What our MPs re­ally care about

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

No mat­ter how re­ward­ing it may be to hob­nob with the rich and pow­er­ful, MPs will al­ways say they pre­fer the sat­is­fac­tion of do­ing the lit­tle things for their con­stituents.

Sup­pos­edly, noth­ing beats help­ing out the or­di­nary folk who bring their prob­lems across the thresh­old of far-flung elec­torate of­fices, in the hope that their MP will go back to Wellington and do bat­tle on their be­half against the bu­reau­crats and num­ber crunch­ers.

In maiden speeches and vale­dic­tory speeches alike, MPs rou­tinely cel­e­brate the joys of hum­ble ser­vice to their con­stituents.

In be­tween times, naked self­in­ter­est tends to rule the roost.

Last week, So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Paula Ben­nett scram­bled at record speed to get out of Dodge – in her case, the Waitakere elec­torate – and seize the can­di­dacy for the new, safely blue Up­per Har­bour seat at the next elec­tion.

Ben­nett’s per­for­mance was a spec­tac­u­lar ex­am­ple of po­lit­i­cal self- in­ter­est op­er­at­ing at full throt­tle.

Re­port­edly, she pub­licly laid claim to the Up­per Har­bour can­di­dacy a mere 20 min­utes af­ter the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion an­nounced (a) the bound­ary changes that made her Waitakere elec­torate un­winnable for Na­tional, and (b) the pop­u­la­tion in­creases that cre­ated the Up­per Har­bour seat.

Left blink­ing in the dust was Con­ser­va­tive Party leader Colin Craig, who had hoped that Up­per Har­bour might be his en­try ticket to Par­lia­ment, and to a coali­tion deal with Prime Min­is­ter John Key.

Any seat will do, Craig wanly in­di­cated. ( While in­di­vid­u­ally pre­cious, con­stituents are ev­i­dently in­ter­change­able.)

Craig will now be pin­ning his hopes for a sweet­heart deal with Na­tional on the East Coast Bays elec­torate seat cur­rently held by For­eign Min­is­ter Mur­ray McCully, who is ex­pected to take up a high po­si­tion on the list, and an even­tual am­bas­sado­rial post in Wash­ing­ton.

No doubt, McCully would find it a wrench to leave the joys of con- stituency ser­vice be­hind for such a prospect, but in the in­ter­ests of party and coun­try, he may be will­ing to make the sac­ri­fice.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill English, he of hum­ble Dip­ton farm­ing stock, is another join­ing the stam­pede – I mean, the sad and re­luc­tant shift – to the party list.

In his case, some lo­cals seem glad to see the back of a tight­fisted cab­i­net min­is­ter and the ad­vent of a new, lo­cally fo­cused MP.

As the Queen­stown News put it: ‘‘What we’ve been miss­ing from Billy Boy are the juicy bits from the pork bar­rel of pol­i­tics – the new bridge, the hos­pi­tal up­grade and other big-ticket items.’’

Lurk­ing be­hind th­ese shenani­gans are the re­form is­sues fac­ing MMP.

The Elec­toral Com­mis­sion has rec­om­mended low­er­ing the MMP thresh­old to 4 per cent and scrap­ping the ‘‘coat-tail’’ pro­vi­sion that would en­able Craig, on cur­rent polling, to bring three or four ex­tra MPs into Par­lia­ment.

Key has not (yet) en­acted those re­forms. A mem­bers bill in the name of Labour MP Iain LeesGal­loway that would en­act those same re­forms is now be­fore Par­lia­ment.

Will Na­tional vote down the mem­bers bill, keep the ‘‘coat-tail’’ pro­vi­sion, but re­duce the MMP thresh­old to 4 per cent? Add in East Coast Bays, and that out­come would be the tri­fecta for Colin Craig.

One thing seems cer­tain. The de­sires of con­stituents – who, in opin­ion polls op­pose the sweet­heart deals that seem likely to pro­pel Craig and com­pany into Par­lia­ment – will not be the prime con­cern.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.