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Votes of Confidence

Wyatt Creech National List MP for Wairarapa

25 October 2001

Votes of Confidence

Recently there has been much speculation in Parliament and the media about Green Party vacillation on support for the Government on confidence and supply issues as a result of the current debate on the GM issue. Some statements speak of the Greens potentially withdrawing support on 'confidence and supply'.

National MP Wyatt Creech says there are two specific opportunities for a confidence vote in Parliament.

"The first opportunity is the vote on the motion attached to the address and reply (immediately following an election) or the PM's statement (in the other years of the term). That debate must occur at the beginning of each Parliamentary year and the vote is held at the conclusion of the debate.

"The second opportunity is votes on the annual budget debate (at each stage) and the other associated appropriation bills (generally termed 'supply'). These include votes on the various stages of the budget debate and imprest supply and supplementaries. The 'financial veto' can be used to deal with unsatisfactory (from the Government's point of view) amendments at the Committee of the Whole Stage (the Estimates debate).

"Apart from those two situations, where confidence arises as a matter of course, a confidence vote arises only where the Prime Minister declares in advance that a vote on a particular bill will be regarded as a vote of confidence.

"The convention is that where a government loses on a vote of confidence, the Leader of the Government will go to the Governor-General offering their resignation.

"Apart from the two specific situations mentioned above, confidence votes in New Zealand are rare. Sometimes threats to regard a vote as a confidence vote are used to keep potentially wayward MPs in line. However, Prime Ministers seldom go so far as to declare issues 'confidence'," Mr Creech said.

Ends

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