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.”
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.
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.