The Dim-Post

May 15, 2013

The Collins-Joyce National Government

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:20 am

Technically it’s still the Key-led National government and he’s still out there ‘bouncing around from cloud to cloud’ as his own Finance Minister once put it, but to me this now feels like we’re living under a government dominated by the personalities of Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Justice Minister Judith Collins, exemplified by Joyce’s sweetheart deal with a multi-national casino company and Collins’ decision to dump the recommendations of the MMP review (making the entire exercise a gigantic waste of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and years of effort) because it handicaps her party’s (universally despised) rorting of the current system.

43 Comments »

  1. Rorting of the current system? Oh you must be talking about all those Act and United Future MPs who came in on the list…

    Comment by swan — May 15, 2013 @ 8:32 am

  2. Swan, I’m sure you remember the Key-Banks cup of tea fiasco? Which was an effort to sneak a couple of ACT MP’s in because there was no way ACT would make 5%. Hardly one of the shining moments in our democratic history. ACT only missed out on coat tailing in an extra MP by something like 0.1% of the vote, otherwise we’d currently have Banks and Brash as the two ACT MP’s.

    Comment by Ieuan — May 15, 2013 @ 8:43 am

  3. Ieuan,

    Everyone knows the rules. The real rort (in terms of actually having happened) is the electorate/party split in the Maori seats. Given the way MMP works, smaller interest group can already be represented so the Maori seats are not required. They are instead being used to deliberately manipulate the system, hence the overhang. No doubt people would complain if the Nats set up a “list” and an “electorate” party to rort the system. That is effectively what Maori voters have done in the Maori seats.

    Comment by swan — May 15, 2013 @ 8:53 am

  4. ….But the overhang was meant to go as well? How is this a win for you swan?

    Comment by Greg — May 15, 2013 @ 9:20 am

  5. “…Everyone knows the rules. The real rort (in terms of actually having happened) is the electorate/party split in the Maori seats…”

    It seems that for the ACToid Broederbond, Maori understanding of how MMP works being at least as good as that of the rich white volk in Epsom constitutes some sort of electoral outrage.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 15, 2013 @ 9:33 am

  6. It’s not clear to me from the article if Collins is planning to ditch the changes permanently or just until the next election. The latter is disappointing but I already considered it inevitable (significant electoral system changes in under a year – I’m not sure how feasible that is, particularly given the lack of consensus cited). The former is outrageous, but I’m not going to get worked up about it until I’ve seen confirmation that it’s what she is planning.

    Comment by enjiner — May 15, 2013 @ 9:54 am

  7. (making the entire exercise a gigantic waste of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and years of effort)

    The MMP Review did not cost tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — May 15, 2013 @ 10:40 am

  8. NZers have strongly supported a mixed model rather than a pure proportional system which turns out to favour geographically based communities (electorates) over communities defined just by common interest.

    But that’s what people have chosen. ACT, Mana and UF aren’t rorting the system, they’re an intended consequence of sticking with the primacy of geography.

    There’s always going to be anomalies with that unless we do away with the threshold and electorates all together.

    Perhaps there’s some been a shift away from electorates being all important. With the Greens it was the case that losing Coromandel was seen not just as losing a safety net but also some form of credibility. I dont think it’s seen that way anymore.

    But I doubt we’ll see a complete move away from a sense of place. Especially with having the maori seats.

    Comment by NeilM — May 15, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

  9. > The MMP Review did not cost tens of millions of taxpayer dollars

    How much did it cost?

    The referendum was estimated to cost about $11 million.

    http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/format-mmp-referendum-takes-shape

    Comment by Ross — May 15, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

  10. …and the review was estimated to have cost $1.6 million. Would $12.6 million be a fair guess at the total cost?

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/135057/govt-says-no-to-mmp-changes

    Comment by Ross — May 15, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

  11. Well it was nice to see Three News had a sense of perspective on the issue last night, leading in with 10 minutes on Angelina Jolie’s breasts. MMP reform fiasco got about 30 seconds way down the list.

    Comment by Phil — May 15, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

  12. Wow, Sanc the lifestyle blocker calls Maori dumb at 5.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 15, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

  13. NeilM, I think people are happy for minor parties to win electorates. It is the “coattails” they object to, getting around the 5% threshold that applies to parties that don’t win electorate seats. This is one way in which every vote is not counted equally, and is thus undemocratic. And messes with the proportional nature of Parliament’s make-up.

    e.g.
    Party A wins 4% of the party vote and no electorate: no seats
    Party B wins 2.5% of the party vote and an electorate seat: every vote of the 2.5% counts towards extra MPs.

    My vote for party A is wasted* but your vote for Party B counts towards an MP.

    *actually it gets redistributed, but it does not go to the party of my choice. Whereas your does.

    Comment by MeToo — May 15, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

  14. Wow, CF mistook Sanc’s critique of Actoids/Swan for being Sanc’s own opinion.

    Comment by MeToo — May 15, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

  15. The overhang was going to go, reducing proportionality further. It didn’t effect the “issue” of split votes. Note I don’t really care, but for Danyl hysterically using the r word.

    I don’t what the fuss was about. I hit up Urban Cafe all the time. The melting moments are off the hook.

    Comment by Swan — May 15, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

  16. Listening to that hack, Jordan Williams, on NatRad last evening made me grumpy. He claimed it didn’t matter what public input there had been to the review because the greens and labour were very good at getting submissions in.

    WTF!

    Williams is pure party hack, arguing both end of the field…and the middle….as required to justify whatever BS he’s putting forward in this moment. He must have learned at Tony Ryall’s knee…and voters fall for this crap.

    The dumbing down is almost complete.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — May 15, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

  17. It’s not ‘rorting’, it’s an entirely forseen product of the system. The possibility was discussed when MMP was being designed and voted on.

    Honestly, this whole idea that ACT was ‘rorting’ the system is the left wing equivalent of Tories getting annoyed at defeated electorate MPs coming back on the list.

    Comment by Hugh — May 15, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

  18. My vote for party A is wasted* but your vote for Party B counts towards an MP.

    *actually it gets redistributed, but it does not go to the party of my choice. Whereas your does.

    Wasted vote is not redistributed. It is ignored.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — May 15, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

  19. It is the “coattails” they object to, getting around the 5% threshold that applies to parties that don’t win electorate seats.

    I get that, I thought – perhaps mistakenly – Danyl was arguing more broadly. That if by chance a party happens to have enough support in one electorate then that can be seen as an unfair advantage over others that don’t.

    (And the present anomaly is a vestige of our reliance on electorates).

    With any threshold though there’s going to be cutoff effects that could benefit particular parties.

    I’m a bit surprised that any changes to MMP can be made in parliament by a simple majority. I would have thought that should be something to put to a referendum.

    Comment by NeilM — May 15, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

  20. @NeilM: Parliament is sovereign, yo. There was no need to hold a referendum back in the early 90s, either. I mean, no -legal- need.

    Comment by Hugh — May 15, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

  21. There was no need to hold a referendum back in the early 90s, either. I mean, no -legal- need.

    Insofar as the change to MMP altered the number of electorates in NZ, there was a need for a referendum (or a 75% majority of MPs).

    Election law nerdity ends here.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 15, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

  22. @Andrew: Parliament cannot bind itself. It’s perfectly possible to override the 75% majority requirement with a simple 50%+1 majority, and then go ahead.

    Again, I only mean it’s -legally- possible.

    Comment by Hugh — May 15, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

  23. I long for the good old days when it was still the Gilmore Government. Fun times.

    Comment by Teej — May 15, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

  24. “I long for the good old days when it was still the Gilmore Government. Fun times.”

    Don’t worry, under our next Prime Minister Judith Collins, it will be fun.

    Comment by Grant — May 15, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

  25. Especially if Clint Smith is just a list MP.

    Comment by Grant — May 15, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

  26. It wasn’t a Rort when winston got back In in 99. Also it still wasn’t a Rort when jim had a extra mp in 2002 . I would suspect it wouldn’t be a Rort if mana got a extra mp in last time. My understanding was that their were 6000 submissions about this issue. Going by Russell’s logic these days that means over 4 million kiwis are happy with the current system as it stands

    Comment by Graham — May 15, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

  27. “Wasted vote is not redistributed. It is ignored.”
    @ Graeme E – Which has the same effect as if the wasted vote were redistributed., which is what I think MeToo meant. And explains why there was a blip of support for NZ First at the election, if I recall the polls correctly; left voters did not want c.4% NZ First vote to get ‘redistributed’, as then National would have effectively picked up about 2% and been out of danger.

    Why we can’t just scrap the undemocratic 5% threshold (and thus render ineffective the 1 seat rule) and elect 1MP for every 1MP’s worth of the vote that party earns (currently 100/120MPs = 0.83% of the party vote)? I shed no tears or the flawed MMP Review proposals. I want real democracy.

    Comment by bob — May 15, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

  28. @Hugh,

    It’s perfectly possible to override the 75% majority requirement with a simple 50%+1 majority, and then go ahead.

    It would be perfectly possible for Parliament to amend/repeal the provision requiring a 75% majority (which isn’t itself entrenched), then change things by a plain majority vote. But if it doesn’t do this, then an amendment/repeal that doesn’t meet the entrenchment requirements would not be valid law. And if Parliament were to “doubly entrench” the provision requiring a 75% majority (i.e. state that a 75% majority is needed to change it, too), then Parliament would be “binding itself”.

    There’s court cases I could point you to saying this if you really want to go read them.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 15, 2013 @ 8:51 pm

  29. @Graham,

    It wasn’t a Rort when winston got back In in 99.

    Yes it was. It was a bad rule then, and it is a bad rule now. The difference is, we’ve just had an Electoral Commission review that tells us what we already knew, hence we had an opportunity to change it. Until National got Judith Collins to torpedo it, that is.

    My understanding was that their were 6000 submissions about this issue.

    4,600 submissions, from 5,800 people. And yet a mere 88 submissions were treated as overwhelming evidence of the public’s desire to see no mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid, thus a firm basis for the Government’s policy: http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/bread-fortifying-folic-acid-be-voluntary.

    A thorough eight-week public consultation process by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) resulted in 134 submissions, of which 88 supported voluntary instead of mandatory fortification.

    “In making my decision in favour of voluntary fortification, I read all the submissions and the clear message is that people want choice,” Ms Wilkinson says.

    Amazing how you can hear what you want to hear when you want to hear it, isn’t it?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 15, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

  30. @Andrew: Please do. I was explicitly told in law school that these extra-majority laws are really of only symbolic (although powerfully symbolic) effect – that even double-entrenching can be double-removed by majority. So Parliament is not really binding itself, it’s simply sounding a ‘note of caution’ to future governments, which they can ignore. Admittedly my time in law school was back when Jenny Shipley was PM, so it’s possible it’s out of date, but I don’t think any constitutional changes of that magnitude would slip under my radar.

    But yea, please link to the court cases.

    Comment by Hugh — May 15, 2013 @ 8:59 pm

  31. Andrew, how does the electoral commission know it is a bad rule? Why is it any better or worse than having a threshold at all? The electoral commission didn’t come to its conclusions through logic, it was just trying to make a political compromise. Or do you think that a 5% threshold is self evidently a bad rule, but 4% is the good rule we all knew anyway?

    Comment by Swan — May 15, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

  32. Can’t link (as cases pre-date practice of putting PDF’s on line), but there’s obiter comments to the effect of what I said in the Court of Appeal’s decision in Shaw v Commissioner of Inland Revenue [1999] 3 NZLR 154, as well as in the High Court’s decision in Westco Lagan v AG [2001] 1 NZLR 40 at [91]&[95]. You also might look to the House of Lords decision in Jackson v AG.

    Of course, until we see a Parliament actually ignore a manner and form provision (like s.268 of the Electoral Act), the issue will remain theoretical … and we won’t know for certain what a court would do!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 15, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

  33. Swan,

    The Electoral Commission’s report and recommendations are all on line. Google them and have a read. And yes – 4% was a compromise … as is any threshold (even “no” threshold at all).

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 15, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

  34. The EC’s recommendations should be put to a referendum. They don’t have a public mandate at the moment.

    Comment by NeilM — May 15, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

  35. I’m envisaging a time ten years from now where Labour and the Greens win their fourth term with Mana whose support hovers around 3% but is worth 4-5 MPs (including Minto, Sykes and Bradford unfettered) while Nationaloan at length about the disproportionality of MMP.

    Fingers crossed.

    Comment by nigelsagentinthefield — May 16, 2013 @ 1:41 am

  36. National moan…

    Comment by nigelsagentinthefield — May 16, 2013 @ 1:42 am

  37. @Andrew: Thanks, I’ll check it out.

    @nigel: Yeah, that’s the thing about the decision – while at the moment, in the medium-term, it’s likely to remain in National’s interest to keep the current law, there’s nothing innate about its favouring the right. I think as late as 2002 it was Labour that benefited from the ‘rort’.

    Comment by Hugh — May 16, 2013 @ 3:39 am

  38. Andrew,

    Exactly – as is any change to the rule around the electorate seat alternative threshold. Hard to see why the one threshold is a “rort” but the other is just a compromise position.

    Comment by swan — May 16, 2013 @ 8:07 am

  39. Government by the Nacts for the Nacts

    Comment by DR — May 16, 2013 @ 8:21 am

  40. “And yet a mere 88 submissions were treated as overwhelming evidence of the public’s desire to see no mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid, thus a firm basis for the Government’s policy”

    The government could say it is being consistent – it maintained the status quo re folic acid in bread, and is maintaining the status quo re MMP. On the other hand, maybe the government is too scared to act.

    Comment by Ross — May 16, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

  41. > The EC’s recommendations should be put to a referendum. They don’t have a public mandate at the moment.

    Therefore similar to the government’s asset sales programme.

    Comment by Ross — May 16, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

  42. Therefore similar to the government’s asset sales programme

    Let me know when the Greens or Labour decide to be consultant,

    I’m suprised no party has suggested a referendum. It appears they would all prefer to get what suits politically rather than risk the public having a say.

    But I’d argue that any changes to our method of representation is somewhat different to the day today business if government.

    Comment by NeilM — May 16, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

  43. arrr, consistent not consultant

    Comment by NeilM — May 16, 2013 @ 1:42 pm


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