Newsletter 16

1 June 2014

The $3m payoff

The quote of the week is from Laila Harre when explaining to TV3’s Nation programme why the Internet Party has joined up with Mana:

“This is a principled approach to ensuring that these people who have already shown that they are very interested in the Internet Party and want to vote for the Internet party don’t see their vote wasted.”

This is a distortion of monstrous proportions. All New Zealanders should be outraged by what is the most unprincipled exploitation of electoral laws in New Zealand’s history. In essence a number of high profile people who have staked their reputations as people of principle have seriously compromised those principles through a $3m donation and the prospect of a free ride into Parliament. These are long-time activists like Harre, Hone Harawira, John Minto and Annette Sykes.

Someone who was principled enough to say no was Sue Bradford. She demonstrated her protest to the $3m deal by resigning from Mana. While we have little regard for Sue Bradford’s beliefs, we do respect the sincerity with which she holds those beliefs, and the fact that her principles are not for sale.

Mr Dotcom must be having a good chuckle, having proved the ugly truism that every principle has a price.

In a blog TV3’s Patrick Gower described the Internet Mana deal as follows:

Frankly, Laila Harre comments today when she said “it’s time for New Zealanders to take back MMP”, made me feel sick…That’s because Laila Harre is wrecking MMP. Hone Harawira is wrecking MMP. And Kim Dotcom is wrecking MMP…It is a rort. It is a grubby deal, made all the worse by the fact Harawira holds the Te Tai Tokerau seat – a Maori seat.

The Maori seats are special. They have a unique constitutional role which is to give the Tangata Whenua a place of their own in the New Zealand Parliament. The Maori seats have been hard fought for. Never, ever was it envisaged they would be used as a back-door entry for a German millionaire to get his proxy into Parliament. This will give those opposed to Maori seats ammunition to get rid of them. Sadly, the Internet Mana deal has diminished the mana of the Maori seats.

And even sadder too, this deal involves money. Harawira wants Dotcom’s money. Annette Sykes wants Dotcom’s money. John Minto wants Dotcom’s money. They are all willing to pervert the MMP system for the sake of money and it is a venal deal. Don’t try and tell me Laila Harre cares deeply about the internet. She cares about getting into Parliament. I have a lot of respect for Harawira, Sykes and Minto. They have spent their lives fighting for what they believe in – for points of principle. But that respect has been tarnished. They are obsessed by power, obsessed by money and will trample over the rights of New Zealand voters to get it.”

For the full article see HERE.

It is indeed a sad state of affairs. In our view National may well be hoisted with their own petard of self-interest.  They had an opportunity to clean up MMP. They didn’t because they wanted to use it to coat-tail another MP or two from ACT into Parliament. They had an opportunity to abolish the Maori seats (abolition of the Maori seats was their policy in 2011). They didn’t because they thought they needed the Maori Party. It’s very hard now for the National Party to cry foul, when they have fouled their own nest.

The temptation now is for National to respond by engaging in more dirty deals. Expect a safe-seat coat-tailing deal with the Conservative Party. It now has the mandate to do whatever it can to further rort MMP – nothing could be worse than the Internet Mana rort.

We think it’s time to put an end to MPs and wannabe politicians abusing our democracy. It’s time to:

  1. Abolish MMP, and
  2. Abolish the Maori seats.

Should Harre and her gaggle of unprincipled radicals gain the support they need to control the next parliament then there may be a mood swing from sheepish complacency into action.

 

Gaming MMP

Here’s the loophole Internet-Mana is exploiting. On the matter of party votes, section 191 (4)(b) of the Electoral Act 1993 says,

“The Electoral Commission must disregard any total under the name of any party that—

  • (a)has not achieved a total that is at least 5% of the total number of all the party votes received by all the parties listed on the part of the ballot paper that relates to the party vote; and
  • (b)is a party in respect of which no constituency candidate who is either—

(i) a candidate for that party; or

(ii) a candidate for a component party of that party…
In other words, party votes don’t count if the party does not get 5% of the vote and it, or a component party(!), does not win an electorate seat. The Act defines a component party as, “a political party that is a member of the registered party”.

That means a political party can consist of two or more component parties (e.g. the Internet Party and the Mana Party). By joining as two components to fight the election, should either of the component parties win a seat (e.g. Tai Tokerau) then all of the party votes cast for the Internet Mana Party count.

In effect this allows two parties to act as independent organisations in every respect, except for the purposes of vote counting. After the election the component parties could go their own ways with their own MPs. The result would be the Internet Party having seats in Parliament it would otherwise have not gained unless it won 5% of the vote.

In fact the Memorandum of Understanding between the Internet Party and Mana provides for that very outcome. It states:

26. That either component party may give seven days written notice of their intention to terminate this agreement…

27. …this agreement will remain in force until at least six weeks after the 2014 General Election polling day. The component parties will meet together within five weeks of the 2014 General Election to review the agreement.”

This means after seven days of being elected into Parliament the parties could end their arrangement.

Conceivably this loophole could also be exploited by the minnow parties on the right forming a component party (The Right Party): United, Conservative, Act, Libertarians, etc, all coat-tailing off Peter Dunne’s seat to make every party vote count. They would in fact have a greater legitimacy than the Internet Mana marriage of convenience because at least Peter Dunne has a general electorate seat, not one reserved for Maori.

 

Jones to return as white knight

A few weeks back we speculated that Shane Jones will return to NZ politics – with NZ First. It seems that has already been talked about by Jones.

Adam Bennett from the NZ Herald writes, “Even before he gave his farewell speech…former Labour MP Shane Jones was already in a conversation about his return to politics… Ahead of his valedictory speech in Parliament… Mr Jones was given a lapel microphone to wear by TVNZ’s Marae programme… Marae reported fragments of a conversation… between Mr Jones and Mr Harawira who was unaware of the live microphone.

“If you come back in 2017 with Winston, I’ll f****** hang round mate. Otherwise I’m out of here”, Mr Harawira said.”

Jones will be back as a white knight, and into a leadership role with NZ First. And Hone Harawira will not be quitting any time soon – he now has 3 million reasons to stay.

 

5PM polls

Last week we asked: Do you think Peter Dunne and the Maori Party were right to withhold their support for the proposed RMA reforms?

The sentiment was clear. 94% said no, 6% yes.

Comments include:

  • The Maori Party and Peter Dunne, by failing to support RMA reform legislation, they have defaulted on their obligations … the government made it clear during the 2011 election campaign that they planned to reform the RMA. Dianna
  • The RMA needs reform to protect private property rights.           Elizabeth
  • This is exactly why MMP is a ‘crock’ and will continue to ‘hobble’ this country. The ‘tail wagging the dog’ scenario. Graeme
  • It may be time for National to go it alone and run a strong candidate against Peter Dunne, taking the associated political risks. Peter
  • RMA reforms do not go far enough. Existing use rights and previous use rights need to be respected as Primary Rights. New residents who move in and then find a complaint should have their concerns subject to existing use rights. Richard
  • Is this democracy, where a vocal minority can roughshod over the rights of the majority. If you want to fix the system then get rid of MMP. Ian

This week we ask: Do you think MMP should be abolished and replaced with First Past the Post?

To vote, visit www.5pm.org.nz and look on the sidebar. If there is sufficient support for the proposal we will shape it as a policy and place it in the 5PM polling Booth.

 

5PM Voting Booth

Many thanks to those who have already voted in our current policy proposals which are:

*Changing the Local Electoral Act: “That Section 19ZB of the Local Electoral Act 2001 be amended to include the public’s right to demand a binding poll where a council is proposing to grant voting rights to unelected representatives.”

*NOTA on Ballot Papers: “That a NOTA (none of the above) voting option be included on ballot papers in local and central government elections, with the effect that should NOTA gain the most votes, the election nominations would be re-opened and another election held.”

*Foreign Ownership of Land: Should foreign entities and foreigners (individuals who are neither New Zealand citizens nor permanent residents) be taxed 10% of the value of New Zealand property purchases with the funds raised being offered as low interest loans to NZ resident first home buyers?

Votes may be cast at the Voting Booth on the 5PM website HERE.

 

The 5PM Facebook Page

We have posted all of your RMA comments on the 5PM Facebook page HERE.

 

Please don’t forget to help us spread the message about 5PM! Great to see the letters to the editor in newspapers in support of NOTA!

Regards,
Frank and Muriel Newman

P.S. Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to others!