He’d have to have two thirds of his MPs backing him which for Peters of course wouldn’t be a problem. End quote.

This is a bill seeking to right a wrong that hasn’t occurred since 1998. It is unnecessary, unwanted and a waste of parliament’s resources. Apart from Winston Peters, all other MPs who waka jumped in the past are gone from parliament. Some went at the very next election. The voters know how to take care of these sorts. Quote:

If you listen to Nick Smith on this one, MPs should be allowed to bail out of the waka if they don’t like what their party’s up to or if they have a falling out with their leader.

He says to force them to stay on board would cut to the very tenet of democracy, freedom of speech, which he says would be compromised.

And all this would be taking place in the home of our democracy at Parliament where Smith argues free speech shouldn’t just be a given, it’s essential.

And he does have a point.

MPs should reflect on the fact that all of the parties in Parliament were born out of disaffection with other parties.

And even Winston Peters namesake Winston Churchill was himself a party hopper, twice.

Even Parliament’s Clerk of the House has made a submission against it based on, like all the others, that’s it’s a breach of the Bill of Rights.

The bill won’t survive without the support of The Greens who’ve heard a plea from their co founder Jeanette Fitzsimons, urging them to change their mind and biff it out.

Let’s hope this waka springs a leak. End quote.

The Greens, normally principled over this sort of thing, have shown that their principles are exceedingly flexible these days. They are getting a lot of pressure from former MPs, but a new bunch of kids are in charge in the Greens now and they don’t care for the legacy of the party.

If the Greens find their principles again then this bill is doomed, but so too is the coalition, probably, because this is one of Winston’s bottom lines.