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Archived Government 06-09
Archived Government 02-05
Making a difference
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Government and MMP

Supply and confidence

Politicians seem to have a reticence about letting go of the two-party idea of government, according to Ernie Davis, former Chief of Staff for the New Zealand First Parliamentary Unit. The thern current system of seating in the Debating Chamber, with Government on one side and Opposition on the other, is an example of one way in which Parliament has not yet adapted to MMP. Slowly, though, the institutions are changing to reflect the new realities. When seating was established for the Parliament elected in September 2005, the NZ First leader Winston Peters sat at the front of the cross benches on the Government side.

Ernie Davis has served in Parliament under both FPP and MMP, and he pointed out to DecisionMaker that Bill English, although at that time the leader of the largest non-Government party, could not claim to be the leader of all non-Government parties; his title ‘Leader of the Opposition’ was a legacy from two-party days.

“ We need to question ‘what is the opposition?’ Is the term opposition useful any more?” asked Ernie Davis. “New Zealand First doesn’t see its role as opposing, but as questioning, raising issues, examining policies, and supporting those that are consistent with our philosophies.”

Supply and confidence

United Future New Zealand was elected to the 47th Parliament in July 2002 with eight MPs, and in 2005, with three MPs. In 2002 the party chose to enter into a supply and confidence agreement with the then Labour-Progressive Coalition Government, thereby guaranteeing three years of stable government for New Zealand.

A party spokesman said it took this position because, if it had opted to join the parties of the right, the Greens, with their anti-progress, pro-cannabis policies, would have held the balance of power – which United Future believes to be the worst possible outcome for New Zealand.

In the Parliament elected in 2005. United Future and NZ First effectively excluded the Greens from a prime role in government arrangements led by Labour. The leaders of NZ First, Winston Peters, and United Future, Peter Dunne, were both appointed Ministers outside Cabinet, bound by collective responsibility only on the matters in their portfolios.

Updated 22 November 2005

 

  

Some of the Parliamentarians who have a place in Parliament's debating chamber for whom MMP made a difference....

Peter Dunne, United Future leader and Revenue Minister in the third Clark Labour-led Government

Richard Prebble, fromer ACT leader and retired from Parliament in 2005 says MPs are a check on the Executive.

Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton, Progressive Party leader, has been in three coalitions with Clark Labour-led Governments.

Green co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons has some of her party's policies accepted by the third Clark Labour-led Government, but is not in Cabinet.

The late Green co-leader, Rod Donald, was an advocate for change but, despite supporting Labour, did not get a place in the Clark Labour-led Governments.

Winston Peters says New Zealand First is promoting policies for a better New Zealand. He became Foreign Minister outside Cabinet in the third Clark Labour-led Government, elected in 2005.