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You can be a leader of nothing!

Written By: - Date published: 2:45 pm, June 6th, 2013 - 67 comments
Categories: leadership, Parliament, united future - Tags: , ,

Well it turns out I was wrong – you can be a leader of nothing!

The Speaker has ruled that Peter Dunne keeps all his leaders perks, despite having no party to lead.

Trevor Mallard, and the whole New Zealand First caucus have walked out in disgust. NZF fair to ask why their allowances were cut when Horan was stood down, but Dunne gets to keep his?

The speaker is refusing to release the “substantial” advice that he claims to have received.

Looks like simple cronyism, and Parliament brought into disrepute.

67 comments on “You can be a leader of nothing!”

  1. Poission 1

    Redo the headline it has the news immediately affected the NZ dollar

  2. TheContrarian 2

    Total fucking chaos in the House today

  3. Here is the basic problem and why the opposition is incensed. Rule 34 of Parliament’s Standing Orders states:

    “(1) Every political party registered under Part 4 of the Electoral Act 1993, and in whose interest a member was elected at the preceding general election or at any subsequent by-election, is entitled to be recognised as a party for parliamentary purposes.

    (4) Any member who is not a member of a recognised party is treated as an Independent member for parliamentary purposes.”

    United Future is no longer registered under part 4, ergo it is not entitled to be recognised as a party for parliamentary purposes.

    It should be that simple.

    • xtasy 3.1

      I think David Carter has just signed his de-facto resignation for the role of Speaker of the House!

      This is very serious stuff, contempt of the law, by a Speaker, that is what it looks like to me, and hence the resolute walkout by New Zealand First. Peters is an old hand, well experienced with all this stuff, he would know what he is doing in this case.

      Parker was extremely incensed, so were others. While Parker was told off repeatedly by Carter, Mallard expressed his fury and walked out voluntarily. I was expecting that perhaps the whole Labour caucus and possibly Greens were also close to walking out in protest, but they later stayed.

      Yes, Dunne is indeed Mr “Done” now, this is more than embarrassing stuff.

      The Speaker quoting vague advice, refusing to disclose where he got what advice, and giving United Future defacto party status for many weeks to come, until Dunne presents his numbers and a final proof they have 500 members, seems to breach the law. Money is continued to be appropriated for UF as a legally non-existent party, this is adventure territory the Speaker is walking on.

      Carter must take his hat, I suspect.

      Dunne is now the leader of chaos in the House, nothing more. This leaves the legislative body in disarray and disorder.

    • TheContrarian 3.2

      “It should be that simple.”

      Of course it is that simple. Carter has made a ruling based on advice he refuses to share with anyone.

      Simple

      • Pascal's bookie 3.2.1

        What’s interesting about his ruling is the part where he gives Dunne a bit of time to get re-registered. There is no need for that if being de-registered doesn’t matter.

        It’s entirely up to the speaker as to whether the prty is recognised by parliament, as I understand it. But he is having a bob each way there, saying ‘no, he oughtn’t be considered a leader but we’ll just let it slide for a while because it would unfair to follow the rules’ or something similar.

        All a bit shit really.

    • Robert M 3.3

      |There is an even more real issue than Winston and Mallard are raising at the moment. Did Act and United First have 500 paid up members at the date of the last 2011 election or even 500 signed paper members in the case of Unitedfirst . Secondly if Dunne and Banks claim they have to point 1 and 2 have they tampered with either electronic recordings of membership subsuquently or paper records. There will be data and meta records of dates of any subsequent changes and alterations so various paper and electronic trails will exist, if Labour and Greens want to be in Govt. I suggest you change leader fast to David Parker, because he alone will secure an adequate majority needed in turbulent and probably dangerous times and second is administratively competent which Shearer isn’t and Cunliffe may have to settle for Finance.

  4. ianmac 4

    Rob. Word missing “advice” 2nd to last line?

  5. ianmac 5

    The Speaker seems to dig himself a hole then digs deeper. Mr Dunne’s status may also affect the vote that he gives in the House?

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      “Mr Dunne’s status may also affect the vote that he gives in the House?”

      No, he’s an independent MP. Or at least, should be considered as such, Speaker’s machinations aside.

  6. Zorr 6

    I would be curious as to whether, when becoming an Independent MP, whether or not his confidence and supply agreement with National becomes null and void? Because isn’t the agreement between two *parties* for support, not between National and the MP known as Peter Dunne? And if that is the case, doesn’t it leave National without an actual majority and potentially open to a vote of no confidence by the members of the house?

    • Chris 6.1

      I admit I don’t know anything about a vote of no confidence but wouldn’t it need a majority to pass? So it would still need Peter Dunne, John Banks or someone in National to ‘defect’ wouldn’t it?

      • Jackal 6.1.1

        No! A vote of no confidence is basically based on a government not being able to pass legislation (you need a majority to pass legislation). National has a one seat majority, meaning they would only need to lose the support of one vote for no confidence to be successful.

    • Jackal 6.2

      Probably not… The Confidence and Supply Agreement (PDF) would stand even though United Future no longer exists. The signatories to that agreement are still in the House of Representatives, and until the now “independent” Dunce or National party declares the agreement null and void, the agreement would stand.

      The issue here is that the biased David Carter has chosen to flagrantly disregard Standing Orders. In providing additional funding to Dunne that he isn’t entitled to, National hopes to provide one of their allies with the tools to promote their defunct policy direction… Don’t forget United Future was instrumental in gaining some support for the now failing asset sales agenda.

      Either Dunne is being viewed as an invaluable tool for National to use (which is a complete joke), or he has something damning that could bring down the government. I can see no other reason for Carter to disregard the rules and provide an extra $122,000 per year of public money to a politician who is well past his use by date.

  7. aerobubble 7

    Worse. The Speaker has failed three times by my count,
    i.) ignoring the fact that Dunne was told months ago his registration was not in order,
    ii.) ignoring the fact that voters loath the list party loophole that allows a party to get list seats
    immediately,
    iii.) and most egregiously, the fact that even Dunne considerably cheapens parliament by failing to keep his registration in order which returns huge trinkets of office,

    Now today, the Speaker seems to be arguing that at the time of the appropriations the United Future party gained financing and so now that the terms have changed, United Future needs to be given time to get its membership in order. That’s richest of all, given mortgagees who fail to pay, then are given time to set matter correct fail to do so, and then aare foreclosed. The Speaker should foreclose on the United Future until the next election. It had a duty to keep its affairs in order, and should not be reward by the now obvious bias of the Speaker not only to the governing coalition but to the policy of Key to not end the list party loophole.

  8. aerobubble 8

    we know how lockwoodsmith didn’t want to fund a deaf MP, public pressure came to bear.

    Dunne has had months to get his membership in order, he reaps a huge windfall from being a leader of one (oxymoronic) and now he doesn’t even tell parliament but has the speaker writing to him!!! how contemptuous of parliament.

    Its a farce, the list party loophole that for no extra democratic mandate a single MP can sit as equals to the leader of real parties who have made real efforts. No wonder Peters is livid. He got more votes than Dunne and didn’t even get into parliament!!!! When Peters was forced out due to electioneering problems, he worked hard to come back, but their Dunne sits smugly claiming the trinkets of list party leadership.

    What a joke the Speaker has made of parliament.

    • Chris 8.1

      Just to throw it out there since you brought it up twice United Future haven’t had a member come in on the list since the 2005 election.

      • aerobubble 8.1.1

        So he and Banks are leaders of zero list MPs and for this they need extra resources, while Winston who got more votes than them both combined was with any parliamentary representation.

        Oh, I’m so angry. Why was the previous Speaker being such a bitch about funding a deaf MP? There were adequate resources…

        • Chris 8.1.1.1

          Yeah it seems pretty strange (also Hone Harawira is in the same position). I guess it is done that way to avoid the obvious question if the law was not this way of how many list MPs do you need to qualify for funding.

  9. karol 9

    “These are children playing children’s games”

    The Hairdo calling calling Liberace “all show no substance”..

    • freedom 9.1

      Mr Mallard also described the decision as a “farce”

      The article misquoted Mallard.

      Mallard plainly stated “This Parliament is a farce”

      I may be off base here but I believe that to be a far more serious declaration to the House with particularly serious ramifications for the Member who says it. To fully censure the Member who made the statement would demand some serious investigation of the circumstances leading to the outburst, which obviously the Government do not want to see happen, so unsurprisingly the Speaker let the statement roll out the door along with Mallard.

      I don’t care who is in Government on days like today, the Speaker’s behaviour was a stain on the proud efforts of so many who have laboured at the role. His ongoing manipulation of the House cannot be allowed to continuously degrade the quality of our Parliament. But what can anyone do when discussion of an admitted precedent making event is shut down before it is allowed to develop.

    • Alanz 9.2

      “Speaker will not give us his so-called legal opinion or the basis on which he made that decision”

      Carter is bringing the Office of the Speaker into disrepute and is making the processes opaque. The rot has been spreading fast, starting at the top of the government from the PM and now eating into the legislative chamber. It is a dark day for this administration with the House being dragged down so very low.

    • Tigger 9.3

      Indeed, there are games here but they’re not childish and they’re not being played by NZF and Mallard.

  10. vto 10

    Exposes Carter’s shortcomings. Really not very bright.

    • aerobubble 10.1

      What’s needed is a letter campaign from voters to the Speaker decrying his mistake.

  11. freedom 11

    Whether it is the refusal from the Speaker to share advice; the ignoring of basic definitions of words such as registered or de-registered; the stubborn denial of dialogue despite the Speaker admitting it was a precedent issue, there is something that is almost worse than the diabolical shenanigans David Carter has now let loose in the House.

    That is, how Peter Dunne did not even attempt to stand to defend his position or his [de-registered] party. He just sat staring into his own chest, mumbling quietly. Perhaps he was trying to say something and parliament’s sound system failed, again? Perhaps he was incanting favours from deities on high hoping the ground would open and swallow him whole. Perhaps he was simply singing the age ol’ classic. “i’m in the money’.

    What was certainly interesting was just how quickly Gerry Brownlee jumped up and defended the indefensible. Why would National be defending a mute UF unless votes were at risk?

    Speaking of mutes, it is incredulous there is not some sort of manipulation occuring with the microphones in the House. There has been growing disquiet in recent months with the Speaker’s inability to hear the Government when it interjects (and you often see the animated list-puppets flailing around yet nary a whisper is heard). So it is a little odd that whenever a member of the opposition shuffles a sheaf or moves in their bench, you can barely hear the question being asked. ( a slight exaggeration obviously, but I know enough about mics and sound systems to know when an audio desk is being manipulated.) We had Peters’ progressive mic failure then twice today, when King Gerry spoke, the sound seemed to kick in almost a good two seconds after he began talking, which is a dead giveaway of a late level adjustment or a slow mute release.

    There seems to be a hell of a lot of manipulation of processes in our Parliament right now and today was disturbing to say the very least

  12. Pete 12

    Are the Speaker’s rulings subject to judicial review?

    • Jackal 12.1

      You would think that there’s some legislation in place incase a Speaker of the House breached standing orders… Unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case.

      A select committee will only consider a breach of privilege or contempt if the matter is forwarded by the Speaker to the Registrar… That’s simply not going to happen in this case.

      The Judiciary is pretty much only permitted to interpret the laws passed by the house of representatives, and cannot take action unless a specific law has been breached.

      Your best bet is to write to the Governor-General, who although has to follow the advice of ministers, also has the option of independent judgement.

      Being that constitutional convention has obviously not been followed by David Carter, there should be a presidence for Jerry Mateparae to rule against the Speakers decision. However considering who exactly the Governor-General is, a ruling against anything the current government does is unlikely.

      Thankfully the Speakers decisions are subject to public review.

      • prism 12.1.1

        Jackal I don’t like the idea of presidents in NZ so hope you are not thinking of Jerry M as a possible. I think you meant precedent.

        • Jackal 12.1.1.1

          LOL! It appears that the Governor-General isn’t the only person who has authority in this case, as Trevor Mallard has already lodged a complaint with the Auditor-General Lyn Provost.

          • prism 12.1.1.1.1

            That’s good Jackal. I’m glad that Trevor can put his fighting skills to good use again. I have the feeling that the NACTs think they can make up the rules as they go along. It becomes more like a computer game every day.

            Actually there may be something in that. Running our country being an interactive computer game I mean. With changeable rules. It would be riveting as each day the measures that had been introduced yesterday get overturned and replaced. Endless fun and fascination. Don’t know how much to charge for the game kit though.

          • lprent 12.1.1.1.2

            Of course. It involves the proper expenditure of government funds.

    • Nope Parliament is supreme and its processes cannot be questioned in a Court of Law. Doesn’t stop voters marking their opposition to what is happening however.

      • Pete 12.2.1

        I wouldn’t say the decision of the Speaker is the law of the land, I recall a case where the Speaker trespassed some protestors from Parliament grounds and that was later reversed in court under the Bill of Rights Act.

        Anyway, judging from what Andrew Geddis says, there’s no way to appeal this ruling.

  13. Ed 13

    Presumably Parliamentary services are responsible for arranging payments to MPs. As UF has been deregistered, surely it would be illegal to continue payments that are only available to the leader of a registered party?

    Could someone seek an injunction against the government or the public service to prevent them making the payments?

  14. Disraeli Gladstone 14

    “The rules aren’t explicit, but the better view is that as written, the rules entitle Peter Dunne to party and leaders funding in Parliament.”
    - Graeme Edgeler

    I really have to agree with our blogosphere’s master of law, Mr Edgeler. I don’t particularly like Dunne. And the rules aren’t clear. But I believe he’s probably entitled to to the funding. It’s just a pity that instead of concentrating on the budget or the horrible constitutional breaches that have occurred recently, everyone is getting into a partisan circlejerk over Dunne.

    • freedom 14.1

      It was repeatedly raised by Parker that the rules state ‘registered parties’. As UF is officially not a registered party at this juncture, at the very least the Speaker should have suspended all relevant payments until the issue is properly resolved. He would not have needed one iota of advice to do that. Once sorted, any monies due could be paid retro-actively to the date of suspension, not exactly a foreign concept to Parliament.

      If it is found that UF do not qualify for the contested funding, The Speaker’s actions have run the risk of creating a criminal offence for the Leader of UF, that of being in receipt of illegally obtained appropriation funds.

      All a bit of a mess really

  15. Hah, they probably just cost him Ohariu with this little stunt.

    • Pasupial 15.1

      United History.

    • johnm 15.2

      Hi Matthew
      I wouldn’t bet on that! Dunne’s Ohariu supporters would vote for him even if he decided to wear a Nazi uniform fulltime! lol There is literally no getting through to them, bloody hopeless! :-(

      • Ben 15.2.1

        I live in the electorate in question and I’ve been wondering if there’d be value in running a “tactical voting” exercise to get rid of Dunne at the next election.

        According to Wikipedia, in the 2011 election Dunne received 14,357 votes, Charles Chauvel 12,965 and Gareth Hughes 2,160. So if there was a tactical voting campaign encouraging Green voters to give their vote to the Labour candidate, Dunne could be unseated.

        (As an aside Katrina Shanks received 6,907 votes – a significant number, and that suggests to me that National voters aren’t getting “the message” that they should vote for Dunne.)

        I want rid of him.

  16. Jacobin 16

    Given that registered parties receive about $100,000 a year in funding and the speaker has given UF 6 weeks to “sort things out” after it has already been de-registered for 2 weeks, the Speaker of the House David Carter has effectively used his discretion to spend $15,000 of taxpayer money to ensure United Future can acquire enough financial members to re-register.

    Outrageous. Where is ACT to argue against this lavish Parliamentary excess?

    • Hennie van der Merwe 16.1

      Whilst the party has only been de-registered for two weeks, I would like to know for how long was it registered illegally? When exactly did it run out of the required number of members?

      • Colonial Viper 16.1.1

        Very good questions.

        • Hennie van der Merwe 16.1.1.1

          Thank you CV but where do we get the answers?

          • Colonial Viper 16.1.1.1.1

            The only documentation proving things one way or the other would be internal UF documents. Unless there was an investigation by the Electoral Commission or a police complaint, I don’t think that UF would ever front up with their records.

            • Robert M 16.1.1.1.1.1

              Thats the critical point Act and the United First Party of Dunne must have electronic or papers records of how many paid or signed members they had at critical points like the 2011 election. If their on the internet and their is an electronic signature they will never be fully erasable. And as the Kitteridge report confirmed with such naivety , intelligence or stupidy the crucial indicator is the meta record of the date of changes to the membership record. The intelligent will be able to draw pretty acurate indicators from that to probably legal levels proof.
              Can labour gets its house in order. And does it want to govern. Key may decide to dissolve the house and go for an election at any point. Has Labour a leader who can win or govern.

              • gobsmacked

                Forget about going back to 2011. The Electoral Commission is not interested (see end of Radio NZ report):

                http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/136951/united-future-complaint-laid-with-chief-auditor

                The most likely outcome here is … nothing much. At most, a pro rata deduction from United Future’s allocation – a few thousand, covering a few weeks of “non-existence”. The government’s majority won’t be touched.

                For the opposition, the political question is “Does this fit a wider narrative”? And yes, it should. We’ve had countless examples of arrogance-slash-corruption, especially over the past few months.

                Trouble is, when this is pointed out (e.g. Norman’s weekend speech) the “leader” of the opposition looks at his shoes. He wants to campaign on so-called bread and butter (“Stuff is expensive, isn’t it? Stuff shouldn’t be so expensive – Vote Labour!”).

                For the wider public, it has to be about the government’s trampling of their rights (as opposed to MPs’ rights, which they don’t care much about). That means making the connection, day after day, week after week, speech after speech, from now to election day. And I don’t mean on blogs.

                So don’t get your hopes up.

                • Robert M

                  I don’t think its as clear cut as that. I’m sure that their was a TV new doco on 1 or 3 sometime within the last year examining whether Act has actually had the numbers to be a legitimate party for some time- and it was more doubtful. Its seems in recent years their has been no actual check by the electoral commission to check whether the parties books and electronic records where in order and had 500 listed members or that they had paid subs within the specified year. It would apply to UF as well as Act. They just relied on Acts word and possibly UFs.
                  After all Act appears to have been an illegitimate trying to bring Brash and Issacs in to the house as a threesome

      • felix 16.1.2

        Winston also brought that up today.

      • Chrissy 16.1.3

        Wondering that myself.

    • Nick K 16.2

      Act was out campaigning against the illegal use of taxpayer money by the Greens on their failed state asset sale referendum.

  17. DS 17

    Nitpick: United Future is still a political party, just not a registered political party. As such, Dunne is still a party leader. However, as Rule 34 of the Standing Orders refers to registered political parties, Dunne gets treated as a de facto Independent for parliamentary purposes (even though he technically isn’t), and thus the Speaker is wrong.

    • felix 17.1

      Yep, it seems pretty clear. The Speaker is essentially granting himself the power to suspend Standing Orders as he sees fit.

      Very dangerous precedent.

  18. Blue 18

    It would be interesting to know if this applies only to recently deregistered parties that the Government needs to prop up their desperately slim majority, or if anyone can use it.

    What is to stop any MP from ditching their party or being sacked, then declaring themselves the leader of the Nutjob NZ Party and claiming funding as the leader of that party?

    If there’s no requirement for the party to be registered, then it’s a free-for-all.

  19. Jenny 19

    “…….Leader of the United Future Party Peter Dunne” Every time the Speaker of the House David Carter uses this title to refer to Peter Dunne, opposition MPs should raise a point of order.

    I imagine that Carter and all his Nact cronies would get sick of it pretty quick. Such a concerted campaign should raise a few laughs at least.

  20. aerobubble 21

    Had Dunne had any honour, he’d immediately have called a membership meeting of his party and get reannointed as party leader, and the obvious 500 membership numbers. Instead because he was incapable of getting former members to pay up (probably because they are sick of Dunne backsliding on asset sales promises at the election), he declares his duty bound obligation to tell the regulator as a notch for rather than against his good standing.

    The Speaker has injected himself into the affairs of a political party, the members of a party have a mandate to give or take away, they have taken away their mandate of Dunne.

    The Speaker should be impeached.

    As for the media, how disturbing they have yet to interview one former mebmber of the United Future party and provide a balance coverage. Had this been Shearer they’d be all over the rank and file, demanding he stand aside. Yes, funny that, Dunne suggestion that other parties membership rolls are not uptodate, and the follow on, on how those parties would have been treated by the media, just underlies the rightwing nature of our media.

    The Speaker should be impeached.

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