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Pomp and nonsense enshrined in Parliament's rules

Pomp and nonsense enshrined in Parliament's rules

Rituals that became redundant last century are still retained following the review of Standing Orders, Green Party Co-leader Rod Donald said today.

"While there are a number of positive changes in the review, tabled today, many necessary reforms proposed by the Greens failed to win backing from all parties," Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald said.

The Green Party has singled out the Standing Orders Committee's failure to reform New Zealand's treaty ratification process for its strongest criticism.

"We continue to be locked into the era when Kings and Queens controlled foreign policy," Rod Donald said. "It's simply not acceptable for minority governments to retain the crown prerogative and with it the power to bind future governments to international treaty commitments.

"All treaties should receive approval by parliament before New Zealand becomes a party to them.

The Green Party has also criticised the continuation of the position of the Leader of the Opposition.

"This position is an historical anachronism that has no place in an MMP parliament," said Mr Donald. "Under the current rules it is entirely possible that the so-called leader of the opposition has a confidence and supply agreement with the very Government that it is meant to be opposing.

While we express no ill will towards Don Brash it is patently ridiculous that he is supposed to officially represent the views of the Green Party in parliament, at public functions and on bodies such as the Intelligence and Security Committee.

"The position also entitles the Leader of the National Party to salary and perks well in excess of what he would receive if he did not hold that position. (The Leader of the Opposition is paid a salary of $195,000 plus a $50,000 annual overseas travel budget and a ministerial car whereas a party leader with 27 MPs would only receive a salary of $147,000.)

The Standing Orders Committee declined to adopt several other Green Party initiatives, including: an investiture vote, Parliament sitting in alphabetical order until the Speaker is elected, constructive votes of confidence and the proportional distribution of Select Committee chairs and deputy chairs.

"However we are pleased that the review already looks beyond the demise of the draconian Electoral Integrity Act to define how members are recognised if they cease to be a member of the party for which they were originally elected. Party recognition will now include members who stood for a component party of an umbrella party that they leave after an election."

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