- Date published:
8:11 am, October 31st, 2013 - 168 comments
Categories: gay rights, labour - Tags: 2013 Labour Conference
The Labour Party has always been at the forefront of efforts to ensure that Parliament’s makeup is actually representative of the population as a whole. It started off wanting to ensure that the working class was represented in Parliament. Early on it recognised that women needed to be present. It formed a strategic alliance with Ratana so that Tangata Whenua had a real and powerful presence.
As time passed it achieved a number of firsts. First woman MP, first openly gay MP, and amongst others first Pacifica MP (OK it is Taito but nevertheless), the party prides itself on representing every sector of our community.
In an ideal world and especially in an MMP environment our house of representatives should represent our community. There should be equal numbers of men and women, significant presence of Tangata Whenua, a good representation of Pacifica, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and other ethnic communities and a sizeable number of Rainbow MPs.
So this week’s shock horror exposes on the Party’s proposed constitutional amendments are, with the greatest of respect, a bit naff.
The New Zealand Council of the Party has proposed that the Party’s constitution be amended so that the Moderating Committee of the Party is bound by the need to arrive at a list which “fairly represents tangata whenua, gender, ethnic groups, people with disabilities, sexual orientations, and age and youth.”
The current rule states that “[t]he Moderating Committee shall examine the Regional lists and consider the representation across all lists of tangata whenua, women, men, ethnic groups, people with disabilities, geographic spread and range of skills.”
The change being proposed is not radical. It is more directive but the Moderating Committee has always been conscious of the need to select a list which represents our community as a whole.
No doubt there will be a robust debate at the conference and there will I am sure be discussion about how directive the instruction to the Moderating Committee should be. But there will be no dissent about the general principle contained in the change.
Is this a radical measure? Only if you refuse to accept that Parliament should be truly representative of New Zealand society.
Footnote: first Chinese MP went to National (Pansy Wong).
lol…. Tat Loo(CV)
Why do socialists think that only Maori can speak for Maori, Gays for Gays, Women for Women etc.?
I don’t get it.
Anyway, going by your comment
So the makeup of Parliament would be
White Male 46
White female 46
Maori Male 6
Maori female 6
Male gay 1 -can be any race
Female gay 1-can be any race
Asian Male 4
Asian Female 4
Pacific Islander Male 3
Pacific Islander Female 3
They don’t. Get another strawman: that one’s crap.
The strawman not withstanding the figures are interesting.
Then why the fascination with equal gender/ethnic/sexuality representation.
Why is it so important?
Going by the current labour list, the make up is
White Male 12
White female 8
Maori Male 2
Maori female 2
Male gay 1
Female gay 3
Asian Male 2
Asian Female 0
Pacific Islander Male 2
Pacific Islander Female 0
Going by that Labour needs a few more white people, need to lose 3 gays,an Asian male, a Pacific island male.
Edit: That’s the current Labour MP list.
And why does National allways have a ” balance” in its leadership- they will never have a leader and deputy from a major city. Somehow rural or South Island MP gets in ??
BM, as usual you start from a position of ignorance and dig yourself a hole you can’t get out of.
Read this and then do some more research:
How about this survey
The Office for National Statistics in the UK surveyed 340,000 people and out of those people only 1.5% said they were gay, lesbian or bisexual.
That just shows how different survey methodologies/question types produce different results. Read the article I referred to to find out more.
From the article you linked to, I found this quite interesting
Do you agree?
Does make you wonder about the need for special gay representation at all, if you define homosexuality to be just a sexual preference.
I believe that how a person defines his/her sexual orientation is entirely up to the individual. I know that people are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Though I would have a lot of difficulty in voting labour while the likes of Goff and King are still walking on this earth, I applaud the party’s efforts to ensure that all people in New Zealand are more fairly represented in parliament. A fairer representation will help to overcome discrimination.
It’s entirely prejudiced to act as though one person can represent another based on something as subjective and arbitrary as sexual orientation. We’re not cookiecutters.
Populuxe1, I don’t think the issue is about one individual person trying to represent the views of another individual person. If that were the case, representative democracy would be impossible, by definition – after all, each of us presumably thinks for her or himself.
The point is a social scientific one: social groups or categories are distinguished along social and objective dimensions (that’s how we know how to identify members of such groups). For example, people over the age of 65 had childhoods without television, grew up in times of increasing economic prosperity, etc.. By contrast, as you have argued on other threads, ‘Gen Xers’ have had quite a different experience.
Using your argument in this thread, would you now say that it is not important to have Gen Xers represented in Parliament? After all, one Gen Xer cannot possibly represent the interests – or experiences – of another Gen Xer.
The same analysis applies to all other socially relevant distinctions: People with different sexual orientations as a group have quite different experiences of life (e.g., the heterosexual experience differs in predictable ways, at the social level, from the transexual experience).
Individual people may make quite different lives – and come to quite different beliefs and conclusions on a range of social and economic issues – out of their experience of the same social group membership but, nevertheless, that general social-level experience should be represented in a representative democracy, if the latter term means anything at all.
In fact, our electoral system under both MMP and FPP has made the ‘radical’ assumption (as the Labour Party is making and as the title of the post indicates) that electorates should be determined, roughly, by ‘communities of interest’ and that people who lived in a similar geographic locality had some common experience, and ‘interest’, that needed to be ‘represented’ (I think we still have the requirement that the South Island should have a particular level of electorate-based representation). That’s the same logic as that behind ensuring representation of different genders, etc..
It’s entirely prejudiced to act as though one person can represent another based on something as subjective and arbitrary as sexual orientation.
True. Good thing nobody’s actually doing that, right?
@ Puddleglum. Social science is an oxymoron – it’s mostly guess work, and really that sort of thing is the role of advisory panels.
@QoT: quite right. They’re just PROPOSING it. Big difference. Thank you for policing my language needlessly.
Oh Pop. Even for you.
Would you consider for a moment the question Puddleglum put to you?
BM – You are wasting your time, Mickeysavage and a number of others here will fight to make Labour a “representative of the population as a whole” right up until they realise that you still need competent MP’s to fill those narrow confines. Currently heterosexuals are under-reperesented in Labour, there are 6 homosexuals when there should only be 2, 4 of them need to go if we want equality!
Um Bob there are only 4 and in any event so what.
And am I understand you right in your assertion that women are under represented because they are not sufficiently competent? Good luck with that argument.
They’re overrepresented, others are missing out.
I liked the policies of Ruth Richardson. She represented my views very well, even though I am not a woman.
I think Chris Finlayson is a very good Minister. Surprisingly, I find that his views are representative of mine despite the fact that we have different tastes in the bedroom (and, for all I know, in folk music).
Dangit, Gormless, differences in Folk music are hugely important.
Seriously though, even in that normally harmonious (ahem!) group, there are the members of the outgroup- Morris Dancers and truck driving country music. The in group in folk music is Irish (normally in the out group in larger society), Appalachian (ditto within American society), and other cultural minorities such as Blues, Scottish, English ‘finger in the ear’ trad. harmony,Shanty singers. Also getting a look in is NZ Folk.
Folkies are actually very used to being in a cultural minority, musically. But. my point is, even within that group there is a hierarchy or pecking order.
And all of it stupid and meaningless, like Bob and BM’s misogynic and homophobic views, as I think you are saying.
I am more of an anti-folk man, myself:
Liked that, RT. Words, guitar, hammered dulcimer- all good. Not that I understand what anti-folk is yet- but that was pretty damned good- but to my ear I’d call that
Same as in discussing politics, perhaps at times we get caught up in the ‘labelling’ of the style or artist and don’t pay enough attention to the words.
ae Mac1 . I always try to identify the lyrical content; words have, or take, power.
How can you argue that you don’t have to be from a particular group to represent it, then say that white men are missing out because there are too many gays? The logic of the RWNJ strikes again.
mickeysavage, you are missing the point, as with most ‘left wing’ ideas this is a great model in an ideal world, but we don’t live in an ideal world!
To get proportionate representation you have to be cut throut about your selection process, here is an example:
4 homosexuals is an over-representation of the gay community in parliament, based on the Labour Party list http://media.nzherald.co.nz/webcontent/document/pdf/201339/Labour%20portfolio%20reshuffle.pdf Louisa Wall and Meka Whaitiri would need to be cut to give a fair representation due to there low list positions. Because Meka Whaitiri has been cut, there would need to be a bi-election and the new representitive would need to be a straight, female Maori. Louisa Wall will need to be replaced with a straight, Asian/Pacific Island female. Now that we have that sorted, we need to look at the fact that Pakeha, Maori and Males are still over-represented, and they need to be replaced with only heterosexuals, mainly females, and they would need to be either Asian or Pacific Islanders. Now, when picking these straight, mainly female Asian/Pacific Island representitives, you would have to take into account their faith, because they need to make sure they have exactly 55% Christian representation……
If you don’t pick exact numbers you will always have an over representation one way or another, and based on Labours performance since Aunty Helen left, I really think focussing on getting people that can do the job at hand should be their main priority, not age/race/sex/sexuality/faith/hair colour or whatever other perfectly admirable but completely unworkable criteria they come up with.
The proposed rule change talks about “fair” representation.
It does not propose that there be rigid proportions applied across the board although there is a desire to gradually improve the mix of gender.
The fact that a historically oppressed minority is slightly over quota does not require the punitive action you are proposing.
But alas, Mickey, those who are unable to think beyond the confines of their lives will never be able to grasp the concept of affirmative action.
And alas those who are unable to look beyond their ideological idealism will never be able to grasp the concept of getting elected.
So 200% over representation is fair? In that case apart from Asian/Pacific Island females there is no issue as it stands, so why make it an issue and distract from actual policy?
Voter perceptions of the Labour Party are very important, because it is only with the general grassroots vote that it will win in 2014!( there are a lot of new voters out there watching)
….it must not be seen as a corporate Party for vested interest, minority groups….this will backfire on the Labour Party and detract from its overall policies which are for all working class Labour /NZers
….all MPs should be seen to have got there on a fair democratic vote …regardless of sex, sexual orientation , ethnicity or disability
…if people want a minority group party then they should set it up themselves and see if it flys
( I speak as a tangata whenua woman who thinks I would have been a better Prime Minister than a lot of ’em)
Bob, you are not really understanding the point of ensuring a minimum standard of representation for minority or oppressed groups. There are several reasons:
1) The right generally isn’t interested in making parliament more representative in and of itself. It will only do so if it feels it has to to win elections, so if the left believe it’s important, we have to do it ourselves- which may mean we “over-represent” those groups in our parties in order to get parliament overall a bit closer to being correct.
2) It recognises and affirms the strength of ensuring diversity.
3) It stops unconscious discrimination from preventing you discovering good candidates for Parliament.
4) It allows for more people to identify with the party and with their representatives.
5) It recognises that people are more likely to listen to people who are male, white, affluent, straight, etc… than otherwise, and by tipping the scales back a little bit in the numbers game, it forces people to be exposed to other viewpoints and perhaps pay them a little more heed.
A lot of weight is given to whether individual candidates are supported in a vote, but you need to remember that being a bad list MP is actually harder than being a bad electorate MP if you happen to be in a safe seat. Winston could do whatever he liked for the longest time while he had Tauranga behind him, and there are similar cruisy electorates out there. A one-on-one popularity contest grossly misrepresents the country, you’re really only agitating for it because it advantages conservative parties and candidates more. 🙂
Personally I don’t understand why you want to sabotage Labour’s election potential by annoying/scaring the electorate with all the utopean ideological coercive rubbish that really isn’t going to make much difference in the short term. You do realise that Labour can’t make improvements to the country as a whole if it isn’t in power regardless of how representative the party is.
Um I am pretty sure I do not want to sabotage the party’s electoral prospects. I am suggesting that the proposed rule change is not radical and not too different to what there is now and there is a debate about how directive any rule change should be.
The alternative is to make no rule change and you are probably right when you say that it will make little if no difference in the short term.
I guess I am a little tired of the media dressing up proposals in a way which they are clearly not.
Well that’s what you’re doing when you hand these opportunities over to rival parties. Politics requires that you take the ripples into account, especially close to election time. Not to do that is not to take your party seriously.
On the other hand, if a party never does anything of principle for fear of scaring the sensibilities of blushing voters, what good is it?
And then you have the benefits of diversity – less redneck votes, maybe, but more likely to have intrinsic commonality with broader ranges of voters.
I think rumours of electoral sabotage are both paranoid and fleeting.
Labour is starved for talent as it is, without imposing ludicrous constraints as well. Sorting out the country’s economic and employment problems is a little bit more important to me than being holier than thou.
lol, Labour is not starved for talent, its problem is that its internal politics dictate its caucus too much. There is plenty of talent in the party, and I say that as someone who’s not exactly their biggest fan.
there are 6 homosexuals when there should only be 2
It is so very, very puzzling to me that you don’t get people offering up this same cry when hetero white dudes are massively overrepresented in any group.
Wait, no, it’s the opposite.
Because only those people have their experience in our society and how it treats them. Could you really understand the experiences in the video on this page?
If that’s not working: Google Cache version here.
That’s probably because you’re stupid and lack empathy.
“That’s probably because you’re stupid and lack empathy.”
Nice one, asshole.
You better let Cunliffe know he can’t speak on behalf of the poor then.
Just the truth.
Why should I do that? I’m not a Labour party supporter.
Well surely because only those people who have experience in a particular issue in our society and how it treats them be it homosexuals, ethnic or social groups can speak on their behalf then David Cunliffe shouldn’t be speaking on behalf of the poor.
I mean, that is what you suggested.
Nope, I didn’t suggest anything. I just put forward a reason as to why Labour would be discussing party policy that would ensure representation by those who presently have little or none in parliament.
Well, no not really. That isn’t quite what you said.
BM asked: “Why do socialists think that only Maori can speak for Maori, Gays for Gays, Women for Women etc.?”
To which you responded “Because only those people have their experience in our society and how it treats them”
So by that thinking Cunliffe isn’t in a position to speak for people in poverty.
Nor is Russel Norman for that matter. And as a gay person I don’t really feel the need to be represented by a gay person in parliament. I just require that the politicians who represent me are decent, well intentioned people who come up with intelligent policy. What I really don’t need is people who seem to want me to be a victim to fulfill their political agenda.
Pop, how on earth could a decent, well-intentioned, intelligent person represent you?
“So by that thinking Cunliffe isn’t in a position to speak for people in poverty.”
I’m guessing you know nothing of Cunliffe’s upbringing, TC.
Or Arden speaking on child poverty then.
So nothing about Ardern’s upbringing either.
Oh, so you’re saying John Key *is* in a position to speak for people in poverty.
But, if his caucus is made up of such people, he would be in a position to ask them and also to have them speak. In other words, it doesn’t matter if Cunliffe has that experience or not just so long as he has access to people who do who also have put themselves forward to be public entities.
Which contradicts your earlier statement that only those people who have their experience in our society and how it treats them can speak about said issue.
I didn’t actually say anything about speaking. You brought that up. People in parliament will not only be speaking from experience but voting on it as well, i.e, representing that different experience.
That’s weird because you were replying to someone who specifically asked why only Maori can speak for Maori, Gays for Gays, Women for Women etc to which you replied “Because only those people have their experience in our society and how it treats them”
What did you think you were replying to if not who spoke for who?
“People in parliament will not only be speaking from experience but voting on it as well, i.e, representing that different experience.”
But people like David Parker will be voting on issues regarding homosexuality without being one himself. He has no experience to speak for, or vote on, these issues so according to your statements he shouldn’t do so.
Contrarian, people can address a question without buying into its premise. By replying to that question he doesn’t automatically accept the framing just because he doesn’t say “no” to it.
Why? Do different identity groups all look the same to you?
“So by that thinking Cunliffe isn’t in a position to speak for people in poverty.”
I agree, if we assume Cunliffe has had no experience of being relatively poor (as Te Reo Putake notes below, from what we can gather from published bios, Cunliffe was no stranger to the reality of poverty when young).
Which is why I support the idea of political parties being better vehicles for people who have lived in poverty to ascend to Parliament – as they did, for example, in the early days of Labour Parties around the world.
Of course, that’s not to say that Cunliffe – or anyone else who currently is wealthy – can’t propose policies that they think will help ‘the poor’. That’s not the same as ‘speaking for the poor’.
Nevertheless, the policies proposed by people who are not – or never have been – ‘poor’ cannot hope to be responsive to the details of the experience of being poor. At best, policies developed with absolutely no input from those who had a direct experience of poverty would be based on research on poverty but would potentially lack the extra insight and visceral understanding of what the research means – hence, for example, ‘compromises’ on the policy might more readily be made ($15/hr minimum wage a bit too hard to sell? Well, maybe we’ll just go for $14.50 then …).
And, given that Parliament should be broadly representative of social experience, each caucus (that is large enough, of course) should strive to have members who can speak, inevitably and unavoidably, from that social perspective and so ‘represent’ that voice. That voice can then be there to, potentially, persuade those who have not shared that direct experience.
Seems pretty straightforward and uncontroversial to me.
It started off wanting to ensure that the working class was represented in Parliament.
Yeah, it needs to get back to this urgently. It’s the elephant in the room. If working class people felt they had genuine representation from Labour, they’d be a lot less paranoid about other “oppression politics” groups.
Labour hasn’t represented my interests for at least thirty years, and it’s no coincidence that it stopped being remotely representative of a good 50 perecent of us with the professionalisation of the Labour management and caucus. The comfy middle class get foot massages from their representatives, while those who struggle week to week get chucked some crumbs off the table and told we should be really really grateful. Sir.
Please, someone put this on the agenda for the conference. Find another word for “working class” if necessary
Ah, yes. Well said, js.
Took the words right off my keyboard, ideally a box of M&Ms representing us is just fine
Very true. Most of what is wrong in this country is material inequality and it’s a pity that it’s no longer fashionable among the leftish intelligensia. Instead the left has been hijacked by identity politics, which, while important, should not be more important than the issue of poverty. Many of the problems experienced by Maori, Pasifika and women in general are about not having financial independence and security. As Miles Davis used to say, “if I don’t like what the write, I get in my Ferarri and drive away”.
and a well put final sentencing just saying 😎
Very well said, just saying.
Internationally, the whole point of the political arm of the labour movement was to give low income members of the ‘proletariat’ (be they men, women, straight, gay, etc.) political representation. It’s now an extremely under-represented group.
Yeah, I have no problem with fair representation, but the most under-represented are the working classes.
I do think a diverse, representative parliament is important because it provides a model, plus opens up the possibility of widening the kinds of issues that are put before Kiwis. It also opens up the possibility for more wide ranging debates.
I think the biggest need for a representation shift in our parliament right now is this:
Other than that, I’m with Sue Bradford on the way the make-up of Parliament has been foregrounded ahead of the Labour Party conference:
I will watching reports from the conference for a sign as to whether social security reform is made one of the main priorities for a future Labour-led government, and, if so, how?
Social security reform has to be driven by pressure groups and mass movements whether inside or outside of Labour (ideally both), and at the moment I can’t see anything of the scale required for major change. Part of the reason may be that there is no widespread perception that there are any major problems or crises with the system as it is currently set up and operated. So why change.
Well that just sounds like a catch-22 response, Tat.
There is no mass movement because the neoliberal propaganda, supported by an uncritical MSM, has skewed a lot of public perception onto the “undeserving poor”.
Shouldn’t a Labour Party, true to its roots, be leading the debate on this rather than following the dominant neoliberal discourse?
Yes. This was deliberate. My question is – does the Left have an appropriate and effective strategy to counter this yet? I would say only very partially.
We can have a discussion on what should, or shouldn’t be the case, and that is an important discussion to have. Should Labour be leading the debate on major social security and welfare reform? Yes. When has it most recently? The 1980’s…
However I’m remarking on my perception of what is presently the case. IMO most of the time politicians do not go to bat for a position unless at least one of two conditions are met a) they believe that they have a strong constituency backing them (even if it is a small one; and this constituency may include industry interests or the MSM) or b) they feel that they have political capital that they want to expend on the issue to otherwise get traction.
The fact is that FDR would never, could not, have brought about the New Deal without millions of Americans mobilising against the establishment.
Same with Savage.
Of course, smaller incremental and gradual change is possible without this kind of mass movement pressure, but is that what we are talking about here.
Were those “millions mobilising” exposed to and involved in any kind of left-wing discourse CV? Led by…oh I don’t know….the left?
Or did they just wander onto the streets in unison one day, for no particular reason, to demand a better deal?
In the US groups like the Wobblies and publications like Appeal to Reason helped to provide that left wing discourse.
In NZ the union movement educated ordinary workers on the dynamics and politics of capitalism.
These were mass movement initiatives; not ones led by politicians or people in government. As I said, that is what is needed.
What about Labour just stating clearly what it sees and what it wants to do to repair the damage we have sustained over the past decades?
What about Labour saying that it is once again the party for the broad mass of NZ who want a great place to live, and everyone to have an opportunity to do well. And to that end they are going to reverse the negative practices that attack the people both in the middle class and on basic incomes. These have caused a loss of living conditions and degraded the country in every way.
Yes that needs to be done and to a certain extent Cunliffe has started that narrative. However it is still not the same as advocating for a major restructuring and resourcing of the present social security system.
That’s a bloody cop out Tat Loo.
For a start a party that eschews neo-liberalism can go back to the welfare state of pre-1984.
Or if it doesn’t have enough ‘public backbone’ for that restore the Ruthless benefit cuts of 1990.
Or if it doesn’t have enough ‘public backbone’ for that just reverse the NACTs Paula Benefit welfare reforms.
Or alternatively abandon the ‘public backbone’ argument and imitate the NACTs, take a risk, implement policies that are widely unpopular and put up two fingers.
Otherwise it looks like this is beneficiary-on-the-roof – lite.
Sue Bradford was pretty much a lone voice during in her time in parliament for beneficiaries, backed up on the ‘outside’ by a various activists, advocates and academics. While Labour bought in the “Jobs Jolt” (which included where in the country you could live), Working for Families in work tax credit–welfare for the middle classes and steadfastly refused to reinstate Ruthenasia’s benefit cuts of a decade before.
Now thanks to the twin Paulas–Bennett and Rebstock all beneficiaries are undeserving in much of the public consciousness. This stigma will only be removed by a bunch of policy that like Karol says reinstates the concept of Social Security where “we” properly look after our own. Ultimately a UBI is required with the changed nature of work in todays world.
A lot of people are only one missed payment to the bank or a redundancy away from disaster.
Actually, while Labour’s on the rebound, I doubt that they will take 100% of the vote next year. Don’t worry, with the help of National no doubt aging white males will still get to dominate.
I do think it’s healthy to have a range of voices in the parliament. Nobody’s saying it should be the only consideration; just that it should be part of the mix. As for the argument about anybody being able to represent a particular section of society, it’s not that simple. If we look at our parliament and it only reflects a small section of NZ society, it is dispiriting, alienating and reinforces the hegemony of that group. It doesn’t mean that no one in the parliament has empathy or the ability to see inequality and injustice, but it does mean that this inequality and injustice is automatically being reinforced. It’s well past time for the aging pākeha males to move over and make room on the benches of parliament for the rest of us. Sorry if that doesn’t fit within your world view, BM, but I think this may well illustrate the point you are trying to argue against. I don’t know you, so may be making an incorrect assumption there.
Plenty of people have experience of low incomes at some stage in their lives. But the part of the problem is we pay our MPs way to much. Or rather, they are the only sector whose real income has actually kept up with the cost of living since 1984. But anyway, the ridiculous amount of money they get compared to average New Zealanders means election to parliament is an automatic passport out of the working class and into an upper middle class life that after a few years grows very comfy indeed. And once your income gets you into the neo-liberal winners circle, what incentive is there to change it? Far better to become a career politician, an elected administrator with a good job for life.
Pay for MPs was originally only introduced as a victory for the lower classes because it allowed working class people to be elected – previously, the job was unpaid and thus only the rich could afford to be an MP. Now it is a well-paid career option for a new class of elected bureaucrats.
Lower pay, and changes to electoral act like term limits and handing over how candidates are selected for the party list to the electoral commission would significantly alter the type of person going to parliament.
Being a decent MP requires being away from home on the job 60-70 hours in a typical week. What is reasonable pay for that, do you think?
Won’t lower pay mean that MPs will become more susceptible to looking at after-politics career deals from the private sector? Of course this already happens now, to some extent.
Perhaps a utopian ideal I know but just maybe it would ensure that those that put themselves up for public office do so because they believe in making a change for the better as opposed to the troughing opportunities it would present?
“…Being a decent MP requires being away from home on the job 60-70 hours in a typical week. What is reasonable pay for that, do you think?
Won’t lower pay mean that MPs will become more susceptible to looking at after-politics career deals from the private sector? Of course this already happens now, to some extent…”
To paraphrase Russell Brand, don’t ask me to sit here at my keyboard and come up with an universal system of renumeration for MPs. The burden of justification lies with them, not with me. The correct question is what do they think is reasonable, and why? Plenty of people work bloody long hours for a lot less than MPs get because they see their job as worthwhile and a vocation – most of our health care sector for example. You’ve fallen into the trap of assuming that the privileges of those we elect to represent – not rule – us are somehow an inalienable right that we have to come up with reason to remove. In fact, they serve at our grace and favour and they need to justify to us why they get paid so much.
Your second point is to essentially argue the only way to prevent corruption is to ensure MPs are already on the gravy train. I mean, really? Is that what you believe?
Since you were the one advocating significant for change, I thought that you would also be able to justify it. Are you able to, or are you not?
So you think that today, being a Parliamentarian = being on the gravy train? I mean, really? Is that what you believe?
So let’s say you cut MP pay by a third, say to $100K pa, would they then still be on the “gravy train” in your opinion?
How about cutting it in half to $75K pa. That’s still in the top 5% of all NZers. Is that still “gravy train” in your opinion?
I think MPs pay should be linked to the minimum wage in some way.
Yes that is a concept worth discussing. In fact I think all wages and salaries, as well as income tax brackets, could be linked to the minimum wage (or the median wage) in some way.
A top tax bracket of 49% for every dollar over 5x the average wage would go a long way to reducing inequality, although it would need an asset/property tax component as well.
It’d be a good start but remember It’s more likely to hurt the left more than the right as (generally) MPs on the right take a pay cut to enter parliament whereas I’m guessing that for most (not Cunliffe though ;)) MPs on the left its a massive pay rise
I would like to see an easy to access database listing all MPs expenses though
I do not believe that the incompetent fools sitting on the NAct benches would be making more money if they had never become involved in politics. I do believe that they set things up for themselves so that they make better money once they leave than they were getting as an MP.
How much would Paula Benefat be worth?
Simon Bridges? Nick Smith? Judith Collins? Gerry Brownlee? Does a woodwork teacher make more than a Minister?
I think you’ve fallen for a myth.
MPs’ pay should not be racing ahead of the minimum wage, but should follow behind the increase to the minimum wage.
I doubt that how ever much we pay a politician they will still be looking for extra. We have seen that clearly in both UK and NZ when we examined the expenditure of politicians. So many of them were gaming the system.
What seems to be missing in salary levels is some form of comparability.
I know that many nurses and doctors in the public health system work longer hours than MP’s but compare the level of remuneration.
We need to ensure that the money is spread equally across society
Tat, I think reasonable pay for that would be:
40 hours @ $15/hr = $600
15 hours @ $22.50 = $337.50
10 hours @ $30.00 = $300.00
which gives us $1237.50 a week, or $64,350.00 per annum.
Of course, if the living wage went up, and was actually the minimum wage, politicians could receive a bit more as well. I would also allow for a clothing allowance of two suits with red ties.
Looks like a standard lecturers pay. Maybe a senior-ish high school teacher.
Imagine a workplace. And imagine you are the one representing the workers. And you argue (successfully and correctly) that gender and race should make no difference to promotion prospects. That’s all good except that if you do that as an exclusive fashion that ignores or belittles the exploitation afflicting the rest of the workers (as Labour has done these past decades with its rejection of class) then you are deepening pre-existing resentments or bigotry etc and stacking up trouble.
I mean, how else do you explain Brash getting such a favorable reception for his Owera speech? Or the fact that basic rights are seen as just so much PC tosh by so many?
High time (as Just Sayin’ has said above) for Labour to ensure the gains made by its ‘identity politics’ agenda are secure. And to do that, it desperately needs to get class back into it’s language, it’s policies and it’s representative make up.
In that light, the proposal that the list “fairly represents tangata whenua, gender, ethnic groups, people with disabilities, sexual orientations, and age and youth.” is complete and utter bullshit.
Why this has come up again when we have an election to fight and win is beyond me. Guaranteed way to lose votes.
imo ….despite this being laudible….i am not sure it is the way to win the 2014 Election, or maximise the general Labour vote
….there is a very strongly held belief in NZ that if you are good enough you should stand on your own merits regardless of sex or ethnicity
….i would hate to see Labour lose the election by alienating its supporters on this issue ( rather like the Euthanasia Bill)…it may be a bridge too far
Winning the next General Election 2014 has to take priority!
Speaking pragmatically, polls should be taken before this becomes policy
So Aaron Gilmore was good enough?? (Until he wasn’t)
Aaron Gilmore was a typical “good enough” Nat …but he became even more so when challenged by a waiter and threw his Nat weight around….he became so much so that he became a public embarrassment!….( Nats sometimes even embarrass themselves….although this happens rarely ….generally they are embarrassment- proof ….like John Banks)
Conclusion ….”good enough” should be decided by the Labour Party members and the list voted on /ranked the way the Greens Party members do it………grassroots democracy!
….The perception to the ordinary punter voter will be that this is indeed the grassroots democratic Labour Party!
(no sweat, no tears ….no public lampooning, no Archillies heels… eg taunts from right wing radio ….that it is full of pressure groups of Gays or Asians or whatever minorities)
…..hope this helps
Come on, even when its was only white males to choose from for Cabinet, there have been considerations such as North and south Island. Rural – urban, and even for national throw in a few extra farmers for good measure. Often some safe labour seats were reserved for certain unions.
Even now , in National selections for safe seats, a talented outsider will struggle against a worthy but talent-less local. And of course Nationals nomenklatura will be bought into play when someone like Key, who was prepared to ‘buy a seat in parliament’.
Why is it suddenly talent the only consideration when it comes to women, or some other minorities
Because everything you are talking about is around building majority support in order to govern, what Labour is talking about is give ‘insert name here’ that seat because we need to make up our straight, Asian, christian, 18-25 y/o female numbers to have a balanced representation. If Labour supporters can’t see the difference between the two, I can see why the Labour party comes across as being so rudderless.
possibly Bob (or the list, or in anticipation of an increase in seats in the House.).
Ennui (13) on today’s Open Mike puts it extremely well. I replied 13.1. Sentiments the same as yours, but I haven’t fathomed out how to link to comments yet. Suggest Ennui’s comment be re issued here. Its very good.
Hi Anne …Thanks …great comments…agree totally …(I have copied and pasted….See below)
31 October 2013 at 11:04 am
Just read today’s DominionPost editorial…it was having a go at the upcoming Labour Party conference where there is “ a proposed rule change requiring the party to “fairly represent” gays and lesbians on its candidate list.
The Dom is wrong: the remit should be debated. It is part of the party becoming representative of its members democratically.
Should it become policy? Consider this, it would legislate and mandate something that should not have to be mandated / enforced. In an open grown up accepting society it should not matter what gender / sexuality people are. I consequently think that it reflects badly on all parties when you have to enforce equality. Labour needs to project an image of openly embracing inclusion without having to enforce it. That just sends a message of coercion and entrenchment of “special rights”, Nanny State on steroids.
31 October 2013 at 11:55 am
Labour is already a party that is widely representative of all citizens in this country. It includes among its membership a solid cross section of ethnic groups, and its caucus is close to becoming evenly gender balanced. There is still a way to go before gender balance is complete and a debate on the issue to send the message home how important it is to achieve that balance is desirable. But to apply ‘enforcement’ by way of a rigid party rule change is NOT the way to do it.
It irritates me when a group of Labour members become so immersed in an issue that they can’t see the electoral consequences of their ‘selected’ course of action. I have seen it happen time and again over the decades where Labour has adopted rigid policies which allows their opponents to bury them alive and destroy their prospects of electoral success. Have we not learned anything from the successful “Nanny State” campaign of 2007/2008?
As Ennui implies: you don’t have to apply coercion and entrenchment to achieve a laudable goal. Encouragement and enlightenment is a much better way to go…
It would be time better spent by Labour to identify and excise its right leaning MP’S. Time for a clean out before the next election. The long suffering public need some real and challenging policies to support at the 2014 G. E.
Is it more important to have this kind of representation or is it more important to let people choose for themselves who they want to represent them?
Like the Labour Party itself has just done.
Brilliant question vto, it’s a shame no-one is attempting to answer this for you, because this cuts to the heart of where the proposed changes go astray.
Thanks Bob, I did think it was a worthy question. Strange nobody has answered it because it is in fact the exact same as the leadership selection issue that has recently been dealt with in the Labour Party.
It seems Labour wants to take two different approaches. One where the leader is selected by the people and one where the candidates are selected by some other mechanism.
I see this whole scene going pear-shaped. The issue is too divisive and difficult to implement. The policy should be left to something like “encouraging al types to stand to ensure a full representation of NZ society”, and definitely don’t foist certain types onto the electorate on the basis of their characteristics etc.
You silly eggs are playing with a hand grenade.
How to lose the election Labour? Get bogged down in this stuff and I am a 45 years long veteran feminist.
Yep, and then watch people who should actually support it buy the line that one remit out of dozens = “getting bogged down”.
Tell it to Delia. As a branch delegate I will be voting as per my branch’s instructions.
Tat Loo, “branch instructions” sounds interesting, what about your own convictions then, or have you not realised that this can be expressed also???
It would be antidemocratic to do so if you are representing the wishes of the branch. That’s how democracy works.
Populuxe1 is exactly right. There’s a difference between a delegate and a representative.
Though, if a remit is amended in an unanticipated way, delegates would then have to act more as representatives.
Is this a problem with the modern day Labour party.
Both my grandfathers had a background in the union movement & I think the Labour party – especially that 1930-1950 period & define themselves as working class. If we look at their grandchildren & great grandchildren, who many of them are still working class but now tend to work in their own small business – (tradesman, drivers, hairdressers etc) – very few of them identify with today’s Labour Party.
IMO – the Labour party has always been a broad church but in the new world of MMP your group can get lost against other supporting a specific agenda. The working class is no longer a dominated group in the Labour party. I wonder how many of the MP’s pre-political work experience is as a tradesman etc ( and I don’t mean holiday/travelling work but supporting a family and mortgage)
So your answer is just to let all the employers in this country sack their workers and turn them into independent contractors, and outlaw trade unions.
Cutting taxes would also destroy our health system.
So small businesses dont identify with Labour, the party of growth.?
Instead they go for all the aspirational bullshit peddled by Key, while they struggle in the stagnating economy with their business?
@ ghostwhowalksnz “So small businesses dont identify with Labour, the party of growth.?”
Yup….out there Nact is seen as the business party and Labour the social welfare party
….Labour Party and Greens need to reframe and refocus themselves as being the the best business party winners !!!! ( of course we all know this but the general public voters dont necessarily)
……and explode the Nact MYTH of being best for business
….(Nact is best for the corporate plunderers, state asset strippers… and not necessarily NZ ones)
National is the party of corporates and bankers, not SMEs.
I think Watching makes some very good points. Millsy I do not understand why you are attacking Watching in taxes; was there a comment made there you did not like on taxation?
GWWNZ – give SMEs a real alternative then. Small and medium enterprise are a natural fit for Labour IMO but Labour needs to do much more to make a vision for the role of SMEs in the economy clearer.
As a small business entrepreneur I would for instance love Labour to implement measures to reduce the excessive bank charges, power prices and telecom/internet fees that big corporates charge SMEs.
I would love Labour to more clearly explain how increasing ordinary incomes in the community are going to benefit all SMEs.
I would love Labour to acknowledge that financing and venture capital for new startups and new small businesses needs to be overhauled, improved and made
And that’s just off the top of my head.
“made more accessible.”
This is a poor idea. Democracy works because agitated groups seek redress and so support MPs, Parties, Policies, how does restricting MPs to be more status quo, and so likely happier with their lot. Parliament is a road to redress not a theater where there are two of each animal.
I think this thread exposes a rather sad fact, that we need a upper chamber, we need more representatives, not less representatives who are happier. Geez, who thought it up, that the Labour party was suppose to be more conservative and lockstep with the status quo, rather than a progressive party that wants more debate, wants debate from those under-represented. Those unrepresented are invariably those not in the mainstream.
Why not avoid the issues effecting NZ and make the Labour party match NZ better and so distract, distort and switch the debate to matters of appearance and flair rather than engagement.
As for representation in general, I think Labour needs more workers, engineers, scientists, and those who have been on the bones of their arse, and not academics, PolSci grads and those who have worked their way up the NGO ladder. Trade Union representation is sacrosant, but less union beuraucrats (like Andrew Little, who while having a career in the EPMU, I dont think ever worked in the industry that it covered — pointer, he was head of the NZUSA back when fees were brought in), and more shop stewards, organisers and card carrying members). And has Darien Fenton of the SFWU ever cleaned?
So, is it reasonable to say you’d prefer what might be called a wider cultural representation? I’m saying that on the basis that class is cultural (eg [hesitantly] – ‘you can take the boy out of the slums, but not the slum out the boy’)
Q. On the proposal – if those who would move into parliament from the identified groupings are predominantly middle class, then how representative are they and how relevant are their life experiences to those of most people in NZ?
A. Not very.
A ‘left’ political party should be clear enough in it’s policy and objects to weed out most right wingers. This is where the managerialists from NZ Labour have buggered things up for some time now.
Class interests trump identity in a capitalist society which is why the Māori Party sucking up to National/ACT has been such a dismal failure for so many Māori.
“if those who would move into parliament from the identified groupings are predominantly middle class, then how representative are they and how relevant are their life experiences to those of most people in NZ?”
At a guess, I’d say that low income groups in New Zealand were over-represented by Maori, some ethnic minorities, the disabled and women. So an argument could be made that Labour should have far more of members of these groups represented than other parties, if it is to fairly represent ‘working class’/low income people.
The worry would be if the only members of those groups who were chosen were middle class. But that’s the case with white males too.
Because the parliamentary system suits, was made by and for (fcking drum roll) successful white men. And anyone (broad brush stroking here) of another identity/culture who ‘gets in’ will most likely have assimilated a fair proportion of that white successful male mind set. Think Thatcher et al.
ffs millsy – how do you make that link that my answer is “is just to let all the employers in this country sack their workers and turn them into independent contractors, and outlaw trade unions.”
Show me those words in my comment or did you reply to the wrong comment. Your comment maybe true but it is an aggressive/rude/nothing/irrelevant reply to what I said!
mickysavage said of the Labour Party – “started off wanting to ensure that the working class was represented in Parliament” and my reply is that maybe not many MPs have a working class work experience – i.e. too many university educated not tradesman
Again, all fair points for consideration IMO.
The issue of representation only arises because modern political parties exercise far to much control over candidate selection.
Once upon a time, the selection of a candidate for a local seat was entirely a matter for the local electorate committee. Since the member returned to represent that electorate was chosen from within the section of the community that could at least command a plurality of local voters they were automatically “representative’ of that community, regardless of their gender, age or sexuality. If a bunch of pensioners in Papmoa rest homes party autonomously elect a 19 year old stripling as their MP, and he or she wins, well, pensioners are then represented without agonising over whether or not you need a wrinkly quota in parliament.
Political party’s historical slow progression to more and more centralisation of the power of candidate selection to unaccountable (to the voters) centralised party machines has been made much worse under MMP, a system which allocates a legislatively mandated electoral function to political parties (the party lists) but which is (foolishly) silent on requiring statutory governance rules for the exercise of that electoral function. So now we have the ridiculous situation where we may regard those elected by the voters in a general election to the house of representatives as not being representative.
The counter-intuitive (and democratic) solution to this problem is not greater centralisation, control and ridiculous bureaucratic rules around quotas of who and what and everything. That just leads to increasing political ossification. The solution, to my mind, is a greater decentralisation of the process of who is selected as a candidate, to return that choice to local voters who can then select someone who THEY think is representative of them and their wishes, not a system where some party apparachik hammering out a deal with identity politics factions assumes is going to representative of those same voters.
Excellent analysis. However, “local” selection is not appropriate for list candidates.
I think the proposal should be kicked into touch for reasons I’ve outline in above comments. Meanwhile, this solution of yours is no solution at all. You suggest
We live in a social environment shot through with racism and sexism. And that racism and sexism would tend to be reflected in local level selections.
Maybe the Labour Party should bite the fucking bullet and simply state unequivocally that it recognises both it, and the environment it operates within, is the product of racism and patriarchy. And it should be mature enough to acknowledge and admit that quotas or whatever else will do absolutely nothing to change that underlying reality.
Then the necessary widespread discussion can begin and (hopefully) attitudes shift. That has to better than the patronising superiority of ‘the educated and aware’ that translates into nannyism. And the fcking elastoplasts…the legislative bullshit…that seek to cover over the ugly gapes that constitute our culture and society can be dispensed with.
Well said Bill.
Well put perspective Sanctuary. The irony of National centralizing influence of Local Government while simultaneously letting the provinces in general, excluding Taranaki, South Canterbury , decline.
A better approach than this bureaucratic remit would be along these lines:
The LP is committed to represent the working class in Aotearoa, that is all those who work for a wage or salary to earn a living. This is the huge majority which produces the wealth.
Those who are unemployed or on other benefits are considered to be equal members of the working class.
The LP does not represent those who are self-employed unless they are in labour cooperatives or have no reasonable alternative to contract work to earn a living and are members of a union.
The LP does not represent those who are employers.
Candidates will be drawn from the class that Labour seeks to represent.
Labour is committed to ensuring that those sections of the working class that are discriminated against by reason of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or youth are positively affirmed in candidate selection.
Off the top of my head, there goes David Parker and Damien O’Connor. Luckily your rules allow the Party to continue to draw on the career politicians like Goff, Mallard and Dyson. Also Curran who seems never to have done anything useful, ever. Arguably, she is a bit over-qualified.
Thereby eliminating all those self employed such as plumbers, sparkies, builders, roofers etc. Not smart.
LP should focus on candidates that work hard so people are inspired to vote for them.
If they are genuinely committed they’ll represent every NZ’er and help to create a better NZ.
Ticking quota boxes ain’t gunna get you elected.
Good post, tc
“Is this a radical measure? ”
how many people blabbering on here actually belong to a political party?
Hopefully none. I’m not sure that I like the idea of slavery to a political party… 😈
@ captain hook
…we are passionate voters with our ears to the ground….this makes us valuable ( whether we belong to a political party or not…in fact if we don’t belong to a political party this could mean we have no self- serving axe to grind and our comments could be less biased)
…what political party do you belong?
I don’t care if my MP or the PM is male or female, gay, straight or bi, asian, white or whatever ethnicity you can pick… I just want them to be decent… this tbh, is just a sideshow
Representative of those that can afford $1500 for access to the parliamentarians right?
An MP has to REPRESENT all the different ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations ages, classes etc in the electorate
Therefore an MP needs EMPATHY
Also don’t forget, children cannot be in Parliament. Who represents them??? Hopefully, if they have empathy, everybody
I’m getting the sense that most people here disagree with this policy. Interestingly enough, I found this poll from stuff on gender diversity in company boardrooms:
Stuff readers seem to think gender diversity is important for business. It’s interesting (and surprising) to see that people on the left do not think that the same applies to political parties.
Pretty sure business wasn’t contemplating a quota system
I’ve not seen any material that states how the proposed reaffirming commitment to diversity would be implemented. But that blog you made me look at (yes, its your fault) is all about quotas (and the comments, so much bile and hatred – does he ever moderate it?)
Does the Labour party have a system or process where they identify talented people and mentor them?
This is where I would add weighting to selection criteria to encourage the development of a more diverse group of people.
This would ensure that the party develops a diverse and talented group of potential representatives.
Hmm, morphic resonance in the NJ sphere.
• Among all adults, 53 percent think women have fewer opportunities than men in the workplace. But that ranges from 68 percent of Democrats to 38 percent of Republicans, a difference of 30 percentage points. Comparing the most unlike groups, liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, it’s 76 vs. 35 percent.
• Forty-one percent overall think nonwhites have fewer opportunities than whites in society. Fifty-six percent of Democrats say so, as do 62 percent of liberal Democrats (more than the number of nonwhites themselves who say so, 51 percent). Among Republicans that dives to 25 percent.
• Forty-three percent of Americans say it would be a good thing if more women were elected to Congress – but the range here is from six in 10 Democrats and liberals alike to just 26 percent of conservatives and 23 percent of Republicans. Instead two-thirds or more in these latter two groups say it makes no difference to them.
Aspiring MPs ought to be selected on the perceived abilities they may bring to the list or electorate.
Central Party edicts do nothing to advance democratic ideals. (No doubt the Chinese Communist Party and Mr Putin would disagree).
Gender, sexual preferences, race, ethnicity, skin colour, accents,, eye colour, hair colour, eye shape, BMI, religion, jeans wearing, tartan wearing, longhi wearing, toga wearing, vehicle transport preferences are irrelevant.
Ability and votability is what counts no matter who or are what candidates are.
Caucus control looks better than mindless “equality or parity” based on juvenile thinking from a party conference of insecure “feel gooders”.
Time for REALPOLITIK.
Ability and votability? Meh! Get your new fangled political theories outta here!!!
While in principle good of an idea, this will be the biggest potential vote loser in the coming elections. “Labour” should already take note, that the leadership change has only marginally improved the poll ratings, as I feared it would do.
Labour is running into high risk territory here, and it is going to benefit the Greens, who have something smarter in place already, and who do not pander to the votes in the “centre”. That “centre” though is what even Cunliffe and his new front bench are aiming at.
Sorry, this is not going to work, and I fear the conference is partly going to offer a good forum for debate, and will likely support the leader convincingly, but none else will be achieved.
“Labour” no more for me, I have long given up on you, and will cast my vote for some more promising party and members.
It has NOT gone unnoticed by me, that after Ardern was relieved of welfare, which she was lacking in, I have heard ZILCH on welfare, nothing at all. That is NOT an improvement, it is a serious worsening of conditions. To expect me, suffering from serious ill health and conditions, to vote for a party that does offer NADA on welfare and reform for people like me, that is idiotic.
Good luck Labour, you will NOT get my vote!
My comment just made means, it is maybe good intention to include all and to offer fair participation, but you also need capable, convincing and loyal members and representatives, once it becomes over PC, to have everyone on board, this becomes a bureaucratic nightmare, and it will mean running into endless challenges. I can only warn Labour and members, put some bloody common sense into this, or it will go awfully wrong.
Perhaps a fairer representation of all sections of society in parliament will help to prevent this:
A pig’s head on the doorstep: how prejudice blocks the path to parliament
– A report from an all-party committee into racism and discrimination in elections presents an ugly face of campaigns