Written By: - Date published: 8:03 am, August 13th, 2018 - 238 comments
Categories: act, david seymour, democracy under attack, democratic participation, election 2017, national, Politics, same old national, Simon Bridges, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:
David Seymour is clearly searching for relevance.
The ACT party had its annual conference last weekend. From the look of the video there might have been 30 people there. I have been to bigger meetings of the New Lynn Labour Party. It seems that ACT is struggling for relevance.
To try and gain some relevance Seymour came out with this big new announcement, that ACT will seek to reduce the number of MPs to 100 and the size of the executive to 20. It will also seek to do away with the Maori seats and require all list candidates to campaign for an electorate seat and to then set up an office in that seat if they are successful.
From ACT’s website:
New Zealand has too many politicians for its size. Our Government costs more and delivers less than it did 20 years ago.
“The Smaller Government Bill will cut the size of Parliament 100 MPs, bringing us into line with other developed countries.
“It will also restrict the number of high-paid Ministers to 20. Our Executive is far too big – currently standing at 31 people.
“Almost half of the Government MPs hold a position in the Executive. We have too many pointless ministerial portfolios. They are not improving the lives of New Zealanders and this bill will do away with them.
“The bill will also remove the Maori seats. New Zealand is a modern, diverse democracy. There is simply no longer a place for one group of people to be treated differently under the law.
“We now have 27 Maori MPs, 20 of whom were elected through the general roll. Even without the seven Maori seats, Maori would still be proportionately represented in Parliament.
“Our plan would also require all parliamentary candidates to stand in an electorate, and all elected list MPs would be required to open an office in the electorate in which they stood.
“List MPs serve an important function in our democracy, but they should be required to serve New Zealanders and solve real problems, not just collect a salary and spend their time in a Wellington office.
The executive reduction policy is, what is that word, hypocritical. Seymour complains that there are 31 members of the current executive. This number includes Parliamentary undersecretaries. Seymour was one in the last Parliament. He was paid $175,600 per annum for the privilege and also received further resources. Maybe he has a point.
The numbers proposal is playing a very predictable political game. Getting rid of the Maori seats is just racist dog whistling.
In terms of overall numbers it is wrong to compare New Zealand’s unicameral system with the more complex arrangements that are in existence in overseas countries. But that is getting into detailed analysis whereas ACT just wants to cash in on the general dislike there is for politicians.
I can see there being a compelling case for the removal of one MP from Parliament. For the last three elections there has been an overhang of one seat, mainly due to National party sweetheart deals. Change the law so that this cannot happen and hey presto the number of MPs will be reduced. And maybe there are too many MPs. After all there was a recent incident where an opposition MP took extended time out of his work to go dancing with the stars. If he was a beneficiary he would have been subject to sanctions.
And meanwhile Simon Bridges has been casting some serious shade ACT’s way:
Simon Bridges on ACT: I think there is a gap in the market for a "right-right" party
— Q+A (@NZQandA) August 12, 2018
And National cheerleader Mike Hosking thinks that ACT is going nowhere.
ACT only survives because National is happy to subvert proportionality to gain political advantage. Could it be that the end of ACT is nigh?