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Act not abiding by Speaker’s ruling on votes

19 February 2003 Media Statement
Act not abiding by Speaker’s ruling on votes

A lack of Act votes in Parliament this week appeared to contravene a ruling by the Speaker of the House, Tukituki MP Rick Barker said today following Parliament’s general debate.

“Despite Act’s recent decision to suspend list MP Donna Awatere-Huata, Parliament’s Speaker Jonathon Hunt ruled that she must still be included in all votes by Act, unless she voted to the contrary.

“Mr Prebble, under Standing Order 35, has written to the Speaker of the House accepting that he has an obligation for all nine Act MPs and is accountable for all funding associated with those members, which equates to about $110,000 per annum for each.

“But yesterday, with three confidence resolutions before Parliament moved by Bill English, Winston Peters and Jeanette Fitzsimons, there were only 119 votes cast in total - with ACT the only party down on votes with only eight recorded.

“The question I want answered is did Act not vote for Donna Awatere-Huata yesterday? If they didn’t then the party is in direct contravention of the Speaker’s ruling.

“If she was included then by voting eight Act, by implication of Parliament’s Standing Orders, had only six members in the House.

“Act is entitled to have two members absent without losing a vote but they lose a vote if three are away.

“If only eight Act votes were counted, then three of the party’s members were effectively absent. That means the party has to account to the taxpayer for their members falling short.

“I’d like to know why a third of Act’s caucus was away.

“If Act has simply not included Mrs Awatere-Huata in its votes, contrary to the Speaker’s ruling, why then are they continuing to draw on the salaries of nine MPs when they only have eight doing the work?

“If Act is voting down deliberately, then of the 145,000 people who handed over their party vote to them in 2002, 16,000-odd have been screwed up and thrown away.
“By such action, Act is distorting the proportionality of its party and they should be held accountable to the public for doing so.

“Who voted Act in to reduce the size of Parliament? Who voted for Act to vote less than they’re entitled to?

“Act supporters should feel outraged at these antics. This is a party that said it was for values, not politics. Where is the value in taking the salaries of nine members when they can only account for eight?”


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