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Electoral Bill conflicts with Parliamentary Privilege Act

4 April 2018

Electoral Bill conflicts with Parliamentary Privilege Act

The Government’s Electoral Integrity Bill which would enable party leaders to dismiss an MP if the leader believes the MP distorts the proportionality of Parliament has hit further problems by clashing with the Parliamentary Privilege Act 2014, National Party spokesperson for Electoral Law Dr Nick Smith says.

“This flagship policy from the Ardern-Peters Government has hit the rocks by clashing with the Bill of Rights and is now taking on water because it also conflicts with the Parliamentary Privilege Act,” Dr Smith says.

“The Government has come under significant pressure and criticism on this draconian electoral Bill and the Justice Minister needs to pull this Bill before it sinks.

“The Government’s electoral Bill enables a party leader to dismiss an MP when the leader reasonably believes that proportionality of Parliament had been distorted.

“However, the only check on this broad ranging power given to party leaders is the courts, yet this power has been hamstrung by the Parliamentary Privilege Act which prohibits the courts from questioning or inquiring into voting records, debates or the proceedings of Parliament.

“The Bill has already been dammed by over twenty legal and political academics for breaching the Bill of Rights in respect of freedom of speech and freedom of association.

“Even the Attorney-General has admitted the Bill will have ‘a chilling effect on an MP’s freedom to express themselves inside and outside the House’.

“This Bill contradicts New Zealand’s democratic traditions of respect for free speech, the separation of powers from the courts and tolerance of dissent.”

ends

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