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Duynhoven is not above the law - English

Hon Bill English MP National Party Leader

28 July 2003

Duynhoven is not above the law - English

The National Party says New Plymouth MP Harry Duynhoven is not above the law and any change so he can remain in Parliament would be unprincipled.

"The arguments for a retrospective law change to protect the MP from the consequences of his actions are unconvincing, they're also unprincipled and unconstitutional," says National Party Leader Bill English. "Far from an archaic law that hasn't been changed in 150 years, there have been seven amendments to the Electoral Act since 1993, including one just last year.

"Despite that scrutiny, the law that caught out Harry Duynhoven still remains.

"It's no different from the thousands of New Zealanders who get caught 'unintentionally' speeding every day," Mr English says.

"Those law breakers have to live with the consequences of their actions and Harry Duynhoven is exactly the same.

"United Future's Kelly Chal was forced to resign because of a citizenship issue and in Australia a citizenship snag forced a by-election in Jackie Kelly's Lindsay seat.

"Labour cannot put one of its own MPs above the law - it certainly would not do anything similar for a National member in the same boat," says Mr English.

"The Government is employing its now famous double standard.

"On one hand we have National's Nick Smith being prosecuted for contempt after exposing serious problems within the family court," Mr English says.

"Dr Smith was working on behalf of his constituents, while Mr Duynhoven was looking after his own interests when he applied to renew his Dutch citizenship.

"It may have been an act of naivety on Mr Duynhoven's behalf, but ignorance is no excuse," says Mr English.

"The National Party is certainly not eager to spend taxpayer money on a New Plymouth by-election, but this is an issue of principle that rises above any inconvenience.

"The National Party wants consistency in the way the law is administered, we advocate one standard of citizenship whether you're a politician or a member of the public," Mr English says.


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