The Green Party has become a tragic comedy in stating they will vote for a bill that its co-leader Marama Davidson stated last week was “undemocratic” and that “threatened democracy”. The ironically named Electoral Integrity Bill demanded by Winston Peters gives the power to a party leader to dismiss any MP the leader believes has acted in a way that distorts the proportionality of Parliament.
The principal that voters and voters alone get to hire or fire MPs goes back 330 years to the Bill of Rights. This Bill also breaches the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. How can the New Zealand Green Party credibly campaign for such rights abroad when they are voting against them at home?
The Green Party is also trashing its heritage. Founding co-leader Rod Donald described the same Bill in 2001 as “the most draconian, obnoxious, anti-democratic, insulting piece of legislation ever inflicted on Parliament” and that “it represents everything the Greens opposed.”
It is not just the hypocrisy of the Green Party that should worry New Zealanders about this Bill. It has been vehemently opposed by 21 constitutional experts from all our universities, the Human Rights Commission, the Law Society and the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Even Government Minister and Labour MP Hon David Parker says the Bill “will have a chilling effect on expression of dissenting views by MPs.”
This law would be unconstitutional in Germany, the home of MMP, and most of the world. The few countries that have these are despots like Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Sierra Leone. MPs in these countries have been dismissed for speaking out about corruption, for calling press conferences without their leader’s consent, and voting differently to how their leader directed.
I am proud of being a National MP but my duty to our country and Nelson comes first. I crossed the floor to vote for a minimum wage for youth. I exposed financial wrong doing in the Druids, much to the discomfort of some then senior National MPs. I would have risked expulsion from Parliament under this new law.
MPs switching parties is no justification for this Bill. The Labour, National, NZ First and Green Parties were all formed by MPs changing parties. Dissenting MPs like Derek Quigley, Marilyn Waring, Jim Anderton and Tariana Turia represented legitimate opinions. The decision on which MPs are principled and which are opportunists is for voters to decide.
It is outrageous that this Bill is being passed when a majority of Parliament oppose it. Someone needs to stand up to Winston. I will be opposing it with every bone in my body. I will not give up until it is repealed. Freedom of speech, tolerance of dissent and democracy are core Kiwi values that must be fought for.