Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Dunne Speaks: The52nd Parliament Is Hurtling Towards An Inglorious End

The 52nd Parliament is hurtling towards an inglorious end. It will finish in just over two weeks and will be dissolved shortly thereafter on August 12 in preparation for the September 19 general election. It has been a dramatic term – dominated by huge tragedies, from the Christchurch Mosques massacres, to the Whakaari White Island eruption, and now Covid19.

But in recent weeks the focus has been more on what many would describe as farce. The revelations concerning the personal conduct lapses of a number of MPs that led them to stand down have raised many questions about the culture of Parliament, the stresses placed upon MPs, and the responsibility of political parties. But while inappropriate and unprofessional conduct by MPs should never be condoned, no matter their status, the current situation needs to be kept in perspective.

The present number of 20 MPs (at last count) standing down at this election is not out of line with the numbers retiring at previous elections. Historically, New Zealand has had a relatively frequent turnover of MPs – the average length of service is just over six years. Of the MPs elected at the 2014 election, 53 have now either retired or been defeated. Only 26 of the MPs elected at the 2011 election are seeking re-election this year.

So, the turnover of MPs is not the problem – indeed, many would argue that a frequent turnover and refreshing of the House is no bad thing. Others argue for term limits to stop MPs serving for too long, although just as many are surprised to learn that very few MPs serve for more than ten to fifteen years, let alone longer.

Also, the average age of MPs has been dropping over the years, meaning that, consistent with patterns in the wider workforce, MPs are more likely to move on to do other things, as part of a range of career experiences. If anything, the turnover rate for MPs is therefore likely to increase in the years ahead.

But the unusual thing about this year’s crop of Parliamentary departures is the number where the decision to stand aside has been brought about by circumstances relating to personal conduct. During this term, National has been rocked by the scandals involving Jami-Lee Ross (now running as an independent and unlikely to succeed); Hamish Walker and Andrew Falloon. But the problem is not solely related to National. Labour has lost two Ministers for personal conduct lapses: Meka Whaitiri following an altercation with a staff member (although she is seeking re-election as an MP) and now Iain Lees-Galloway, as well as others for incompetence.

Most of the cases have been clear-cut, but there are some aspects of the Lees-Galloway case that are curious. He had been a controversial Immigration Minister, and there had previously been calls for his resignation, especially in the wake of his decision to grant residency to the convicted Czech drug smuggler Karel Sroubek, who had a lengthy criminal record in both the Czech Republic and New Zealand. Had the Prime Minister dismissed him at the time of that incident, there would have been little argument, given the lapse of judgement involved and his admission that he had not read the full file before making his decision.

Yet she did not, and instead backed him strongly. All of which makes the decision to get rid of him now because of a consensual affair with a staff member that ended some time ago and was apparently widely known a little puzzling. It leaves unanswered questions about whether, for example, he used his Ministerial position to the advantage of the staff member. The Prime Minister’s call – after the sacking – for Ministerial Services to investigate whether any official resources had been misused during the affair is also bizarre. Normally, the evidence is gathered first in a serious matter like this, not called for after the event.

Overall, it raises the suspicion that Lees-Galloway’s dismissal was based more on getting shy of a potential embarrassment ahead of the election than a judgment on his personal conduct. The Prime Minister may also have felt she had no alternative, given both the way in which the Leader of the Opposition had raised the matter, and had the previous day dismissed Andrew Falloon. Whatever the reason, it will have further eroded confidence in a political system reeling after recent events.

Nominations to stand for Parliament at this year’s election close on August 21. With dark rumours still swirling from both sides of politics, and the mentality of “gotcha politics” that has become an unwelcome aspect of New Zealand politics in recent years, the daunting reality now is that more scandals coming to light before then cannot, unfortunately, be ruled out.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Pike River Recovery: Loader Driven By Russell Smith Recovered

A loader driven by former miner Russell Smith at the time of the Pike River Mine explosion has now been recovered from 1581m up the 2.3km drift access tunnel.
The recovery of the loader went smoothly and to plan. Pike River families were able to witness it being towed to a storage area, Chief Operations Officer Dinghy Pattinson says.
“We reached the loader at the end of last week, and then conducted a very deliberate and exacting forensic examination of the vehicle and operational zone... More>>


E-Cigarettes: Vaping Legislation Passes

Landmark legislation passed today puts New Zealand on track to saving thousands of lives and having a smokefree generation sooner rather than later, Associate Health Minister, Jenny Salesa says. The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) ... More>>


Housing: Government Delivers On Rental Reforms Promise

The Government has delivered on its promise to New Zealanders to modernise tenancy laws with the passing of the Residential Tenancies Amendment (RTA) Bill 2020 today, says Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing), Kris Faafoi. “The Residential ... More>>


National: $4 Billion Investment To End Wellington’s Congestion Woes

A National Government will invest another $4 billion in transport infrastructure across Wellington, igniting the economy and delivering the congestion-busting solutions the region has long been crying out for, National Party Leader Judith Collins says. ... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Virtues (and Fluffed Opportunities) Of The Operation Burnham Report

One unspoken rule of thumb in any official public inquiry is : whatever you do, don’t conclude you were made to listen to “a litany of lies” even if the evidence of a deliberate cover-up is right there under your nose. In that respect, the report ... More>>


Office Of The Speaker: Parliament Is Revamping Its Rules

Today, the Standing Orders Committee’s report on the review of Standing Orders was presented to the House. The Speaker of the House, the Rt Hon Trevor Mallard, chairs the committee. He said today that the 2020 review will make our rules more ... More>>

Your Vote 2020: Bringing Election Coverage To Viewers Across TVNZ Channels And Platforms

As New Zealand gets ready to head to the ballot box this September, 1 NEWS is bringing voters comprehensive coverage and analysis of this year’s General Election. TVNZ’s coverage will draw on the depth of experience held across the 1 NEWS team, says Graeme ... More>>

Economy: 30% Believe Households Worse Off, 298,000 Expect To Lose Jobs

64% of New Zealanders feel the economic position of their households is the same or better than a year ago – and 30% think it is worse or much worse, while 298,000 think they will lose their jobs in the next 12 months. Households’ perceptions ... More>>

State Services Commission: Findings Of Investigation Into COVID-19 Active Cases Privacy Breach

Deputy State Services Commissioner Helene Quilter has today announced the findings of an investigation into a breach of privacy regarding sensitive personal information. The investigation looked into who or what caused the disclosure of the information, ... More>>

International Security: New Zealand Suspends Extradition Treaty With Hong Kong

The New Zealand Government has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and made a number of other changes in light of China’s decision to pass a national security law for Hong Kong, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says. More>>


Energy: 100% Renewable Electricity Grid Explored With Pumped Storage ‘battery’

The Government is taking a significant step toward its goal for 100% renewable electricity generation in a move that could be a game changer for consumers and the creation of a low-emissions economy, Energy & Resources Minister Megan Woods said. ... More>>






InfoPages News Channels