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Winston Peters creating chaos

Hon Gerry

Leader of the House

21 September 2016

Winston Peters creating chaos

Leader of The House Gerry Brownlee says New Zealand First’s eleventh-hour withdrawal of support for Treaty of Waitangi settlement bills is small-minded and petulant.

Parliament’s Business Committee had agreed to an extended session in the House on Friday for the final reading of five settlement bills, which would have been of huge significance to iwi around the country.

“Because all five bills had unanimous support of the House at the select committee stage, the Friday sitting was possible because they would have passed on voice votes alone.

“NZ First was at the table for those discussions and agreed to that course of action,” Mr Brownlee says.

On Monday this week, Mr Brownlee spoke with Ron Mark, who confirmed his party’s ongoing support for the bills.

“On Tuesday morning, Ron Mark phoned back to say NZ First was not going to support two of the settlement bills and therefore could not support the voice vote only proposal for Friday.

“Winston Peters’ desperate claim to be upholding the constitution by his last-minute reneging of an agreement reached by all parties simply demonstrates his preference for Parliament to function in the totally adversarial way of a bygone era he was most comfortable in.”

“Mr Peters prefers chaos to order and, in this case, is entirely responsible for the inconvenience and disrespect shown to iwi who had made expensive arrangements to be in Wellington on Friday.

“Far from being the keeper of constitutional propriety, he demonstrated the sort of small-minded and petulant behaviour that casts politicians on the heap of irrelevance.

“It was a legitimate determination by the Business Committee and, rather than a breach of constitutional principle, it was an enhancement of Parliamentary democracy through consensus.”

As Leader of The House, Mr Brownlee has tried to give the Business Committee more relevance and authority in determining the business of the House.

“We’ve seen a reduction in the use of urgency and a greater focus on bills of most interest to parties.

“Winston Peters may consider Friday to Tuesday of each sitting week to be a holiday but that’s unique to his caucus. MPs have a range of commitments over those days,” he says.

“The Friday sitting was a pragmatic and mature way of advancing widely supported Treaty bills without unduly upsetting the Friday commitments across the House.”


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