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The Mapp Report: What's with Parliament?

The Mapp Report
08 September 2006

What's with Parliament?

Why is Parliament so turbulent?

Parliament must, by design, always be a place of robust debate. But it does contain a level of interjection and pointed comment not seen in other public forums.

Parliamentarians, by and large, are people used to giving it, and also used to taking it. Of course it would be a worry to think that parliamentary debate consists only of interjection, personal comment, allegation, and political assertion. The reality is, this only really occurs during the hour or so known as question time on sitting days.

The nature of other debates is a direct reflection of the issues being debated. Passion can’t be orchestrated or manipulated; it can only happen if individual MPs believe the issues warrant it.

The integrity of elections is the issue of the moment. People expect political parties to play by the rules – not to “screw the scrum” to their advantage. If this happens and is ignored by the referee, the whole match becomes unfair. The election result could have been different if the rules had been followed.

That’s why National MPs have reacted in the way that we have. Our elections are governed by tight rules; each party is expected to obey them. The fairness of elections depends on them, and so does the integrity of parliament.

So if one party uses taxpayers’ money to fundamentally breach the rules, it goes to the heart of the election result. So now Labour has only one choice – pay the money back. It’s the least they can do. National is insistent on this – and the debating chamber is where this contest and challenge occurs.

Yes, it is turbulent, but this is because the issues go to the very heart of our democracy.

Dr Wayne Mapp

Visit my website for more information at: www.waynemapp.co.nz


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