Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Upton-On-Line Launched - First Article On MMP

Upton-On-Line Launched

Media Release
Hon Simon Upton
6 October 1999

upton-on-line launched

Cabinet Minister Simon Upton today dispensed with the industrial age reliance on broadsheets and the wireless with the launch of his daily Internet column, upton-on-line.

The column will pass comment on the politics of the day in the lead-up to the Election on 27 November.

Upton-on-line will be posted overnight, every week-night on Mr Upton's well established and award-wining website:

"Upton-on-line will talk direct to the thousands of New Zealanders interested in politics during the election campaign.

"My comments will be partisan, clearly, but I'm keen to publish lively responses from readers.

"It will become an indispensable bookmark for those wanting to keep up to date with the 1999 campaign", Simon Upton predicted.

Attached (for those who have yet to log on) is the first article:

Referendum on number of MPs - the result's in no doubt, but the implications haven't been thought through.


Referendum on number of MPs - The result's in no doubt, but the implications haven't been thought through.

If ever there was a referendum with a forgone conclusion, the one to reduce the number of MPs from 120 to 99 has to be it. So the plea of the seventy-odd learned scholars to preserve 21 MPs from liquidation is, in a quite literal sense, of academic interest.

Their contention is that a smaller parliament will lead to domination by the Executive.

I can certainly attest to the perils of an over-bearing Executive, having witnessed the dying years of the Muldoon era near the bottom of the caucus heap. Then, there were 21 backbenchers against 26 office holders (Cabinet Ministers, Under Secretaries, Whips and other hangers-on). The result was that those in the Executive, combined with those who fervently believed they were about to be annointed, always enjoyed a solid majority. (The only real opposition was provided by Waring and Minogue, joined later by Quigley). We paid the price with dysfunctional caucus discussions on everything from the "Price freeze" to "Think Big".

But the academics' argument only holds true if the Executive remains as large as it currently is.

Those supporting the call for a smaller number of MPs have to answer this question; how many members are they willing to shave from the Executive (in order to avoid Cabinet domination of the governing Caucuses)? And then, have they thought through the implications of a smaller Cabinet on the machinery of government?

I support a much smaller inner Cabinet, but I'm not so sure you can dispense with more Ministers outside Cabinet. Under the Public Finance Act, Ministers have to be accountable for a huge range of Departments and Crown entities. Shrinking the Executive beyond a certain point would make the discharge of these accountabilities impossible. It simply wouldn't do justice to an organisation that chews its way through $36 billion annually.

Or is it the plan to shrink the size of government radically? There are supporters for that position but I don't think it's where many petition supporters are coming from. They may not want too many MPs but they still want large dollops of tax and spend.

To make a smaller Cabinet workable you'd have to look at radical amalgamations of government departments and hand a lot of power and discretion back to bureaucrats.

Of course, none of these arguments will have any impact on the outcome of the referendum. I haven't the slightest doubt that most New Zealanders want a small parliament and they'll get it. The behaviour of parliamentarians won't improve one iota, but then again, the promoters of the referendum never said that it would.

A Quick Observation.

Meanwhile, a comment made by Pete Hodgson on Monday caught my eye. He wrote in an article on industrial relations published by the Herald,

"the idea, that, for example, the journalists of the New Zealand Herald might strike in favour of a multi-employer settlement in support of journalists at the Gore Ensign beggars imagination."

That, Mr Hodgson, is precisely the point. The public's imagination was beggared on a regular basis in the bad old days of boilermakers and wharfies.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Australia's Superior Ways Of Communicating About Its Vaccine Rollout

It isn’t only on the cricket field that Australia performs better. The clarity and degree of detail in Australia’s published schedule of the priorities for its vaccine rollout has been very impressive. Here for instance, is their initial “1a” top priority category: Quarantine and border workers, including: staff at entry points to the country (such as sea ports and land borders)... More>>


Joint Press Release: Dirty PR Exposed In Whale Oil Defamation Trial

Three public health advocates are relieved that their long-standing Whale Oil defamation trial against Cameron Slater, Carrick Graham, Katherine Rich and the Food and Grocery Council has finally concluded and they are pleased that the truth has come out... More>>


Government: Next Stage Of COVID-19 Support For Business And Workers

The Government has confirmed details of COVID-19 support for business and workers following the increased alert levels due to a resurgence of the virus over the weekend... More>>


Government: PHARMAC Review Announced

The Government is following through on an election promise to conduct an independent review into PHARMAC, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Andrew Little announced today... More>>


Government: Balanced Economic Approach Reflected In Crown Accounts

New Zealand’s economic recovery has again been reflected in the Government’s books, which are in better shape than expected.
The Crown accounts for the seven months to the end of January 2021 were better than forecast in the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update (HYEFU)... More>>

Covid-19: Auckland Back To Alert Level Three After One New Community Case Revealed

Auckland will move to alert level three for a week at 6am tomorrow morning after two new Covid-19 community cases announced this evening could not be directly linked to earlier cases, the Prime Minister has confirmed.
The rest of the country will move to level two.... More>>

NZ Initiative: New Report Highlights How Our Housing Crisis Could Worsen If We Don’t Act Now

If New Zealand politicians thought the housing crisis in 2020 was bad, the worst is yet to come, warns a new report by The New Zealand Initiative. In The Need to Build: The demographic drivers of housing demand , Research Assistant Leonard Hong ... More>>

Parliament: Kiwi MPs Among The “Most Educated In The World”

New analysis of MP qualifications reveals New Zealand’s Parliament is one of the most educated and highest qualified in the world, and significantly more educated than Australia’s. The research, by Mark Blackham of BlacklandPR and Geoffrey Miller ... More>>




InfoPages News Channels