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Winston Peters is hypocrite on anti-defection law

3 September 2001

Winston Peters is hypocrite on anti-defection law - Greens

"Winston Peters' determination to throw defecting MPs out of Parliament contradicts his own statements when Michael Laws, Peter McCardle and Jack Elder defected to NZ First," said Green Party co-leader Rod Donald today.

"Winston Peters is a hypocrite. Forcing the Government to tighten up its anti-defection legislation totally contradicts the stand he took when three MPs defected to his party in 1996," he said.

In a statement released on the day of Michael Laws defection from National, Winston Peters said "new members of parliament joining NZ First - or any other elected political party - without resigning and seeking a new mandate is 'consistent with constitutional precedent'".

Peters went on to say "members of parliament have to be free to follow their conscience. They were elected to represent their constituents, not swear an oath of blind allegiance to a political party. If an MP feels that membership in another elected party better serves his or her constituents, then that can be put to the test at election time".

"Clearly Peters was happy to have MPs from other parties defect to him but he couldn't cope two years later when MPs defected from him," said Mr Donald.

"His call for defecting MPs to be thrown out of Parliament has nothing to do with principle and everything to do with his bruised ego.

"How else can you explain his statement when welcoming Elder and McCardle that 'both men bring independence, integrity....' with his subsequent diatribes against defecting MPs?

"The Government should think again before depending on Winston Peters to push through this piece of anti democratic legislation," Mr Donald said.

ENDS

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