Pete George alerted us to a comment in the Herald story about the sale of shares in SOE's which we blogged about earlier this morning; it was this one:
The final vote on the Mixed Ownership Member Bill is to take place in Parliament on Tuesday. Last night, Green co-leader Metiria Turei warned the Government they had no mandate to pass it into law.She understood why people might want to buy the shares, just to keep them in New Zealand hands. "New Zealanders understand that these are shares in profitable, stable companies, but that is why they should stay in public ownership, not private ownership."I wouldn't buy these shares on principle. I consider that I already have shares in these companies and they are being taken from me by force and without consent."
Metiria Turei is absolutely wrong, in our always-humble opinion. The Committee of the House passed the legislation by a majority. That is how our Parliamentary democracy works, and has worked for well over a hundred years.
But if Metiria wants to make an issue out of mandates, let's examine the Green Party, and in particular the circumstances in which Russel Norman was fast-tracked into Parliament in 2008. The NZ Herald editorial from 22 May 2008 provides the context for our comment; check this out:
The most widely disliked aspects of MMP are undoubtedly the lack of accountability of list MPs and the manipulation of party lists. The attempted elevation of Green Party co-leader Russel Norman to Parliament did nothing to improve that situation. This was to be achieved by Nandor Tanczos, a sitting MP, and Catherine Delahunty and Mike Ward, who were ahead of Dr Norman on the Greens' party list, standing aside. The ranking of candidates, as voted upon at the last election, would have been set aside and Dr Norman would have attained the status and election-campaign advantages that come with being an MP.
Unfortunately for the Greens, the plan became usnstuck at that point; read on:
Happily, the plan has come unstuck. Mr Ward has struck a blow for principle by refusing to step aside. That means Mr Tanczos will stay on until the election, and Dr Norman will be denied the chance to enter Parliament prematurely.What motivated Mr Ward? Perhaps a commitment to voters getting what they voted for. Perhaps the aftertaste of the hotly contested battle for the Greens' co-leadership following the death in 2005 of Rod Donald. The buzzword within the party then was "realism", a coded way of saying that electing Mr Ward or Mr Tanczos would not improve the Green vote.Doubtless, a similar "realism" persuaded some that Dr Norman needed to be in Parliament to make an impact. And that whatever it took to do this should be done. Mr Ward's opposition has stopped him in his tracks. Similarly shelved should be the notion that party lists can be manipulated to satisfy any whim.
A couple of weeks later, Mike Ward had a change of heart, as Stuff reported at the time:
Green co-leader Russel Norman will take a seat in Parliament this month - and Nandor Tanczos will retire early - after a change of heart by list candidate Mike Ward.Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons confirmed yesterday that talks had been held with Mr Ward after he contacted the party before its annual conference in Auckland last weekend."I have just got hold of Mike and yes, he has offered to step aside for Russel to come in," Ms Fitzsimons said."Nandor and the party have agreed that is a good thing to do and Russel will accept."She expected the changeover to happen soon after Parliament resumed on June 17.The Greens had hoped to promote Dr Norman, No10 on their list in 2005, to a seat in Parliament after Mr Tanczos announced in May that he would retire.However, that required Mr Ward, ranked eighth, and Catherine Delahunty, at No9, to stand aside. Ms Delahunty agreed but Mr Ward refused, prompting Mr Tanczos to say he would stay till the election.
Here though, Stuff points out the REAL reason for Dr Norman's elevation:
Insiders at the party's conference wanted a change soon to give Dr Norman the chance to lift his profile and to use the extra resources available to an MP.It was also feared that waiting till closer to the election could cause a public backlash, a delegate said.
Yes Dear Readers; the Green Party, principled souls that they are manipulated the list to allow Russel Norman to enter Parliament and "use the extra resources available to an MP". So where was the mandate for THAT Ms Turei?
The Green Party is highly critical when other parties abuse process or democracy. But the events that led to Russel Norman being rushed into Parliament just months before an election show that the Greens play political games with the best of 'em.
Dr Norman's three months in Parliament allowed him to travel the length and breadth of the country campaigning on the taxpayer's coin, because he was an MP. Had the party list not been manipulated as it was, the Greens would have had to pay for Russel's travels themselves. Instead, they found a sneaky way for the long-suffering taxpayer to have to pick up a not-insubstantial bill.