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Code must cover House behaviour too - Greens

3 August 2006

Code must cover House behaviour too - Greens

The Green Party is adding its voice to the call for a Parliamentary Code of Conduct to be urgently developed by the Standing Orders Committee.

"Parliament has sunk to a new low in the public's esteem, and many New Zealanders are embarrassed and horrified by some of the behaviour, both inside and outside the House. All MP's have a stake in trying to stem the rot, and improve behaviour, Green MP Sue Kedgley says.

The Green Party supported Peter Dunne's call for urgent work to begin on a Code of Conduct, but wanted it to include MPs' behaviour within the House and not just those issues raised by the Taito Philip Field affair.

The party did not, however, support Mr Dunne's idea that 5 or 6 of the longest serving members of Parliament should oversee the Code of Conduct.

"That smacks of an Old Boys network to me. Besides, some of the longest-serving members of Parliament can be some of the most badly behaved in the House," Ms Kedgley says. "Four years ago a school Parliamentary observer team noted that the behaviour they observed in the House would not be accepted in a classroom or a playground. This team challenged MPs to lead by example, take responsibility for their own behaviour and stop the culture of bullying and violence in the House.

"Far from showing leadership or setting an example, behaviour in the House has deteriorated to the point where the public are no longer listening. The latest episode in the House with Ron Mark giving the finger to a fellow MP has marked a new low in Parliamentary behaviour," Ms Kedgley says.

"There's no point in MP's trying to lead a debate on reducing violence and abuse in New Zealand while there is a culture of violence and abuse in the House."

"If Parliament is to raise its integrity in the public's esteem, all parties must commit themselves to working as a matter of urgency on a code of conduct.

While the Greens strongly supported Ross Robertson's work in trying to get a Code of Conduct, it needed to be significantly expanded to cover a wider variety of issues, Ms Kedgley says.


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