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Sharples Speech: Electoral Amendment Bill

Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill

Speech by Dr Pita Sharples, Parliament, 6 December 2005

This Bill is to preserve the position of a Labour lead minority Government.

This electoral integrity Bill lacks integrity. This Bill is based on fear. It is the glue to hold together a very shaky coalition relationship.

It is a prop to assist very different party philosophies to stay together.

It is a device to prevent the Government Coalition from imploding.

Coming back to integrity - or the lack of.

The Electoral (Integrity) Bill is part of the deal that New Zealand First struck with those who were desperate to hold on to power, so that they may exercise this power in any way that they see fit.

The Maori Party was created on the basis of integrity. Our co-leader Tariana Turia showed integrity by walking from those who had lost it.

The Maori Party does not see the need for such a Bill.

Since the inception of the Maori Party we have declared that regardless of what people may think of us, we will as Parliamentarians, in this House, and indeed as citizens of our country, always act with integrity.

We have spent some time discussing this Bill, and while we initially supported the concept, we realised that integrity could not be legislated for.

The Maori Party questions the need for a Bill which has been designed to enhance public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system.

Our party is driven by kaupapa, one of which is integrity. We do not believe that even if this Bill is passed into law, that we would ever have occasion to use it.

We do not need the gorilla of laws, to frighten us or to threaten us in order to guide our behaviour. Ours is not a party which uses fear, intimidation or bullying as a means of achieving discipline. Discipline must come from within.

We also ask why it is necessary to enhance the maintenance of political party proportional representation in Parliament?

Shouldn’t the real litmus test, the integrity of Parliamentarians, be evident to all through the performance in this very House?

The performance on the streets, the performance of politicians walking the talk, the performance of parliamentarians taking parliament to the people.

We believe in the power of korero.

Whakaiti and humarie.

We believe in reconciliation and restorative processes. And we believe in our ability to arrive at a consensus without rancour and bitter divisiveness.

We will talk with anyone - and we have demonstrated that in our short time as a Party in this House. Talking with people does not mean selling one’s soul, or selling out on one’s people. While we new in this House, we will never ever sell out on our people.

Talking brings understanding and informed decision-making.

There will be opportunities for difference - and this is one party which celebrates difference. We neither have central control or rigid hierarchical control.

Our process of reaching decisions is through consensus. It is a kaupapa Maori solution. It was laid down by our National executive and accepted by our 21,000 members.

In that respect, we have come from a culture which has never had to use the law to achieve integrity.

Madam Speaker, is not our greatest possibility to enhance public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system evident through the challenges we set before ourselves. They are personal standards which are acted out in a political arena.

There are Members in this House, like Ross Robertson, Nandor Tanczos, Sue Kedgley and of course we in the Maori Party, who are extremely keen on establishing a Code of Conduct for use in this House.

A Code of Conduct includes not using race or ethnicity as political football. It was something that I referred to in my speech and seems commonplace in this House. It is something that every day in this House, becomes a common occurrence.

The public of this country want integrity in this House to mean standards of behaviour, appropriate codes of decorum - not subserviance to a party line.

Blind loyalty to party allegiances is the King Kong factor breathing over us. We should instead be reflecting how our party philosophy directs us to act - not acting in fear because a Gorilla might drop in on us.

The Maori Party has come into Parliament to stand up and be counted for the things that matter.

We will uphold integrity as of the highest value to our behaviour and our processes in this House.

This is of our own making.

Madam Speaker, we note that New Zealand First will be supporting the Labour government sponsored Electoral Integrity Bill because their leader has stated it “is a positive step in ensuring stability”.

This is perhaps an admission or a confession, by Mr Peters, that he lacks the discipline, in fact the stability, to ensure that his marriage to Labour will be at least three years in duration.

This Bill has the word ‘Integrity’ in brackets. We want to bring the concept of Integrity out of the brackets, and back into Parliament. We do not believe the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill will do this. It is for this reason, that we do not support this Bill.

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